By Bill Tamburrino
Dylan Ballantyne and Brandon Arthur had never been to New York City, so they worked to get there. Their work as the two-man automotive team from Ramona High School resulted in a second-place finish in the nation at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in the National Automotive Technology Competition.
Ramona High’s retired automotive teacher, Mike Jordan, had to pinch-hit for automotives instructor Mike Saavedra as coach and chaperone, because Saavedra is recuperating from heart surgery.
Saavedra got Ballantyne and Arthur started and, when he went on sick leave, Jordan took over.
The trip was a four-day event. Day one was travel. Day two was a tour of New York City.
“It is an amazing city. It was fun to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there,” said Ballantyne.
Day three was competition day. The team had to rotate among 10 stations. Among them were engine diagnosis, electrical diagnosis, brake diagnosis, a safety test and a job interview.
The Ramona team aced the 10 stations and earned a trip to the finals.
At finals, they were given a car that did not run and had multiple problems. They had three hours to get it running.
They got the job done in two and a half hours, earning them second in the nation.
Arthur’s favorite part of the trip was the competition and finishing second in the nation. In addition to the competition, Ballantyne liked the experience of going to New York.
For their efforts, Arthur and Ballantyne each received $64,000 in scholarships, shirts, jackets, hats, a travel bag and a drill.
“We had trouble with TSA when we tried to take the drill on the plane,” joked Ballantyne.
TSA (Transportation Security Administration) didn’t think it was funny.
The San Diego New Car Dealership Association sponsored their trip.
“Dean Mansfield, the president and czar of the association, took great care of us,” said Jordan.
While the auto team was in New York City, Ramona High’s SkillsUSA adviser, Robert Grace, took a group of RHS students and graduates to the SkillsUSA competition in Mission Valley. There was no team format, but Ramona’s students did well as individuals:
•Kyle Rash earned the gold in collision repair,
•Mike Jones won the motor cycle technology competition,
•Ryan Hall took third place in the auto refinishing competition,
•Erick Leyva took third in automotive service technology,
•Ricky Jauregui came in third in collision repair, and
•Ramona High grad Adam Scull won the post secondary collision repair competition.