By SEMA Editors
At the PRI Show last week, Team Weld Racing became the 2015 Hot Rodders of Tomorrow national champion with an average time of 18:19.
While the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show did not officially start until Thursday, December 10, students from across the nation convened in Indianapolis last 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 18:19. LaFevers and his team are consistent top finishers. They captured the title in 2013, and were one torque wrench penalty away from winning last year.
Team Hypertech’s average time of 19:32 was enough to secure second place in the National Championship. Coming in just behind Team Hypertech, Team Mahle had an average time of 19:44. The top four was rounded out by Team ARP with an average 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.
“We are always blown away by the dedication and performance of these students,” stated Rodney Bingham, head of the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow 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.”
One of the most important aspects of the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow is the scholarships offered by several of the top automotive colleges in the nation. More than $4.55 million in scholarships opportunities have been awarded this year to Hot Rodders of Tomorrow teams.
“This program would not be a success without our college partners (University of Northwestern Ohio [UNOH], Ohio Technical College [OTC], School of Automotive Machinists [SAM] and Universal Technical Institute [UTI]),” thanked Bingham. “We appreciate UTI coming on board this year and holding the luncheon for our students, as well as all our other wonderful college partners. They will be receiving the best of the best into their programs thanks to their generous scholarships.”
For more information, visit www.hotroddersoftomorrow.org.