HomeNewsStudents ready to race in the Demolition Derby

Students ready to race in the Demolition Derby

By UCOL on Friday, 23 November 2018

A photograph of a UCOL speedway car

Palmerston North Speedway’s Demolition Derby is an event not to be missed, especially for UCOL’s Panel and Paint students.  These students have been working towards a common goal, getting five cars ready to race in the Demolition Derby at Central Energy Trust Arena on November 24th.

The event forms part of students’ assessments for the New Zealand Certificate in Collision Repair and Automotive Refinishing.  Automotive Lecturer, Ash McKenzie teaches two intakes of students each year and the Demolition Derby is one of the most rewarding parts.  

“One group of students work on the first group of cars and hold a “Teams Derby” for lecturers and stakeholders in April. After that, the second class start on the second lot of cars for the students to drive in the Demolition Derby.”

UCOL cars after racing in a demolition derby
“There are five cars that UCOL enter in the event. The students are all keen to race, and we select the first student to drive based on attendance, and the other four student drivers are selected at random.”

The cars are donated by Palmerston North Speedway each year, a partnership that’s been in place for four years. The students work on them for their assessments leading up to the big event, which is also an assessment for the qualification.  

Phil Oswald, who has been an automotive lecturer for 21 years, is enthusiastic about the benefits of the event for current and prospective students.

“The event really gets the name out for UCOL and UCOL Panel and Paint and Automotive. It’s a good thing all round and it’s great to be a part of the speedway community that means so much to Manawatu.”

“There could be 70 cars on the track at any one time, its super with loads to watch and look at.”

When it comes to health and safety, that’s another area the students and their lecturers are excelling in.

“All of the cars and gear are evaluated, and meet Speedway New Zealand Standards. We go above and beyond the safety standards required.” 

UCOL’s Executive Dean of Engineering and Applied Technologies, Danny Reilly, takes the safety of the students very seriously and is proud of the difference the qualification is making to the safety of the industry and the events that are part of it.

“The full roll cages in our cars are not a requirement, we started making them years ago to protect students, and that’s going to become the standard. UCOL is leading the way with these safety features.”

closeup of driver's side demolition derby car
closeup of passenger door of demolition derby car

Students Wesley Gray and Carl Woods are both counting down the hours until they get to hit the track with the cars they’ve been working on for the past five months.

“I can’t wait to race!” are the words of Wesley Gray.

“I know with the roll cages that we have one of the safest cars on the track.” Says Carl, a previous student at Awatapu College who hopes to get straight into the industry when he graduates in April next year.

“I have a lot of gratitude for my lecturers, because without them we wouldn’t be able to do this.”

UCOL automotive students with their speedway cars
a demolition derby car on a trailer

The next intake for this qualification is coming up quickly with new students currently being accepted for the February 2019 intake.