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TSA Championships go old school with LSRAV dragsters and motorcycles

Every year, students bring the best and fastest CO2 dragsters and custom transportation models to compete at the Technology Student Association’s national conference. This year’s events tapped into TSA’s history for inspiration while making history!


Time travel was in mind for participants of this 2017 Dragster Design competition. The Throwback Design Challenge hailed back to the ’70s when there weren’t any of the shell cars that have become dominant in recent generations. Shell cars were strictly prohibited this year, and no part of the dragster body could cover any part of the front or back wheels.

The student who took gold in the high school division is no stranger to a challenge. Merritt Kendzior, a senior from Bradenton, Florida, has taken the gold the last four years in a row. This is no small thing. Event Coordinator Ronnie McQueen, who has run the event for 30 years, cannot recall another student even winning two in a row, much less four!

The town of Bradenton is also home to the middle school winner, Hunter Raley.

“There’s a lot of people in TSA who think Dragsters is old and passé,” said Merritt’s TSA Advisor Richard Platt. “It’s not – it’s the best event because, as Merritt has proven so many times, she engineers her cars and she comes up with new and innovative things to prove that year in and year out. “

Check out this year’s Dragster Design top results (1st place shown at right):

High School

1st: Merritt Kendzior, Southeast High School, Bradenton, FL, with Helluva Ride and a time of 0.789 s

2nd: Nicholas Anderson, Braden River High School, Bradenton, FL, with Chance and a time of 0.794 s

3rd: Jefferson Pham, James Bowie High School, Arlington, TX, with Fire at Will and a time of 0.804 s

Middle School

1st: Hunter Raley, Haile Middle School, Bradenton, FL, with Stars and Stripes and a time of 0.873 s

2nd: Rhett Floyd, Franklin County Middle School, Carnesville, GA, with Speedy and a time of 0.896 s

3rd: Bryce Barrett, Kerr Middle School, Burleson, TX, with Black Diamond and a time of 0.895 s


Though not a racing competition, Transportation Modeling brings out the creativity in students hoping to stun judges for the year’s challenge. Competitors certainly revved up for this year’s theme: motorcycles! While past years have had less traditional themes such as helicopters and lawn mowers, this year featured a class of vehicle that is both traditional and exciting.

Here are the top three placers:

1st: Jacob Still, Winder-Barron High School, Winder, GA, with Free Bird

2nd: Owen Davis, A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering School, Augusta, GA, with MTT Y2K

3rd: Jared Herbert, Lakewood Ranch High School, Bradenton, FL, with Spark Motorsports Scrambler