Whoever said women don’t know anything about cars had never met those on the girls’ engine team at Belvidere North High School in Illinois.
In fact, there’s an entire national network for high school engine teams, and many of those teams, though not all, are all girls. Two girls’ teams from Belvidere North recently qualified for and competed at a national competition in Indianapolis, according to a report in The North View, the student newspaper at the school.
The organization that sets up the national tournaments, Hot Rodders of Tomorrow, reports that in 2015, more than 150 teams from across the country competed in 12 qualifying events for the national championship, which involves two separate finals rounds.
It’s considered a dual national championship, with some events taking place at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis and some at the SEMA, or Specialty Equipment Market Association, show in Las Vegas. This year, North went to Indianapolis, last year to Las Vegas.
The student newspaper reported that one team from Belvidere North finished fourth in Indianapolis, but Voxitatis was unable to confirm the final placement in the dual national competition.
In other words, these northern Illinois students know how to build an engine. And they’re fast. Typical times for top national finishers are in the 20-minute range.
Qualifying times for the 2016 engine team national competition
- Fort Valley (Peach Co.), Ga., 18:05
- Salem (Burton Ctr. for Arts & Tech [Team 4]), Va., 19:38
- Woodbridge (Hyolten), Va., 19:42
- Cumming (Forsyth Central), Ga., 20:15
- Elkhart (Area Career Ctr.), Ind., 20:24
- East Ridge, Tenn., 20:33
- Salem (Burton Ctr. for Arts & Tech [Team 1]), Va., 22:53
- Anaheim (Katella), Calif., 23:03
- Palatine (Fremd), Ill., 23:26
- Stevensville (Lakeshore), Mich., 23:28
- Belvidere (North [Team 2]), Ill., 23:29
- Chambersburg (Franklin Co. Career & Tech Ctr.), Penn., 23:57
- Belvidere (North [Team 1]), Ill., 24:10
- Broken Arrow (Tulsa Tech Ctr.), Okla., 24:30
The tournaments are based on a race against the clock. Teams are given a car engine and tasked with taking it apart and reassembling it. The team that finishes first wins.
In addition to the travel, which is great, of course, the engine team brings a few other benefits: Students get a jump start on a career in the automotive industry, if that’s what they want, and can even get recognition for their fun activity, which can lead to scholarships.
There’s yet another advantage to being a competitor on these teams, though: Students develop a skill that’s sorely lacking even in many adults.
“If your car breaks down and you need to get it fixed, knowing where all the parts are and how they function can be essential,” writes reporter Will Sieracki for The North View.