Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Hot Rod Institute located?

It’s located in the beautiful Black Hills, Rapid City, South Dakota.

 Check it out: http://www.city-data.com/city/Rapid-City-South-Dakota.html  

How long has the HRI been around?

  Doug LaRue the founder has been building Hot Rods for over 45 years.  He has also been a professional instructor for 30 years.  He has developed similar programs for two different schools and expanded those programs many times.  Hot Rod Institute opened its doors in 2008, but the instructional staff is very experienced and you can rest assured that if you want a high quality education in the hot rodding industry this is the school for you.

Would I have to take a collision or automotive course before attending Hot Rod Institute?

 NO. The HRI is about building hot rods and custom motorcycles.  If you have already taken some kind of repair industry training from another school it could help, but it is not required.  The classes are largely self-paced. It’s our goal to help you achieve a very highest level of competence and make you very employable in the specialty industry.

How long is the complete course?

  It depends on you and your goals.  You can elect to take any number of the three month classes or all 6 classes, which would total 18 months.  Here are the programs and a brief description. 

HRC – Hot Rod Chassis – Chassis Building, General Fabrication, TIG and MIG Welding 

HRB – Hot Rod Body – Sheet Metal Fabrication, Weld on panels, Motorcycle Tanks 

HRBA- Hot Rod Body Advanced – Advance sheet metal shaping, Copped Tops, Power Tools HRR – Hot Rod Refinishing – Final Body Work, Priming and Top Coats, Custom Paint HRP – Hot Rod Performance – Engine, Transmissions, Trans-Axles, Wiring, Brakes
HRU – Hot Rod Upholstery – Custom Interiors, Seats, Carpets, Headliners, Door Panels 

HRM – Hot Rod Motorcycle – Custom Motorcycle Mechanics, Engine, Trans, Primaries

Is HRI a part time school?

 NO. Part of our training is to prepare the student for the work place.  The student will go to school 7.5 hours a day five days a week. 8 am till 4:30 pm is our school hours.  HRI is very serious about the training we offer our students and we want our students to be very successful in the specialty vehicle industry.  

Do I need to know how to weld before I get there?

 NO. But if you did that means you could move on a little faster during the welding training.  If you’re weak in welding don’t be concerned, you will be an excellent welder by the time you graduate.  Welding is something we will have you practice and perform almost daily. 

Will I be held back because of slower students?

 NO. The majority of your training will be self paced.  Each student will work at their level of expertise.  If you require more time to achieve completion of a task or if you achieve the task quickly you move at your individual pace.  The more skill you have coming in, the quicker you move up the knowledge ladder.    

Announce coming events

Having a big sale, on-site celebrity, or other event? Be sure to announce it so everybody knows and gets excited about it.

May I bring my own project?

 YES. Students work on student owned projects, but it must be approved by the School Director. A student project is not required to attend, but it is an opportunity for students to build their own hot rods. There is always plenty of work in classes for students without projects to obtain a wide base for their education. All materials used in student projects are the responsibility of the student.

Are female students allowed to take the course?

 YES. Female students are encouraged to enroll.  We have experienced many very capable female students.  The hot rodding industry is an excellent opportunity for any student with some artistic and highly motivated desires to succeed.  The gender or race does not matter.

How does the Hot Rod Motorcycle program fit in?

 The Hot Rod Motorcycle class is a three month class that you could elect to take by itself or combined with any of the other Hot Rod classes.  If you were to take a four class diploma program, you could build a complete bike right down to the paint and custom graphics. Hot Rods and Custom Motorcycles are real good fit.  More and more shops are building both hot rods and choppers.  It’s all about learning to build a custom motorcycle, part by part.

What is the appearance code?

We require the student to be well groomed.  If he has a beard it must trimmed and cannot be too long for safety reasons.  Hair must be kept well groomed.  Long hair must be tied back.  We maintain a professional atmosphere.

What is the student to instructor ratio?

 Max student to instructor ratio should not exceed 15 to 1.  In order to give the student the best training possible, HRI maintains a very low instructor to student ratio.

How much does it cost?

 Our number one goal is to give a student a high quality education at a reasonable price.  We are not a corporate or government backed school.  Hot Rod Institute is just a small private school.  For about the cost of a good used truck you get one year of awesome car or custom motorcycle training.  After graduation a student could be out in the work force making a good living doing what a true hot rodder loves.  Price varies between options, such as a $300 discount on tuition for taking a Diploma Program (4 or more classes). Contact the Director of Admissions for the actual cost. We don’t like to beat around the bush, we will tell you the cost, straight up. Give us a call today! 

Is there financial aid available through the school?

  YES. We are approved to offer student financial aid through Sallie Mae Financial Corporation. The loan is a Career Training Smart Option Student Loan.  Most training loan interest rates are based off of the credit rating of the applicant and/or cosigner.  We are currently working on becoming accredited through North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement.  We have recently hosted our "Readiness" visit but we will not be able to complete the accreditation process until mid 2011.  After we are fully accredited our students will have the opportunity to apply for Federal Student Financial Aid.   http://www.salliemae.com/content/get_student_loan/find_student_loan/smart-option-student-loan_ct_equal_choice.aspx?dtd_cell=SMPCSOWBSMOTN010002  We do not recruit a large number of students.  We are a high quality, elite school; not a high quantity school.  

Does HRI accept any student that has the money to attend?

 NO. We interview interested students (in person or over the phone) to make sure we are right for the student and the student is right for us.  We don’t want to waste anyone’s money or our time. 

Does HRI offer on-campus housing for students?

 NO. But we will do the research and try to locate affordable housing and a possible roommate for the students that need help.  One of the reasons we decided to locate HRI in the Rapid City area is because of its affordable cost of living for the students of HRI.  Make sure in your financing that you take housing and living expenses into consideration. 

Is there part-time jobs available in the area?

 YES. This is one more of the reasons we chose this location is because there are good part time employment opportunities for students.  This will help offset some of the living expenses.

Does HRI have health or accident insurance for the students?

 NO. It is highly recommended that the students have health and accident insurance before attending Hot Rod Institute.  We are looking into finding a group provider for our students.

Does HRI assist with career opportunities?

  YES. As a part of the curriculum the students will be taught how to develop a portfolio and resume’.  Students will keep a daily log book of shop tasks preparing them for industry situations. Students will also discuss interview questions to help them prepare them for the job interview.   


We are in contact with many of the industry leaders to assure our curriculum is based on the actual tasks performed in professional shops from all over the country.  The school is increasing its data bank of contacts on a regular basis.  There are plenty of careers opportunities out there, and you have to have the determination to pursue your dream job.  HRI does not guarantee employment, but we guarantee to help the student in every step of the way. 

Final comments:

If you are considering Hot Rod Institute or any other school you should know exactly where you stand and have no surprises.  AT HRI our main objective is to make sure the student gets their monies worth out of their education.  Remember “If you love the type of work you do, is it really considered work?” 


Contact Justin Snoke, the Director of Admissions today to answer any questions you might have. 


605-593-7115  justin@hotrod.edu