Jason Sturgeon graduated from Vincennes University as a machinist and welder, and he quickly gravitated to medical device engineer. He even developed a stainless steel mesh heart stent coated with medicine to improve recovery success for heart patients.

The 33-year old Petersburg, Ind., native was on the fast track to a lucrative career when he gave it all up for a shot at country music stardom.

“I had a really, really good job and was working my way up the ladder. It was a sure thing with a good paycheck,” Sturgeon said. “I’m not getting any younger. I always wanted to be in the music business and I knew I would never be happy if I didn’t give it a shot.”

Sturgeon performed his upcoming single “Time Bomb” at a pre-race party before the Daytona 500. The tune has been adopted as the theme song for the Monster Truck Nationals 2012 tour, coming to Du Quoin Friday and Saturday. He will perform a Party In The Pits concert prior before start of racing.

“I’m no stranger to Du Quoin,” he said. “I competed in horse shows there when I was a kid. I was pulling our horse trailer down the road to horse shows before I had a driver’s license. I loved to watch the flat track races there, too. I’m a gear-head at heart.”

Despite the security of a high-paying job, he formed a band called Red Eye Max — named after his dog. The band opened for Brooks & Dunn and Luke Bryan, put out a CD in 2008 and placed high in Kenny Chesney’s “Next Big Star” competition.

When the band broke up, Sturgeon quit his job and continued the quest, making frequent trips to Nashville. His big break came when he was contacted by Dane Clark, a member of John Mellencamp’s band.

Clark produced Sturgeon’s 2010 “That’s Me” album, which contained popular tunes like “The Cover,” “Blankets,” “Endless Summer” and Internet sensation “Simple Life.”

“‘Simple Life’ has been out two years. It has a life of its own. I’m so proud of that song. It’s a song about me and how I grew up. It’s still getting 100,000 hits a month on YouTube. I can’t explain it,” he said.

VINCE HOFFARD can be reached at 618-658-9095 or vincehoffard@yahoo.com

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