The two-man team from Eastern Technical High School faced a challenge: discover about a dozen "bugs" in a car, fix them, and restore the car to acceptable condition — all within 90 minutes.
Seniors Anthony Critcher and Brik Wisniewski did it in just 41 minutes — while compiling the first perfect score in 24 years in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition for Maryland.
With that victory in April, the 18-year-olds earned a spot in the national finals in Dearborn, Mich., the home of Ford Motor Co. The competition begins today.
Critcher, from Overlea, and Wisniewski, from Essex, have already won $62,000 apiece in scholarship money. They are enrolled in a two-year Ford training program and will have full scholarships toward a degree at CCBC-Catonsville. They have the chance to win more scholarship money at the national competition.
Wisniewski said the effort "doesn't really seem like work, just fun," and joked that they got interested in cars through "movies like 'The Fast and the Furious' — the first one."
Asked about his interest, Critcher said, "It's difficult to explain. I just like engines — how all the different parts move together."
Eldridge Watts, their instructor at the Baltimore County school, said, "In all my years teaching, these two are among the best, if not the best."
Looking around the workshop, filled with awards and banners, he recalled that Critcher and Wisniewski "came here in ninth grade and said, 'I want my name on that wall.' And now they've done it."