Challenge Showcases Next Generation

Dec 6, 2010

The art of engine building is in good hands, as shown in the most recent competition of young builders battling for scholarships and recognition.

“Showdown at SEMA” is the title of the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge National Championship, held at SEMA Show in Las Vegas. This year, six high school auto tech teams competed in the engine teardown and rebuild contest in front of thousands of spectators: Team ARP from East Ridge High School, Chattanooga, Tenn.; Team PRW from Fremd High School, Palatine, Ill.; Team Edelbrock from North Orange County ROP, Anaheim, Calif.; Team MSD from Eastern Oklahoma County Tech Center., Choctaw, Okla.; Team PAINLESS Performance from Lakeshore High School, Stevensville Mich.; and Team Auto Meter from Loara High School, Anaheim Calif., which qualified as a wild card entry.

New for the 2010 playoffs, all the teams competed once each day Tuesday through Thursday, thus competing a total of three times at the show.

At the end of the third day, the times were averaged and the winner was crowned-Team Auto Meter walked away victorious with the best average time of 31:00 minutes.

Second place was Team ARP with an average time of 33:04. Third place was Team Edelbrock (36:33); fourth place was Team MSD (36:36); fifth place was Team PRW (45:09); and sixth place was Team PAINLESS Performance (69:45).

But more than recognition was on the line. Three auto technological colleges-Ohio Technical College, University of Northwestern Ohio and School of Automotive Machinists-each presented participants with a total of $202,000 in scholarships.

The event itself resembles the teardown between rounds at a drag race. The engines are identically prepared small-block Chevys complete with all the goodies-including Edelbrock air cleaners, carbs, aluminum manifolds, heads, water pumps and valve covers; MSD Ignition distributors and wires; K&N Engineering oil filters; Hedman ceramic headers; TD timing chain covers’ Moroso oil pans; ARP head bolts; Fel-Pro/Speed Pro gaskets and components; Melling oil pumps and Royal Purple lubricants.

Participating manufacturers support the program by sponsoring teams at each event. Students must properly disassemble the engine down to just crank, cam and block using only hand tools following proper de-torque and disassembly procedures. They then rebuild the engines in front of judges and spectators. Time-added penalties are assessed for dropped components, improper disassembly/assembly, poor sportsmanship, etc.

This was the second year for the national championship competition.