Quaker State has announced the top three winners from the “Best in Class Challenge,” a six-week automotive education program featuring high school auto shops from across the United States. As the winner of this year’s first place grand prize, the Red Jackets from Jordan Vocational High School in Columbus, Georgia, were awarded a $2,500 credit account at AutoZone, a customized tool kit ($500 value), a feature digital article on automotive websites and the opportunity to sell their vehicle at a Barrett-Jackson auction with proceeds being awarded back to their school. In addition, all finalists had the opportunity to receive mentorship from celebrity judges along the way.
- 2nd Place: Charles B. Aycock High School – Pikeville, North Carolina – $2,000
- 3rd Place: Satellite High School – Satellite Beach, Florida – $1,500
- 4th Place: Kearny High School – Kearny, New Jersey – $1,000
- 5th Place: New Trier High School – Winnetka, Illinois – $750
“Quaker State believes in empowering the next generation of automotive technicians, and the ‘Best In Class Challenge’ is our special way of reaching out on a personal level to achieve just that,” said Laura Jaime, Quaker State North American marketing manager. “For the second year in a row, these students have been put through the gauntlet of hands-on automotive exercises to get their vehicles into auction-block shape. The hard work and creativity the students displayed throughout the six-week challenge was an inspiring glimpse into the future of our industry.”
Throughout the six weeks of competition, the five auto shop teams were tasked with a different challenge each week and were responsible for customizing, restoring and fine-tuning a pre-owned Ford Mustang (valued at approximately $3,000) into a pristine, creative representation of their school. Each team was judged weekly on various automotive criteria that took into account before and after diagnostic testing results, interior and exterior customization work, general engine maintenance and overall creativity.
Competition judges and student mentors included Tommy Pike, owner of Tommy Pike Customs in Greenville, South Carolina, and Mike Spagnola, vice president of OEM and Product Development programs at SEMA. In addition, actor and car enthusiast Sung Kang participated in the “Best In Class Challenge” as an automotive mentor to the students.
“These teams pulled out all the stops this year to make their Ford Mustang stand out from the rest and represent their schools,” said Pike, an automotive customization expert with more than 15 years in the business. “Their eagerness to get under the hood and get their hands dirty reminds me a lot of myself at their age. I have to give so much credit to the instructors of these programs. The guidance, encouragement and training that they provide often goes unnoticed or unrecognized. The next generation of enthusiasts are dependent on these programs and it has been a privilege to partner with them and mentor these students.”
As part of their prize package, the Red Jackets from Jordan Vocational High School will attend the Barrett-Jackson auction on April 8, 2017 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The students and their instructor, Robert Harris, will be with their customized vehicle when it is auctioned off to the highest bidder. The gross proceeds earned from the auction will be awarded back to the school as prize money.
“The Quaker State ‘Best in Class Challenge’ has been a life-changing experience for me and my students. This competition is just what was needed for my students to see their potential. They are ready for more now,” said Harris. “The life lessons and relationships built would not have been possible without this opportunity. All of my students in the entire program have a bigger interest in cars now, not just the team.”
Starting in September 2016, approximately 55 semi-finalist schools were responsible for securing as many votes as possible to be nominated for the “Best in Class Challenge.” The team with the most votes from each of the five markets, one from each market (Chicago; Northern New Jersey; Atlanta, Orlando; Florida; and Charlotte, North Carolina), then became finalists and moved on to compete in six weeks of automotive challenges.