July 18, 2011
When the secondary auto tech students at Northeastern Junior College who are involved in the Skills USA/VICA student organization activities take to the race track in Julesburg this summer, they’ll be sporting a new look. The students, with help from some very dedicated adult volunteers and some local businesses, have been able to totally redo the program’s 1968 GTO race car.
This project has been, without a doubt, a labor of love for those involved. The GTO was donated to the program a number of years ago and it has been raced previously. It has had its share of bumps and bruises and while it has undergone engine rebuilds and remakes over the years, it was time for it to get a new ‘outer’ image.
Long-time auto enthusiast and car restoration expert Roger Brungardt, who just happens to have a son in the program this year, spent several evenings a week this spring at the shop on the college’s north campus coaching the students on how to do the necessary bodywork on the GTO. Students who showed up to work on the car in the evenings, and to learn what Roger was willing to teach, were also doing it on their own time. As the body work was completed, Tim Richie and Aaron Hettinger of NAPA Auto and Truck Parts stepped up, offering to supply all of the paint for the project. Jason Kloberdanz from Premiere Truck and Auto, who has been a good supporter of the program, also agreed to paint the car for the students. For a finishing touch, Don Cullip from Donlin Auto supplied rims for the GTO.
Students in the program voted on the new color of the car, choosing a beautiful royal blue. As an incentive for the students to help with the project, they were able to earn incentive points toward driving time at the races based on how many hours they worked on the car. While all of the students are involved in some capacity at the track, getting to actually drive the car seems to be the preferred assignment.
A number of individuals and businesses have been involved in the NJC car project. Shown here are (l to r) Aaron Hettinger, outside sales manager for NAPA Auto and Truck Parts, and students who worked on the car including Eric Artzer, Kyle Gertner, Jame Mayhaffey, Taylor Kokes, and Josh Stieb. (Courtesy Photo)
The main team who worked on the body of the GTO included (l to r) Gregg Lockman, Richard Moon, Trevor Wiesgerber, Collin Brungardt and Roger Brungardt. (Courtesy Photo)
A crew from Premiere Truck and Auto volunteered to do the painting on the car, which required seven coats, included (l tor ): Javier Garcia, Jason Kloberdanz, Tony Garcia and Greg Foiles. (Courtesy Photo)