Engineering lessons right on track
Building stockcars and getting to race them at the speedway is only a fantasy for many school pupils, but for a group of boys at Awatapu College in Palmerston North it's all part of their education.
The engineering pupils were welding, grinding and bolting different parts of the cars in the workshop yesterday, readying them for the stock teams derby on Easter weekend, when they'll be racing against adult teams for the second year.
"From a student perspective, this will be the biggest sporting event, crowd-wise, that they'll ever get to compete in, because there wouldn't be many student events that draw a crowd the size that regularly turns up at the speedway," Awatapu College trades co-ordinator Bernie Dowrick said.
The cars, supplied by Strong's Metal Recycling, were stripped and rebuilt in the workshop.
"We get them here and we strip out the headlights - all of that - and we build a roll-cage inside them and a side intrusion bar, mesh across the windscreen, and they make them all sound like Massey Ferguson tractors because they seem to love that."
Mr Dowrick said there were five drivers, but six cars were being built so there was a spare in case a car was lost during one of the races, which happened last year.
"There's five drivers, but there's 15 to 20 guys working on these. All the rest are quite happy to be team players."
They were also assessed on their work for school.
"When they leave here, these guys will have the first year of their apprenticeship's paperwork done, so when they start in their trade they will already be on to their second year, which is a big lift for them," Mr Dowrick said.
The team is being captained by year 13 pupil Quentin Hammond, 17, the son of experienced superstock teams racer Darryl.
Quentin, who wants to be an engineer, said last year the cars were built in two weeks, "so it was chaotic". That experience led to an earlier start this time around.
"I talked to all the boys, we formed a team and planned it all out at the end of last year, and I started working away at it during the holidays, trying to find parts and cars and steel, organise sponsors and try to organise paint."
Having grown up around racing, he was keen to continue in the sport after his schooling.