Wednesday, 21 December 2011 13:59

CAA’s East Bay Chapter Hosts 14th Annual Toys for Tots Model Truck Customizing Competition

The California Autobody Association’s East Bay chapter hosted its 14th annual Toys for Tots Model Truck Customizing Competition on Nov. 15 at the beautiful Blackhawk Museum in Danville, Calif. Amongst some of the most coveted cars in the world, 250 people enjoyed the evening in the same room with a 1909 Winton Touring Model 17, a 1911 Mercedes Labourdette Skiff, a 1968 Bizzarrini 5300 S.I. Spyder, and a 1937 Figoni et Falaschi Delahaye, part of the museum’s 90-car collection.

Michael Govette from FinishMaster in Concord, Calif. has been running this highly successful event since 1997 and this year was no exception, he said. “We had a really fine show and we gathered over 300 toys for the Marines Toys for Tots program and raised $3,500.00 from truck bids, for the food banks of Contra Costa and Alameda. We had all the alumni trucks in the lobby, not under glass, so everyone could get a good look at them.”

Ten Bay Area body shops and auto repair school programs entered the competition with high hopes for trophies and accolades. Each was given an identical Nylint die-cast truck that they could modify and customize for the contest. Silent-auction bids were taken on every vehicle and at times the bidding was back and forth between primarily competing shops.

There were some amazing trucks, but only one can walk away with the coveted title and this year’s first place went to Crocketts Premier Auto Body of Pinole, Calif. Shop Owner Dan Welsh left the work to his highly creative crew and they delivered in a big way. By thinking outside the box, the artisans at Crocketts created a Bugatti with its trailer, modeled after an actual vehicle on display at the museum. In addition, Crockett won the People’s Choice award for receiving the most votes from the people in attendance.

“Once again, the collision repair shops that care about their craft step up in a big way at Christmas time,” Govette explained. “Besides raising money for the food banks and Toys for Tots, we presented $3,400 to the local R.O.Ps and local colleges at a time that they clearly need it most. Building these toy trucks is a great team-building project for the body shops. It’s a win-win, because we help the community and the collision industry supports the effort enthusiastically every year.”

Second place in the competition went to T.G.I.F. Body Shop of Fremont, Calif. Shop owner Kathy Mello deferred to her skilled technicians to make a “Cars”-themed truck based on the popular Pixar animated features. The design was fun and funky and incorporated a working lamp into the trailer.

Third place was awarded to Mission Valley R.O.P. of Fremont, Calif. With Instructor John Cimino advising his collision students, they did all of the work while they created a stunning Christmas-themed truck. Mission Valley R.O.P. also won the Best of Class award, given to the top student-constructed model truck.

Sponsors for the evening included PPG Industries, LKQ, Audatex, Hertz, National Auto Parts, Lehmer’s of Concord, Dublin Chevrolet, Sherwin-Williams and Owen-Dunn Insurance. Special thanks to Melody Walker who has created remarkably artistic posters for the Toys for Tots Model Truck Customizing Competition for the past two years.

The organization also gave several educational institutions money for their auto repair programs. Eden Valley R.O.P. received $500, Mission Valley R.O.P. also got $500 and both Contra Costa College, and the College of Alameda all received $1,200 each from the CAA East Bay chapter.

“It’s great when organizations like CAA reach out and help schools like ours,” said Peter Locke, department chair of the automotive programs at Contra Costa College. “We need these types of donations to keep our programs thriving.”