By Kyah Corff

Star Intern

The annual Pirate Garage Car Show, a vital fundraiser for the Pirate Garage Club, supports students who are passionate about anything and everything on wheels.

The fifth annual car show on March 17 at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School featured many vehicles displayed by their owners in the community, as well as sales of raffle tickets, food, and Pirate merchandise in a casual atmosphere.

Tom Berry checks out the classic cars at Santa Ynez High School during the Pirate Garage Car Show. Photo by Daniel Dreifuss.

On a surprisingly sunny day, friends and family wandered around the event, which was sponsored by local businesses.

The auto shop club provides students “a place where they feel involved and needed, and a place where they can get experience and a good support system,” said Jennifer Oseguera, a senior and a co-chairman of the Pirate Garage Club.

Oseguera grew up with older male influences and their love of vehicles. Without a female mechanic role model, she became her own and has been involved in the club all four years she has been at the school.

Sarah Puder, a senior and the other co-chairman of the Pirate Garage Club, also appreciates the opportunities the club provides.

By a turn of fate, almost all electives were filled up during Puder’s freshman year, which led her to enroll in an auto shop class. She fell in love with the program and involved herself in the Pirate Garage Club.

She said she is particularly grateful to the club for career possibilities and for showing her what lies beyond high school.

“The program teaches high schoolers what’s outside their little bubbles,” she said.

The club teaches valuable career skills such as public relations, philanthropy and management, as well as mechanical skills.

Steven Fritz and his kids Mason, 5, and Athena, 2, look inside a classic car at Santa Ynez High School during the Pirate Garage Car Show.

The club also has a successful racing team that competes in the National SkillsUSA competition. The SkillsUSA organization seeks to “empower its members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens,” according to their website. Pirate mechanics have a reputation for placing in regionals and won state championships in 2016.

This success is owed not only to the students but to Rob Hill, the SYVUHS auto shop instructor and Pirate Garage Club supervisor. He relates to his students and their love of racing and mechanics, and he credits his own high school auto shop program with keeping him in high school and from racing on the streets.

Hill was recently named one of three finalists for the 2017 SEMA – NACAT Education Foundation SEMA Show Award. The award recognizes and supports top instructors who develop exemplary aftermarket curriculum, inspire student involvement, and elevate the quality of future industry professionals.

The family feeling created by the supportive club is thanks to the funds and community of the Pirate Garage Car Show.

“It brings the car community together. There is outstanding support for it,” Hill said.

“The kids have such a big part in putting it together, and it’s a really great family and community event,” said Mindi Christian, the high school staff member in charge of Regional Occupational (ROP) and Career Technical Education (CTE) programs.

Christian helps prepare students for life beyond high school, and many of the students say she gives massive support to the Pirate Garage Club and the car show.

To hear more about the Pirate Garage Club or its next event, email Hill at

Kyah Corff is a junior at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School and an intern for the Santa Ynez Valley Star.