Prineville-based AA Automotive and Transmission Repair co-owner is donating a race car to honor local veterans including his son

by: BILL MINTIENS - Rick Maul, co-owner of Prineville-based AA Automotive and Transmission Repair, sits inside the race car they are donating in honor of local veterans. Fellow co-owner Kelly Lawrence stands alongside the vehicle.

Rick Maul, co-owner of AA Automotive & Transmission Repair, vividly recalls how returning Vietnam War veterans were treated.

“I was a teenager when veterans were returning from the Vietnam War. I saw how poorly they were treated when they got back. I knew that was wrong and now, with so many vets returning from the Iraq war, I really wanted to find a way to say thank you to all vets.”

Rick also wanted to show gratitude for another reason, one very close to his heart.

“My son, Chris, served two tours in Iraq and is now 60 percent disabled. I am very thankful for his commitment and sacrifice and wanted to find a way to honor him.”

A life-long professional mechanic and car racer, Maul has been around cars all his life. “My Dad got me into sprint car racing when I was a kid.”

As he grew in the profession Maul came to know some of the racing world’s very best.

“Down in California, I worked with both Roger Penske and Bobby Allison on their race car engines and then I started building and driving my own sprint cars,” said Maul.

Here in Prineville, Maul knew that many veterans have a real love for anything automotive, and a couple of veterans from the Prineville Band of Brothers were customers of his at AA Automotive.

“We bought a new race car and I got to talking with a couple of these guys and the idea of honoring veterans with it started to take shape. After all, veterans helping veterans is what the Band of Brothers is all about.”

“The more Rick got to talking about wanting to honor local vets, the more we got excited. He wanted to have as many veterans as possible actually sign the car, giving each a sense of ownership and recognition as a veteran.

“I’m guessing that with all the signing opportunities that Rick is setting up, there will 1,000 signatures on it,” said Lynn Arnett, Prineville Band of Brothers member and Navy veteran.

The idea of AA Automotive’s race car being a “tribute car” was born. And, in conjunction with the Band of Brothers, planning for the 2014 racing season began earlier this year.

Maul’s car races in the late model classification and will compete this summer primarily at the Madras Speedway.

“The late models are considered the big dog class in racing because they are the most expensive class you can run,” explained Maul.

Aside from the purchase cost of the car, which can run from $8,000 to $15,000, annual maintenance, fuel, and entry fees can total $3,000 or more.

“And that’s conservative. If we blow an engine or crash too many times, it can be higher than that,” added Maul.

The first step in fulfilling Maul’s vision of a tribute car was to design the graphics that would dramatically display the groups to be honored.

“Driving Force Graphics & Sign Company in Bend has been a great sponsor. They created all the decals for the car, from the distinctive ‘No 1 Forgotten,’ ‘Salute to the Troops,’ and ‘Band of Brothers’ decals to the American flag-inspired wrap,” said Maul.

Locally, about 25 other companies quickly jumped on board to become sponsors of the “Salute to the Troops” car.

“All these local sponsors are committed to helping us keep the car on the track this year. It’s wonderful because each of them is as passionate about supporting our veterans as we are,” added Maul.

One of those sponsors is The T-Shirt Shack in Prineville, which is creating a distinctive shirt to be sold to offset the race car’s expenses and to bring awareness to the “Salute to the Troops” promotion. The shirts will be available soon at AA Automotive in Prineville and at the promotional events.

Racing at the Madras Speedway’s quarter-mile dirt track begins in April, but the “Salute to the Troops” promotional campaign starts in March with four opportunities to see the race car up close, including one in Prineville at the Elks Lodge next month.

Veterans throughout Central Oregon are being encouraged to attend one of the events to sign the race car.

“To make it personal for each and every veteran who wants to participate, we’re inviting vets to come to one of the four car showings where they can personally sign the car,” said Maul.

The Madras Speedway is also encouraging veterans to come to the track for a special ceremony at the July 5 races. Veteran admission will be half-price ($3.00) and a special ceremony is being planned for all veterans in attendance.

The “Salute to the Troops” race car will be on display at many parades this year as well as at the Madras Speedway where it will drive the American flag around before races.

For more information, call AA Automotive & Transmission Repair owners Kelly Lawrence and Rick Mau, at 541-447-2558.

To view the race car, visit the following locations:

Thursday, March 6, 8 a.m., Elks Lodge, 151 N. Main St., Prineville

Saturday, March 15, 4 p.m., Redmond VFW, 1836 S.E. Veterans Way, Redmond

Monday, March 17, 12 p.m., Jake’s Diner, 2210 N.E. Highway 20, Bend

Tuesday, March 25, 12 p.m., Izzy’s Restaurant, 810 S.W. 11th St., Redmond

Madras Speedway web site:

Prineville Band of Brothers:

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