What would you have given to have a NASCAR racing team come to your high school to teach you and give you pointers about racing in NASCAR? Monte Vista Christian (MVC) School recently played host to NASCAR K&N West tour team Central Coast Racing and driver Todd Souza. Every January, the school has what head master Steve Sharp calls Jan-Term. Jan-Term is a week-long exercise for sophomores through seniors. Teachers use their hobbies and interests to continue their students’ education outside the classroom, giving the students life lessons and experiences they wouldn’t otherwise have.
NASCAR K&N West Team of Todd Souza Teach Students about NASCAR Cars
Most of the students at MVC would never have a chance or the desire to get up close and personal with a NASCAR race car and team. Driver Todd Souza brought a road course and oval track car to the school to show the students the differences in how cars for the two types of track are built. They also got to learn firsthand about NASCAR safety rules. Student Ivan Luna Romo got to buckle into one of the cars, put on Souza’s helmet, and see what wearing his HANS (Head and Neck Safety System) device felt like.
As well as learning the differences in how a road course car and an oval track car are built, the students are told about the safety requirements and then shown how those requirements are built into the car and incorporated into the driver’s safety equipment. Souza’s racing team also gave the students an up close and personal look at the differences in how a race car and a street legal car are fabricated.
The Experience Is Fun for Teachers and Students Alike
Romo, a junior at the school, said, “I’ve never been to a NASCAR race, so to sit in the seat all buckled up is a pretty special feeling. The practical application of physics and engineering is pretty cool. As far as this Jan-Term class, I really like it. I’ve never worked on cars before. But after a few days of hands-on activity of changing parts around, well, I’m feeling more comfortable about working on cars.”
Allie Faulk, a professor of engineering and physics at the school as well as an alumna, said, “The students experience the basics of car repair and racing in our week-long classes. We’ll close the week with the techniques of race car driving at the Le Mons indoor karting facility in Fremont. What the students learn in the classroom becomes real and practical… And sometimes entertaining.”
Senior Nick Arroya also had a great time and found a new appreciation for NASCAR racing as well. He said, “This is just a cool time to expand your mind on things I wouldn’t think about doing. It gives me a new perspective on racing. I’ve never been to a NASCAR race, but after what we’ve learned today, going to a race is the next step.”
Monte Vista Christian School prides itself on being the premiere college prep schools on California’s Central Coast. The school has been providing top-notch education to area students for the last 90 ninety years.
About Todd Souza
Souza got his start in racing at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville, where the school is located, in 1983. In 1984 he won the state championship, as well as Rookie of the Year honors in the Street Stock Division. He has driven Street Stock, dirt late model and modified. He also has a Rookie of the Year title in late model stock cars. In 2000, he moved up into NASCAR’s Southwest Tour division, again winning Rookie of the Year honors. These days he runs a limited schedule in the NASCAR K&N West Series.