If you’re a classic car, you want to be featured at SEMA or on the cover of a national automotive publication. But, if you’re a toy truck, your life’s dream would be competing in the East Bay CAA’s 17th annual Model Truck Customization Competition, which was held on Nov. 17 at the San Ramon Marriott in San Ramon, CA.
This year, 10 East Bay body shops, local vendors and auto repair school programs entered the competition. Each was given an identical Nylint die-cast truck to modify and customize for the contest. First place went to the College of Alameda again for the second year, also capturing the Peoples’ Choice Award and the Best-in-Class Award, beating out the other automotive repair programs that participated in the competition.
This year, both daytime and night time classes at College of Alameda entered their own model trucks, an unprecedented and surprising move.
The Educational Best-of-Class award, given to the top truck entered by an educational institution, also went to the College of Alameda, completing the sweep. By converting the model into a stunning logging truck, this attention-getting creation received major kudos for the school’s customized truck.
The CAA East Bay chapter also gives several educational institutions money for their auto repair programs, derived from the sales of each customized truck. This year, Contra Costa College, Mission Valley R.O.P, and the College of Alameda all received grants from the CAA East Bay chapter.
Tiffany Silva, the president of the CAA East Bay Chapter was pleased about the evening’s turnout of approximately 160 people, doubled from last year. “Thank you to those who supported and attended the CAA East Bay Chapter's 17th Annual Toys for Tots Model Truck Competition,” said. “The funds raised directly benefit the College of Alameda, Contra Costa College, Eden Area R.O.P., Mission Valley R.O.P. and Tri-Valley R.O.P.” Guests brought toys to be donated to Toys for Tots and several U.S. Marines were there to collect them.
The highlight of the evening is always seeing the students and networking with them, according to Silva. “It was a fun-filled night focused on the students who are our technicians of tomorrow. It is always exciting to see the energetic students filled with pride as their customized trucks are displayed. The students are also able to see all of the support and encouragement from our industry, which is important if they’re going to enter this field.”
Even though the competition attracted a nice crowd this year, Silva is concerned about the future of her chapter’s signature annual event. “The Model Truck Competition is our largest fundraiser of the year and the most attended and that’s why we don't want to see it go away. The metal trucks are no longer available, so we need a new product to customize. It is vital that we help fund and support our schools. As a shop owner who has employed many graduates from Contra Costa College, we need to focus on training new technicians. We all know there is a shortage of technicians and we must come together to find solutions. Hiring students and carrying on this event will help our industry’s future.”
EB-CAA Chapter Vice President Kathy Mello, the owner of TGIF Auto Body and a CAA Board member sees a real need for events such as this one. “There’s always some great energy in the room at the Model Truck Competition, because of the students primarily,” Mello said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to network with body shop owners, techs and other collision professionals, because soon they will be integrating themselves into the industry. That’s the best part of the competition and why we have to keep it going.”
Sponsors of the Model Truck Competition were Dublin Chevrolet Cadillac GMC Buick Kia, National Auto Parts, PPG, CCC, Hertz, LKQ/Keystone and AudaExplore. The first, second, and third place prizes were donated by 3M, Finishmaster, and Ned's Auto Body Supply.