Category Archives: Automotive

Fast, Furious & Fantastic

The Fast & Furious movie franchise may have the world cruising to movie theaters, but locally, car buffs journey to Parkland College  this time every year for the Parkland Motorsports Car Show.

The car show, now in its 16th year, has grown not only in participation, but also in scope, thanks to the hard work and passion of our MotorSports faculty and students.  Previously a one-day event, the car show expanded to two days in 2014 and in 2015 encompasses three days:

Saturday, May 2nd — CAR SHOW

  • People interested in showing their cars may register at the show for $15 (10:30 am–noon). The show and judging takes place from noon–3 pm and is free for the general public to come out to campus and look at the cars as well as the Parkhill Applied Technology Center facility.
  • Autocross is run by the Champaign County Sports Car Club and provides fun spectating for visitors. Watching the cars zip through the traffic-cone course is a highlight for my kids.
  • Swap Meet — W2 parking lot
  • RC Car Fest Demonstration — Another fun event for kids of all ages.

Sunday, May 3rd — More autocross in the parking lots and dynomometer demonstrations in the Parkhill Applied Technology Center.

Monday, May 4th, NEW! Automotive Career Showcase with Hot Rod Magazine — This event is brand new and intended to give students and others a forum to connect with our local automotive industry partners. It’s a great opportunity to learn about the skills employers need and see Parkland’s facilities.  In addition to employers, Troy Gudgel will be sharing custom car fabrication techniques and Hall Brothers Racing will have a monster truck on display.

PLUS! Jeff Dahlin, publisher of Hot Rod Magazine, will be on hand to make an announcement about the popular Hot Rod Power Tour.

With this huge weekend of events, I asked Automotive Program Director Jon Ross a few questions:

Q: What do you hope the Car Show weekend shows the community?

A: I hope people come to campus and notice a few things:

  • The diversity of the careers available in the automotive industry
  • Learning opportunities that go beyond the classroom.
  • The training options Parkland College offers for these careers (Dual credit/ECCA for high school students, one-class completions, certificates, degree programs, transfer articulation for SIUC Automotive program)
  • The facility used for training
  • The equipment that students are trained to use
  • The funding needed to support student activities that go beyond the classroom
  • The development of the non-technical skills needed by employers in the automotive industry.

Q: What is the biggest surprise for first-time visitors when they attend the Car Show?

A:  I think most people are surprised by the number of participants in our event and the diversity of cars. Our event is the largest in the area. It is also generally the first of season. I am amazed each year that we have community members who have never been on campus to see our facility and programs. It is not uncommon to have very unique and rare vehicles displayed at our show right next to cars that are driven daily.

Q: Are Parkland students involved with the Car Show?

A: Students play an active role in preparing for the show. They are eager to serve our guests and to show off our program, facility, and the projects they have worked on. Students help recruit partners for the show, collect door prizes, and staff the event. Words cannot describe the amount students learn when they’re put in active roles. When all the work is done, they get to play… er, drive the cars they have worked so hard to prepare for our racing program.

Q: There is a lot going on outside. What will be happening inside the Parkhill Applied Technology Center?

A: The automotive lab will serve as registration headquarters. The building will be open and people can look around to see all of the cool things we get to work with every day. On Sunday, it will also be open and we’ll focus on demonstrating our engine and chassis dynamometers.

Q: Monday’s Automotive Career Showcase is new. What is your goal with that event?

A: Parkland has hosted career and job fairs many times, but this is the first time we are hosting a career fair specific to the careers and businesses in the automotive industry. We are excited about the companies that will be present and the connections that we can facilitate for the students and community. The industry is much bigger than most people realize.