Craftsman scholar does racing internship

College student works with race team. LIMA, Ohio - When Caleb O'Connor tells his classmates, "I'm going to work in the lab this weekend," he's not talking about a research building across campus. The sophomore at the University of Northwestern...

College student works with race team.

LIMA, Ohio - When Caleb O'Connor tells his classmates, "I'm going to work in the lab this weekend," he's not talking about a research building across campus. The sophomore at the University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima is going to a National Hot Rod Association drag race to work on the crew of Dale Creasy Jr. and his Craftsman Funny Car team.

O'Connor, of Sandwich, Mass., near Boston, is the 2001 winner of a $25,000 scholarship presented by Craftsman tools and the NHRA. He's using it to work toward a degree in high-performance automotive technology at Northwestern Ohio. For hands-on experience in the racing field, O'Connor will serve an internship with Creasy's team at eight races during the 2002 NHRA season.

O'Connor's position with the crew is not just ceremonial: Creasy and his team are putting him right to work.

"Caleb is a great addition to the team," Creasy said after a couple of weekends with O'Connor in his pit. "I told the crew, 'Here he is, let's make him work,' and Caleb jumped right in."

O'Connor found there is plenty to do in servicing Creasy's 300-mph Craftsman Funny Car. A blast down the quarter-mile drag strip takes barely five seconds, but the energy produced by the 6,000-horsepower, nitromethane-burning engine is so great that it must be completely rebuilt after each run. Between passes, the crew has a mere 75 minutes to rebuild and repair the engine, service the clutch and transmission, repack the parachutes, and set the car up for the next run down the track.

"This is an unbelievable team to work for," O'Connor said after three weekends with the Craftsman Funny Car team. "They keep me busy, but if I have a question, they help me, take the time to teach me. I change the tires, wash the engine parts as they disassemble the engine, help keep the car clean, all the miscellaneous jobs that have to be done. They let me do more each time I come."

Creasy and his crew have been appreciative of O'Connor's effort.

"Before Caleb got here, we didn't know what to expect," Creasy said. "But when he got here, he fit in immediately. He's a hard worker; he's going to be a good crew member."

"This relates exactly to what they teach us in school, about all aspects of working on a race team," O'Connor continued. "In school we learned about adjusting the valves, and I got to help adjust the valves on the Craftsman car.

"This class is so much more in depth than anything I've done before. It's a big step up. Working with the Craftsman team has shown me that racing really is what I want to do," O'Connor said.

Craftsman NHRA Scholarships

Each year, 21 scholarships - three in each of NHRA's seven geographic divisions - have been awarded under a program administered by the Youth and Education Services Department of NHRA and funded by Craftsman. The scholarships of $1,000 go to qualified high school seniors interested in a career in automotive technology or motorsports. Selection is based on academic achievement, citizenship, extracurricular activities, community service, and work experience of each applicant. One student is selected to receive an additional scholarship of up to $25,000.

More than 3000 qualified applications were submitted for the 2002 scholarships. This year's $25,000 scholarship will be awarded during the Sears Craftsman Nationals at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis in June. Since the Sears Craftsman Scholarship was introduced in 1993, more than 200 youths have been assisted in furthering their education.

For more information on the Craftsman scholarship, contact the NHRA Youth and Education Services department or go to www.nhra.com.

Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2002, Craftsman is the Official Tools of NHRA, and sponsors the annual Sears Craftsman Nationals at Gateway International Raceway. According to a 2001 EquiTrend survey, Craftsman is rated the number-one brand in the nation for overall quality. Sears sells more than 1,800 Craftsman hand tools, all made in America and guaranteed forever. Sears offers Craftsman tools, merchandise and related services nationwide through its full-line stores, Sears Hardware, Sears Dealer Stores and Orchard Supply Hardware stores as well as through specialty catalogs and online at www.sears.com.

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Dale Creasy Jr.