Hot Rodders of Tomorrow

   There is an expressed concern in the hot rod hobbies and cycle clubs that we are “aging” out; we are getting older and not recruiting younger “gear heads”. There is a parallel concern in the automotive and motorcycle industries that it seems harder to recruit experienced mechanics; those that can figure out and fix problems, not just replace parts!   A good mechanic must know a lot about how complex parts of the cars of cycles work together. They must be able to work with electronic equipment that tells them what is wrong. They must be able to read and understand manuals and machines that are computer-based. At the same time they must be able to use the traditional power and hand tools effectively.

   The automotive education programs in schools have shrunk in the face of cheaper and “cleaner” technology classes. This tech curriculum is important certainly, however, the automotive hobbies and industries need to have a place where young men and women can experiment and determine their interests and aptitudes for “wrenching”, racing, automotive/motorcycle repair and construction.

   Some clubs and associations have made it their job to go out and recruit younger folks to the hobbies and industries.  For example, the powerhouse SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) at their shows give students access to their events’ Education Days sessions, key industry events and the opportunity to walk the various Show’s floor and intern to work in exhibits booths.  The Georgia Street Rod Association’s Membership Committee focuses on meeting with young students and high schools and technical colleges to discuss interests, aptitudes and share their experiences.  

   Recently, GSRA hosted an exciting project called “Hot Rodders of Tomorrow” at a meet in Atlanta.  “Hot Rodders of Tomorrow” is a nationwide high school engine building competition. It is amazing how including a little competition, stop watches, trophies, and scholarship money can change things!  Sponsored by various related and supportive businesses like Edelbrock and Winner’s Circle Speed Shops, teams of five students go against each other, with trained judges monitoring the process, in the dismantling and reassembly of a functional, fully equipped V-8 engine!

   The spectator draw for the competition is compelling and exciting; watching these young people ply their skills. One Georgia State Department of Education official who witnessed the Atlanta event said that next year they should have bleachers to better seat the growing audience!  Hot Rodders of Tomorrow furnished the engines, the staging and almost a dozen volunteers coming as far away as Detroit.  The Georgia Street Rod Association furnished almost 20 volunteers for three days to set up and judge the event.

   The action is so quick that there needs to be four judges for every five student team.  Three to six teams are competing at the same time for trophies, scholarships and the right to compete in a national event at the huge SEMA event in Las Vegas in October!  For more information and links to Facebook go to (Please "Like").

                      Mike Thies *** Photos courtesy of Jack Graves






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