A group of Williston High School auto tech students got their hands dirty creating a one of a kind ride as part of a nation-wide competition.

Every year, Harley-Davidson holds the Battle of the Kings, with dealers from around the world creating one-of-a-kind custom motorcycles to compete head-to-head for the title of World Champion. In the United States, 40 dealers across the nation are participating in the competition.

The challenge for the dealer is to partner with local trade school students, take a standard Harley-Davidson model and turn it into something unique. The teams compete to create a custom model in either dirt, track or chop, but must use Harley-Davidson parts and accessories, working with a budget no bigger than half the cost of the original model.

Here in Williston, Andrew Gjelsness, a technician at Black-Magic Harley Davidson, served as crew chief for the build, with eight students from Williston High School assisting. Working every week for about two months, Gjelness and the students, along with team members Allison Seymour, Jacey Martinez and Sales Manager Colt Treffry created a custom dirt bike style Harley-Davidson, which they named Skid Mark.

The bike was officially unveiled at Black Magic on Monday, April 15, just in time for voting to begin. People can go online to view the different custom bikes and cast their votes for the People’s Choice Award, which Gjelsness said makes up 50 percent of the score moving into the second round, where the bikes will move on to compete in front of a panel of Harley-Davidson judges, narrowing it down to three category winners.

The top bikes will then be voted on by Harley-Davidson dealers at this year’s Annual Dealer Meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The United States Custom King Champion will then travel to Italy to compete for the World Champion title.

Gjelsness said that the students were excited to take part in the build, and that the experience overall was beneficial to giving them exposure to a field they may not have considered before. In fact, the experience went so well for one student, said Treffry, that he is now employed by Black Magic, working in the shop and assisting technicians.

“It was nice having the kids in here to just expose them to real world side of things, instead of being confined to a shop.” Gjelsness explained.

“It’s cool to have the kids get a vision in their head and have them actually get to see the completed bike that they worked on from start to finish.” Treffry added.

The Black Magic crew said the build experience was also a great way to show the students that there is a lot more that goes into building and maintaining a bike than simply turning a wrench. Martinez said it’s good to show students that lessons like math, science and English are still necessary tools, even when working in a shop.

To view all the custom bikes and cast your vote for People’s Choice, visit www.customkings.harley-davidson.com. Voting ends on May 15.

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