ELKHART LAKE, Wis. - To be a part of the NASCAR Cup scene is to live in the fast lane.
"I feel lucky to be here," said Marlin Yoder.
Marlin Yoder is a mechanic for the No. 5 car of defending cup champion Kyle Larson. His cousin, Reuben Kauffman, is a mechanic for the No. 48 car of Alex Bowman. They both grew up in Wisconsin in the Amish religion.
"I don't think I heard of NASCAR until I was 12, 13 years old," said Yoder. "I started hearing a little bit of rumblings, but it was all kind of on the down low because we weren't supposed to be talking about sports."
The cousins actually learned about what all this was circa 2010 or so by listening to NASCAR on a transistor radio in the woods. They were hooked and had something to aspire to after leaving the Amish lifestyle in their teens.
"My immediate family, all my siblings and my parents and those, they are still in it," said Kauffman. "It's definitely a completely different way of growing up. We grew up with no electricity, no cars. You leave, and you don't know anything about this society. I didn't know how to order at McDonald's, I didn't know how to order simple stuff, like anything I did was new. It's definitely a 180 from a society stepping into this."
"At first, it was hard," said Yoder. "At first, it was hard to digest how fast things were coming at you, not just on the NASCAR side, but just life, in general. Growing up the way I did to now, all of a sudden, cell phones, electricity, driving cars, it's a really, really fast-paced life compared to how I grew up."
To hear their story, to ask anyone around them, the overriding theme is the work ethic each man possesses.
Yoder and Kauffman acknowledge that work ethic is rooted in their upbringing, although neither wants to go back.
Another characteristic evident in these mechanics is determination.
"We do only have an eighth grade education," Yoder said. "That has hindered us at times, but I think the biggest part of it is that we are really, really strong-willed. If something comes up, we're fighting through it. We just have the mentality nothing is going to beat us."
Last season, no one beat Yoder's team. He is a cup champion crew member.
Kauffman has gone from helping tear down barns for the first cash he earned in life after leaving his family to being right in the middle of all the action on NASCAR's greatest stages.
"The biggest thing is, if I sit down, and I reminisce with my cousin about how it used to be back home and where we're at now, that's when it hits you like, man this really is a lot different," Kauffman said.
Kauffman left the Amish lifestyle in February 2012 and watched the Daytona 500 a week later, his first visual exposure to NASCAR.
Yoder grew up doing an hour and a half of chores on the family farm before breakfast and another hour and a half after dinner. That's in addition to working in the family sawmill during the day. He left his family and Amish community at the age of 17.