March 25, 2014


Media contact: CeCe Todd, (480) 461-4032

Other schools have football and basketball teams, but the East Valley Institute of Technology has a race car! EVIT #5, driven by R.C. Whitwell, is sponsored by EVIT students and staff and is now competing in the Dirt Late Model racing series.

EVIT, a public career and technical school in Mesa, offers over 30 occupational training programs tuition-free to high school students and tuition-based to adults. EVIT serves students who reside in 10 East Valley school districts – Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Fountain Hills, Apache Junction, Gilbert, Higley, Queen Creek and J.O. Combs.

The idea for an EVIT race car came from collision repair instructor Hollywood Leary. “I think a missing part of our school – that, by the way, is an amazing facility full of amazing teachers and students – is that we don’t have the football, baseball or basketball team to rally around on Friday nights,” he said. “Well, I believe I have found a cure for the missing piece of an otherwise perfect puzzle.”

Leary, who used to race and manage a race track, asked Jeff and Mitzi Manka of Glendale, Ariz., if EVIT could sponsor the car they own. “Hollywood can be pretty persuasive,” Jeff Manka said. “Many of the kids at the school are in automotive and diesel, so how can it not be a great idea?”

The car, a 2013 Rocket, has 800 to 850 horsepower and can reach 100 mph at the end of straightaways on the dirt track, Manka said. Its driver, Whitwell, is well known in West Coast Late Model dirt racing.

For a donation of $5, EVIT students and staff can have their name put on the car alongside the EVIT logo. During two assemblies on Wednesday, March 26 – 9:45 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. – EVIT students will get their first up-close look at the car.

“Some schools have a football team, some schools have a basketball team. But we have a race car,” said Superintendent Sally Downey. “It’s a great way to build camaraderie. When it’s racing locally, we can all go to the race track and root our car on to victory.”

To see EVIT #5 in action, visit this link:

It is the policy of the East Valley Institute of Technology District #401 to provide all persons with equal employment and education opportunities regardless of race, color, sex, national origin, marital status, age or disability. District grievance procedures will be followed for compliance with Title IX and Section 504 requirements. The compliance officer is the EVIT Superintendent.

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