Back with force: ATSG is back in full swing to educate the transmission industry - Transmission Digest

Back with force: ATSG is back in full swing to educate the transmission industry

“Everywhere you turned, there was something amazing. It’s probably the coolest man cave I’ve ever been in,” says Wayne Colonna who, as president, heads up the technical team at the Automatic Transmission Service Group (ATSG). Wayne is describing the host venue for his company’s inaugural 2024 seminar that was held at the John Force Racing facility and museum in the Los Angeles suburb of Yorba Linda, California. Transtar’s Orange, CA branch served as the presenting host for the event.

Considered by many to be the industry’s most valuable educational opportunity, this year’s live and in-person ATSG seminars brought to the industry by Schaeffler/LuK are off and running in full swing. The traditional regional seminar schedule was suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic but has returned to offer information on diagnosing and repairing transmission problems.

A welcome sign from the John Force staff to participants in the ATSG/Transtar seminar event.

ATSG has been associated with Transmission Digest since the former’s founding in 1986. Popular monthly technical columns authored by the ATSG technical support staff include “Technically Speaking” and “Shift Pointers.” The company also provides the content for the quarterly Transmission Digest Tech/Talk newsletter.

Colonna and his ATSG team have been presenting technical seminars since ’86, when founder Bob Cherrnay and Dale England began traveling both the country and the globe to help transmission technicians stay current and capable with the changing demands of automatic transmissions.

Typically held in the ballroom of a hotel or college auditorium, these Saturday events consist of all-day seminar sessions with a lunch break. Industry vendors set tabletop displays to show the latest components, equipment and tools available for the shops that rebuild transmissions and transfer cases.

Colonna’s comments about the John Force facility came after the Force team located approximately 120 technicians attending the seminar in the museum facility while the vendor tabletops were nearby in the shop used to prepare the Force team’s drag racing vehicles. He went on to say that he and Mike Souza presented the Los Angeles seminar and that the remainder of the year will mostly be a combination of Souza, Rino Partipilo and Pete Luban as instructors.

ATSG Managing Director Reed Trueblood explains that in addition to seminars, ATSG offers products that support and educate transmission rebuilders. He points to the technical support available in English and Spanish by phone or email and says that this service, while mostly an ATSG membership benefit, is also available as a per case purchase.

Trueblood points out that the technical staff is made up of veteran transmission rebuilders, but that each will spend at least one day a month in a transmission shop environment in order to keep their skills fresh and current with the latest units. Every ATSG technician is also ASE certified, adds Trueblood. 

Approximately 120 technicians were seated in the John Force Racing Museum room for an all-day technical seminar produced by ATSG.
Approximately 120 technicians were seated in the John Force Racing Museum room for an all-day technical seminar produced by ATSG.

At the Los Angeles seminar, Colonna mentions that the company’s technical manuals have sold out. This product line of some 200 manuals covers units from the very old transmissions to the very latest eight- and 10-speed assemblies. 

The information is available, Trueblood says, as a printed manual or in digital format that can be kept on the shop’s computer or tech’s tablet and/or phone.

Colonna points out that seminar participants receive a set of manuals that parallel the presentation. “We provide each seminar participant three manuals—red, white and blue because they’re built in the U.S.A. We begin with the red that covers GM material and medium duty trucks. The white covers Ford and Chrysler, and then the blue book addresses imports.” 

Trueblood concludes by observing that ATSG represents the leading source of technical support for the transmission/powertrain aftermarket. He says that the success of the early installments of the company’s planned seven 2024 seminars may lead to scheduling one or two additional opportunities for shop technicians to interact with and learn from the ATSG instructors.

Brute Force

Wayne Colonna with the John Force car.
Wayne Colonna with the John Force car.

John Force is a drag racing legend who has won 16 NHRA championships–predominately funny cars with a handful of top fuel titles–and an AHRA funny car championship. Force began drag racing in 1978. His team of drivers which currently includes his son-in-law and daughter counts 22 championship wins. The Yorba Linda facility contains several of the cars that have been raced since the ’78 season as well as the current vehicles the Force team races, most notably the Peak Chevrolet Camaro SS. In recognition of his decades of success, Force is often referred to in drag race circles as “Brute Force.”

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