One hundred of the nation’s best young automotive technicians will compete in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition National Finals June 10–12, with the championship student team earning a weeklong job shadow experience with auto racing royalty – former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne and his Wood Brothers Racing team.
Working underneath of the hood of the Daytona 500 champion’s car isn’t the only benefit coming their way: the famed Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition, now in its 63rd year, awards nearly $12 million in scholarships to thousands of high school auto students each year, including the national title winners.
This year’s young auto kings will be crowned June 12 at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. The annual competition features top high school automotive technology students from all 50 states, with each state represented by a two-student team and their high school instructor. The California team will be represented by Clayton Petersen and Andrew Ramirez of Lompoc High School in Santa Barbara County, Calif. Their instructor is Michael Johnson. At the National Finals, the students will have their automotive skills and knowledge put to the test with a written exam and a timed event in which they will race against the clock and each other to identify glitches and repair deliberately-installed “bugs” in identical 2012 Ford Fiestas. The team with the best combined written and hands-on score will win the national championship.
The road to Dearborn began in February when nearly 13,000 high school juniors and seniors took an online exam testing their automotive technology knowledge. The 2012 edition of the Ford/Auto Skills Competition has already set several milestones, including a record number of students, instructors and schools participating, as well as the highest number of female competitors in event history.
For the national title winners, shadowing Wood Brothers Racing’s legendary 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion team leading up to and during the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona Beach, Fla. will be particularly significant – it’s the site of Trevor Bayne’s spectacular burst into racing stardom when he won the 2011 Daytona 500 at the age of 20. For these two auto student national champions and their instructor, this extraordinary job shadow experience extends from a high-tech performance garage in North Carolina to the world-famous Daytona International Speedway. It promises the following:
- Immersion of the winning students into the Wood Brothers Racing team as these expert auto technicians prepare for one the biggest events on the Sprint Cup Series calendar – the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 7.
- Serving as honorary pit crew members on the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion under the guidance of Crew Chief Donnie Wingo.
- Mentoring by No. 21 driver Trevor Bayne at both the Wood Brothers Racing shop in Harrisburg, North Carolina and also trackside at Daytona.
“I was twenty years old when my wildest dreams came true in Victory Lane at last year’s Daytona 500,” said Bayne. “By shadowing me and Wood Brothers Racing as we prepare to race again at Daytona, I want the national winners of the 2012 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition to see that their dreams are obtainable as they work on the world’s best cars.”
Founded in 1950, Wood Brothers Racing is the oldest active team in NASCAR. The Wood Brothers have won 14 Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona International Speedway, more than any other team in the sport. The Wood Brothers’ most recent trip to victory lane came at the 2011 Daytona 500, when then 20-year-old Bayne become the youngest driver ever to win NASCAR’s most prestigious race.
Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills enables many of its participants to embark on promising careers in the automotive repair industry to help fuel the rising demand for well-trained technicians that can repair both computer and mechanical components in today’s advanced vehicles. Both the national and the state-wide competitions are organized with the support of AAA and Ford personnel, local automotive instructors and the AAA Approved Auto Repair program, a free public service AAA performs to identify quality repair facilities throughout the country.
About Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills
The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills is a nationwide automotive technology competition that offers nearly $12 million in scholarships and prizes to high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing careers as automotive service technicians. More than 12,500 students from across the U.S. compete for the chance to represent their school and state in the National Finals. The competition tests students’ automotive knowledge, workmanship and problem-solving abilities. For additional information on the competition, visit http://autoskills.aaa.com/.