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Skills competition winners get the chance to hit the racetrack

Monday, April 28, 2008 - 23:00
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Not only will the winners of the 59th annual Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition be recognized as the top future automotive technicians, they also will get the chance to spend a week behind the scenes with Roush Fenway Racing. 

AAA and Ford — along with other affiliated companies — sponsor the nation's largest competition for high school automotive technology students, giving thousands of teens the keys to start their careers in the automotive service industry. The 2008 contest concludes with a National Finals event June 24 at Ford World Headquarters, in Dearborn, Mich.

In state competitions held throughout April and May, student teams are timed and tested on their abilities to correctly identify and fix intentionally installed "bugs" on identical vehicles. Winning team members in the state competitions receive scholarships and other prizes, and advance to the national finals where additional prizes and scholarships are at stake.

Additionally, the winning two-person team of this year's national finals will receive an opportunity from Roush Fenway Racing to witness the career opportunities available on professional racing teams. Their experience begins July 8 at Roush Fenway Racing's facility in Concord, N.C. For two days at the race shop, the students will shadow crew members as cars are prepared for the July 12 Sprint Cup Series race in Joliet, Ill. The students will then travel with the team to Illinois, where they'll serve as honorary pit crew members.

"The thousands of young people who put their hearts into winning the nation's premier competition for aspiring automotive technicians have the character and drive it takes to be a winner in life and on the race track," says team owner Jack Roush. "For this reason, Roush Fenway Racing is proud to join with Ford and AAA in encouraging more students to consider career choices in racing, repairs and roadside problem-solving."

To qualify for state competitions, more than 8,000 students completed an online exam in February. The Auto Skills competition enables many of its participants to embark on promising careers in the automotive repair industry with scholarships provided to the nation's top technical schools. Demand for well-trained technicians remains high - the U.S. Department of Labor expects the need for qualified technicians to grow 14 percent through 2016, accounting for 110,000 new jobs.

Both the national and the state-wide competitions are organized with the support of Ford personnel, local automotive instructors and AAA's Approved Auto Repair program, a public service AAA performs to identify quality repair facilities throughout the country.

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