Marines ‘pimp’ out their rides at car show

Before Cpl. Viraj Edwards\’ father passed away, he asked that his son keep his 1985 Volkswagon Vanagan GL running.

But after putting nearly his entire savings into keeping up with it, Edwards said the vehicle still needed a lot of work.

\”My wife refuses to let my daughter ride in it,\” Edwards said.

That\’s going to change now that Edwards won the \”Pimp My Ride\” event Friday night at MCAS Yuma that includes $7,500 in prizes to restore his vehicle.

The event, sponsored by the Single Marine Program, drew a crowd of about 100 people Friday night – even with the rain that started during the event. Marines, family, friends and even fido turned out to help support the contestants. Organizers also provided free sandwiches and sodas.

Contestants were asked to submit their story and why they needed their ride fixed up, said co-coordinator Jen Larson, with the Marine Corps Community Services. More than 200 Marines entered, but the event coordinators narrowed it down to 25 contestants, Larson said.

The $7,500 in prizes were donated by Aamco Transmission of Yuma, Yuma Auto Rebuilders, and Sound Depot in Yuma, Larson said. That includes work on the keeping the car running, body and paint work, a stereo system, a set of tires and an alarm to help the keep the new investment safe.

Organizers handed out tickets for attendees to vote for their two favorite cars.

The contestants\’ stories varied, with some worse than others.

Cpl. Lucas Obermeyer said his 1979 GMC K 1500 can\’t even go more than 40 mph, but that\’s not the only thing wrong with it: someone recently stole the tailgate off the truck.

\”I was parked at (a local grocery store), came out (and) it was gone,\” he said.

After his steering column broke off of his 1979 Chevy C-10, Lance Cpl. Raymundo Hernandez III said he has to start his truck with a pair of needle nose pliers.

And some contestants barely made it Friday night. One requirement was that the vehicle had to be running to make it to the contest and enter.

\”I didn\’t think I was going to make it,\” said Cpl. Keith Huffstuttler, who entered the 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air that his wife recently gave him for their anniversary.

Earlier on Friday, Huffstuttler said the car didn\’t have tires, a motor or a transmission.

\”I got all that in today about 2 p.m., and I got it here,\” he said

Huffstuttler said he\’s restoring the car because it\’s the same kind his grandfather used to have.

Events such as \”Pimp My Ride\” Friday, give Marines something positive to do in their down time, said Cpl. Tracy Smith, acting president of the Single Marines Program.

Contestant Lance Cpl. Shannon Sappington said the event was a great idea.

\”This whole program\’s really good for people who are behind on things,\” he said. \”It kind of helps out the underdog.\”

Edwards said he can\’t explain what winning means to him, and this is exactly what his father wanted him to do.

After the work is completed, the whole family will be able to take a ride.

\”I\’ll let (our daughter) ride now, definitely,\” his wife said. \”We\’ll have to get another car seat.\”

Stephanie A. Wilken can be reached at


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