Just about anyone can drive a car fast, but it takes a special talent build it to last.
The Midlothian Ag Power Mechanics class at Midlothian High School has accepted the Central Texas Junior Racers of America challenge to build a car and race it March 2.
The goal is to put local stock car racer Bill Hamilton in the car and when the green flag drops to race it for 200 laps without a pitstop and without a mechanical failure.
“The idea is to get the kids to build a car with the idea of it finishing the race,” said Aaron Brungot, of JRA. “Our other goal is to introduce the next generation of racers to the sport.”
The local class has 30 days to strip down a stock Chevrolet Caprice, install a roll-cage and other safety features and tune it up. They are not allowed to modify the engine or add performance parts.
“We’ve been working on stripping the car for about 15 days and now we start putting it back together,” said Trent Palmer, a MHS Senior working on the project. “We’re taking off everything plastic, taking out the upholstery and taking off the air conditioning.”
Jonathan Douglas, a junior at MHS, said about 10 students are working on the project.
“It’s a team effort and we plan to do what it takes to get this car ready,” said Douglas. “We’re bending and welding a roll cage, putting in a racing seat and moving the battery and fuel cell.”
Jason Chustz, a senior at MHS said the Chevy has a 350 police interceptor engine.
“Our job is to build it so it will last for 200 laps on a 3/8-mile track on one tank of gas,” said Chustz. “This is a red/green race. There is no yellow flag. The only reason the race stops if for safety.”
So will Midlothian’s car make the deadline and more importantly will it be there at the end of the race?
“We’ll get the car ready and we’ll be there on race day,” said Palmer. “And we’ll be there at the end of the race too.”
The FFA Motorsports program, new to MISD, came into existence with the efforts of Eric Janszen, one of Midlothian’s Agricultural Science Instructors, and Steve Moore, an assistant in the metal shop, school security officer and long-time racing veteran.
“We want to create a program that kids can be proud of; our long-term goal is to get enough funding to support a TSRS (Texas Super Racing Series) late model race team for an entire racing season,” Moore said. “The vision is there; we just have to put the moving pieces together to make it happen.”
The FFA Motorsports program idea has presented too and endorsed by school administrators however, the stipulation of the program must be self-funded, came with their endorsement.
Students will not drive their car and will only be allowed in the pit area as observers.
Bill Hamilton of Red Oak will drive the white No. 5 Panther racer. Hamilton will also work with the class to adjust the car.
There is also a $500 budget limit on the car.
Jack Sandefur has been racing cars since 1961 and is ThunderHill Raceway Technical Director.
Sandefur met with the class last week to talk about the rules and regulation of Enduro racing.
“I remember being that young and just learning about racing,” said Sandefur. “It’s great to watch these kids fall in love with this sport. When you look at these kids you know it’s going to be a good race.”
Instructors and THR Staff will grade students for their efforts on the car with students competing for select spots to become part of the race day support crew to the car.
The race already has 25 cars signed up and is seeking to register 50 by the time the green flag drops.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun to see who and how this race is won,” said Debbie Williams of ThunderHill Raceway. “We’re urging family and friends to come out for this one-of-a-kind event.”
The El Zorro 200 Enduro Race to be held at 2 p.m., March 2 at Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle. The Saturday event is open to the public.
For more information and updates on the JRA 30-Day Challenge, visit the JRA Kids Club web site, www.JRAKidsClub.com. For information about the ThunderHill Raceway visit www.thunderhillraceway.com.