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Georgian College Auto Show races back to town

Show kicks off with announcement of scholarship created in memory of student who died in car crash last year

The Georgian College Auto Show zoomed back into Barrie this weekend for the first time in three years.

The event, which boasts being the largest outdoor, student-run new car auto show in Canada, kicked off Friday at the college’s Barrie campus, back for its 35th year with a special announcement honouring one of its own.

On Friday, representatives from the college announced the creation of the Jason Ono-O’Connor Memorial Endowment Fund. Ono-O’Connor was one of six young Barrie residents killed in a crash on McKay Road on Aug. 27, 2022.

“Through the generosity of family, friends and community, a permanent endowment fund has been established to honour and remember Jason, to pay tribute to and to recognize his passion for community, excellence and leadership. Every year, one of our talented auto show student directors will be recognized with the Jason Ono-O’Connor Memorial Scholarship,” Kristy Atkinson, auto show manager, told BarrieToday on Saturday.

“Jason was hired as a student-director and he was really, really excited for the job, and then, just a few weeks later, he was killed. He never got to do the job he was hired for, but he was so excited for it, so his family put together this scholarship. It means so much to the entire Georgian community that Jason’s legacy and impact will be permanently honoured and it will endure through future generations of talented students who will carry on his success and proudly seek to emulate his zeal for life, excellence and love for community.”

The auto show is part of the college’s automotive management degree program curriculum, she noted.

“Students are required to take part in this experiential learning opportunity in a leadership position. It’s entirely student led,” she explained, adding it offers a no-pressure opportunity for visitors to check out new vehicles.

“At some of the larger shows, someone will try to get your email address and try to tell you why you should buy this car. That’s not the goal here. Our students are there to provide you with as much information as they can to make you armed with information to make a good decision that’s right for you. It’s a no-pressure zone for people to come in and get the information you’re looking for without having to talk to a salesperson.”

Richard and Chris Cook, Simcoe County residents and founders of UNDOR, had a booth set up at the event.

“We are sort of new in the game and wanted to come out to a local event. We are really excited to be here,” Richard said, adding the second day of the event had been busy.

Zach Ford and Nolan Henery travelled to Barrie from London to support some friends who were involved in the show and to check out the new technology.

“I wanted to see some new cars that were coming out and the new technology. It’s definitely a lot different (from) the cars I am used to being in. The technology is really cool and advanced. I like it,” said Henery.

The pair even got to sit shotgun during a test drive of the new Porsche Taycan.

“I did not expect them to launch as hard as they did, and it kind of threw me in the seat and it felt like a roller-coaster. It was really sweet,” added Ford.

Ian Durkee has been attending the auto show since he was a teenager. This year, he brought his 11-year-old son, Dylan, with him.

“He’s gained a lot of interest in cars over the last few years and plays a lot of the racing games. We went to the International Auto Show in Toronto and a lot of these vehicles weren’t there, so we wanted to come and see a few of those manufacturers here,” he said.

The show will continue Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.