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BOCES Students Get Hands Dirty in Pro Racecar

VALHALLA, N.Y. – Auto mechanic students at the Southern Westchester BOCES in Valhalla are not only learning basics, they are also becoming a part of a real life racing team.  For the past three months, the students helped assemble two of their teacher Peter Schwartzott’s racecars that will compete in a nationally televised race.

“It’s all about gaining an interest in the work,” Schwartzott said.  “They enjoy racecars and here they’re getting to help build a racecar in the shop and it gives them a sense of pride.”

Schwartzott and his father Peter Schwartzott Sr. will participate in the SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge this summer where they will ride in two cars that were worked on by Valhalla BOCES students.  The races will be nationally televised on the NBC Sports Network.  Schwartzott will drive a 2012 Mazda2 and his father will drive a 2012 Honda Civic.  Schwartzott purchased the Mazda as a normal car and he and his students converted it to a racecar with new breaks, suspension and other parts.  The Honda was purchased by Schwartzott as a shell of an assembly vehicle and he and his students assembled the car completely from scratch.

Schwartzott said as long as his students knew the basics of auto mechanics, it would make no difference in working on a professional racecar.

“The thing is that a car is a car, no matter if it’s a racecar or a car that you and I would drive around on an everyday basis,” Schwartzott said.  “All of the mechanisms and everything like that are the same.”

Student Josh Price of Mount Vernon helped work on the Honda’s engine and is proud of the final product of work.

“It’s really cool, I feel really accomplished,” Price said.  “I’ll be able to turn the TV on later this summer and say, ‘I worked on that car’.”

Schwartzott said by allowing his students to work on his racecars, he hopes to expand his students’ horizons in the world of auto mechanics.

“There’s so many different job opportunities out there for students other than your typical auto shop,” Schwartzott said.  “So if they can find something here that their passionate about, if you have a passion that can pay your mortgage it doesn’t get much better than that.”

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