Scholarship event to benefit automotive technology students at Parkland

Brittany Webb


Photo by Scott Wells | The Prospectus Parkland College’s Director of Automotive Technology, Jon Ross, demonstrates his racing skills at the Back 2 School Autocross held on campus Sept. 6, 2015. Autocross is sponsored by the Champaign County Sports Car Club.

Staff Writer

On a sunny Sunday morning, the Champaign County Sports Car Club and spectators headed out to the B parking lots at Parkland to watch the Autocross for Scholarships event.

At the gate, Steve, the safety gateman, asked riders to sign an insurance waiver, and said not to cross the yellow taped off areas.

“You’ve got to get inside a car and ride along,” he said. “It’s the only way you’ll get the whole experience!”

Dean Plumadore, who is in his third season with the club, offered a ride. With just a helmet and a short safety briefing on how to properly hold on, the car took off.

“Don’t worry, no one has ever fallen out,” Plumadore said.

It was over quick, as Plumadore had the second or third best time of the day at that point.

The Autocross for Scholarships event was held on Sept. 6 and 7 at Parkland College. Run by the Champaign County Sports Car Club (CCSCC), this scholarship has been available for over 20 years.

Autocross is a fast paced event where drivers compete for the fastest time on a course marked by cones. There is only one car on a section of the course at a time, with courses laid out in open areas with few obstacles.

Speeds normally stay under 65 mph, according to the CCSCC website.

The event is usually a well-attended one, with anywhere from 50-70 participants.

“It’s certainly a weather-dependent event,” said Jon Ross, director of Automotive Technology at Parkland College. “When the weather is nice, there will be as many as 70 participants.”

The event Sunday and Monday was to raise money for scholarships for Parkland College students. The Sports Car Club sponsors a scholarship through the Automotive Technology program here at Parkland.

“Working with Jon Ross, who runs the program, they allow us to come hold the events here twice a year,” said Wagner. “Once in conjunction with the auto show in May and then also in September on Labor Day weekend.”

Both events raise money for the scholarships, which are awarded to students in the automotive technology program, ford asset program and the auto body programs. The scholarships are available to full time students, a minimum GPA requirement, and unmet need. There is a two page application for the students to fill out also.

“Mainly we are trying to gauge their interest in automotive technology, what are their plans for the future, that kind of thing,” said Bill Wagner, president of the CCSCC.

Up to three $750 scholarships are awarded every semester, said Wagner.

“We have been disappointed over the years in the number of people who apply,” said Wagner. “It’s very difficult for us to get people to apply.”

It is very important to the club to award these scholarships to students. The club wants to have people who are going to continue on in the automotive fields and help people take care of their cars.

“As cars have gotten more complex, it requires more tools and diagnostic processes to work on the cars,” Wagner said. “We feel it is important to have people that know how to do that.”

The club also feels not everyone is suited for academic work in college, and wants to have opportunities for people good with their hands, good with diagnostic procedures, and making calls on what the problem is and how to fix them.

Russ Bedford, who ran the grid where he tells the cars lined up when to proceed, said the event is always well attended.

“I think today we have 50 or 60 cars,” Bedford said. “It’s an interesting place to run with all the light poles and trees.”

Bedford said the club has a great relationship with Parkland and noted that his first event was at Parkland in the surrounding lots.

More information on the scholarships available can be found on My.Parkland under the student services/financial aid tab, or by calling financial aid at 217-351-2222. More information about the Champaign County Sports Car Club can be found at