Hot Rod Heart Award honors young renovator
As Hot August Nights’ week of events came to a close, the Robert M. Casey Hot Rod Heart Award, created to inspire the next generation of hot rod owners, was presented to Peter Aylworth of Reno at the Atlantis Casino.
Aylworth has been working on his ‘55 Pontiac Chieftain for the past two years, and the “work in progress” as well as Aylworth’s passion attracted the attention of Frank “Shorty” Pope, co-creator of the award. Aylworth received a trophy and a gift certificate for $250 for auto parts.
Runner up, Jordan Ames of Carson City, was honored for the work he’s done on his 56 Chevy pickup truck, and received a trophy in addition to $200 in cash.
The late Robert “Bob” M. Casey, who served for 20 years as the chief judge in the Cruise of Champions, was inspired to create this award after watching a teenage boy with an old car he described as “a piece of crap.”
The young man took all the chrome off of the car, polished each piece in his basement, and after a lot more work, displayed the car three years later, now transformed into a work of art.
“Bob and I decided then to create this award, and he had planned to present it himself, but passed away last October,” said Frank Pope.
Bob’s widow, Carol, attended and hugged Aylworth, tears in her eyes. Money for the design and creation of the trophy and the cash for the awards were donated by Mrs. Casey, their daughters Darlene and Donna, as well as by Frank and Christine Pope and daughters Nikki and Jackie.
When asked if the Casey and Pope families plan to continue this recognition of young people between the ages of 16 and 25, Frank Pope answered, “As long as I draw breath.”