SEMA 2016: NHRA Education in the Present and Past

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With the NHRA Auto Club Finals at the Pomona Fairgrounds upon us, once again we will see busloads of vocationally-based college and high school students, plus grade schoolers, brought to see the spectacle of a big-time NHRA race. In racing, perhaps the best sanctioning body youth program is “YES.”

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The NHRA Youth and Education Program (YES) allows science, math, and technology teachers to bring their classes to the racetrack and expose them to practical applications of classroom concepts. The best part is that it is entirely free for schools to attend — only covering their lunches and transportation.

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The NHRA remains one of the most popular forms of motorsport in the world, and have paid significant attention to youth and the longevity of the fanbase. NHRA Education Marketing Manager Amber Vinson said, “we realized that the kid who wants to get into engineering race cars might not be in a shop class. They might be in a math or physics class, and we want them to be exposed to the opportunities of a career in motorsports.”

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In teaching about the past, the NHRA Wally Parks Museum at the Pomona Fairgrounds features an impressive array of vintage and historical racing vehicles along with photographs, trophies, helmets and driving uniforms, artifacts, paintings, and other memorabilia chronicling more than 60 years of American motorsports.

According to Rose Dickenson of the Wally Parks NHRA Museum, “The museum was created by people who love fast cars and American ingenuity in action. Our mission is to celebrate the impact of motorsports in our culture by educating a diverse public through stories, exhibits and artifacts.”

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About the author

Tom Stahler

At eight months of age, Tom Stahler sat in a baby stroller in Thunder Valley and watched Chuck Parsons and Skip Scott win the 1968 Road America 500. He has had the car bug ever since. He has won several awards, including the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor Award and the International Motor Press Association's Gold Medal for his writing and photography. When not chasing the next story, Tom drives in vintage road racing events.
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