Five South Elgin High School automotive students will compete at the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge Tuesday through Friday in Las Vegas.
Students from throughout the country will race against the clock and each other as they tear down an engine and reassemble it. Competition participants will be eligible to win scholarships.
South Elgin's automotive technology engine teardown team did a practice run this week. Students scrambled around a small block Chevrolet V-8 engine Thursday after school for about eight minutes, until every part of the engine was on a table.
Without missing a beat, the team used each of its 60 tools to reassemble the motor while automotive instructor Steve Schertz called out the minutes on his stopwatch app and encouraged the students to work together.
"Right now this is my best prepared team in the eight years I've been doing this," he said out loud so the students could hear his praise over their wrenching. "You're ahead of schedule. Excellent!"
Schertz said the team has a goal of disassembling and reassembling the motor in less than 20 minutes and being one of the fastest teams in the nation when they compete at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
"Our fastest time so far is 20:59," he said. "We have been working hard to reach our goal."
He said the team is penalized anywhere from five to 30 seconds for dropping tools and over- or under-tightening bolts.
Four judges watch as four members of each team do the wrenching and one member keeps track of the tools and parts at a table. Five national teams compete side-by-side at a time. "It gets loud," Schertz said.
South Elgin team members are captain Dean Altieri, Sammy Narsala, Ryan Rompel, Dan Perritt and Leanne Driscoll.