Finish Line: Wildcard Team Produces Wild Finish at Engine Building Event -

Finish Line: Wildcard Team Produces Wild Finish at Engine Building Event

Each month, Tomorrow’s Technician takes a look at some of the automotive-related student competitions taking place in this country, as well as the world.

photo 1: first place: team auto meter, loara high school, anaheim, ca. Each month, Tomorrow’s Technician takes a look at some of the automotive-related student competitions taking place in this country, as well as the world. Throughout the year in “Finish Line,” we will highlight not only the programs and information on how schools can enter, but will also profile some of the top competitors in those programs.
Because there are good students in these events, we feel its time to give these competitors the recognition they deserve.

After three “heats” of engine teardown and building, Team Auto Meter, Loara High School, Anaheim, CA, walked away as champions of the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Challenge.

Headlined as the "Showdown at SEMA,"  the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge National Championship  pitted six high school automotive technology teams against each other in a battle of performance engine building in front of thousands of spectators.

For the second year in a row, the national event was held Nov. 2-5, 2010, at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas.

But to get there, these teams had to qualify by winning at one of the regional events held throughout the year at various performance trade shows. An additional wildcard team (the fastest non-qualifying team from all events combined) also was added to the mix.

Handling the Heat
According to event organizers, the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge was created in 2008 to bring attention to automotive technology programs in schools today, as well address the issue that a decline of such programs will have on the future of the automotive aftermarket.

Judson Massingill, founder and director of education at the School of Automotive Machinists, which provides scholarships to the finalists, said he is happy to support high school automotive students who are excited about the automotive industry.

“This competition is about engine building and that’s what we teach our students to do—build engines that make a lot of horsepower and stay together to win races. We hope these students will continue their automotive training and go on to work in the high-performance and racing industry,” Massingill said.

photo 2: second place: team arp, east ridge high school, chattanooga, tn. In a timed event, students compete in teams of five to completely tear down a fully assembled high performance engine, and then completely reassemble it to "ready to run" condition.

Time penalties are given for poor sportsmanship, incorrect fastener torque, dropped tools and other assembly mistakes.

These penalties are added on to the teams’ overall completion times if judges warrant.

The event itself resembles the tear down between rounds at a drag race. The engines are identically prepared small block Chevys complete with all the goodies from various automotive aftermarket sponsors.

Changes to the Competition
Starting with the inaugural Race & Performance Expo in 2008 in Chicago with only five schools, the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge has quickly grown into a nationwide engine challenge with more schools and
sponsors supporting this exciting event each year. In the past two years, more than 30 schools and more than 300 students have participated in the program as the national event moved to the SEMA show.

To make the national challenge even more exciting, a playoff system was introduced in 2010, where all the teams competed once each day — Tuesday through Thursday — thereby competing a total of three times.

photo 3: third place: team edelbrock, north orange county rop, anaheim, ca. At the end of the third day, the times were averaged and the winner — Team Auto Meter —  was determined with the best average time of 31 minutes even. It also should be noted that the students from Loara High School made the national event as the wildcard team.

How They Fared:
First Place: Team Auto Meter Loara High School, Anaheim, CA, average time of 31 minutes
Second Place: Team ARP, East Ridge High School, Chattanooga, TN,  33:04 minutes
Third Place: Team Edelbrock, North Orange County ROP, Anaheim, CA, 36:33 minutes
Fourth Place: Team MSD, Eastern Oklahoma County Tech Center, Choctaw, OK, 36:36 minutes
Fifth Place: Team PRW, Fremd High School, Palatine, IL, 45:09 minutes
Sixth Place: Team PAINLESS Performance, Lakeshore High School, Stevensville, MI,  69:45 minutes

Bringing in the Big Bucks
The event bestows more than just bragging rights to the schools that compete. It also helps the students plan for a career in the automotive field.

Photo 4: Awards ceremony during the SEMA Show. To help the students who reached the finals reach their untapped potentials, three automotive technological
colleges — Ohio Technical College (OTC), Cleveland, OH; University Northwestern Ohio, Lima, OH; and the School of Automotive Machinists, Houston, TX, have all donated scholarships for the students that total more than $600,000.

Each college said it is presenting the following:

$10,000 to each first place team member,
$8,500 to each second place team member,
$7,000 to each third place team member,
$6,000 to each fourth place team member,
$5,000 to each fifth place team member and
$4,000 to each sixth place team member.

This is the second year OTC has awarded the scholarships to the event’s finalists.

"This year’s competition was fantastic, with the runner-up team’s average time only two minutes off the winner’s time," said Tom King, director of enrollment management, OTC. "All the participants exhibited high levels of skill, interest and dedication, and those are the attributes that fuel the efforts of the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow and our college."  

Do you have an outstanding student or a group of students that needs to be recognized for an automotive-related academic achievement?  E-mail us at [email protected]


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