Conestoga news

June 11, 2003 10:44 AM

Conestoga Racing Car Rolling Again

The Conestoga College racing car, pride and joy of the Automotive Service Technician apprenticeship program at the College's Guelph campus, is rolling again and performing better than ever.

The car is a customized 1988 Mustang with a 5.8-litre engine. After the car was originally purchased in pieces as scrap, the apprentices and their faculty members restored and rebuilt it over a 14-month period and first took it out on the track in the summer of 2001. The student-faculty team continues to modify, improve and fine-tune the vehicle as an ongoing project.

In May, the car had a successful season launch, competing in the Coca-Cola Challenge at St. Thomas Dragway. It recorded a new best time of 12.64 seconds at 105 mph. The best time in 2001 was 13.70 seconds, which improved last year to 12.72 seconds.

Faculty members did very well at the event in the teacher category. In the Conestoga racer, Jim Palmer took second place. Competing in their own racers, faculty member Jeff Oakes finished first, while Tom Hood finished third. Student Mike Cieplak, in his own car, took second place in the student category.

Faculty also assist as pit crew members.

The next action for the Conestoga racer is back at St. Thomas on June 15, when it competes in bracket racing, a tricky event whereby the team must submit in advance an estimate of what its best racing time will be, then achieve that within the context of racing against another car which has listed its estimated best time.

Automotive program co-ordinator Stu Hood says, "The trick is to see how close you can get to your time without going faster and still beat the other car. Timing is down to thousandths of a second."

On September 27, the racer returns for another Coca-Cola Challenge event at St. Thomas. During the summer, engine-replacement work will occur, and the team hopes to have the car ready for some events at the Grand Bend Motorplex.

In addition to the practical experience faculty and students gain, and the promotion of the College afforded by the vehicle, participation in the races is in keeping with an important message shared by all who participate. Racing can be fun and safe if done in well-regulated, controlled conditions at properly designed and maintained facilities.

Stu Hood comments, "We have added some graphics to the car this season, to promote the message that safe racing is the only acceptable racing. The message reads, 'Street Racing Is Not Drag Racing.' We want to see racing taken off the street and put on the drag strip."

CONTACT: Stu Hood, 519-824-9390, ext. 162,