CarFest is an annual charity event put on by the Community of Automotive Professionals in San Antonio, Texas. In 48 hours, 25 teams representing local automotive repair shops get together in the AT&T Freeman Expo Hall and volunteer their time fixing up cars for people in the community for free. All of the parts used over the weekend, from fluids and PPE, to body panels and complete engines, are donated by local CarFest sponsors.
All of the cars are randomly assigned, and the volunteers do not get any say in which cars get chosen to be repaired. All of the customers have to go through an application process and get nominated by local charities throughout our city. The repair teams get a chance to inspect their vehicles for repair prior to CarFest weekend, and create a list of items that need repair.
Upon submission of our Repair Orders, the CarFest organizational staff will coordinate with different sponsors to get each part that we request for the vehicle. Not every recommendation gets approved for repair during CarFest. As a team, each shop does their best to determine which repairs are most important for the vehicles longevity, and which would be the most costly if done outside of CarFest, so the customer gets the greatest benefit out of their weekend with us.
After volunteering with CarFest last year, Faye Hadley of Pistons & PixieDust was asked to return again for the 2019 season representing her own shop. Since her shop consists of only herself, and intern Megan, Faye reached out to the local #LASS Mechanics Club to see if anyone was interested in forming a team. While every single woman in #LASS works for a different automotive repair shop across the city, the whole club rallied around Pistons & PixieDust to create the first All-Female Repair Team in the history of CarFest!
Aside from just auto repair, another really important and meaningful element of CarFest is training and inspiring the next generation of technicians. Free classes and workshops are held all weekend for the volunteers, and students work closely alongside professionals to gain experience outside of a traditional classroom setting. Students on the Pistons & PixieDust team included Alley Perez, Mamie-Jo Beatty-Hill, and Megan Fitton.
The Pistons & PixieDust repair team was the first group to start working on Friday, and the last group to finish on up Sunday evening. After seeing the list of items that the team was preparing to tackle, car #9 (our Honda!) was known by the parts staff (according to them!) as the “problem child” car. By the end of Sunday, we had tackled every item that we had the parts provided for and completed thousands of dollars in free work. We had recommended over $20,000 in work, and ended up completing most of what was on our list.
For more information about CarFest, and to sign up to volunteer next year, check out their website here.