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Penn College Students to Develop, Build Drag Car, Diesel Drag Truck

Students and faculty in the Schools of Transportation Technology and Natural Resources Management at Pennsylvania College of Technology will test their mettle in the drag-racing arena as they develop and build a Super Stock/GT drag car and a diesel drag truck this year.

Students in the Motorsports Club at Penn College will transform a 1993 Chevrolet Camaro into a 600-horsepower car that eventually will compete in the Super Stock/GT category in local and national events. Meanwhile, students in the Diesel Power Club are leading the effort to restore a 1960 B-61 Mack single-axle tractor to its original external appearance and re-power it with the most modern technology available.

The “Wildcat,” as the drag car will be known, will be a “rolling laboratory” for the Motorsports Club and for students in the Motorsports Service Technician Competency Credential program. It will also serve as an ambassador for the College at various promotional events, according to Colin W. Williamson, dean of the School of Transportation Technology at Penn College.

“The building of the car will involve students in team-building, project management, fund raising and the refinement of their automotive skills,” Williamson said.

The diesel drag truck will serve as a rolling laboratory for students in the Diesel Technology and Diesel Technology/Mack Emphasis programs, according to Dr. Wayne R. Longbrake, dean of the School of Natural Resources Management. It will also exhibit the College’s partnership with Mack Trucks and help promote the program to trucking and motorsports enthusiasts. The truck will be displayed at College events, industry shows and trucking rodeos in the region.

The chief designer and adviser for the Wildcat drag car project is Albert Steinbacher Jr., an adjunct professor at Penn College for 11 years and primary teacher for the new Motorsports Competency Credential. Steinbacher’s 35 years of racecar preparation includes Neil Lehman’s 1970s Stock Class Mopar a National Hot Rod Association and International Hot Rod Association national record-holder. Steinbacher, who is general manager of Sweitzer’s Performance, also built last year’s national record-holder in the SS/GT/FA category raced by Steve Sweitzer. In addition, he worked with Chrysler Motor Corp. in the development of the race-popular W2 cylinder head.

The student-run Motorsports Club will serve as program manager and the primary work force for the Wildcat project, with assistance provided by faculty advisers Wayne A. Smith and John J. Macko Jr., assistant professors of Automotive Technology in the School of Transportation Technology. Students enrolled in Motorsports courses, the Collision Repair program and the Auto Graphics course also will provide support in the development of the car. The driver will be a full-time staff/ faculty member.

The Wildcat will be powered by a Chevy small-block V-8 engine capable of producing 575-600 horsepower. The car will be designed to compete in several designations of SS/GT with appropriate engine modifications and weight changes. Targeted elapsed time for the car will be in the low 10-second range, with an estimated top speed of 130 mph. The car will have a complete roll cage and will meet all NHRA and IHRA requirements and certifications.

The first two years of racing, beginning in May 2001, will take place primarily at local tracks in bracket classes to further develop the car’s performance and handling. The third year will involve racing in several national events in the Super Stock/GT category along with a new engine built specifically for SS/GT category racing.

The car then will be continuously refined and used as a workhorse for further development of student skills and vehicle-racing performance, Williamson said.

The B-Model Mack was chosen for the diesel drag truck project because of its reputation as a pioneer of heavy commercial trucking. It has been restored to the level of a complete “rolling chassis,” and when completed, will feature a 1998 Mack E-Tech 728-cubic-inch, six-cylinder engine that will develop approximately 750-plus horsepower. The transmission is an Eaton electronically shifted nine-speed unit driving a 23,000 series Eaton rear. Plans call for electronic brakes and an anti-lock system.

The estimated quarter-mile performance of the diesel drag truck will be in the 13- to 14-second and 100-mph range. The vehicle will meet all sanctioning-body safety regulations and certifications.

Diesel Technology faculty, led by Instructor Mark E. Sones, as well as the Diesel Power Train department, will oversee construction of the diesel drag truck. The student-run Diesel Power Club will provide labor and fund-raising capital. Sones will drive the vehicle and will be responsible for transporting it to and from events.

Completion of the project is scheduled for the spring of 2001, followed by a series of testing and tuning sessions at Beaver Springs Dragway. The vehicle then will appear in a series of competitive events. Each season will conclude with competition in the Class A (open) and Class AA categories at the Cummins Diesel Truck Nationals at Englishtown, N.J.

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