Rochester VICA Street Rod- “Success on Wheels”
In the fall of 2001, the Mayo High School SkillsUSA chapter began a project to rebuild a 1964 Ford F100 pickup truck. It is a rare instructor who can successfully motivate a group of students to combine politics, welding, marketing, auto mechanics, design, business savvy, and lots of hard work into one project, but somehow Gary Komaniecki manages to do it.
Gary is an industrial technology teacher at Rochester Mayo And John Marshall High Schools, and an Advisor for SkillsUSA (formerly called VICA) with a passion for teaching “real-life experiences. But there is one project that is now dominating the Mayo auto shop and has involved students from four Rochester high schools, local businesses and sponsors, a national magazine, and even state politicians. Students have been diligently working on a 1964 Ford F100 from the ground up.
In 2001 students rescued the rusted-out truck from a barn after a community member donated it. Since then it has slowly gone through a transformation. With Gary in the lead, the students have made decisions as a group, using the democratic process. They held a student design contest for the vehicle, held a democratic vote, and declared a winner. A local professional artist and engineer donated his services to render the VICA street rod.
Work on the street rod continued over the years, with lots of progress being made. Once the vehicle is completed, students plan to show off their creation in parades, community service events, and car shows. From the chopped roofline to the Turbo 350 automatic transmission, this one-of-a-kind street rod has been a successful educational project for Gary and his students. The students say it is built Ford tough with Chevy stuff, the truck has a Chevy 350 small block engine and a nitrous oxide system just for kicks! All of the work has been done by the students, with the exception of painting (but they still helped!). Students, alumni, and countless sponsors have donated years of time, money, and dedication to make this dream a reality. The street rod is in the near-completion stage will begin it tours in the Midwest shows this summer!
“I am most proud of encouraging my students to think independently and creatively. I try to foster a strong work ethic in my shop classes, and do it by example. I’m from a working class background, and I guess I’m pretty proud of that.”
Excerpts of this article have been taken from René Lafflam © 2003, Rochester Public Schools Story and
photo appear in the Rochester Public Schools 2003 Annual Report.
Our 1964 Ford F100 Street Rod concept drawing was professionally rendered by
Jason Rushforth Performance Design.