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Build for speed | Ozaukee County News | News graphic

GRAFTON — Area high school students with a passion for motorsports, engineering and technology have a unique opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the sport of auto racing through the Wisconsin Formula Student USA project.

The aim of the project is to help students develop the technical and engineering skills that are vital for manufacturers. They learn laser cutting, welding, machining, fiberglass, and design using CAD programs, Solidworks, and Fusion 360. Students come from all over the state and country.

Cedarburg resident Jim Radmann, father of a 19-year-old immersed in racing culture, has voluntarily organized a program through Grafton High School that allows high school students to learn the intricacies of what makes it work an Indy car.

Radmann said 12 Wisconsin schools are participating in the program, along with teams from Ohio, Michigan and Colorado. Radmann works with SAE, SCCA, MCSCC, SVRA and other racing organizations and key people.

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At this point, Radmann’s team of three is attending Grafton High School, but he hopes to add students from other area high schools. Each team is responsible for building a replica race vehicle under a strict set of guidelines that help students build a safe vehicle that closely resembles the current SCCA Formula First race vehicle.

“These kids are some of the best and the brightest,” Radmann said. The students involved race cars at Slinger, and most have part-time jobs after school.

“Hands-on work, life skills, experience of what’s going on in real-world manufacturing, that’s what these kids are learning,” Radmann said. “The scope of this project is a big undertaking. It’s a big commitment of time and effort. The kids even come over spring break to work on the build.”

In addition to building the car, each member of the team must drive it, so the need for perfection is obvious to everyone. The group will be taking the car to Road America for test drives in the near future.

“I think we can further develop this program in the coming years to make it a college-level program in partnership with SAE, trade school and technical school programs, and even use AI (intelligence artificial) to create an autonomous student vehicle as well as a hybrid vehicle,” Radmann said.

He found the perfect partner in his business. Mike Dodge is the technical education instructor at Grafton High School. He teaches welding, machining and engineering and also trains wrestling, Battlebots and First Robotics.

“It’s one thing to make a hammer handle the right size,” Dodge said. “But when parts need to be exchanged, they have to be precise.”

Radmann said these students will go to college. Graduates from previous years attend the Milwaukee School of Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, UW-Platteville, and Marquette University. They have the opportunity to enter college and compete in professional motorsports like Indy and Nascar.

The third project partner is Eric Weninger, president of 5 Corners Isuzu Truck & Auto in Cedarburg.

“When Jim asked me if he could keep the car at our dealership, I knew it was an overall win, for the kids involved as well as the school,” Weninger said. He also shares his automotive expertise with club members.

The car will be in the dealer showroom for at least the next two weeks. Radmann said: “Eric is our biggest supporter. He makes things a lot easier for the team,” he said. All of this, of course, comes at a cost. Parts, service, and travel expenses don’t come cheap.

“The car is worth $10,000,” Radmann said. “Sponsors are always welcome.” Radmann is vice president of the Network Operations Center Cable Response TV. He can be reached at

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