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Partnership with Petty’s Garage offers Surry students unique opportunity

By David Broyles

July 19, 2013

DOBSON — Three Surry Community College students were selected by the SCC faculty to participate in a week-long job shadowing experience at Petty’s Garage.


Two Collision Repair and Refinishing Technology students, Robert Darden and Dakota Hawks, along with Cosme “Eddie” Trejo, an Automotive Systems Technology student, enjoyed an experience of a lifetime in the “King of NASCAR” Richard Petty’s Garage for a week, working alongside Petty’s assembled team of experts and even meeting the King himself.


Darden of Ararat graduated from Surry Central High School in 2011. He said hopes to open his own body shop one day after he finishes his certificate in Collision Repair and Refinishing Technology from SCC in the spring.


“Working at Petty’s Garage has been great. It’s definitely an experience of a lifetime. I have worked on a lot of cool stuff and learned some cool things. I saw some really rare cars that I would have never seen anywhere else. I thought it was pretty neat,” said Darden.


Since he grew up in a family of NASCAR fans, Darden couldn’t help being enthralled with his surroundings at Petty’s Garage. “It has been awesome. Richard Petty is like a legend to me. I have always heard about him growing up, and I actually got to meet him on Monday. It tickled me to death,” added Darden.


The students had the opportunity to see a lot of unique cars and motors at Petty’s Garage including three Plymouth Superbirds along with expensive 426 hemi engines.


“I have a fascination with engines. I love the sound of loud V8 cars and the smell of gas,” said Darden. “I would love to work at a place like Richard Petty’s Garage. It would be really neat.”


SCC student Eddie Trejo also of Ararat plans to graduate from SCC in the fall of 2013 with an Automotive Systems Technology Diploma. He is a 2010 graduate of Easy Surry High School.


“It’s been a real good week here. It’s been an amazing experience,” Trejo said, who put the transmission in a 1934 Ford truck while at Petty’s Garage. “I also got to work on a 1970 Roadrunner. It’s a really cool car. It’s been really nice being here knowing that it’s Richard Petty’s place.”


The students toured Petty’s Garage and Victory Junction, which is Petty’s charity for children with chronic medical conditions, earlier in the week before getting their hands dirty tearing down the Roadrunner, which will get a full restoration.


Dakota Hawks of the Pine Ridge community graduated from SCC with a certificate in Collision and Repair Technology this spring when he also graduated from the Surry Early College High School of Design with a high school degree. He learned a lot at Petty’s including how brakes used to work without fluids using rods and how the suspension in older cars is a lot different from today. He also liked working on the Roadrunner since it is a muscle car of yesterday.


“The Richard Petty experience has been good. I have learned a lot of stuff. I got more experience working on cars, and it’s been fun,” Hawks said. “The things that stand out to me are how neat and organized this place is and how much everybody knows and how friendly everyone is. You can walk up to anyone and ask questions.”


The students worked with Master Fabricator Tony Hancock, who has been with Petty’s for a decade and has 30-plus years of automotive experience.


“The Surry Community College students are really nice guys. We were proud to have them with us. These guys jumped in there and did a really good job for us,” said Hancock.


Surry Community College and Petty’s Garage entered a two-year agreement last year, which allows SCC to send three students each year to work at Petty’s Garage to gain hands-on experience. Students also have the opportunity to tour the garage throughout the year and attend a race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and other Petty sponsored events. Petty also provides scholarships to SCC students.


“The Petty name and Petty brand is known throughout the racing industry and in North Carolina. Through this partnership, students gain hands-on experience at a place that is well-respected and well-known,” said Michael Miller, SCC’s dean of Business, Technologies and Health Sciences. “These students will remember this experience for the rest of their lives, and it’s a selling tool to add to their resumes.”


Located in Level Cross, Petty’s Garage is Richard Petty’s high-performance speed shop that will take a vehicle to the next level by providing a complete custom solution. The shop features all of the elements that go into creating a performance automobile, and all of the work is done in-house, including heavy fabrication, roll cages, custom floor pans and custom painting.


To see photographs from the Surry students’ week at Petty’s Garage, visit the college’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/surrycommunitycollege.


For more information about Surry’s Automotive Technology program, contact David Weavil at 386-3254 or weavild@surry.edu, or for information about the Autobody program, contact Jeff Boles at 386-3404 or bolesj@surry.edu.