Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes has partnered with Larsen Motorsports (LMS) to establish a scholarship program that addresses the talent shortage facing the automotive industry, specifically collision repair. With the newly established Blazing Trails Scholarship Fund, Blazing Trails, a 501(c)3, will add a specific focus on automotive service and collision repair programs at the postsecondary level to its existing vocational and technical training in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
“It’s the hope that the Blazing Trails Scholarship Fund can give career-minded students the resources and necessary funding to pursue an education in automotive service and collision repair,” said Justin Binns, president and general manager of Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes. “At the same time, we’re focused on sustaining an industry that is currently challenged to attract skilled professionals.”
Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes and LMS will award a set number of students with one year of tuition. The amount of the scholarship money awarded to each student will be dependent upon the institution’s annual tuition fee.
Students must have enrolled at one of the following participating trade schools or technical/community colleges:
• Baton Rouge Community College, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
• Madison Area Technical College, Madison, Wisconsin
• Oakland Community College, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
• Ohio Technical College, Cleveland, Ohio
• Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas
• WyoTech, Laramie, Wyoming
“Building a strong technical acumen among high school students enrolling in postsecondary programs is our entire mission at LMS and Blazing Trails,” said Elaine Larsen, co-founder of LMS.
Blazing Trail’s mission is to assist children who have goals that they want to achieve, but are unable due to lack of money, time or guidance.
Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes will support the scholarship fund at The SEMA Show this year, auctioning off more than 30 art panels as large as 9 ft. by 6 ft. airbrushed and pinstriped by some of the industry’s biggest names. The silent auction has been named to honor former LMS and Matrix Automotive Finishes Jet Car Driver Katrina “Kat” Moller (of Sarasota, Florida).
Moller passed away in November last year at Florida’s Sebring International Raceway while making an exhibition run in her LMS American Dream jet dragster. Moller was an International Baccalaureate student in high school who went on to receive her undergraduate degree from the University of South Florida and later attended graduate school at Florida Tech while forging her racing career with LMS. She was heavily involved in promoting Matrix – then the official sponsor of Larsen’s all-female jet car team.
“It means so much to us that Sherwin-Williams is remembering Kat in such an amazing way,” said Larsen. “Kat is loved and missed dearly. She represented so much to the jet car community and to motorsports. She was a huge promoter of education especially in automotive and would be in support of any scholarship fund designed to drive the industry forward.”
All proceeds from the sale of artwork at the show will be used to award scholarships to deserving students for the 2020/21 school year.
Panels will be unveiled at 8 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Nov. 5 here. The site will host a silent auction through 5 p.m. EST on Friday, Nov. 8.