PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Going at full speed at nearly 150 miles per hour, several children in Philadelphia have discovered their life's calling at the Urban Youth Racing School.
The 23-year long program has evolved over the years and now teaches students with state-of-the-art racing simulators. The North Philadelphia-based program teaches students about the various aspects of STEM through race car driving.
Avaunte Walker from West Philadelphia joined the program in 2019 and described it as life-changing. While he did finish high school and had started trade school, right now his focus is becoming a NASCAR driver.
"It's the best feeling ever for me. It's no other feeling like it," Walker said.
The founders, Anthony and Michelle Martin, said the purpose is about providing youth with a positive outlet. While they did have to scale back a bit during the pandemic, Anthony says the program is especially key during these violent times.
"Obviously with all the things that are going on in Philadelphia, all the killings and all that nature, I feel like our program right now is really something that would be solid for them," Martin said.
It's also about breaking barriers in a billion-dollar industry where there aren't many faces of color.
"I think since this racial pandemic has kind of happened, there's been big changes like we are more welcomed into this sport," Michelle Martin said.
The simulators have really changed the game in terms of saving hundreds of thousands of dollars for students to get the experience of a real race car.
Over the years the program has produced many success stories. Urban Youth Racing School has also been sponsored by General Motors and Chevrolet for 21 years.
But Anthony Martin, who grew up in Southwest Philadelphia, said he is striving to one day produce a race car driver.
For more information: https://linktr.ee/UYRS.