ILLINOIS CENTRAL COLLEGE WINS 2ND ANNUAL ROUTE 66 RACEWAY PIT CREW COMPETITION

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Click here for photos from Sunday's Tech School Pit Crew Contest.

The cold and windy weather was not too much for Illinois Central College from East Peoria, Illinois as they won the Second Annual Pit Crew Competition at Route 66 Raceway. Sponsored by Local 701 and Route 66 Raceway, 10 technical schools and colleges carefully tore down and reassembled an engine in record time. Illinois Central College finished the job in just a few tenths of a second over 17 minutes and 51 seconds.

Not too far behind was 2nd place team, Joliet Junior College, completing the task in exactly 18 minutes and 38 seconds. Coming in third was Illinois Valley Community College with a time slightly over 18 minutes and 40 seconds.

It was a cold and blustery day, but students warmed up quickly with the excitement of the competition. The highly skilled and trained teams quickly showed the crowd they meant business. With tools carefully placed along the table, the students knew they had to perform with speed and accuracy in order to be in the running for the prestigious bragging rights. Less than a half hour later Illinois Central College finished ahead of the pack. After all teams had finished, times were recorded, and penalties were assessed, Illinois Central College was named the winner.

Illinois Central College Participants included: Andy Elwell (Princeville, IL), Tom Elder (Washington, IL), Timm Green (Peoria, IL), Nolan Gerdes (Gridley, IL), and Brad Sparks (Dunlap, IL). They were instructed by Todd Fortier and Jeff Garner.

Illinois Central College teacher Jeff Gardner couldn?t praise his students enough. ?I couldn?t be more proud. The neatest thing is that these guys didn?t even know each other before we decided to do this contest. They weren?t even enrolled in the same programs at Illinois Central.?

Any casual spectator would never have known that these students didn?t even know each others names until just a few weeks ago. Gardner went on to explain, ?We had two guys from the Diesel program (Brad and Nolan), two from the automotive classes (Tom and Tim) and Andy came from the Caterpillar Dealer Training Program.? They worked like they had been doing it forever.

Teacher Todd Fortier was beaming with admiration for his team. ?They worked hard for this and every time they practiced it went faster. They?ve only met as a team four other times. That?s what is so remarkable.?

When asked what the winning secret was, Nolan Gerdes contributed some of their success to the support of the crowd. ?It was a rush hearing the people yelling and screaming. I?ve been to a few contests in the past, but this is the first time where I?ve been in front of an audience.?

A little encouragement goes a long way. ?I felt a little pressure being in front of all the people, but I think if anything, it helped us do better,? explained Tom Edler.

?I think our team had an awesome attitude,? added Brad Sparks. ?This was a great contest. Everyone as so nice and the judges were too. After we finished, everyone came down and congratulated us. It was a very fair competition.?

Andy Elwell reflected on the day by saying ?I loved the whole experience, but getting done first was the best part for me.?

Joliet Junior College participants included: Tony Gibson (Joliet, IL), Jeff Franke (Joliet, IL), Jeff Phillips (Plainfield, IL), Wesley Swisher (Mokena, IL) and Eric Lowery (Morris, IL). They were instructed by Chris Bene.

Illinois Valley Participants included Eric Bernabei (Spring Valley, IL), Grant Pinter (Malden, IL) and Jim O?Mera, Shane Lange and Jim Didrickson all of Ottawa, IL. Their coaches were Art Koudelka and Dan O?Connor.

Other schools participating in the event were: Waubonsee Community College (Sugar Grove, IL), Triton College (River Grove, IL), Lincoln Tech (Melrose Park, IL), Kennedy-King College (Chicago, IL), Morton College (Cicero, IL), Parkland College (Champaign, IL) and Universal Technical Institute (Glendale Heights, IL).

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