Saturday, December 10, 2022

1940s and 50s road construction in Wisconsin and Virginia on Flikr

I just learned something very amazing, from Tony who was in the 1966 Plymouth Troubleshooting Contest in Detroit, and that changed the course of his life (college instead of the Air Force during Vietnam)

That contest changed my whole life, and possibly saved it. 

As a senior I was graduating and had already taken a test to join the Air Force. Vietnam was in full swing. I scored a 98% in mechanics, so the Air Force was going to train me as a jet mechanic. Imagine that! 

The 1966 Plymouth Troubleshooting Contest First-Place team received a $1,500 scholarship each, and we (2nf place)  received $1,000 each. That was enough to pay for me to attend College for the first two years. The morale of the story is that this Chrysler-Plymouth Troubleshooting Contest changed young students lives for the better! I am very appreciative.

The man on the left is our Washington High (Fremont, CA) high school teacher, Mr. Dwayne Blevins. He was so mad when we were not awarded 1st Place and argued to no avail with the judges who gave First Place to a vocational school from Dearborn, MI. 

Their reasoning was that it had been 2 1/2 hours of cars getting disqualified and they were afraid they would not get a winner. We were right behind them, next in line.

 Mr. Blevins went on to become a Junior College automotive technology instructor, after which he became a crew chief for a NASCAR team. I remember he had his own dirt track race car that he often worked on after school. He also became a pilot flying vintage jets. 

I next saw him 50 years after the contest when he flew a vintage military jet into North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego. He said I would recognize him because he would be carrying something he wanted to give me. He was waiting for me in the parking lot carrying his Richard Petty blue hand toolbox with 1966 National Plymouth Troubleshooting Contest in big white letters on the sides that he got from Plymouth at the time and had saved since then. 

Richard Petty had actually fired the starting gun at the 1966 nationals after stating, "Gentlemen, start your engines!"

The next person in the promotional picture is me (Tony Loya), followed by my contest partner (Chuck Fabbri), and then followed by a Chrysler-Plymouth executive. 

Chuck took his contest scholarship money and attended the same Junior College as I and majored in Automotive Technology. He worked for Sears as a Master Mechanic for many years and then owned his own automotive repair shop where he developed and held at least one patent that I know of for a Chevrolet rear differential specialty repair tool. The son of a Bank of America branch manager, he had natural mechanical skills and a love for Chevy El Caminos. 

During the contest I got stuck on a fuel problem I couldn't solve. Chuck calmly asked if he could take a stab at it if I worked on the electrical problems. He fixed the fuel problem in no time. I knew right then and there he was a better mechanic than I and that automotive tech would probably not be in my future. Chuck is no longer with us. -- 

As for me, during my college registration process the counselor asked what my major was going to be. I replied that I didn't know because I wasn't supposed to be there. She looked puzzled and then gave me a class catalog to look at while she attended to other students. When she returned, she advised she was going to assign me all state required classes to which I asked if I could at least pick one elective. I had seen a class on Introduction to law enforcement that caught my eye. She commented, "Oh, you're going to be a cop." I said no, and that it just sounded interesting. She replied, "Nobody takes that class unless they are going to be a cop." 

She was right. I achieved an AA degree in Police Science and went on to a four college to get a BA degree in Law Enforcement Administration. I subsequently retired after a 27-year career with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), followed by an 18-year second career with the Office of National Drug Control Policy and their High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program. All this because of the Plymouth Troubleshooting Contest. --

To be in the contest, we had to be sponsored by a Chrysler-Plymouth dealer. Across from our high school was such a dealership, Edgren Motors, owned by Mr. Lloyd Edgren. Mr. Edgren worked his way up from starting a small repair shop to owning his own dealership. As a mechanic himself, he never forgot his roots and wanted to give back. Through his dealership he supplied our school's Driver's Education cars and sponsored our contest teams over the years. 

After my education and after securing my career with the DEA, I went back to thank Mr. Edgren for making a difference in my life. I never forgot that he also invited my parents and I, as well as Chuck and his family, to his dealership to take photos after we returned from Detroit. He was also there when Chuck and I received our scholarship checks. 

Sadly, when I returned, Mr. Edgren had unexpectedly passed at a young age. The dealership was also no longer there as it had later burned down in a fire.

 I don't know whose idea it was at Chrysler to create the Plymouth Troubleshooting Contest, but I know it affected many lives for the better, from dealerships, to teachers, to students. It made the world a better place by making opportunities. I hope it survives in some form at Chrysler. If it doesn't, Chrysler should consider reviving it, as it has a rich history. Mr. Blevins, Chuck and I, and Mr. Edgren, are but one story. kicked off a communication with Tony, he replied with the above

line painting truck in the Virginia DOT

changing tires the old fashioned way at the VDOT Williamsburg Residency Shop in 1954

there's a vintage car rally in Morocco

U.S. Customs in San Diego intercepted more than 1400 pounds of methamphetamine from a tractor trailer crossing the border from Mexico, hidden in pallets of carrots

Nice looking Ferrari, it's a 1976 308 GTB Group 4... but have you even seen a race car that mounted a shaft to the headlight to keep it in the raised position?

nice adaptation of a 1969 Lamborghini Miura S to Jota Specification, who knew they look even better without the black headlight surrounds? And it's coming to auction in Paris, Feb 1st 

terrific wheel size ratio to car size

The Porsche 356 isn’t an iconic rally car - but the Valkyrie team have raced theirs on all 7 continents

gifted artists can still make a living painting trucks, and trucking still loves to impress the public with great art


the Capt America 5th wheel is genius

Heide Logistik must have an airbrush artist on staff


yup, Chuck Norris posing with the Heide Logistik energy drink

so, COEs are now part of maternity photos, and it's not a prank to see if we are gullible, these are legit.

In a 2019 interview with Brazilian website Universo Online, the woman pictured, Diana Rodrigues of Mato Grosso, Brazil, explained how the truck represented the financial hardships her parents endured in order to raise a family. 

“My parents’ honeymoon took place on the road, in a truck. Not only because of the profession, but also because of the financial conditions, which were not the best,” Rodrigues offered. “During the entire pregnancy, my mother traveled with my father [and] three months after I was born, we hit the road again. […] The truck is part of our lives and could not be left out.”

this is an award winner  from Juliana Koennecke in Germany

thank you Steve K for the tip! And I'm glad you enjoyed the blog stuff during the covid quarantine!

F1 drivers wave to fans from a VW Beetle in the drivers parade... how neat!