Fast Brake Auto students race for the brakes

From the left is the first place team of Devon May and Carl Winkelman; Autoshop Teacher Daniel Balsley; the second place team of Kendall Boisvert and Alex Zmuda; and the third place team of Tim Skirke and Peter Mitchell. Photo by J. Hanlon

By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
Oxford High School’s Auto Technology I class had its annual brake competition last Tuesday morning, March 10.
The auto shop teacher, Daniel Balsley, came up with the idea about 30 years ago as a way to motivate his students.
Working on the shop’s vehicles on overhead lifts, and “bench units” set up on clamps, students pair up in teams to tear apart two sets of rear drum brakes, then put them back together, correctly, under the pressure of a timer. They had 90 minutes to achieve their best times from two different stations.
In first place were Carl Winkelman and Devon May, with a combined time of 3 minutes 24 seconds. In second place was Kendall Boisvert and Alex Zmuda, with a combined time of 4 minutes 59 seconds. Taking third place was Tim Skirke and Peter Mitchell, with a combined time of 6 minutes and 57 seconds.
The most challenging part was getting the times down, Winkelman explained. “We had a decent time in the beginning and then we ended up just bringing that time down to make sure we had it.”
After weeks of practice, they have improved quite a bit. “Today was our best time,” he said.
Balsley was pleased with the results. “The students, especially those that were neck-and-neck, were really trying to get the very best times. I think in general everybody is able to service the brakes, which is what I was after. The competition went smoothly, the students did a nice job.”
Sponsors were the Rotary Club of Oxford, Steve’s Oxford Automotive and Oxford McDonalds.
A number of teachers, administrators and former students came in to help time including Superintendent Tim Throne, former OHS Principal Mike Schweig, and Steve Ray of Steve’s Automotive.

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