The automotive engine build team members in Jim LaFevers’ automotive program at Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center gained national attention when they placed first in the National Performing Racing Industry competition Dec. 14-16 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Team members Trace Davidson, Collin Dobson, Brenton Price, Braden Springer and Tyler Wilson averaged the weekend with a 16:43 time, finishing the competition with a time of 16:11. This marks the third year that EOC Tech students have left Indianapolis with the national title.
“Our first run was a 16:08 clean build, second run was a 17:54, third run was a 16:11,” LaFevers said. “Nobody else ran in the 17 minutes; they were 18 or higher.”
The persistent hard work and early morning practices gave students the confidence and skills to perform well at the national level.
“Students came to the shop every morning at 7:30 a.m. for the two weeks before the competition to practice and just really give it their all,” LaFevers said.
Although the team is back home in Oklahoma, members continue to work hard toward their goals, paving the way to their future careers. The team collectively earned $150,000 in scholarship funds, and each member received $30,000. With the money set aside toward their education, students are able to continue their training, if they choose to.
“I graduated from the Automotive program at EOC Tech last year, and I will start my training at the Universal Technical Institute in North Carolina in January,” team captain Collin Dobson said.
The $30,000 scholarship fund covers the cost and allows Dobson to study at UTI and focus on his future after he is finished with school.
“I want to eventually be a part of a NASCAR team pit crew after I finish school,” Dobson said.
The engine build team allowed students the opportunity to work as a team, perform under pressure and learn the importance of a hard work ethic, but students credit their success, love of their field and excitement for their future careers to Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center.
“Everything I know about the automotive field, I’ve learned here at EOC Tech,” Dobson said. “I’ve been able to be involved in SkillsUSA and UTI’s Top Tech Challenge in addition to the engine build team, and I have a full ride. I feel prepared for my future thanks to Mr. LaFevers and all the other staff members.”
The younger members of the team, like Trace Davidson and Tyler Wilson who will be returning to EOC Tech next year, look forward to being on campus and continuing their training.
“I like how the training in the program is hands-on and I get to go out in the shop. I’m not just sitting in a classroom,” Wilson said. “The teachers are professional and friendly.”
LaFevers said he is proud of this year’s team and their dedication to their trade.
“This Team and the automotive program in general set the students up for success,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group.”