Southern Tier students participating in the Winners Circle Project, a program designed to inspire young students with innovative, hands-on experiences, are working hard to get sponsors to make their race car dreams come to life.
“It’s not just the block and the auctioneer with a hammer and a microphone," said Paul Barber, of the State Line Auto Auction. “There’s a whole lot that goes into selling the car behind the scenes.”
These students from the Winners Circle Project are getting a tour of State Line Auto Auction since they’ve put together a race car of their own at their high school. But now, they’re learning what goes on behind the scenes to get cars cleaned up before they get sold on the auction block.
Building a race car isn’t cheap, but these students had their own marketing team to make it happen. Students on the team include Micky Spencer, Abby Knolles, Liz Vaughn and Mackenzie Schutt.
“I was part of the marketing team that would reach out and make calls to try to get sponsors and donations for funding the engine," said Carter Hayes, a Waverly High School freshman.
State Line Auto Auction is a family-run business, and they all went to Waverly High School, one of the high schools participating in the program, and when they got the call from the students looking for a sponsor, they jumped right on board.
“It was a no brainer," said Barber. “We can get this car sold and have a lot of fun doing it.”
As part of the Winners Circle Project, these students are learning skills that jump right off the page, getting in with their hands to build the cars, but using their social skills to work together.
“They need to problem solve, they need to work as a team and collaborate. Different students have different strengths and weaknesses and they need to realize what those are," said Barber.
“It’s valuable, it’s kind of taught me to be more, like, social," said Hayes.
“I think more like skills for the future, in the class you learn to cooperate with others, a lot more than I would in an actual class, and I get to see real skills when I’m talking to people on the phone like marketing, like if I was to do that in real life it’s a lot easier to do that," said Griffith Schillmoeller, a Waverly High School freshman.
“In high school you gotta work with a lot of people that you necessarily don’t like. But now we have to work together to get this project done," said CJ Riker, a Waverly High School senior.
They’ve had to reply on lots of other sponsors too to get the project finished, like Chris Dyson of the Dyson Foundation and Wink’s Body Shop. But once the cars are raced at Watkins Glen, they’ll be sold on the auction block just like the ones here today.
The Winners Circle Project has started with just two schools, but is already expanding to a third district: Owego-Apalachin this fall.
“So far it’s gone amazing, so to see it in the future and how much better it could be, that’s something that I think will be really cool," said Schillmoeller.
State Line Auto Auction is hoping to create internships for the Winners Circle students. Spectrum News 1 will continue to follow the project at the next step of the journey when they race at Watkins Glen International this fall for the WCP Championship.