MISSISSAUGA, Ontario --- In an effort to get young people involved in the trades and motorsports, Rich Schwartzenburg along with Flamboro Speedway track announcer Gary Colling has launched the Race 4 Trades program.
“This has been beyond expectations,” Schwartzenburg said. “The crew guys that came down that helped out with this are amazing. The Race 4 Trades program has snowballed into something way bigger than I thought it would be.
“Being able to build this car at the show with such a great team and being part of Motorama - getting asked to be down here by Greg (MacPherson). Like, we've had people from all over come up and ask if we were actually building a racecar down here at the show, and yeah, we've managed to pretty much get her together.”
The idea behind the program is to spread awareness about the various trades programs across the province.
“We're going to do a hashtag - #race4trades program, and what that does is allow kids to look at trades as a viable option coming out of high school, whether a mechanic, electrician, or a plumber,” Schwartzenburg explained. “These are all skills that they learn working on racecars. So over the years when they start in go-karts, pure stocks, mini stocks, late models, or dirt cars, they learn these skills. Why not put them into a career, something that you enjoy and have fun with? So if you're having fun with what you do, you never go to work in a day in your life.”
Even with the groundwork just being laid, different marketing partners have become involved at the corporate level, including NAPA Auto Pro and Mister Transmission. While it’s nice to see continued names like Ken Spira and Mike Schmidt support events and teams, Schwartzenburg says it’s a welcome opportunity to get new names involved.
“The day of racecars being a walking, rolling billboard are over, and people have to get out of that small box and thinking they can go, 'I have a racecar, sponsor me, or be a marketing partner'. That's not how it will work anymore,” he commented. “What sponsors and teams are looking for is content. We were told multiple times by people that we approached that, 'if you came in here looking for a sticker on the side of a racecar, you wouldn't get past the door. We love the race 4 trades idea. We love the fact that you're building a car. We love the social media interaction, Facebook page, Instagram - Ontario Asphalt Mini Stocks.' That's what they're looking for. We're going to do a time lapse video; we have cameras on this build all weekend.
“That's what the sponsors are looking for - the ability to reach kids. You have companies like NAPA and Mister Transmission that can't get enough trades people into their programs. When I sat down with NAPA, they talk about a program where they can take a high school kid and plan it out for them to become a trades person to a franchise owner for NAPA Auto Parts. So this is what you have to do; you have to reach kids in high school. If they branch out into other things, leave the motorsports things, you don't come back. When you play hockey as a kid, you may join a beer league when you get older, but it's not the same. This stuff is too hard to get back into after you leave so we have to keep the kids interested.
“These tracks have to see that if there's no builder divisions, there's no APC Series, no OSCAAR Hot Rods, no late models at Jukasa. So build these divisions, but we have to reach out to these sponsors. I've had so many of the great partners - 22 Automotive with Steckly, Chris Howse Automotive, Sauble Falls has come on-board - these are all people that have reached out to me.”
The current full list of supporters include NAPA Canada, Napa Auto Pro, Mr. Transmission, 22 Automotive, Bryan’s Auctions, Image Wraps, Schwartzenburg Haulage, Petal Power, Engines From Hal, Sauble Falls, Dylan Sharpe Official, Wix, Mechanix Wear, Castrol and Gunk.
The program kicked off in a big way, with a team of 20 individuals coming together to build a Mini Stock Ford Mustang at the Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo.
“First thing, this was supposed to go into a high school,” Schwartzenburg noted. “That was sort of the goal. We piggy-backed off the Ohsweken Speedway Pinball car, and what we wanted to do was put it in a high school. But due to the teacher situation this year, we weren't able to do that. So we ended up getting a group of racers together with a group of young people in racing and we decided to take this car and build it at the show.”
Although the show was closed a day early, the team came close to completing the project, ultimately just a mere five parts short from firing the car up.
Throughout the weekend, the project garnered attention from individuals both involved and not involved in the industry. Several high school students in attendance spoke to those involved about how to become involved in the trades, while others were shocked at the idea of building a racecar at the show. Constance Nunes from Car Masters: Rust to Riches on Netflix even stopped by throughout the weekend, intrigued by the initiative.
In the days that follow from here, the car will continue to be used to spread awareness about the trades across the province. Craig Kamrath of Image Wraps will b