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Ramona High Wins State Ford/AAA Auto Skills Contest

Two students from Ramona High in San Diego County, Calif. beat 36 other students to win the California 2013 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition today.  San Luis Obispo High finished second and Sultana High finished third.  The competition, sponsored by Ford Motor Company and the Automobile Club of Southern California, is designed to find the most talented young auto technicians in the U.S.


Ramona High competed in the Southern California contest, held at the Wally Parks NHRA Museum at the Fairplex in Pomona this morning. It earned the state championship by achieving the highest overall score among the 10 two-student teams at the museum, as well as beating scores of 10 two-student teams who were competing simultaneously in Northern California. The Golden State is the only one with two same-day competitions. 


This year also marked when the competition had two female student competitors – Kiana Saberi from Santa Monica High (eighth place) and Korey Ingram from Madison Sr. High in San Diego (10th place).


Ramona students Nicolas Escoto and Tyler Pavlick completed the hands-on competition in 50 minutes and 16 seconds, finding and repairing 10 out of 10 problems planted in the vehicle by judges.  The competition winners were determined by scores on an online qualifying exam and the team’s performance in the statewide hands-on under-the-hood competition to repair quickly and accurately deliberately disabled Ford Focus SE cars. The winning Ramona High School team instructor is Mike Saavedra.


The students each won multiple college scholarships (worth nearly $50,000), including a $20,000 tuition scholarship to United Technical Institute, a $10,000 tuition scholarship to Ohio Technical College, a $10,000 tuition scholarship to Lincoln Technical College and a two-year, $3,000 tuition and books scholarship to one of 60 higher education schools participating in the Ford Motor Company’s Automotive Student Service Educational Training (ASSET) program.  They also are eligible to receive a $3,000 Ford Accelerated Credential Training (FACT) scholarship in conjunction with the UTI training program.  The winning Ramona High School team instructor Saavedra also received a trophy for the high school to display. 


“Nicolas and Tyler repaired a Ford Focus SE today with 10 ‘bugs’ and made all 10 repairs accurately, which means it was what we call a ‘perfect car’,” said Ford/AAA Auto Skills Competition Committee Chairman and the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Motor Sports Administrator Rick Lalor.  “The workmanship was impeccable and it was the only perfectly repaired car across the state’s two competitions.”


As statewide champion, the Ramona High team advances to the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals in Dearborn, MI in June, where $11 million in scholarships and prizes will be distributed. 


The Auto Club co-sponsors the annual competition to draw attention to the need to attract qualified students to high-paying automotive professions. Trained automotive technicians are among the most sought-after and highly paid professionals in today’s job market, but many high schools are reducing or eliminating automotive programs due to lack of funds and/or trained teachers.  At the same time, there are almost 250 million cars and trucks in operation in the U.S., according to R.L. Polk & Co.’s 2009 data.  



School                                     Instructor                                Student                            Student

1. Ramona

Mike Saavedra

Nicolas Escoto

Tyler Pavlick

2. San Luis Obispo

Jeff Lehmkuhl

Meshack Burton

Maxwell Hokit

3. Sultana

Jay Winters

Victor Cervantes

Collin Thompson

4. San Marcos

Russell Granger

Ryan Manchester

Augustin Popoca

5. Arvin

George White

Marcos Alvarez

Matt Amick

6. Lompoc

Michael Johnson

Ricardo Gonzales

Fernando Portillo

7. Upland

Josh Wish

Codi Beitz

Kail Parker

8. Santa Monica

David Kay

Felix Horan

Kiana Saberi

9. San Clemente

James Dunlap

Jacob Russell

Blake Schmid

10. Madison Sr. 

Omar Sevilla

Austin Hayward

Korey Ingram





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The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.