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Wayne Waite

Wayne Waite Auto Technology Program Propels Graduate Into The Fast Lane

Wayne Waite, Automobile Technology, Class of: 2001
One visit to the Lorain County Joint Vocational School convinced Wayne Waite that the JVS Auto Technology Program was a career path worth pursuing.

But even Waite marvels about how that one trip now propels him across the country, and soon, around the world, as a mechanic for Mike Ashley Racing, the National Hot Rod Association's (NHRA) number 1-ranked Full Throttle Top Fuel Dragster racing team.

"I knew right away that the JVS Auto Tech Program offered everything I needed to be successful, but honestly, I never thought it would lead to something this awesome," said a jubilant Waite. He had good reason to be happy; driver Antron Brown steered Mike Ashley Racing to a recent victory at the NHRA Top Fuel Nationals in Sonoma, California.

The win in California completes a rare sweep of the Western Swing Tour including victories in Denver, Colorado, and Seattle, Washington. "Antron Brown became just the fifth Top Fuel Dragster driver in 22 years to sweep the Western Swing," stated Waite, proudly.

Waite, a 2001 graduate from Elyria, praised the Auto Technology Program for preparing him for the future and lauded his instructor Darin Lewis for keeping him focused.

"Bumper-to-bumper, the JVS provided me with hands-on experience, including a solid foundation in motors, suspensions and formulas. I'm also grateful for Mr. Lewis, who realized my potential, saw that I applied myself and sent me in the right direction," said Waite, a short block mechanic whose responsibilities include maintaining the crankcase, camshaft, rods and pistons for Brown's 8,000 horsepower dragster.

Learning to read micrometers and dial indicators also gave Waite the confidence to work on the nitro-methane powered dragster, which covers a quarter-mile in 4.5 seconds at 330 miles per hour.

"Reading a micrometer correctly is vital to camshaft shimming. And if you misread the dial indicator while torquing-down the intake manifold…well, you won't have a job for long," said Waite. "There's no room for error in these engines."

JVS instructors also taught Waite the importance of teamwork, especially when preparing the dragster on race day.

"It can be grueling. I'm part of a twelve-member team and we rely heavily on each other," confirmed Waite. "My training at the JVS prepared me for this type of teamwork: it was common for students to be paired-up or work in teams when we were troubleshooting cars."

That teamwork has paid off so far this season for Mike Ashley Racing, which leads all NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel Dragster teams in points and joined an elite group of racers to sweep the Western Swing Tour.

But there will be no rest for Waite and his teammates once the season ends in November, when Mike Ashley Racing departs for the Middle East to compete against other Top Fuel Dragster teams in the Arabian Gulf country of Qatar.

"It's all about promoting our sport around the world," said Waite, who now makes his home in Brownsburg, Indiana. "It's been a tremendous year for us. It's loud. It rattles you. I love it."
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