Evan J. Smith
March 1, 2008
Photos By: Wes Allison

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UTI's Sacramento campus took home the gold in the '07 Q Motor Oil/Hot Rod U Collegiate Power Challenge, scoring 325.13 points.
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Team Torque from Houston came to the party with this sporty Black Jade Green '92 Mustang GT. This Stang stopped the best, with a distance of 117 feet, and it ran through the cones in 6.33 seconds, which was right in the middle of the pack.

Who knew school could be so cool? Well, for students attending UTI (Universal Technical Institute), school is very cool. Not only does UTI offer degree courses in many types of automotive, diesel, motorcycle, collision, and marine technical programs, including Hot Rod U, but each year, students get the opportunity to compete head-to-head in an all-out "you build 'em" performance shootout called the Q Collegiate/Hot Rod U Power Challenge. For 2007, students built Fox Mustangs, so our interest was piqued.

Sponsored by Q Motor Oil, Summit Racing Equipment, Ford Racing Performance Parts, Comp Cams, Nitto Tires, Lincoln Electric, AMP Performance, Planet Color, and Tremec, the challenge pits five UTI campuses against each other, and students and instructors are expected to build vehicles within a strict set of guidelines. FRPP supplied engine components such as the Boss block, 347-inch rotating assembly, and cylinder heads. Teams got a budget of $10,000 from Summit Racing, and they could also choose one power adder, although a sense of street-ability had to be retained. Each Mustang also had to be fitted with the necessary NHRA-required safety equipment and eight-point rollcage at minimum.

The contestants for this year's challenge hailed from the UTI campuses of Sacramento, California; Houston, Texas; Norwood, Massa-chusetts; Rancho Cucamonga, California; and Orlando, Florida.

Before any wrenches were turned, however, seven Mustangs were procured from AMP Performance and, using a lottery system, the teams picked which car they wanted to build. Once the Stangs were selected, the five exteriors were straightened and sprayed using Planet Color's wild hues. Only then were they distributed to the teams.

Essentially, these Mustangs were built from the ground up, just like any MM&FF reader would do with his or her project. This included selecting the best power adder, building the engine, selecting and installing the drivetrain, building the rollcage, wiring the vehicle, and then tuning the combination to make maximum power--all within a reasonable budget. Students wishing to get involved were offered the oppor-tunity to work on the race vehicles, and according to the instructors, many did.

Yet another challenge to the teams was preparing their Mustangs to fit both magazine editors/drivers--namely 6-foot 2-inch Tom Wilson, who handled the slalom and braking, and your author--me, editor of MM&FF--who stands just 5-feet 7-inches tall. This might not seem like a big deal, but it was.