My dad changed my life. Because of his influence, I had an insane interest in cars. I mean, I was already into cars, but through him, I learned all about how they worked, and how to wrench on them. That experience steered my focus towards the automotive industry, and that’s where I’ve been ever since—I’ve never regretted that decision. It was all because someone, my dad, saw value in me and allowed that spark inside of me to flourish.
I’m forever grateful for the example I was given in the form of my dad. However, there are countless young people, boys and girls alike, that don’t have a person in their lives; like a parent, or an elder sibling to set an example, or provide guidance and inspiration. Growing up without a goal or any focus, many of these youth turn to gangs, and one of the activities gangs engage in is graffiti.
Enter DRAGG, which stands for Drag Racing Against Gangs & Graffiti. Based in Oxnard, California, DRAGG is an after school program where police officers and people from the automotive industry mentor local high school students. Beginning with only an idea, a Mustang, and a shop; seven years later, they’ve helped to transform the lives of close to 100 young men and women.
This program takes juniors and seniors from high schools around the city, and teaches them a trade in the automotive industry. The DRAGG students are taught by the automotive school teachers from the surrounding high schools. The class mirrors the local high school’s schedule, and each semester, the students can earn 5 school credits after completing 60 hours of class work.
During the semester, the students will make visits to some local industry leaders, and attend racing events. They will also work on automotive projects with the goal of completing them by the end of the year. For the 2018 semester, they’ve expanded with a 5,000 sq-ft shop, and will hold three classes a week with additional study sessions spaced throughout the semester.
So, what kinds of project cars have they built? There’s their 2006 Mustang GT; a Vortech supercharged drifter that sports items like an Eibach suspension, Forgestar wheels, a Borla Exhaust, and a trick paint job. They’ve also applied their expertise in building a 2013 Focus. The DRAGG team installed a Vortech intercooler, Borla exhaust, and Cobra racing seats, just to name a few items.
Next, they tried something new by building The Thin Blue Line; a 2015 Ecoboost Mustang. Through their partnership with American Muscle, they built an eye-catching show car that has traveled the U.S. in raising awareness for the program. Their latest project is a beautiful 2018 Ecoboost Mustang. Getting their project car directly from Ford, they started in June of 2017, and had it together for SEMA ’17 in November to display in Ford’s booth.
Under the direction of Officers Daniel Shrubb and Charles Woodruff, the DRAGG program has been instrumental in redirecting the lives of many young people, who would have otherwise gone astray in this world. Past graduates of the program have gone on to further their education, and have also entered promising careers.
The DRAGG team cares about young people, and ultimately their future. We need programs like DRAGG in every corner of the country. If you’d like to do your part, they can always use sponsorship. Their “About Us” page will have a link for you to contact their staff and help out. Help them give our young people some guidance and hope.
Living in Richmond, Texas, PJ Rentie has been in the automotive industry for more than 30 years. This former Assistant Editor at Vette Magazine also spent time with companies like NOS, Edelbrock, Hillbank Motorsports, Classic Industries, and was an automotive instructor for Cypress College for ten years. In his spare time, PJ hopes to one day bring his Fox Body Mustang out of the back yard and back onto the street!