John Cambra


John Cambra’s expression of Art was not demonstrated in a traditional manner on canvas or other conventional way. His joy in art was expressed in the way he lived his life, the hobbies he pursued and his love for family and community.

Mr. Cambra was known locally and nationally for his building and reconstruction of hot rods and classic cars. Many of the hot rods he built could only be described as pieces of art. His cars have won numerous trophies and plaques, including Best of Show, Best Engine, Best Paint, People’s Choice, Best Truck and Terrific “T.” In addition to hot rods and classic cars, Mr. Cambra won many awards in the West Coast Outboard Racing Association and the International Hot Boat Association. He built and raced boats with the same passion he built hot rods. At one point in his life, he was rated the fifth-best boat racer in the United States. He raced a 14-foot Craftlee SD Class boat with a 500 horsepower engine. His pit crew was made up of enthusiastic family members. John’s daughter, Aimee, was the chief and main mechanic. John’s wife, Karen, and daughter, Kimberlee, took care of all the details of racing.

John Cambra had another hobby. He loved to fly. He earned his pilot license and purchased his own plane in 1996. John became proficient in both multi-engine and IFR instrument flying, and his Port City Aviation instructor said John could do anything with an airplane.

In the business world, Mr. Cambra had a manufacturing business, a steel construction company and two local agricultural ranches.  When he became half owner in Tuff Boys Trailers, John went out of his way to hire local high school students at the business. His purpose was to teach them welding and fabrication skills in the real world to help prepare them for their work careers. John Cambra donated welding supplies and equipment for various Ag/Mechanics/Welding awards at both Sierra and Manteca High School for many years. The John Cambra Ag/Mechanics Scholarship Fund was started in August 2009 for students in Manteca and Ripon –8 high schools. Many young people in our community have benefitted from John Cambra’s “art” of living and giving back to his community.