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Lompoc High School Wins 2003 California Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition

    IRWINDALE SPEEDWAY, Calif.--May 9, 2003--Students from Lompoc High beat a field of 30 students to win the statewide 2003 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition today (Friday) at the California Speedway.
    The competition, sponsored by the Automobile Club of Southern California, is designed to find the most talented young auto technicians in the United States.
    Nick S. Brooks, 18, and Daniel Rutherford, 18, completed the hands-on competition in 75 minutes and 48 seconds. They also won a two-year $3,000 scholarship to one of 60 higher-education schools participating in the Ford Motor Co.'s ASSET (Automotive Student Service Educational Training) program. The winning Lompoc High team instructor is Tony Bauer.
    "The car that Nick and Daniel repaired was 'clean,' and with no defects," said Rick Lalor, event competition chairman and the Auto Club's youth and education program manager. "The pair demonstrated clearly the careful workmanship and high-tech knowledge needed to repair today's vehicles."
    The Lompoc team advances to the national finals, in Washington, D.C., next month where $10 million in prizes will be distributed. The national champion will receive scholarships, awards and prizes valued at more than $70,000.
    A team from Ramona High took second and Morro Bay took third. Stephen Ruckle, 17, and Clayton Bryant, 18, made up the second place team. Their instructor is Robert Grace. Morro Bay's team of Braden Haener, 17, and Britton Bender, 17, were third. Their instructor is Jason Roberts.
    The state championship was determined by the combination of a two-hour written qualifying exam and the team's performance in a hands-on competition to repair quickly and accurately a deliberately disabled 2003 Mercury Mountaineer.
    Those with two-year degrees will be able to earn a starting salary of $35,000 annually, with salary growth up to $75,000 or $100,000 annually. The highest demand is for technicians with strong computer, electronics and math skills.
    The contest illustrates the need for more students to enter the automotive industry. As the population of the United States ages, it's estimated that l0 automotive "techs" are retiring for every two young adults choosing the career.

           Southern California Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills
                        Competition Standings:

  1. Lompoc High

  2. Ramona High (Ruckle, Bryant)

  3. Morro Bay High

  4. San Luis Obispo High

  5. San Clemente High

  6. Ontario High

  7. Arroyo Grande High

  8. Paso Robles High

  9. Cabrillo High

  10. Sultana High

  11. Hemet High

  12. Poway High

  13. Agoura Hills High

  14. Ramona High (Funkhouser, Stalker)

  15. Arvin High