Team K&N Earns Third Place at Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Championship

By SEMA Editors

Team K&N from Loara High School in Anaheim, California, finished in third place, qualifying for the Engine Challenge Finals at the PRI Show in Indianapolis in two weeks.

Loara High School in Anaheim, California, had two teams qualify for the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow (HROT) Engine Challenge Dual Championship. Both teams finished in the top 15, and Team K&N finished in the top four. Completing their rebuilds in an average time of 23:52, Team K&N qualified for the Engine Challenge Finals, where, in less than two weeks time, they will compete against seven other teams to determine who will be crowned the 2015 Engine Challenge Champion.

During the Engine Challenge, teams comprised solely of high-school students must complete performance engine rebuilds to exact specifications, all while competing against the clock and other teams in front of live audiences. Even when teams have perfected their jobs, the pressure can cause simple mistakes that are costly in the end. The teams that hold up under pressure are the often the ones that go the distance. Such was the case for Team K&N, as their coach Anthony Boccignone explains:

“My team overcame some challenges. They kept it together when things were going wrong. That’s something I’ve always emphasized with them; things don’t always go right, so you have to be prepared for anything. When we practice at school, we have the best conditions because it’s a controlled environment, but when we’re out in an actual competition, it’s not our engine or our room. I emphasize keeping a cool head and staying focused. My second team had greater challenges. They got out of sequence. When they get out of sequence, it’s really hard to get back on track because other teammates have to do jobs they know how to do but don’t normally do. I was really pleased with my students and satisfied that they could keep their cool and help each other out when things were going wrong. I’ve been working with these guys for over a year now and getting them to communicate and keep talking to each other.”

“To me, it’s fascinating,” added Boccignone, who is in his second year as a Hot Rodders of Tomorrow coach. “The competition really draws students in. My other students who aren’t involved in the program take notice. I’m starting to get more and more of my students asking how they can be involved in the program.”

The team’s sponsor, K&N, has also seen the tremendous draw of the program and how it has grown since its inception in 2008–2009. “K&N has supported the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow program since the beginning,” stated Tim Martin, COO of K&N. “This program promotes automotive education, skills and teamwork. It also educates high-school students about vehicle customization, scholarships and various career paths. The SEMA Show is the second largest trade show in the world, with more than 150,000 attendees. Loara High School performed very well, finishing third. They now are qualified for the HROT finals at the Performance Racing Industry show—the largest racing technology show in the world. HROT provides outstanding opportunities to these students and K&N is proud to be involved.”

As Martin noted, the teams are able to attend some of the largest industry trade shows in the world. This provides students with incredible opportunities to meet companies and immerse themselves in the automotive world. The benefits of the program, including secondary school scholarships, are seemingly unending. Boccignone notes that developing teamwork and communication skills are some of the biggest assets his students gain. It also gives them a greater motivation to do well in school and have greater career possibilities.

“A lot of my students don’t know what they’re going to do in life,” Boccignone explained. “They don't have a specific direction. Then they come into auto shop and they’re like, ‘Wait a minute, There’s a career in this?’ It gets them energized and excited so that they want to learn more about it. Other kids get interested in the program and want to come into the shop and see what we’re doing.”

Team K&N has just a few practices left before competing in the Engine Challenge Finals at the PRI Show in Indianapolis, December 10–12.

“The SEMA-PRI Dual Championship format provides a platform that highlights the tremendous talent and preparation needed to excel at this level of competition,” added Zane Clark, who serves as SEMA’s director of education. “These students now understand that success does not come without hard work and commitment. The fact that they are invested in a path that leads to a future in our industry in both inspiring and reassuring.”