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Minnesota Winners of Ford/AAA Auto Skills

BURNSVILLE, Minn.--April 27, 2006--AAA announces a two-student team from Moorhead High School - Brad Rassier and Sean Richards- won first place and $71,000 in scholarships in the Minnesota finals of the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills contest. The team is lead by instructor Darvin Miller.

The Minnesota competition was one of 50 state competitions held this year. In February and March, written qualifying exams were administered and the top 10 teams in Minnesota were invited to participate in the hands-on state finals on April 26, where student teams had a maximum of 90 minutes to diagnose identically "bugged" vehicles. The Moorhead High School team fixed the most auto problems in the least amount of time.

The Northfield High School team placed second in the state competition and was offered $30,600 in scholarships. The Faribault High School team finished third and was offered $19,400 in scholarships. In all, $139,000 in scholarships was distributed in the Minnesota finals.

The Moorhead High School team now will advance to the national finals held June 25-27 at the Ford Headquarters in Dearborn, MI. Altogether, more than $5 million in scholarships and prizes will be awarded to participants in nationwide program.

"With an estimated 10 technicians retiring for every two young mechanics currently entering the field, there is a critical need for skilled technicians with strong mechanical, computer and electronic aptitude," said Gary Klopp, director, Automotive Services, AAA Minnesota/Iowa. "There certainly is a financial benefit to this career, with starting salaries for entry-level technicians at approximately $30,000 - $35,000 per year and master technicians in some areas earning $70,000 - $100,000 annually."

AAA offers automotive, travel, insurance and financial services to more than 49 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA Minnesota/Iowa is part of The Auto Club Group, with 4.1 million members in eight Midwest states.