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Chopper Class Challenge

By Shadow

Canadians take the championship

The kids are alright

St. Paul, March 28–29—For the past five years, one of the biggest attractions at the Donnie Smith Bike Show has been the Chopper Class Challenge. In 2004, Scottie Ard visited Kennedy High School in Bloomington, Minnesota, where metal manufacturing class instructor Kevin “Teach” Bass had initiated a chopper-building program. The program blew her away, and she brought Donnie Smith and show promoter Neil Ryan for a visit where they decided to include the kids in the bike show.

That first year, Kennedy High School took several prizes, and as the years went on, other schools across the U.S. began to enter the Donnie Smith Chopper Class Challenge to compete against one another. DSCC Program Coordinator Scottie Ard did much more than handle registration for the show entries. None of these chopper programs, nor the travel to the shows, were funded by the schools, so Scottie helped the kids publicize their efforts and raise funds to help cover their expenses.

A silent auction with donated merchandise and eBay-style buy-it-now pricing was so popular that all the items were gone by 4 p.m. on Saturday. Kennedy High School raffled off their 2007 Chopper Class Challenge entry to raise funds for their chopper program. And each school raised money throughout the year for their own expenses.

This year, show veterans Kennedy High School and St. Francis High School of East Bethel, Minnesota, entered bikes into the open class, and sure enough, they took best of class awards in several classes! Both schools had a number of bikes on display, as well.

The Chopper Class Challenge of 2009 included three schools, each of which won at least one award. Clearfield County Career and Technical Center of Clearfield, Pennsylvania, won an award for design innovation. An unexpected prize was also given to CCCTC for the 3R award. Scottie explained, “The 3 Rs used to be reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic. Now it’s recycle, reuse, and rebuild.” CCCTC visited a junkyard for some of their bike’s components, with the most striking result being the use of a rear wheel and tire taken off a junked car. The trophy was quite creative, and showed a chopper rolling out of a tipped-over trash can.

People’s Choice was awarded to the Eden Chopper Class of Eden, New York, for their ’42 Flathead that took seven months to build. The Bike Klub from Bernice McNaughton High School in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, took the technical merit award, and was named overall winner of the Chopper Class Challenge. The Bike Klub was supposed to enter their bike in last year’s competition, but they were unable to attend due to Canadian travel restrictions in 2008. Partly because of the one-year delay in competing, their chopper took 31 months to build, but it was worth the wait!

Teach pretty much summed it up by saying, “Congratulations to all the students in the high school chopper classes that participate in the challenge. You are all winners! Good luck, for you are the future of bike building. Special thanks to Scottie Ard for all the time, hard work and dedication you put in to help out the kids in the Chopper Class Challenge.”

For more information on the Chopper Class Challenge, or to donate parts or cash, contact Scottie Ard at scottieard@gmail.com.

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