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Hendrick Automotive Group Awards Grant to Vernon Malone College and Career Academy

Defending NASCAR Cup Series Champion Kyle Larson Presents $25,000 Check

RALEIGH, N.C. (October 27, 2022) - Defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson was in a different kind of "winner's circle" today at Wake Tech.

The driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was on hand to help Hendrick Automotive Group present a $25,000 STEM-based grant on behalf of its "Hendrick. Get Set. Go!" program to Vernon Malone College and Career Academy, a collaborative endeavor between Wake Tech, the Wake County Public School System and Wake County government.

Get Set. Go! is Hendrick Automotive Group's grant initiative focused on financially supporting STEM-oriented educational programs throughout the U.S.

"Programs like the one at the Vernon Malone College and Career Academy help introduce students to the employable skills they will need in the future," said Mario Pennycooke, fixed operations talent acquisition manager for Hendrick Automotive Group. "Wake Tech and the Hendrick Center for Automotive Excellence are preparing students to enter the workforce from Day One, so events like this are a terrific introduction to what may be possible."

Hendrick Automotive Group selected the academy for its innovative, career-based educational programs, along with its Project Based Learning opportunity to incorporate students into building a race car. The $25,000 grant will help the school purchase needed tools and materials for the initiative. The outcome will be a race car, but more importantly, it will increase opportunities in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"We will use this generous grant to build employability and leadership skills," said Jason Schlafer, teacher and advisor for the Race Car Club at Vernon Malone College and Career Academy. "We want students to see all the opportunities that are available to them beyond our doors."

The event was held at the Hendrick Center for Automotive Excellence on Wake Tech's Scott Northern Wake Campus, a $42 million, 100,000-square-foot center that has allowed the college to triple the number of students in Automotive Systems Technology while adding the Collision Repair and Finishing Technology program.

Wake Tech President Dr. Scott Ralls said the facility is a key part of a very important partnership.

"Hendrick Motorsports is where you burn it. Hendrick Automotive Group is where you earn it. The Hendrick Center for Automotive Excellence is where you can learn it and earn it, and we're glad to be part of that."

As part of the event, Vernon Malone students toured the building and learned about Wake Tech's Automotive Technology and Collision Repair programs, while exploring career opportunities available in the industry.

A handful of Vernon Malone students also helped build a NASCAR-based V8 engine with lead Hendrick Motorsports engine builder Kevin Webber. They assembled a 358-cubic-inch Chevrolet engine similar to the fuel-injected versions that run in Larson's No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet ZL1 every NASCAR Cup Series race weekend.

Larson said he enjoyed his visit to Wake Tech.

"It's always great to do events like this. You can see the students' passion for the automotive industry. I didn't have anything like this experience when I was in high school growing up. Outside of the normal subjects in school, I dedicated my time to thinking, eating (and) breathing racing. You can see it in the students that the automotive side is what they are passionate about. While different, we share the same level of passion."

Charlotte-based Hendrick Automotive Group operates 94 dealership locations nationally and employs nearly 1,200 people at its Triangle-area dealerships, collision centers, support offices and its Capital Area Parts and Accessories Installer distribution facility.

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March 2024

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