Eight Hands-On contestants make it to last day

Eight Hands-On contestants make it to last day

After five nights of sleeping with his hand wedged into the spokes of a wheel and surviving off of carefully rationed portions of beef jerky, 23-year-old Paul Vaughn of Chantilly, Va., drew the lucky key that unlocked the Hyundai Sonata and a new future at this yearês Washington Auto Show.

–Iêm a real numbers guy, so I know the chances of these things working out,” said Vaughn, marveling at his luck. –This time, not only did it happen to someone I knew that person was me!”

Eight of the original nine contestants lasted through the end of the WAS Hands-On Contest, which this year was sponsored by Hyundai and its Washington area dealers. The first requisite for winning the contest was continuous physical contact with the new Sonata, 24 hours a day for five days and 119 hours straight onsite at the Auto Show. The only woman in the competition lost contact with the car and, as such, was disqualified. This year marked the first time in the history of the longtime WAS Hands On Contest that such a high proportion of people went the distance, staying attached to the car for the run of the competition.

A possible reason for that: An unusual camaraderie developed among the contestants.

–They would look out for each other if it looked like someone was slipping,” said Alvin Jones, who produced a segment on the contest for his piece on the Auto Show for his TV show Planet Vehicle. –It went from being a contest to being a community.”

At the end, the other contestants shouted a chorus of Vaughnês name, cheering him on for his win. As a consolation prize for their dedication, the others each won Visa cards worth $500.

Vaughn had plastic bags designated for each meal of the day, with a reward of beef jerky for dinner each night. –If I had to eat the beef jerky much more, I think Iêd be done with beef jerky for a while,” he said. Luckily, though, –I still like beef jerky. Iêm not done with it yet.”

The prize vehicle was a 2015 Hyundai Sonata SE with a 185-hp, 2.4L GDI 4-cylinder engine. It has a Bluetooth, hands-free phone system, iPod/USB and auxiliary input jacks, plus an AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD/MP3 audio system. Safety features include keyless entry, electronic stability control and antilock brakes.

–The Hands-On Contest is a hallmark of The Washington Auto Show that literally puts the thrill of a new car within armês reach of Washingtonians,” said Kevin Reilly, chairman of the 2015 show. –We are grateful to the area Hyundai dealers for sponsoring this contest and allowing us to showcase Hyundaiês award-winning products.”

Download Bulletin PDF