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On Track car in Year 2; Holley sees new applicants

Chuck Mason BG Daily Newsfourty students standing by car built by SKYCTC students

Locally trained students in the science, technology, engineering and math-based motor sports disciplines are now knocking at Bill Tichenor's door at Holley Performance Products of Bowling Green.

"We've wanted an opportunity to show we are more than just a carburetor company," the Holley director of marketing said Monday of his company's first-year involvement in the On Track car rebuild program. It culminated in the 2016 LS Fest car competition earlier this year.

On Track Year 2 was announced Monday at the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce. Tichenor said Holley in the first year made car parts for the rebuilds, students installed state-of-the-art engine power plants from Holley. Holley fuel injection systems are used in NASCAR and NHRA competition-ready vehicles, he said.

"They are already sending workers to us," Tichenor said of the local educational institutions teaching students science, technology, engineering and math.

The kick-off of the On Track motor sports initiative at the Warren County Area Technology Center and Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College for the 2016-17 school year contains a new wrinkle: the Warren East Engineering Academy.

The machine tool program through Warren East High School will create parts for the 1980 Chevrolet Corvette coupe that high school students at the WCATC are rebuilding. The car was donated by the National Corvette Museum.

New instructor Mark Hawks is teaching WCATC students machine tool technology.

SKYCTC students are rebuilding a 1994 Chevrolet Camaro, which was donated by the late Ken Stirn of Scottsville.

Chris Cumens of SKYCTC said On Track can spur conversations between parents and students about local motor sports industry careers.

A $70,000 grant from Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) will help finance engine performance and vehicle weight aspects as the students work on the cars.

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About 500 area high school and college students participated in Year 1, and a Camaro rebuilt by WCATC won the "Dominator" trophy at Holley's LS Fest. The SKYCTC Camaro, which broke a car frame part prior to the driving competition, received the President's Award at the Fest.

More students will be impacted by On Track this school year as the first-year rebuilt Camaros will be viewed by hundreds of elementary school and middle school students during opportunities to discuss STEM careers.

Ron Bunch, president and chief executive officer of the chamber, said the first-year cars will eventually be sold at auction and the proceeds poured back into the program. The program model could be marketed nationally and is expected to expand to regional schools in southcentral Kentucky in Year 3.

The car rebuilds are already underway, said WCATC Principal Eric Keeling, pointing to pictures showing work at both sites.

"The kids have already pulled the frame and said, 'What's next?' " Keeling said.