In the Pits: Kenyatta Houston

Photo Credit: Unique Hiram/Skirts&Scuffs
"The biggest adventure that you can take is to live the life of your dreams." - Oprah Winfrey

For the past eight years Kenyatta Houston has been working his way up through several racing series that included ARCA, NASCAR Camping World Trucks and Nationwide, trailblazing his way in the pits to the Cup level. He currently works as the rear tire changer for the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet driven by 2004 Cup (formerly NEXTEL) champion Kurt Busch.

New York to NASCAR

Kenyatta was born in the “Big Apple,” more specifically the Bronx (NY) and raised in Charlotte, NC. He played several different types of sports throughout school including football and basketball. Before becoming heavily involved in the motorsports industry, Kenyatta attended college and then played semi-professional football for a team located in Iredell County.

Speaking about his start in the motorsports industry, he had this to say: “Eventually they (referring to NASCAR) started recruiting minorities and athletes all at the same time. They wanted pit stops to be a little faster so that is when I got the opportunity to be in the sport. Once I got in then it was just working my way up from the ARCA level on to Trucks and Nationwide. Now after eight years of doing this, I am at the Cup level.”

Throughout his career, Kenyatta has pitted for teams such as Eddie Sharp Racing (Chase Miller), Kevin Harvick Incorporated (four-time Camping World Truck champion Ron Hornaday), Front Row Motorsports (David Gilliland) and now Furniture Row Racing (2004 NEXTEL champion Kurt Busch).

Rapper & Entrepreneur

Jay-Z, Eminem, 50 Cent, T.I., Tupac & Biggie – do any of those names sound familiar? If you are a huge fan of hip hop music then I am sure these names are etched in your psyche.

Did you know that there is one unsung, multi-faceted hip-hop artist who works on pit road named “Yatta Da Kaptain?” This happens to be the stage name and alter ego of Kenyatta Houston.

“I’ve been doing music for a while and I was exposed to hip hop at a young age being from the Bronx (NY). Being down in North Carolina, it just became a hobby for me. I’m more interested in the engineering side, the equipment and having my own home studio – that’s what I’m good at. You know most of the rappers who do music, most of that is based off of your life and what things that you grew up with. My music has changed from when what I was doing before NASCAR to now since I’ve been doing this for eight years. You know I can’t help but rap about it.”

Official Music Video: "Life in The Pits" (as broadcast on SPEED)

It was interesting to find out that Kenyatta provided and played CDs of his songs during pit crew workout sessions in the gym and word began to spread like wildflowers about his unsung talent.

Another venture of this multi-tasking pit crew member was that of restaurant owner. Kap-N-Gabes, which is located in Davidson, NC, was a take-out restaurant featuring menu items such as burgers, hot dogs, chicken and fish.

“One of my older cousins already had the restaurant open and the interest came for me to join in with him. Well, I’ve never done it before except for working at Hardee’s when I was 16 (laughs). I thought it would be pretty fun and it was.” Unfortunately, due to his travel demands and his cousin being ill the restaurant closed down in October 2012. You can check their Facebook page here for any future business updates.

His hobbies outside of NASCAR include coaching basketball and mentoring young children in the community. “When I was coming up I had people to do the same (referring to mentorship) for me so I try to take a hold of those things and just give back.”
Photo Credit: Ro Cowan, Skirts&Scuffs
As you know, there are many women and minorities who are taking a chance at making their mark in the motorsports industry, more specifically NASCAR. I asked Kenyatta about what advice he would give to those individuals, he said, “My advice to any women, minorities or African Americans who are trying to get into the sport is not to think of it as a handicap but to your advantage because here in the sport you are going to stand out. Once you get involved and you are on a crew then you are going to stand out. Don’t think of it as negative but as positive because if you perform well then that means everyone on the team is going to be watching. So, if you don’t stay on your game then that can hurt you, too. because everyone will be watching you out there.”

These are some great words of wisdom from an individual who has put in the work and capitalized on the opportunities that were presented to him. Kenyatta Houston is definitely someone to keep an eye on in the NASCAR industry. He is a hard working, self-disciplined athlete and multi-talented individual who is sure to keep trailblazing his way into history.

Official Twitter (Kenyatta Houston), click here.

Official Website (Yatta Da Kaptain), click here.

Official Website (Furniture Row Racing), click here.

I would like to thank Kenyatta Houston for taking out the time in his busy schedule before the race at Kansas Speedway to do this interview with me on behalf of Skirts and Scuffs.

Unique Hiram is an Associate Editor/Contributing Writer/Media Rep for Skirts and Scuffs. Additionally, she is also the author of "Fast Lane Poetry," which was published April 2011. Unique can be contacted via email or through Twitter.
In the Pits: Kenyatta Houston In the Pits: Kenyatta Houston Reviewed by Unique Hiram on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 Rating: 5