Bathurst High School students didn't quite earn the top honour at the Miramichi Dragway's New Brunswick High School Challenge, but over a year of hard work put them close to the top of the competition.

"We went racing last year with a sub-standard car, something that wasn't very fast and didn't have a lot of power," says Wally Knowles, the school's shop teacher.

Shop class

Bathurst High School students spent the year working on a truck so they could enter it into a provincial drag-racing competition last weekend in Miramichi. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

"We decided we were going to get something together this year that would be competitive with what all the other high schools had."

Students scrounged the city for scraps and came up with a frame and little else to start with.

"The truck was a bare shell. There was nothing to the truck. We built it all from scratch," says Grade 12 student Logan Daigle.

At the contest last weekend, the class's entry cleared 400 metres in 14 seconds, reaching a top speed of nearly 145 km/h.

The 14-second truck didn't win the event, but the Bathurst students took home the prize for "best burnout" at the start of their acceleration.

"These tires when we brought them in were pretty much new," says Daigle, showing off the damage.

"Now they're down to a bald tread. They're pretty much bare. But we did put on a good show."

Community support

The class built the powerful vehicle with the help of local businesses, who they relied on for parts and support.

Bathurst High School shop class

The Bathurst High School shop class didn't win the provincial competition, but they did earn the "Best Burnout" award. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

"Anybody in racing knows that without sponsorship, it's not gonna happen. Our community stepped up immensely," says Knowles.

"Didn't matter who we asked, it was more or less what can we do to help you? Even when we got to the track, the people who supported us locally were at the track waiting for us."

Dozens of sponsor names are spelled out in decals across the truck's exterior, but they're difficult to make out flying by at 145 km/h.

During the race, student drivers are accompanied by an instructor, kill switch in hand.

"They hold it like this," says Logan Daigle, laughing, with the switch held tightly.

"They think we're not gonna be able to drive."

The truck is equipped to accommodate any driver, in standard, or automatic, he says.

"You can just put it in drive, for people who don't know how to drive standard, or you can put it in first gear and when you get to 5,000 RPM, you just slap it with your hand."

'It's not homework at all'

The students used class time to complete the project, which aligned with shop curriculum, but some also came into school on weekends to work on any problems.

"It was a pain in the butt. It was hard to do. And we had a lot of problems, a lot of issues, but we got 'er done pretty good," says Grade 12 student Chad Scott.

The shop teacher says overall, the experience was positive for the boys.

"They worked eight-to-four Saturdays for probably a month before actual race day so it builds a lot of camaraderie, teamwork, and life skills," Knowles said.

"The smiles and the grins and the excitement come race day ... it's not homework at all."