Laurence's Auto Body and Paint of La Grande recently won a first- place prize in DuPont Paint's prestigious Top Gun contest.
And if it hadn't been for circumstances, the paint job that owner Eric Laurence and employee Rick Witherrite did on Pat Bruce's 1938 Chevrolet Coupe would have won a grand prize.
"It was picked for the grand prize, but we couldn't make the photo shoot in Reno," Laurence said. He explained that Top Gun grand prize winners, 12 in all, must be on hand at a photo shoot for a DuPont calendar that is distributed nationwide.
Because of schedule conflicts, neither Laurence nor Bruce was able to take the dragster to Reno for the shoot. DuPont decided to give a first place award to Laurence instead. Twenty-four first place awards are bestowed in the annual contest.
Working from a drawing provided by Bruce, Laurence and Witherrite painted the car pearl white and added raised, multi-colored flames along its sides.
The contest, designed to recognize the best use of DuPont automotive finishes, draws hundreds of entries each year. Paint jobs on cars, motorcycles, trucks, boats and other vehicles are considered.
Laurence said custom paint jobs like the one on Bruce's Chevy are only one of many services offered by his shop.
"We're a full service auto body shop," he said, adding that he and Witherrite worked late many days to complete the project.
Bruce races the car at regional dragstrips. Pepsi-Cola Seven-Up Bottling Co. of Eastern Oregon sponsors it.