Oregon High School Team Named Auto Skills National Champions

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June 10, 2015—Students from across the country gathered in Dearborn, Mich., on Tuesday to compete in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills national finals at Ford world headquarters.

The competition offered more than $12 million dollars in scholarship prizes and had state winners gather to solve “real world” automotive challenges—both digital and mechanical—in a timed competition.

Morgan White and Jay Saunders from Vale High School in Vale, Ore., were named the winning duo of America’s top auto technicians. They registered the day’s top score under the tutelage of instructor Drew Barnes.

The winning team represents a long-running family tradition of participation in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition. Saunders is one of five Saunders sons to participate in the program. White’s father, Randy Belnap, was the second member of the 1992 national championship team. Barnes, the instructor from Vale High School, captured his second national title in his third appearance.

The competition began with a shotgun start and the student competitors (all in two-person teams) raced to their identical 2015 Ford Mustang Fastbacks to review a work order that challenged them to diagnose and repair a number of purposefully placed “bugs” ranging from digital to mechanical and electrical. One the repairs were completed, teams raced to shut the hood, fire up the engine and steer the vehicle across the finish line where the judges waited.

The White and Saunders teamed earned a “perfect car” score to win the National Title by repairing all the “bugs” without any demerits. This score, combined with the results of their written examination taken on Monday, allowed them to claim the title of national champions.

In addition to scholarships, the national champion Oregon team will receive a weeklong job shadow experience with Wood Brothers Racing’s legendary No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion team and driver Ryan Blaney.

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