MORRIS – Cars are in Brian Quinn’s blood.
His uncles all work as mechanics, and he and one of his uncles have been restoring a 1956 Oldsmobile Starfire for as long as he can remember.
Quinn, who will graduate May 22 from Minooka Community High School, has channeled that love of auto mechanics into his work at Grundy Area Vocational Center, where he recently was awarded the top honor in his class: a $1,300 set of tools and toolbox donated from Eric Berry, the owner of NAPA of Morris and Channahon.
Quinn plans to further his automotive career at Joliet Junior College, then transfer to Southern Illinois University to study in their automotive program. He also uses his talents at a part-time job at Thomas Nissan in Joliet.
“I’ve always liked working on cars,” Quinn said. “A lot of my family are mechanics and I just have always liked it. I would like to get into the corporate side of it, though.”
That’s where the studying at SIU will lead him, but first, he must learn the basics. And he has done that with flying colors, GAVC automotive technology teacher Andy Kacena said.
“This award was given based on attendance, maturity, passion for auto mechanics, talent and hard work,” he said. “Brian has all of those. He’s a great helper and leader in the classroom. If anyone needs help, he’s right there to help if they want it.”
At the same time, though, he’s not one to stick his nose in where it’s not wanted.
“Some of the guys want to figure things out themselves,” Quinn said. “Even if I see them doing something wrong, unless they ask, I generally let them go. You have to let them figure some things out for themselves.”
Quinn said his favorite part of working on cars is the electrical system and making the car perform better. He also is the recipient of a $1,000 Morris Cruise Night scholarship and finished sixth at the state skills competition.
“First, he had to pass a written exam to get to state, then there were 20 hands-on stations, like measuring parts, pulling spark plugs, stuff like that,” Kacena said. “So, to pass a written test and finish so high in the skills is very good. It shows that Brian is very well-rounded.”