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Skills Center revamps tricycle club’s wheels

Thu., Nov. 20, 2008

Group plans to use old milk truck at events

Most people remember their first set of wheels, and for many that first taste of open-road freedom came on the seat of a shiny, red tricycle.

Some folks have never forgotten the thrill of racing down the sidewalk on their three-wheeled chariot – folks like the members of the Spokane Tricycle Racing Association.

Member Bonnie Sherar said that for the past eight years, the group has organized adult tricycle races as fundraisers for Cancer Patient Care.

“This is my second childhood,” she said with a grin.

Recently the association acquired a 1966 Ford milk truck, which they plan to use as mobile headquarters. According to the Tricycle Racing Web site, “We hope by next race season we will have it running smoothly with a PA system, an interchangeable backdrop for photos and racks to accommodate registration and sales at events.”

But the truck needed some help in its transformation – help students and teachers at Spokane Skills Center were happy to supply.

When automotive technology instructors Dan Horton and Dennis Koentopp heard about the old milk truck’s needs, they saw it as a way to interest their students in community service. Last spring, Skills Center teachers and students revamped a wheelchair for a local man with cerebral palsy. It’s something they all feel good about.

“We work really hard to get students past just wanting to work on their own cars, and to donate their time and effort to a worthy cause,” Horton said.

And a worthy cause it is. The Spokane Tricycle Racing Association has raised thousands of dollars for Cancer Patient Care because, for some of the members, it’s personal. For several years Nancy Hefling has organized the Skytona 500 race at Big Sky’s Tavern in Hillyard. Her sister, Donna Carman, had battled cancer, and the family appreciated the assistance they received from Cancer Patient Care.

This summer, Hefling founded a second event: the rousingly successful Hillyard Cup Donna Carman Memorial Tricycle Race. One of the most popular events was the celebrity race.

It’s not every day you see Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, Fire Chief Bobby Williams and Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich embroiled in a heated road race – especially on tricycles.

Williams rolled to the finish line on the souped-up fire department trike. “They’ve been working on their tricycle for several years,” said Sherar.

The Hillyard Cup featured special races for the real tricycle experts: children. Some adult participants got into the competitive spirit by dressing as their favorite NASCAR drivers. Of course, all racers were required to wear helmets.

Last week at the Spokane Skills Center, when Sherar came to pick up the Tricycle Racing Mobile Headquarters, she showed off her own modified tricycle. The tall, white trike sported lights and a siren, very appropriate for Sherar, a patrol officer with the Spokane Police Department.

Glancing back at her bigger rig, she praised the quality of the work students and instructors had lavished on it.

“Some people get a motorcycle; I got a milk truck,” she said.

Horton, Koentopp and their students, along with collision repair instructor Don Belcher and his students, put a lot of effort into the project.

In addition to a tune-up, they replaced the driveline brackets, a side mirror, a window and the exhaust system, and they repainted the truck’s snazzy red trim. Local businesses including City Glass, Doc’s North Division Muffler Clinic and KC Auto Paint and Supplies helped.

Sherar expressed appreciation for their extra effort. “They went over and beyond what I expected them to do,” she said.

Kelly Busse, who teaches in the pre-law enforcement academy at the Skills Center, said, “This is a good example of what we do at the Skills Center to get them (students) motivated in community service.” He gestured toward the revamped milk truck and added, “It lets them know there’s a wider world out there.”

Contact correspondent Cindy Hval at


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