While the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show did not officially start until Thursday, December 10, students from across the nation convened in Indianapolis on Tuesday to kick off the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge Dual Championship. With the first four spots in the Engine Challenge Finals filled from SEMA competition, 17 additional teams came to compete for the final four spots at PRI. From Tuesday through Friday they competed in performance engine rebuilds, looking for sub 20 minute completion times.
In the PRI Dual Championship, teams completed a total of four rebuilds. The top three were then averaged to determine overall winners. Team Weld Racing from Eastern Oklahoma County Tech Center, Team Hypertech from Forsyth Central High School, Team Mahle from Burton Center for Arts and Technology and Team Moroso from Elkhart Area Career Center topped the leaderboard in the second half of the Dual Championship to fulfill the final Elite Eight spots.
On Friday the Elite Eight Showdown began. Three rebuilds would determine who would be the 2015 Engine Challenge National Champion. Teams would not be allowed to throw out their worst run of the Showdown, as they had in the Dual Championship rounds. The first two rebuilds were completed on Friday before one final run on Saturday. Once the dust settled, it was Team Weld Racing rising to the top with their instructor, Jim LaFevers. The averaged time of their three performance engine rebuilds was just 18 minutes and 19 seconds. LaFevers and his team are consistent top finishers. They were one torque wrench penalty away from winning last year and did capture the title in 2013. Team Weld Racing had what it took this year to become the 2015 Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge National Champions.
Team Hypertech’s average time of 19:32 was enough to secure second place in the National Championship. This team is one of three for coach Marlo Miranda. Another of his teams, Team Howard Cams, finished ninth in the nation, just missing the Elite Eight Showdown. The dedication it takes to field one team in the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge is astounding, much less three. That two of them broke the national top 10 is a testament to the hard work of Miranda and his Forsyth Central students.
Chris Overfelt took his team all the way to National Championship honors last season and returned this year to finish a very respectable third. Coming in just behind Team Hypertech,Team Mahle had an average time of 19:44.
The top four was rounded out by National Record holders Team ARP and their coach John Rickerson. Team ARP captured the National Record during one of their runs in the SEMA Show Dual Championship. In between SEMA and PRI, one of the five members of their team became ill and so they were forced to make a substitution. Despite this last minute adjustment, Team ARP still averaged a time of 20:23.
Finishing out the top eight in the nation were Team B&M Racing from Franklin County Career & Technology Center, Team K&N Filters from Loara High School, Team Moroso from Elkhart Area Career Center, and Team Taylor Cable from Belvidere North High School, in fifth through eighth respectively.
Hot Rodders of Tomorrow congratulates all of its 2015 teams and top finishers. “We are always blown away by the dedication and performance of these students,” stated Rodney Bingham, head of the program. “Year after year they continue pushing the envelope, upping the level of competition and then going on after the program to do incredible things within the automotive industry. This was the reason we started the Engine Challenge, but we never really envisioned that it would rise to this level. Congratulations to Team Weld Racing and all of the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow competitors.”
The days spent at the SEMA and PRI Shows offer far more to these students than just competition. Students attend seminars by industry leaders, meet and greet with companies in attendance at the shows, and, new this year, tested their skills through interviews and a written exam.
Over $4.55 million in scholarship opportunities have been awarded this year to Hot Rodders of Tomorrow teams. While Team Weld Racing enjoys their much hard earned position as National Champions the journey for hundreds of other high school students begins again with the 2016 season, just a few short months away. Find out more at www.hotroddersoftomorrow.org.