5 Minutes with Pete McCue

A quick interview with the Auto-Shop teacher Pete McCue, one of the most colorful and interesting people at Bellevue.

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Photo/Silas Chu

Silas Chu: What was your first car?

Pete McCue: My first car never ran- it was an old Rambler. I got it for free, but the engine was frozen and couldn’t run. I worked on it forever. My first real car was a ‘62 Chevy Impala Convertible.

SC: What inspired your passion for automobiles?

PM: I was always taking stuff apart. I’ve been working on race cars since I was 16.

SC: What was your dream car, growing up?

PM: I had a Mustang around age 18 and it was fun. I was dreaming about that car, but I really wanted a ‘65 Ford Galaxy 500 Convertible. I’ve always been a convertible fan.

SC: How did your passion influence your childhood?

PM: I was always taking things apart and getting in trouble for not knowing how to put them back together. I took apart clocks,  toasters and a bunch of other stuff that got me in trouble. Wherever there was a screw, I’d use a driver and take it out.

SC: What do you see for the future of automotive engineering?

PM: Taking a nap while I’m sitting in traffic ‘driving’ home. A car that can drive itself. It’s already started! I see hydrogen fuel cell technology taking over. I don’t believe in electric cars. Hybrid cars are a stop gap to make people feel better about themselves. Hybrid electric cars get anywhere from 40-50 miles per gallon. A 1979 VW Rabbit Diesel probably got 55 miles per gallon. So, where’s the magic about electric cars? I don’t believe the electric grid can sustain every person charging their electric cars overnight. Hydrogen fuel cell technology is going to be the future. Also, with all the safety technology already implemented in cars, such as back-up cameras and collision avoidance systems, a self-driving car is probably going to be here within ten years.

SC: How long have you been teaching?

PM: 21 years total, but this is my second year teaching at Bellevue. I taught at Garfield High School, Port Angeles and West Seattle.

SC: What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

PM: Kids coming back here a year or two after they leave and telling me “I learned so much with you, and I was so far ahead of the game in my college class after taking your class in high school, I wish I had listened to you more…” kids tell me stuff like that all the time. I love it when kids take the time to come back and just chat.

SC: What are some things most people don’t know about you?

PM: I referee basketball in Snohomish County and I’ve been in the same race car team for 30 years. I’m part of a drag race team. I prefer drag racing over races in laps, because there’s too much damage involved. I’m the alignment guy, and I have to fix the alignment every time they crash.

SC: Drag racing is dangerous too…

PM: Only if you get sideways!

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