For Alfred State students, being able to take part in The Great Race each year is an excellent opportunity to showcase their skills on a national stage, gain even more real-world experience, and make incredible memories that will last a lifetime.
This year was no exception, as a team of Pioneers once again had an amazing time competing in the thrilling classic car competition. The 2019 event took place from June 22-30, beginning in Riverside, CA, and continuing about 2,300 miles north until the final finish line in Tacoma, WA.
Automotive Trades Instructor Greg Traugh, who served as faculty adviser to the 2019 group, noted that the level of support the team receives each year from the Alfred State Family demonstrates the commitment of the college to providing national-level experiential learning opportunities to its students.
This year, those students included returning team members Jacob Derk, a technology management major and heavy equipment, truck and diesel technician grad from Cattaraugus, and Jordan Dunning, a 2019 heavy equipment, truck and diesel technician graduate from Cicero. Three new members this year were Jacob Minkel, a 2019 mechanical engineering technology graduate from Attica; Caryl Koch, a 2019 motorsports technology graduate from Cuba; and Hunter Mayne, a 2019 motorsports technology graduate from Attica.
As it has in the past, Alfred State participated in the X-Cup Division, which is designed for high school and college teams. This year, the Pioneers competed in a black 1956 Mercury Medalist two-door sedan.
Automotive Trades Professor Mike Ronan noted that, in addition to being annual competitors, Alfred State Great Race teams are known for volunteering their skills and knowledge to assist other racers with mechanical issues “that will inevitably crop up in an endurance event filled with old cars.”
“The team actually changed an engine in a classic Model A the night before the race even started,” Ronan said. “They continued to help other competitors throughout the race.”
One particularly special moment for the Alfred State team came during the return trip from Tacoma, when they stopped in Chicago to see a unique motorcycle collection owned by Diane Fitzgerald, president of the RPM Foundation.
“The RPM Foundation supports students nationwide that have an interest in classic automobiles,” Ronan said. “The Foundation has granted Alfred State automotive students more than $20,000 in scholarships in the past few years.”
Overall, while the team finished “mid-pack” (66th out of more than 110 competitors) in the 2019 Great Race, they have much to be proud of, Ronan said.
“The event is very competitive, and many of the participants have years of experience,” he said. “Also, the Alfred State team rotates students in and out of the car on a daily basis. This practice may take a toll on consistency, but it allows all five team members to share in the experience.”