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Old 04-25-2006, 11:08 AM
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WOODBURY, NY — Young and old, short and tall. For the past 10 years a crowd of well-wishers has surrounded Alma Gates at every car audio competition, from Spring Break to MECA to IASCA, she’s attended.
They ask her for advice. They compare notes on SPL and SQ, and are especially curious about what it took to make her two famous Ford Broncos the loudest in the world. And at the USACi Finals in Kansas City in October, the same well-wishers will have one final chance to eat up Gates’ wisdom. The (grand) mother of car audio will bid a fond farewell to her friends there as she officially departs the car audio competition circuit to pursue other interests.

“It’s going to be very emotional,” Gates said of her impending retirement. “Since 1996 I’ve had the privilege of sharing my passion for car audio with people from all over the world. One of the hardest parts about leaving will be not seeing all my friends on a regular basis. I’ve been fortunate enough to gain an extended family around the world thanks to car audio, and that I will truly miss.”

Gates’ first Ford Bronco retired two years ago after numerous notable firsts in the SPL history books. The first to “blow hair,” the old Bronco built up so much sound pressure that it made hair stand on end, much to the delight of curious bystanders, children and camera-wielding journalists. Affectionately dubbed “The Beast,” the Bronco set an SPL world record in 1996, its first year competing, and paved the way for further records. In 11 events over the next two years, Gates and her Bronco were credited with raising the Sound Pressure Level by an unprecedented 15dB.

Fast forward to Spring Break Nationals 2005, when Gates’ all-new, second Bronco debuted with Team JBL to steal the thunder in Sound Quality competitions for the first time ever. It went on to take first place and Best of Show at MECA, and brought home the first of many trophies to come.

Termed the “Boom Box Granny” by CNN, the 71-year-old Gates has intrigued the press as well as her ardent followers with the endearing story of how she became immersed in car audio. A former schoolteacher from Phoenix, Gates joined the industry 10 years ago alongside her
then-teenage son. She never could have predicted that the hobby she enjoyed with her son and his friends would become a full-time job and her passion. Upon retirement later this year, Gates hopes to delve into another hobby with her son – real estate. She’s even thinking of taking a few classes to brush up on the subject.

Team JBL’s Gary Biggs, a close friend and teammate of Gates, said the competition circuit won’t be the same after Gates retires. “There are many things that I respect about Alma, but the first two on the list are her integrity and her fierce passion to always strive to be the best,” Biggs said. “I don’t think we’ll ever be able to replace Alma – a smart woman with a fiery attitude who has cemented a tremendous legacy in car audio and life in general. We wish her all the best.”

Gates and her Bronco will continue to visit JBL dealers throughout the year, as well as attend various competitions leading up to USACi Finals, at which JBL will host a press conference and special farewell event to honor her dedication to the industry.

For Gates, retirement will be bittersweet, but something she can accept. “I don’t want to go down any other way than on top,” she said.

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Old 04-25-2006, 12:23 PM
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she will be missed
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