Students in the automotive technology program at the Saline County Career Center competed Friday for bragging rights during the center's first ever Pit Crew Challenge.
Working in three-men teams, the students changed tires around similar to a NASCAR pit crew by removing and replacing all tires on a 1994 Chevy Cavalier and tightening the lug nuts -- as fast as they could. Students were penalized for any safety infractions and for leaving lug nuts loose.
"They have worked hard to increase their speed while using safe practices," said Mary Jane Dove, director of the Saline County Career Center.
The winning team - Adam Brewer and Dustin Burson of Bauxite High School and Aaron Johnson of Bryant High School -- completed the tasks in a record 1 minute 17 seconds. They took home trophies and sweatshirts.
They were among the 11 teams that competed in the competition, organized by Doyle Manis and Zeke Woodard, the center's automotive instructors.
"It's a fun competition, and they're honing their skills, too," Woodard said. "We have students who are interested in that kind of work. They have aspirations of working on race cars, so we try to expose them to different kinds of experiences."
The Saline County Career Center, a division of Pulaski Technical College, offers secondary career programs for high school students. Programs are offered in automotive technology, cosmetology and medical professions education.
About 80 students from Benton, Bryant and Bauxite high schools are enrolled in the automotive technology program.
Students learn tasks essential for entry-level work in the automotive technology field, such as mounting and balancing tires, diagnosing and repairing brake systems, changing fluids, diagnosing and repairing parts of a suspension system, diagnosing simple electronic circuits for faults, and minor engine diagnosis.
The program recently gained certification by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation in the areas of brakes, electrical electronics systems, engine performance, and suspension and steering.