By SEMA Editors
Top-qualifying Team Derale from Forsyth Central High School in Cumming, Georgia, completed their rebuild in 19 minutes and 10 seconds at the Georgia Event in Atlanta.
Helping to shape the next generation of car enthusiasts, Hot Rodders of Tomorrow is a nonprofit organization that hosts “Engine Challenges” across the country where high school teams compete against each other in complete engine rebuilds. With its sixth regular season under their belts, Hot Rodders of Tomorrow has impacted more than 3,114 students, encouraging their automotive passion and skill.
"Growing up in this industry in a family business in the ’70s, I have been disappointed by the lack of the ‘next generation’ getting excited about our industry,” expressed John DeBlaso, vice president of purchasing for AAM. “Of course there is much more to occupy young folks' attentions today than we had 30–40 years ago. The Hot Rodders of Tomorrow program is just what we need to help promote our industry and fuel a passion for the next generation of ‘car guys and gals.’ If you have not witnessed one of these events, do it to see the passion and the teamwork there."
In 2014, 10 events across the country featured 110 teams—including three all-female teams—made up of 770 students. These teams compete during the regular season in an effort to reach the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Championship. In an inaugural dual championship format, qualifying teams will face off at one of the two top industry trade shows—SEMA or PRI. The top two teams from SEMA will take on the top two teams from PRI in the finale to crown the 2014 Engine Challenge Champion. Zane Clark, SEMA director of education, believes that the dual championship format will bring out the best in Engine Challenge competition.
“The Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge is a great program fueled by the young men and woman that compete in it,” stated Clark. “The dual championship will be great for the competition. This is their moment, their Super Bowl. The new format of having the SEMA Show champions compete again at the PRI Show against their champs will be very exciting and showcase the tremendous skills of these young builders, while offering a rewarding end to their hard work and dedication.”
In order to qualify for the dual championship, teams must perform a complete engine rebuild in less than 35 minutes, including penalties. More than 29 teams have qualified for championship competition. Top-qualifying Team Derale was from Forsyth Central High School in Cumming, Georgia. They completed their rebuild in 19 minutes and 10 seconds at the Georgia Event in Atlanta. Just behind them at 19:27, Team Fel-Pro from Peach County High School made their qualifying run at the CTA Expo in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Both of these teams have chosen to compete at the PRI Show, December 11–13 in Indianapolis.
Team Proform (East Ridge High School), Team Moroso (Thomas County Central High School) and Team Autometer (Eastern Oklahoma County Tech Center) round out the top five of qualifying teams. Each of these teams will compete at the SEMA Show, November 4–7 in Las Vegas. One of the three female teams, Team Royal Purple, completed their rebuild in 27 minutes and 10 seconds and also will compete in the championship at the SEMA Show.
Coach Jim LaFevers, who coached the 2013 national championship team, reflected on the competition's growth. “Who would have thought that the level of competition just a short six years ago would have ever been this tight or this competitive? Six years ago, 47 minutes wins the national title. Today, you don't even qualify unless you are in the low 30s. And, for national title hopes, you'd better be in the low 20s or high teens because seconds will separate the top eight teams. Oh yes, did I mention these are high school students and not professionals...yet?”