Imagine being a high school auto shop student and learning that not only are  your peers, parents and teachers impressed with how much you know about “cars” – but now you find out that the professional auto industry wants you to show off your talents at a “national” show!

For the automotive students who compete in the “Hot Rodders of Tomorrow” program across the United States, to have just the opportunity to qualify to enter one of the regional contests that lead to the top-level national competition is a dream. At each event, teams of high school automotive students work together to face off with another group of similarly ‘supercharged’ students who will be their ‘challenge team’ from another qualifying school.  In the contest when it comes to ‘showtime,’ the teams race against the clock to disassenle and then reassemble a small-block Chevrolet V8 engine.

Described as every bit like the engine “teardown” that pit crews do at a drag race, the program offers both the students and the spectators a chance to witness the energy and intensity of the best of “hands-on” talent. Two identically prepared and equipped engines are presented to the student teams and the team members are only allowed to use hand tools (no impact guns here!) and follow strict de-torquing and re-torquing techniques – adhering to specifications and exacting procedures at every step … under the keen eyes of judges who are professionals from the performance aftermarket automotive industry.

If that’s not enough pressure already, these young and gifted hot rodders know that any error – a dropped component, improper disassembly or reassembly, or poor sportsmanship – means a penalty in added time assigned by the judges and officials. With each team well aware of the rules from a rule book provided to each school at the start of the semester, there are no surprises on how to lose and how to WIN!

The teamwork from all competitors is so tight and well honed that at the end of their fierce teardowns and reassemblies, the engines are considered only a step away from being ready to “fire up” — yet is where the teams are finished (just short of adding oil, coolant and fuel).

This video visit takes us up close and inside one of the competitions at the annual SEMA show in Las Vegas. For more information and insights on attending a future event, or maybe even being involved in the competition, visit the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow website:

TCG SEMA Hot Rodders of Tomorrow ENGINE Comp 1110 from Steve Ford on Vimeo.

A p p a r e l
  • Click to buy your Car Guy Apparel!