Students Win Contest and Meet Jay Leno


By Sarah D.

Hydrogen Vehicle-----Photos By Joe Petito

The late-night talk show host, Jay Leno, has a busy life.  However, the 61-year-old has a thriving hobby:  collecting vintage cars and motorcycles.  Six students from Richardson, all girls-Jessica B., Regina M., Elizabeth D., Rachel B., Daiele Y., and Keana S., got the opportunity to visit the warehouse, Jay Leno’s Garage. Located in Burbank, California, the Garage is the home to Leno’s 132 vintage cars and 94 vintage motorcycles.

The project that the girls did, which allowed them to tour the Garage, was called the Student Automotive Design Challenge, or the SADC.  The project was building a car with nitrogen acting as fuel to run the car.  The Society of Automotive Engineers and the Honeywell Corporation sponsored the contest and voted on the winners.

The girls traveled to Burbank in a Torrance Unified van on Wednesday, January 25,  coincidentally, Mr. Joe Petito’s birthday, who was able to accompany the girls.

RMS students said that they would go back again should they be invited.

“I knew he had a lot of cars; I checked the website before we went,” said Eighth Grader Elizabeth D.

They were not expecting anything special quite like this though.

“We didn’t know that we would be able to go [to the Garage] until we won. And I didn’t expect that many cars!” said Elizabeth D.

The six girls were very fortunate to be able to go.  Petito says that this was a “one time thing.” These girls may not know this, but they could very well be the only students from Richardson to ever go to Jay Leno’s Garage!

While at the Garage, everybody had a different, yet exciting, experience. The tourists all met Leno.

“He was very personable and nice. He was also very down-to-earth,” said Richardson Principal, Mr. Chad Mabery, who also went to the Garage.

When asked what his favorite automobile was, he said it was a Model T 1920 electric hybrid car.

On the other hand, Mr. Petito’s favorite automobile was a T.E. Lawrence gold and black motorcycle.

Students enjoyed being toured through the Garage by Leno.

“He [Jay Leno] was pretty cool,” said Jessica B.

The Richardson gang was accompanied by a group of students from Gardena Elementary School. They watched as Leno drove a boy from Gardena around in one of the cars.  Everybody had a good time.

After a number of hours spent exploring around the Garage, the Richardson winners headed back to Torrance to share their experience.


*The Bigger Picture:

“The Society of Automotive Engineers made the connection with Leno; he’s a member, and wants to see more of this kind of education in public schools.

The bigger story behind Leno and SAE is the loss of our ability as a society to keep our infrastructure operating– schools have cut back everything vocational and technical in promoting university prepardness programs that will reduce the achievement gap; The A through G set of classes and schedules,” said Technology Teacher, Joe Petito.

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