SEMA 2016: Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Inspire the Next Generation

HRT3 (1)One of the auto industry quandaries has been finding the “secret sauce” in continually renewing interest in cars and automotive vocations. The Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge, where high school vocational teams, from several states, compete in a complete teardown and rebuild of a motor in less than thirty minutes, has been delivering a great spectacle that not only grows youth awareness, but entertains thousands of SEMA and PRI show-goers.

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The contest was the brainchild of Vic Edelbrock and has been executed by Hot Rodders of Tomorrow President, Rodney Bingham, and his team of dedicated volunteers. High school “shop class” students qualify through several tiers of competition, using only hand tools, to do a complete (to the bare block) teardown and proper reassembly.

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The top teams then compete live at the two largest industry shows, earning $5,000-$10,000 scholarships from top technical colleges Universal Technical Institute (UTI), SAM Tech, Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) and University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH). “Some students have come back each year and have amassed up to $20,000 in scholarship money by the time they graduate,” explained Bingham.

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“Just to qualify for the finals, each team must complete the engine in less than 34 minutes,” Bingham said. “We were able to draw 40 teams capable of accomplishing this — which is the number we need to do the finals at the SEMA Show. The competition began in Illinois, but yesterday a team from Virginia won the whole thing. It is growing.”

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For the rest of us in the industry, we just hope a full teardown and rebuild in less than 30 minutes does not effect Chilton’s rates.

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About the author

Tom Stahler

At eight months of age, Tom Stahler sat in a baby stroller in Thunder Valley and watched Chuck Parsons and Skip Scott win the 1968 Road America 500. He has had the car bug ever since. He has won several awards, including the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor Award and the International Motor Press Association's Gold Medal for his writing and photography. When not chasing the next story, Tom drives in vintage road racing events.
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