An old English proverb that states “necessity is the mother of invention” proves true for the Pierce College Future Automotive Service Technicians (F.A.S.T.) Club at their first car show on campus Saturday.
The day was hot from the word go; public address speakers blasted rock ‘n’ roll; hungry show-goers gobbled tri-tip hoagies and hot dogs, while others cooled their bones in the shade talking with colleagues and friends over a cold drink.
Roughly two dozen show car entries and a handful of sponsors showed their support for the student club’s effort to raise money and awareness for their program. The event even drew walk-up students and those driving by, like Roland Horovitz and his family.
Aspiring demolition expert in practicum at home, Horovitz, 11, said that he asked his mom to park the car after driving back from a swim tryout where he placed as an intermediate.
“My favorite car was the old one that’s older than my dad,” Horovitz said.
That truck belongs to F.A.S.T. member Kerrie Gordon’s dad, Kelsey. It’s a stock 1949 Chevy pick up truck that took Best in Show at the fundraiser, the club’s Public Relations Officer Dan Poppell said.
Several other awards were given at the show but an official list has not been provided to the Roundup by the time of publication.
F.A.S.T. Club President Chase Williams, 21, signed in show cars as they rolled up.
“We are accepting cars from your Hondas to your rat rods,” he said. “For our first car show we’re pretty pleased with it. We weren’t planning on anything big; we just wanted to get our name out there [and] get everyone interested in next year.”
The cars ranged from a low-rider tweaked to starboard on hydraulics, off-road trucks, sports cars and modified Honda race cars and others still.
Doug Sofio, a retired studio carpenter from Arleta, “the Beverly Hills of Pacoima,” found a flyer on the windshield of his 1923 Ford “T-bucket” he has had since age 14, he said. He backed up the 17-inch wide tires in between a red Triumph TR6 and a glittering blue Chevy Camaro race car owned by Pierce adjunct instructor Mark Schatkun.
Sofio went to Pierce for a few years from 1969, he said. Though he was never a professional mechanic, Sofio said he has raced boats, top-fuel funny cars, and pro stock street racing cars and his son, Junior, raced open-wheel in Long Beach.
Schatkun’s Camaro is a well-built and tested race car that has won him many races at local tracks, he said.
“They call me Shotgun. I used to race that Camaro right over there for 20 years at the Los Angeles County Raceway.”
Isabel Alvarez co-founded F.A.S.T. Club, and is their vice president. Alvarez, 27, said the club has about 20 members and this is its first fundraiser after being formed only a few months ago.
“Everything is to help the Auto Department because we’re one of the most neglected departments on campus. We don’t even have grass in front of our facilities,” she said.
While many people were happy to talk about their cars and racing, numerous club members and faculty mentioned the disappointing condition they find their department in, despite the gleaming buildings just over the horizon along the campus Mall.
“Tom Fortune, [Mike] Van Dyke and [Tom] Rosdahl–they are always arguing for us. They care a lot. They are trying to help us out. They can only do so much. Students need to step up,” Alvarez said.
Fortune, department chair of Industrial Technology, doesn’t hold back on his criticism of the school administration but does give praise where it’s due.
“Our dean has been very good about getting grants. But we have no wireless in our building. I’ve got a fellow over there who is an instructor at Van Nuys High School–sends us a lot of students–they’ve had wireless for eight years. I just came back from East Los Angeles Auto Program and they’ve had wireless for three years. We need it. It’s ridiculous. There’s no excuse for it. You can go to McDonald’s and get wireless,” Fortune said.
Fortune is also F.A.S.T. Club’s adviser. He said the club formed during a few classes that integrate shop management.
“They said they wanted to do it, so I said, ‘You guys need to learn how to be managers. You need to go out and meet some people in the community that are in the automotive business and let’s do this car show,’” he said.
Kenneth Leavitt, 31, an automotive major in his third year at Pierce echoes the feeling of nickel and diming to death.
“It’s hard for us to get soaps, rags and whatever else we need for the auto shop repairs–lifts, machines stuff in the engine lab–parts for shop cars,” Leavitt said.
One of the event sponsors was SuperTuning Performance out of Van Nuys, who bought a tent space, donated items to the raffle and had six cars in the show.
“We’re having a great time at the Pierce College car show,” Koko Ohan, the owner of STP said. “We’re friends with R3 Racing. We’re always looking to help out the guys. It’s a good program here and I heard about what’s happing here and it sucks.”
Road Race Revolution (R3) and A-Spec-Racing (ASR) are both race car-inspired companies founded and run by a current student and 2006 graduate, respectively.
“Our main focus is to get the guys that are just trying to get into the scene and haven’t really experienced a racetrack.” R3 co-founder Marcel Masoumi said. “To get them off the streets, to teach them the right place. The right time to do it is on the racetrack.”
Charlston Ong, founder of ASR, jumped at the chance to be an event sponsor of the F.A.S.T. fundraiser.
“When I came to Pierce, Tom Rosdahl helped me develop a product for my Civic and I took it to the next level,” Ong said. “I have to come here. I want to visit the shop again and meet all my professors.”
Alvarez said F.A.S.T. Club didn’t expect too much of a big event because it’s their first, but they hope to keep growing it every year.
“I think they’re doing great. They only expected about 10 cars and they got way more than that; they got 20 or 30. It looks like everybody is having a good time. It’s a blast,” Schatkun said.
For more information about F.A.S.T Club visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/pcfastclub.