California Auto Tech Champs To Compete In Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals

WHO: San Luis Obispo High students, Eric Reed, 18, and Doug Rinell, 18, from San Luis Obispo, Calif., qualified in May at Wally Parks NHRA Museum as California’s state champion. The team, coached by SLO High Industrial Tech Instructor Jeff Lehmkuhl, will face 49 other teams at the 2009 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals. This is the third consecutive year that SLO High will compete nationally. In 2007 the high school won the national title.

WHEN: Hands-on competition 9:15 a.m. Tuesday, June 16. The 100 students clad in red and black “pit crew” uniforms will run to their assigned identically “bugged” 2009 Ford Focus in a quest to perfectly repair the vehicle. (The car in California that Eric and Doug worked on was perfectly repaired – the only California competitor to do so.)

The fastest time to detect and repair the car, plus best written test score determines the 2009 national champions. Among the $10.7 million in scholarships and prizes, the winning team will receive a dream learning experience—a week behind the scenes with defending DAYTONA 500 champion, Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 17 DeWALT Sprint Cup Series team lead by crew chief Drew Blickensderfer. The students and their instructor will then travel with the team to Pocono Raceway, where they will serve as honorary pit crew members during the Pennsylvania 500 NASCAR on Aug. 2. DeWALT will also donate three sets of tools to the winning students and their instructor to help jump start their careers as the nation’s best young automotive technicians.


COORDINATES: Galaxy 28, Transponder 15 (C-Band); Downlink Frequency: 4000 Vertical; Audio: 6.2/6.8; Trouble number during feed: 800-321-3959

ORIGIN: Dearborn, Mich. (from AAA Michigan headquarters);

CONTACT: Shaun Clair, Catalyst PR, (cell: 585-314-7639),

Christie Hyde, AAA National, (cell: 407-739-4519)

  • Shot gun start: Students running to vehicles to kick off timed competition
  • Students working to diagnosis and repair vehicles in race against the clock
  • Sound bites and footage from the winning team
  • Footage and sound bites from the other top finishers

WHY: Ford and AAA have partnered to assure that the new generation of automotive technicians is well trained to serve the public’s motoring needs. Demand for well-trained technicians remains high with 60 percent of the independent mechanics reporting sales up last year over the previous year and 76 percent saying they expect more work, according to an Automotive Service Association survey.