Top Dawg electrician Brendon Mendenhall, K&N Peformance Kits Manager Bert Heck and Ramona High School Automotive Teacher Robert Grace work out the dyno run details for the 1994 Chevy Camaro
Five Ramona High School Automotive Students and Parent Tony Greenwell at K&N headquarters in Riverside, California
Several seniors from Ramona High School received scholarships partly because of their work ethic on Top Dawg
Top Dawg rolls into K&N's dyno facility
K&N's Bert Heck explains how dyno testing will be done on Top Dawg
K&N hood scoop helped 1994 Chevy Camaro go faster on SPEED-TV reality show Drag Race High
Five of those students, their teacher, Robert Grace and a parent Tony Greenwell took a field trip to K&N in Riverside, California where they toured the facility. They also brought Top Dawg, which was a dynamometer virgin until it was tested at K&N.
The five students who got up at 5 a.m. to make the trip described K&N as filter paradise. “K&N is incredible,” said Ramona High School Automotive Instructor Robert Grace. “I am impressed with the knowledge of the K&N staff and the facility is top notch.”
The Ramona High School crew brought three types of fuels for Top Dawg’s dyno runs. C12, C16 and nitrous racing fuels were each tested on their 598 cubic inch Dart engine with Crower internals, a K&N oil filter and a K&N hood scoop.
The dyno room at K&N is situated under offices and near customer service. The race car was heard and felt by a lot of the K&N office personnel. With the C12 racing fuel the Camaro was really loud on the dyno. When the nitrous racing fuel hit the dyno it sounded and felt like a race car. High fives went all around when the Camaro made 869 horsepower with the nitrous racing fuel. “The noise was exciting,” said Grace. “These kids put their hearts and souls into this car and K&N helped us take it to the next level.”
Automotive students worked 12 to 16 hours a day to complete the project. They went to zero- period before school and worked on the build of the car, attended classes, did homework then worked on the Camaro in the evening. Senior Brendon Mendenhall was the electrician for the team. He made a quick fix in the K&N dyno room that allowed testing to continue. “I wired up a switch that cut the nitrous solenoids,” he said. “We had to activate that switch to turn on the nitrous and everything worked again.”
Ryan Greenwell was the only freshman on the project. He is an accomplished junior dragster that has three Wally’s listed on his racing resume. He also uses K&N products on his dragster. “I was a floater on the crew,” said Greenwell. “They teased me because I was the youngest but I was there all the time and helped out where we needed it. I think I have 38 nicknames now.”
“My son’s work ethic changed with this project,” said Tony Greenwell, Ryan Greenwell’s father. “He was the only freshman and he stuck with it to the end. It was very rewarding to see my son’s growth and development and also very rewarding to see all these kids start something this great and finish it.”
Todd Dodson worked on brakes and suspension. “I learned how important suspension is,” he said. “I also learned fine tuning is critical.” Senior and crew chief Chris Houts said he got his hands dirty every day. After graduation he will attend the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Phoenix, Arizona on a full scholarship. Daniel Currie will go to UTI in Arizona for the Ford Facto Program.
SPEED-TV gave Ramona High seed money to build the Camaro. “It was ten-thousand dollars,” said Grace. “We took that seed money and made phone calls, sought out an advisory committee made up of local racers and received parts from sponsors like K&N. In the end we have a car worth tens of thousands of dollars.”
In the reality show, Ramona High lost the race, but they really won. “We set out to build a race car and we did,” said Grace. “Several of our seniors received full scholarships as a result of our program and I’m proud them and all of the students who worked on Top Dawg.”
"When I was in high school we had auto shop but it was nothing like the Ramona High School program," said K&N Performance Kits Manager Bert Heck. "I wish I had been in their shoes when I was a teenager."
Next year Grace hopes to take the car to a local drag strip and show his students the motorsports side of the automotive world.
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