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LHS grad captains mechanic team at national competition

The Elkhart Area Career Center (EACC) Team “Hawk Performance” placed 8th at a national competition held in November at the national SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nev.   

LakelandHigh Schoolgraduate Cory Hopper is team captain.          

The team had an overall average time of 35 minutes 38 seconds after three days of competition. The team started their journey to the national competition with a qualifying time at the regional contest held in May at Watervliet, Mich.

Each member of the team receives a $5,000 scholarship to each of the following universities: University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) in Lima, Ohio, School of Automotive Machinists (SAM) in Houston, Texas, and Ohio Technical College (OTC) in Cleveland, Ohio.

Hopper, a 2011 graduate of Lakeland High School, attended the EACC for two years while at Lakeland and is currently attending University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH).

The event has many purposes, first and foremost the future development of today’s youth for the race and performance industry. Through this event, these students get an opportunity to showcase their talents and knowledge gained during classroom sessions and workshops. If provides opportunities for students to develop and build teamwork, demonstrate their skills, enthusiasm, and ingenuity, build their confidence and commitment to excellence.

The event itself resembles the tear down between rounds at a drag race. The engines are identically prepared 350 Chevys “dressed out” with 4-barrel carburetors, chrome air cleaners and valve covers, aluminum manifolds, headers and high performance ignition components as to replicate engines found in today’s muscle cars and hot rods.

Students must properly disassemble the engine using hand tools only with proper detorque and disassembly procedure. They remove the air cleaner, carburetor, distributor wires, spark plugs, manifolds, headers, heads, lifters, rocker arms, push rods, timing chain and cover, oil filter, oil pan, oil pump, and all eight pistons. The cam and crank remain in the block. The team then returns behind their bench and when called back begins working to reassemble once again with correct assembly procedure and torque specs, all while being viewed by judges and spectators.

Time added penalties for dropped components, improper disassembly, sportsmanship, etc. are added to ensure correct assembly. The engine when reassembled should fire up and run if gas, water and oil were added. The team with the fastest time including penalty minutes wins.

The teams are made up of invited auto technology classes from local high schools. Each team consists of five students and the instructor/coach. The individual schools set standards and guidelines for involvement – grades, attendance and skill are all part of the making of a team. Academics, knowledge of the internal combustions engine and hard work on the part of each student is the next step. The key part is the instructor/coach making this a learning experience as well as an exciting and fun event the students can look back on with pride.