SODDY-DAISY, TN (WRCB) - Dakota Grant and his Sequoyah High School classmates are good at automotive work.  So good,  they won top awards at the recent Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge in Atlanta. They have to take an engine apart and put it back together faster, and more efficiently than anyone else.   Grant, a junior, credits the class for keeping him in school.

"It's important to us," said Grant.  "If it wasn't for this class, I wouldn't even be in school, I'd probably be in jail.  I'm not good at book learning.  This is something I'm good at."

Teacher Mel Newby said, "This is something they take pride in.  When they disassemble an engine, and then reassemble it, they have to have the best time without dropping parts or improper removal and reassembly."

It's a competition that requires precision timing, attention to detail, and teamwork.  It also gives these students incentive to stay in school and earn a diploma.

Senior Trey Allen, a team leader said,  "You've got all these kids who want to stay in school to work on this motor and work together on it.  We stay after school a lot of hours and work on this on our own, so we can be the best."

Much like the between round, tear down of an NHRA drag racing event, the teams are striving for perfection and speed.  There's no room for sloppiness, unsafe practices or poor sportsmanship.

One recent day, Allen's team finished the exercise in just over 21 minutes, their best time ever.  Every student had a role in the event, working the front, rear and sides of the engine, as well as the tool desk. 

In November, the top team at the school will travel to Las Vegas for a national competition.  There, they'll have to impress the judges, and maybe future employers.

Newby said, "When they go to Las Vegas, there'll be top suppliers talking to these guys, for job interviews.  Some of these jobs pay six figures.  It's definitely worth their time."

The Sequoyah students want to thank District 3 County Commissioner Mitch McClure, who helped the team with various expenses for the competition, along with O'Reillys Auto Parts, Tennessee Speed Sport, the Uniform Shoppe, Fugate Machine, and Danny Warren.