Hot Rodders Of Tomorrow Engine Challenge - Pure Energy
Creating Tomorrow's Talented Engine Builders Today
From the September, 2009 issue of Chevy High Performance
By Arvid Svensen
Photography by Arvid Svensen
In times of economic struggle, there is no getting around the concern that hovers around high-performance automotive industry, but a new and enthusiastic crop of kids is excited about hi-po machinery. The Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge (HRTEC), at the Second Annual Race and Performance Expo (rpexpo.com), was a thrilling reminder of how hard work and achievement are still highly valued commodities among the young guns. Eight high school teams and five community college teams competed, and the atmosphere was charged, as a large crowd of friends and family had gathered to cheer on their teams.
The event is reminiscent of a Top Fuel team between rounds at an NHRA event, competing against one another to achieve the fastest times, balancing swiftness with care so as not to be assessed with penalties. Students must properly disassemble a 350 Chevy engine using only handtools. Two judges watch as each team is required to remove the air cleaner, carburetor, distributor and wires, spark plugs, manifold, headers, cylinder heads, lifters, rocker arms, push rods, timing chain and cover, oil filter, oil pan, and all eight pistons and rods. The camshaft and crankshaft remain in the block. This is not simply an exercise in throwing parts together. HRTEC judges expect these engines to be able to run if gas, oil, and water were added. Time penalties are given to a team, as described in the 18-page rulebook, for missteps such as dropped components, improper disassembly or assembly, parts breakage, and poor sportsmanship.
Tim Freeman dreamed up the HRTEC for "the youth of America to get involved working with their hands. With the program, we gave the auto instructors another tool to keep the kids interested in coming to school." The HRTEC has expanded its original Chicagoland boundaries, including the Edelbrock 4th Annual Rev'ved Up 4 Kidz Charity Car Show in California and Lane Automotive's 21st Annual Cruise-In and Car Show in Michigan, which will have taken place by the time you read this. Recognizing the potential of this competition, a number of high-performance manufacturers have signed on to support the competition. Freeman comments, "The manufacturers did not care whose product was on the engines. There were competing products, but they saw a need for this competition."
Bringing star power to the...
Bringing star power to the event, Christi Edelbrock declared how excited the entire Edelbrock family was to see the students involved in the competition.
Vic Edelbrock was present at the inaugural '08 HRTEC, and this year Christi Edelbrock was present not only addressing the teams and crowds gathered, but cheering on her team. In her words: "When you give students something to focus on that they are passionate about, it makes all their math lessons and classroom experience make sense. For us, being able to step in and support the youth of America, we wouldn't pass that up, and it's very important to us."
The potential for this event is enormous. Freeman explains the vision for HRTEC: "I would like to see this competition brought into divisions, similar to the NHRA. Different divisions could do qualifying events that could lead to taking teams to a national event for a national championship."
Speaking from the context of the HRTEC, Christi Edelbrock says it best: "Hot rodding is more alive now than ever. This downturn of our economy really highlights what people are passionate about. You may have to work a little bit harder, and you definitely cannot take anything for granted. It's exciting to watch their passion unfold and develop into something that they can take on not only to a career, but to a lifestyle."
Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge
Jeep Waterman demonstrates...
Jeep Waterman demonstrates the widespread appeal of HRTEC. Even though there was no AutoMeter product on the engines, the company still wanted to sponsor the competition and encourage the talented students to develop their skills.
Each team was assigned an...
Each team was assigned an identical 350ci small-block engine, which consisted of a Jasper short-block, a Moroso pan, Fel-Pro gaskets, an MSD distributor, and Edelbrock aluminum heads, intake, and carburetor.
When Hedman was asked to supply...
When Hedman was asked to supply a basic set of headers for the HRTEC, rep Vic Wood enthusiastically insisted on supplying the company's top-of-the-line ceramic-coated headers. Throughout the competition, Wood stayed with the Hedman team, cheering them on.
Team members worked quickly...
Team members worked quickly removing parts, making sure to not drop any major components along the way. The team member at the bench assumes point-guard responsibilities in setting up for each new task.
Team Moroso from Lockport...
Team Moroso from Lockport Township High School is all business.
Intensity and concentration...
Intensity and concentration are key to recalling the procedures learned during the many hours of practice at shop class. Instructors, not permitted to help the students in any way, served as head coaches during the event.
As the components fly off...
As the components fly off the engine, they're arranged in a specific order to expedite reassembly.
At the short-block stage,...
At the short-block stage, the timing gear, pistons, and rods are removed, but the crankshaft and camshaft are left alone.
The second half of the competition,...
The second half of the competition, reassembly, is more challenging as a number of potential pitfalls await each team.
The Comp Cams team did well...
The Comp Cams team did well slipping the pistons back into the block, while other members worked together to complete the next task.
Preparing the pistons and...
Preparing the pistons and rods for installation proved to be one of the more difficult segments of the competition. Some teams, such as the Hedman Hedders team shown here, successfully popped the pistons back in, while others experienced a slight delay.
According to the standard...
According to the standard engine assembly procedures as spelled out in the HRTEC rulebook, all fasteners must be properly lubed.
The AutoMeter team worked...
The AutoMeter team worked together seamlessly to install the cylinder heads, oil pan, and timing chain cover.
Torque readings are shown...
Torque readings are shown to the judges, while the tightening sequence is carefully observed. Some students actually write these numbers on their arms.
Walking the tightrope of speed...
Walking the tightrope of speed and care during reassembly pays big dividends. Although a team might finish first, it can easily drop down in standings via penalties for mistakes made.
Team Edelbrock looked to be...
Team Edelbrock looked to be solidly ahead but ran into a couple snags along the way, putting them in second place. This team was intense and obviously well disciplined.
As the engine nears completion,...
As the engine nears completion, the team makes sure that all the wires, clips, fasteners, and components are in place.
When the team is done, the...
When the team is done, the judges inspect the motor, tallying any penalties. The original rotating torque measurement is compared to the new reading. Variations higher than 25 percent could indicate a tight bearing, misaligned rod caps, or rings bound in the cylinder.
The high school winner, with...
The high school winner, with an incredible time of 55:20, was Team Speed-Pro/Fel-Pro, from Joliet Central High School.
|PLACE ||TEAM ||SCHOOL ||TIME (min:sec) |
|HIGH SCHOOL |
|1 ||Speed-Pro/Fel-Pro ||Joliet Central ||55:20 |
|2 ||Edelbrock ||Tech Center of DuPage ||77:25 |
|3 ||Motive Gear ||South Elgin ||84:05 |
|4 ||Moroso ||Lockport ||84:59 |
|5 ||Hedman Hedders/TransDapt ||Fremd ||86:36 |
|6 ||AutoMeter ||Streamwood ||91:00 |
|7 ||MSD ||Glenbrook North ||115:54 |
|8 ||Comp Cams ||Hoffman Estates ||118:00 |
|COMMUNITY COLLEGE |
|1 ||Energy Suspension ||Carl Sandburg ||38:00 |
|2 ||QA1 Motorsports ||Parkland ||48:32 |
|3 ||K&N ||Joliet Jr. ||67:35 |
|4 ||Painless ||Morton ||78:45 |
|5 ||Edge Products ||Triton ||82:28 |