Friday 1 June saw around 1000 students from across England and Wales attend the FIA European Drag Racing Championship event at Santa Pod in Northamptonshire, as part of the first Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) Youth Day. As one of Santa Pod's most prestigious drag race meetings 'The Main Event' is a hugely popular, televised extravaganza and the first practise round of the FIA season which features over 200 teams and 17 classes of cars and bikes. Car classes on the day included: FIA Top Fuel Dragster, Fuel Funny Car, FIA Top Methanol Dragsters, FIA Top Methanol Funny Car, FIA Pro Stock Car, FIA/MSA Pro Modified, Super Comp, Super Gas, Super Street, Super Pro ET, Pro ET, Topspeed Automotive Street Eliminator and Junior Dragster.
The event, organised by Caroline Day from Santa Pod, was promoted to schools and colleges by the Careers team at the IMI. Many students registered on the day for the online community websites 1st Gear, for pupils aged 13-16 years, and Accelerate, for students aged 16-24 years. Students who came to the IMI Information point had the opportunity to visit the pit of the UK's new Top Fuel Dragster star and major sponsor of the Allard Chrysler dragster restoration project, the Lucas Oil backed F&A Racing's Chris Andrews.
Students had a chance to meet Anita Makela, driver for the Finnish FIA Top Fuel drag racing team, who showed the groups around her team's pit and held a Q&A session, giving a real insight into this element of the motor industry. Students also had a chance to speak to retired professionals and tour many of the team's pits on the day. Students and teachers agreed the day was a real success and all who attended had a great time, took away valuable lessons and contacts within the industry as well as being given an opportunity to network with international professionals and experts.
Allard Chrysler Action Group (ACAG) Chair Brian Taylor said, 'The link between the IMI and the ACAG, is to enliven the interest of those young people thinking about joining or just starting a career in the motor industry. It is to make apprenticeships desirable and show you don't necessarily need a degree to be part of a fantastic industry. So many young people have never heard about drag racing and this is a fantastic way of exposing them to a sport that takes automotive engineering to extreme levels. The young are not only the future of the automotive industry - they are also the future of the sport.'
Following the success of this event, Santa Pod announced another date for Students and Apprentices registered with 1st Gear or Accelerate, the chance to have free entry on Thursday 6th September 2012 which will be the last round of the FIA Drag Racing Championship. Passes need to be pre-booked at least one week before the event. Groups should contact Debbie@santapod.com quoting 'IMI Schools Offer' and individuals should contact Emily Hakansson at the IMI on Emilyh@motor.org.uk.
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