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Wednesday, 19 December 2012 21:32

CAA East Bay Hosts 15th Toys for Tots Model Truck Competition

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The California Autobody Association’s East Bay chapter once again hosted its Model Truck Customizing Competition on Nov. 20 at the Blackhawk Auto Museum in Danville, CA. More than 200 CAA members and friends attended this hugely popular event consisting of a dinner, raffle, and spirited truck competition, which raised toys for Toys for Tots and money for four northern California Regional Occupational Programs.

Eight companies customized model trucks and entered them into the competition, including T.G.I.F Auto Body, Crockett’s Premier Auto Body, Jim’s Auto Body, FinishMaster, D & S Auto Body, National Auto Parts, Uptown Auto Body and NEO Autoworks. In addition, all four regional occupational schools entered trucks for the contest. Each competing organization took an identical plain white Nylint die-cast truck and turned it into a unique piece of art.

First place went to Jim’s Auto Body for its beautiful red, silver and black 18-wheeler, capturing the coveted trophy and winning an Iwata Twilight chrome 1.3 W-400 spray gun. Second place went to the College of Alameda with a Coca-Cola truck and received a 3M Speedglas 100 welding helmet, and third place went to Mission Valley ROP, for its red sparkling limousine, for which they received a DeWalt buffer with a case and gloves.

Jeff Rogers, manager of Jim’s Auto Body, was obviously pleased to walk away with the trophy and the bragging rights that accompany it, he said. “Sam Spinelli, one of our body techs, did all the work on this truck, approximately 40 hours total. We’ve won before, but this was special because the competition was intense. It’s nice to win, but in the end it’s all for charity, which is the most important thing. We bought the truck to display in our office, so that customers can see it and appreciate it.”

The People’s Choice award went to T.G.I.F Auto Body, for its “Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas” creation. Kathy Mello, the owner of T.G.I.F., enters a truck every year and her staff really gets involved to make it a special occasion.

“Two of my body techs and one of my painters put 120 hours into this truck,” Mello said. “Every year, it’s a team building experience and very beneficial to the shop, the chapter and the industry as a whole. It’s ideal for team building here in the shop. We love to have fun with it, so that’s why we decided to go with this theme this year.”

The Educational Best-of-Class award, given to the best truck entered by an educational institution, went to the College of Alameda.

The CAA East Bay chapter also gave several educational institutions money for their auto repair programs and the head instructors from each program were in attendance. Contra Costa College (Peter Lock), Mission Valley ROP (John Cimino), Eden Area ROP (Daniel Pareja) and the College of Alameda (Bill Andrews) all received grants from the CAA East Bay chapter.

“Without grants from organizations such as the CAA, it would make it difficult for us to maintain our program,” Peter Lock, department chair of the auto technician program at Contra Costa College, said. “The CAA East Bay chapter has always been an outstanding supporter of our program, and we greatly appreciate it. The students always get into designing and building these model trucks, and every year we see more and more top entries from the schools involved.”

Mike Govette, branch manager for FinishMaster in Concord, has been organizing the Model Truck Customizing Competition for 15 years. He never gets tired of the amazing creations he sees from the body shops and schools over the years.

“The people in this industry are artists in so many ways,” Govette said. “And this is a very rare opportunity for shops and ROPs to showcase their talents. Every year we see a few trucks that really stand out and this year was no exception! Hours and hours go into these trucks, so it’s a big deal.”

Sponsors of the evening included Owen-Dunn Insurance Services, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Audatex, a Solara Company, PPG, FinishMaster, LKQ/Akzo Nobel, Hertz and Dublin Chevrolet/Cadillac/Buick/GMC/KIA.
Celebrity judges for the event were Rich Evans, world-famous car customizer, reality television star and the owner of Huntington Beach Bodyworks; Customizer Mike Taylor of House of Kolor and Kirk Kapfenstein, a local customizer and a painter for Regal Collision in Vallejo, CA.


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