Two student interns joined Technician.Academy and Randy Meyer Racing at the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA U.S. Nationals for a weekend of in the pits experience and record-breaking excitement. The two 2020 Respect is Learned In The Pits winners, Michael Stupakewicz and Connor Sims, worked alongside the Randy Meyer Racing crew at the biggest drag racing event of the year, gaining hands-on experience and a lifelong connection to the drag racing industry.
“This year was our fourth year providing technicians of tomorrow with an unbelievable Respect is Learned In The Pits experience,” said Technician.Academy Founder Shawn Collins. “It was such an incredible weekend honoring our Labor of Love with Randy Meyer Racing, MotoRad, and our interns over the Labor Day weekend at the biggest race of the year. None of the previous years can compare to the excitement 2020 offered at the U.S. Nationals.”
The first piece of excitement for the 2020 DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA U.S. Nationals was announced earlier in the year. The JEGS Allstars event, originally scheduled to take place at the NHRA Route 66 Nationals, was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and held during the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. For the first time ever, three Randy Meyer Racing drivers qualified for the JEGS Allstars and were in Indianapolis at the same time for both the Allstars and U.S. Nationals races.
“We’ve never brought three racers to a single event before,” said Randy Meyer. “We had to bring out my retired dragster and get it tuned up and ready to race.”
Excitement continued for the Randy Meyer Racing team and the two interns when Megan Meyer, defending NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion, made the first 5.0-second pass in class history, breaking the NHRA record. During the first round of eliminations late Saturday evening, she ran a 5.097, beating the previous record of 5.103 set by Bill Reichert in 2007.
“We just had the perfect setup. All of the pieces fell into place to make that record run,” said Megan in a follow-up video on Monday. “It’s just so special because the record for our class was a five-ten. That was set 13 years ago. It’s been 13 years. Hundreds of racers have tried their hardest to beat that record, and we got it done.”
Then on Sunday during semi-finals, Megan beat her own record with a 5.090-second pass. In the same weekend, Megan Meyer beat the NHRA record for her class twice.
As Megan advanced to the final round and the interns continued to assist the pit crew, the excitement was at an all-time high. Michael and Connor joined the Randy Meyer Racing team one last time at the starting line, where they witnessed Megan best her opponent and clench the NHRA U.S. Nationals championship for the second year in a row.
Connor Sims was fortunate to have worked on Megan’s dragster during the weekend internship: “I would once again like to thank the Randy Meyer Racing team and Technician.Academy for such a great experience. I left gaining more knowledge than I ever thought I would. One of the best weeks of my life!”
Michael Stupakewicz worked alongside the Rachel Meyer crew: “The Randy Meyer Racing team, Technician.Academy, and MotoRad have put together an incredible program that has allowed others including myself these past couple years to participate in a Championship environment. The opportunity to work on Rachel Meyer’s racecar with Rachel and her crew was an experience of a lifetime! From getting my hands dirty changing heads and crank bearings to checking the wheelie bar right before Rachel would leave the line all the way to the downtime getting to ask questions, learning more about the car and the crew members themselves. I can’t thank everybody enough for the great opportunity. I had the time of my life! As my entire family said, ‘I’ve never seen him smile so big before!’ Thank you!”
“We would like to thank Shawn Collins and his team at Technician.Academy for bringing two college interns to work with the crew this weekend. We needed all the hands we could get in the pits, and our interns, Michael and Connor, did an excellent job for their first time. This is the fourth year in a row that we’ve hosted automotive college interns at the U.S. Nationals, and each year we are very pleased with their work ethic and willingness to learn,” said Megan.
The Respect is Learned In The Pits contest is made possible by the support of MotoRad of America. As an innovator in engine and thermal management solutions, MotoRad understands the value of providing hands-on training opportunities to young technicians and how these real-world experiences can positively impact the future of the automotive industry.
“Technician.Academy, along with our partners, is providing massive hands-on training experiences in small packages,” Collins said. “I’m not sure other programs can rival our track record in such a short time. Connor and Michael can add descriptors to their U.S. Nationals Pit Crew job descriptions, including U.S. Nationals Champion, Top Alcohol Dragster ET World Record Holder, and JEGS ALLSTARS to their resume.”