Under the hood: inside VHS’s Car Show


This General Motors Chevrolet 350 V8 engine will be on display during the car show. “That’s the same engine that the students rebuild in the advanced auto [class], said Hays. Photo by: Micah Wilcox

Micah Wilcox

Ventura High School’s annual Car Show takes place Friday, March 29. Behind the vehicles set up on Poli St., however, senior and advanced automotive student Isabel Mercado has been working for “roughly two months” in her words to make the whole show happen.

“I basically run the whole thing,” said Mercado in a text message. “I create the banners, I do the publicity, I create the forms and run the meeting for everyone in the Car Show with [Scott] Hays [the automotive teacher].”

Mercado also worked to spread the word for the Car Show in addition to “[organizing] the Car Show awards” and “[making] it a fun experience for the automotive students and non-students alike.”

According to Hays, “there was a teacher here in the [1990s], Mr. Williams,” who started running Car Shows. “I can’t give you the exact date,” stated Hays, who said it’s “probably fair to say” that the show has gone on for at least 20 years.

Hays described his role in making the Car Show happen as “behind the scenes work.”

“I take my advanced auto students and I put the onus on them to plan it,” stated Hays.

“We need to definitely mention Isabel Mercado, she’s been the brains behind it,” he said, noting that Mercado made the flyers (and the logo) distributed for the Car Show.

Senior and advanced automotive student Isabel Mercado created the flyer and designed the logo for the car show. Photo by: Micah Wilcox

“I obviously have to get permission through [the] administration [to run the Car Show], and I usually sign up for the day a year in advance.”

One of the requirements for participating in the Car Show for students is that they must turn in their keys to Hays.

“We have had years ago problems with noise with the people on the hill so we try to avoid them starting the cars up and revving the engines.”

While Hays has shied away from getting prizes for judging on the grounds that it creates a “popularity contest instead of really a true judging of the automobiles,” he said that Mercado this year had the idea that advanced automotive students could judge the cars and give out certificates.

The “best part hands down oddly enough is waking up super early to set up,” said Mercado. She’s waking up at 5:00 a.m. and arriving at school at 6:45 a.m, where she will be “checking people in and seeing a community based around a common interest and hobby.”

“I see my advanced automotive classmates like brothers and we’re all super supportive of each other and they’re the kindest people with the greatest mechanic skills you’ll ever see.”

“I think it represents Ventura High School,” said Hays, noting that he doesn’t know any other local schools that have Car Shows.

“It’s a chance for them [students who show off their cars] to bring their car, show it to their friends,” said Hays. Students don’t have to be in automotive classes to enter their car into the Car Show.

“I think the Car Show is important on our campus,” stated Mercado.  

“The automotive kids work endlessly on their own cars and projects,” she said, “and getting to display it with pride is grand.”

“I personally get a lot out of it. I think a lot of kids see us as silly motorheads who can replace a part and have no other [thoughts], however, there is a lot of [hard work] and [craftsmanship] behind every vehicle out there on Poli.”

“I’ve been part of the automotive program since my [freshman] year and have been running [the Car Show] since my [freshman] year,” said Mercado, adding, “I pass that baton to the juniors in the [advanced] class Peter, Scott and Jose.”