Tony Harrington may only be in grade 10, but he’s already got over 10 years of experience working on cars.
“I’ve been working with my dad, so he taught me how to weld when I was four, and then I did my first little peddle car and I did all the primer and filler, the dent repairs and all that sort of stuff,” he said. “I’ve been painting cars since I was 10, and the first time I did it I just fell in love and had to keep doing it.”
That experience has paid off.
Harrington just won gold at the Skills Canada provincials in car painting, a competition that auto collision teacher Kevin Blecic says is no small feat.
“He competed there against six other students, and many had finished a first-year finishing course at Vancouver Community College, so he was competing against kids already working in the industry,” Blecic said, “So for a grade 10 student to win gold, it’s pretty amazing.”
The competition consisted of three parts including polishing, refinishing a fender, and masking.
“I basically spent the whole day on the concrete floor which hurt my heels a little bit, but it was a really, really good experience. I had so much fun and I’d do it over and over and over again if I could,” Harrington said.
The win allows Harrington to head to the nationals in Edmonton on June 4, and potentially to the world championships later in the year.
In the meantime, Harrington is helping Blecic teach younger students how to paint cars, and fixing up his own car with his friend Ethan Cruz.
“It was basically poo-coloured when we bought it, and had a completely different interior,” he said, as he threw off a large cover to reveal a sleek orange and black cloned ‘78 Plymouth Roadrunner. “It’s taken years but it’s almost done.”
Harrington and Cruz have a bit of a deadline for the car; the Roadrunner will be leading the Victoria day parade on May 21.
When asked if he wanted to work on cars for his career, Harrington wasn’t sure.
“At this point I’m trying to do as much as possible to find out what I really, really enjoy,” he said. “But I’ll have a garage I’m almost certain when I’m in my own house.”