On a sunny Saint Patrick’s Day in Melbourne, Florida, six automotive programs and one collision program under Brevard Public Schools combined forces to put on their very first Brevard Public Schools Car Show.
Hosted outside the American Muscle Car Museum, which houses the private collection of Mark Pieloch, the school had 196 cars in classes from Camaros to Asian Imports drive in to test their luck at first place, and just have a good time.
A Collaborative Effort
Bringing together seven schools is no easy task, and took a lot of planning. Brevard County auto programs include:
- Eau Gallie High School;
- Cocoa High School (autobody program);
- Heritage High School;
- Merritt Island High School;
- Rockledge High School;
- Satellite High School; and
- Titusville High School.
“We were looking for ways to raise some more funds for our automotive programs,” says Randy Pitts, automotive instructor at Satellite High School. “Our school district does a good job, but there is always extra stuff that we are looking to do for our students.
“We try to get them the best education they can have, so we look at some new avenues to make our automotive programs more successful and let the people in Brevard County know about us. A lot of people still don’t know about the automotive programs here in Brevard County and so this has gone really big for us this year. We’re really thrilled on the amount of cars we’ve had today.”
Choosing the American Muscle Car Museum was a perfect fit for the schools.
“All of the Brevard County Auto Programs decided to do a car show this year, and we were looking for a place that was big enough that could hold what we thought we could get. So I made the phone call to the American Muscle Car Museum and they were more than willing to help us out, and that’s why we chose them to do our first annual car show,“ Pitts adds.
The American Muscle Car Museum exists not just to house amazing cars, but also to help give back to the community. The museum is known for hosting fundraising events for charities free of charge. Being able to even see the museum is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“Since our opening in October of 2016 we have raised $1.6 million for local charity,” says Ed Dedick, the operations/restoration manager for the American Muscle Car Museum. “The second thing we do is auto-related events, be it auto cross, or like today outside we have a car show. And the third thing is educational events, and what I mean by that is we can have from first grade to college age kids come in, we give them tours and they do a small workshop.”
“It’s a lot of fun,” Dedick adds. “We’re trying our best to get the young people enthusiastic and involved in the automotive or the modern car and classic car world out there.”
At the car show, 196 cars filled the front lots of the museum, while students acted as judges for the different classes. The students also got involved building trophies for the car show winners, made completely out of donated engine parts from LKQ.
Roots at Eau Gallie
The famous engine part trophies, and the car show itself, got their start at Brevard County’s Eau Gallie High School.
Eau Gallie High School automotive instructor Phil Younger and his students were the first group to start hosting a car show for the school’s auto program four years ago. The car show proved to be a great way to earn money for the program and get the students more involved, and by the third year, the cars completely filled the school track.
“They got donations of several engines from a recycling company and we were like ‘What the heck are we gonna do with these?,’” recalls James Johnson, CTE Resource Teacher for Brevard Public Schools. “Phil took them, and he got what must have been a dozen engines, and had level one kids break down the engines with tools.
“The endgame was to dismantle everything and get pistons and pushrods and rings and chains and all these parts and lay them all out to make trophies out of all these engine parts.”
The trophies were instantly a hit at the Eau Gallie show and were a big factor in the new combined schools’ car show. The most prized trophy was the “Best Paint” trophy that towered nearly three feet high and had a paint sprayer welded at the very top.
Chris Andros, a 2015 graduate of Eau Gallie High, was one of the first auto students involved in the early car shows and trophy building. Andros is now a full-time technician after attending Eastern Florida State University’s automotive program. He came back to this years’ show to support the schools and to display his Toyota truck outfitted with Lamborghini-style doors.
“Me and a classmate of mine started the whole thing,” says Andros. “They brought in a welder and we started putting things together and I was like, ‘Oh we can weld trophies together.’ We were trying to start a car build, which is what we ultimately wanted to do, and we wanted to fund a car build. So we said, ‘Let’s go ahead and do a car show, or something to bring in revenue,’ and we tied it in with the school’s barbecue cook-off that they did… Mr. Younger has taken it way further than we have.”
“When they did the first car show with the trophies, it was so interesting to everybody because they were so cool,” adds Johnson. “Now everybody coming to the car show is trying to get a trophy.”
According to Johnson, a big reason for the combined car show was to show the community all of the automotive programs Brevard County had to offer. One community staple taking note, is the Space Coast Mustang Club.
“Being based out of Brevard County, one of our concerns is the Brevard County school districts that have the automotive programs,” said Kim Vipperman of the Space Coast Mustang Club and owner of the 2015 Mustang GT on display at the show. “We’re wanting to give back to the community a little bit as far as putting together scholarships for each of the schools.”
According to Vipperman, the club hopes to have scholarship funds in place for fall, and its 70 members are working to gather funds for the scholarship through club car shows and charity events.
Brevard Public School’s Satellite High School is no stranger to competition and working hard for scholarship dollars. The school showed off their third place Quaker State “Best In Class Challenge” Mustang at the show and competed in the contest both years it ran. Additionally, Satellite has been a two-time Tomorrow’s Tech School of the Year Top 20 school.
“It was fun to build a car, not from scratch, but to kind of make a car nice again,” said Cade Ashley, a senior at Satellite High School. “We just got a car that you would buy used off of Craigslist and cleaned it up, painted it and made it look like it was newer.”
Ashley has also found success since the contest: He recently placed third at the UTI Top Tech Challenge, earning himself a $5,000 scholarship to attend UTI in the fall to become a diesel technician. He also earned another $1,000 from the Central Florida Automotive Dealers Association and is moving onto the SkillsUSA state competition.
The entire Brevard County Public Schools system is involved in automotive competitions, and the car show is just the beginning of getting word out about the great work of the students and instructors.