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Young Artists Share their Innovative Auto Designs: Winners Announced for 2022 Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest

An imaginative solution to deliver groceries to her grandmother’s high-rise apartment was the concept of an award-winning drawing by a kindergartner from New Jersey. Using markers and watercolors, Zongxuan Helena Zou, age 5, worked more than a week to create her “Giraffe Car Delivers Happiness,” which was selected as the Gold Award Winner in her age category (4-7 years) for this year’s Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest.

Young Artists Share their Innovative Auto Designs: Winners Announced for 2022 Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest

Zongxuan Helena Zou, age 5, shows her “Giraffe Car Delivers Happiness” drawing.

“Helena draws almost every day. She dreams of one day becoming a veterinarian, an artist, AND a superhero – all in one. She likes animals, especially giraffes because she once fed one at a zoo. During the pandemic, she missed her grandmother who lives abroad and wanted to help her. She came up with this idea and thought it could help others, too.”

Zongxuan’s Father, Gavin Zou

The Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest seeks to inspire creativity in youth, encouraging their innovative ideas for future mobility. A total of 138 young artists received awards for the FY22 contest: nine winners, 12 Honorable Mention recipients, 39 finalists, and 78 semi-finalists.

Two additional awards were presented by national judges: the Hot Wheels Design Award for an artwork with a design that celebrated the spirit of Hot Wheels® and the Petersen Prestige Award for an artwork that envisioned the automotive world in a new and exciting way.

The Hot Wheels Design Award was established this year by one of the contest’s national judges, Bryan Benedict, design director of Hot Wheels and Matchbox Die-Cast, Mattel, Inc. This award’s FY22 recipient is 14-year-old Danica Lilly Ball of Chicora, Pennsylvania for her anime-themed “Steer Clear and Steam Forward into the Future,” an intricate drawing on paper inspired by the endangered Bengal tiger.

Danica Lilly Ball, age 14, draws her “Steer Clear and Steam Forward into the Future,” which won the first Hot Wheels Design Award.

“I was particularly drawn to Ball’s artwork because Mattel has a long history in Hot Wheels of creating whimsical creature cars. Her tiger car captures much of that same spirit of classic Hot Wheels cars like Cargoyle, Fangster, and Sharkruiser, as well as more recent castings like Purrfect Speed, Turbo Rooster, and Tricera-Truck, while also conveying the very meaningful message of preserving our environment and protecting the endangered animals around us. I also appreciated the skillfully executed and beautifully rendering of her work,” said Benedict.

Petersen Prestige Award recipient Kaitlyn Chen, age 15, draws every day.

The recipient of the 2nd annual Petersen Prestige Award presented by the Petersen Automotive Museum is 15-year-old Kaitlyn Chen of Medina, Washington for her digitally drawn “Building Blocks” artwork. “Chen’s design finds the answer to traffic congestion by taking transportation to the sky. In her futuristic world, instead of needing a separate vehicle to transport oneself from place to place, the places become vehicles themselves, traveling through the air to link up with each other as needed. Her fantastical, yet well-thought-out, art piece looks at the future of transportation in an entirely new way,” said Autumn Nyiri, the museum’s associate curator.

3D Rendering of winning Artwork on display at Petersen Automotive Museum

From October 30, 2021 through March 27, 2022, the Petersen Automotive Museum hosted an exhibit that featured 3D replicas and prints of artworks by past contest winners. The 3D replicas were created by students from California State University, Dominguez Hills as part of a partnership by Toyota with the university’s Center for Innovation in STEM Education. Replicas of artworks created by selected winners from this year’s contest will be displayed at the museum this fall.

“This has been an excellent educational opportunity to share ideas generated by kids across the country so that our—children and adults—can experience the design process, which underlies not only automotive manufacturing but innovation in any field, as well as explore the future of the automobile,” said Terry L. Karges, executive director of the Petersen Automotive Museum.

A national judging panel chose the nine U.S. winners of the contest (three per age category). In addition, 12 “Honorable Mention” recipients, 39 finalists, and 78 semi-finalists were selected representing 19 states. For a complete list of the 138 awardees, download the full press release here.


  1. Gold Award: “Giraffe Car Delivers Happiness” by Zongxuan Helena Zou, age 5, Ridgewood, New Jersey
  2. Silver Award:Space Eco-Car” by Allison Yi, age 7, Wellesley, Massachusetts
  3. Bronze Award: “Ocean Cleaning Vehicle” by Emily Yi age 5, Wellesley, Massachusetts


  1. Gold Award:The Dragon Car” by Rebecca Liu, age 10, Santa Clara, California
  2. Silver Award: “Sweet Car” by Doyeon Lee, age 11, Mill Creek, Washington
  3. Bronze Award: “Vacuum Cleaner Car” by Kai Sheng, age 10 Hammond, Louisiana


  1. Gold Award: “Toyota Dream Orchestra” by Ava Yeh, age 15, Mercer Island, Washington
  2. Silver Award: “Building Blocks” by Kaitlyn Chen, age 15, Medina, Washington
  3. Bronze Award: “Nature’s Restoration Shelter” by Kayli Wong, age 14, Bellevue, Washington
Winning artwork submissions in the 2022 Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest

Check out artwork images by the U.S. contest winners. Visit our Flickr page to see artworks by all 138 awardees. Visit Toyota Newsroom for photos and more information.


Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan held the first worldwide contest in 2004. Nearly 90 countries now host national contests. The United States contest began in 2012. All countries submit their top nine winners to Japan as entries to a world contest. To learn about the world contest, visit www.Toyota-DreamCarArt.com. The U.S. website is www.ToyotaDreamCarUSA.com.

Toyota (NYSE:TM) has been a part of the cultural fabric in the U.S. for more than 60 years, and is committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility through our Toyota and Lexus brands, plus our nearly 1,500 dealerships. Toyota has created a tremendous value chain and directly employs more than 36,000 in the U.S. The company has contributed world-class design, engineering, and assembly of more than 30 million cars and trucks at our 9 manufacturing plants, 10 including our joint venture in Alabama that begins production in 2021. To help inspire the next generation for a career in STEM-based fields, including mobility, Toyota launched its virtual education hub at www.TourToyota.com with an immersive experience and chance to visit many of our U.S. manufacturing facilities. The hub also includes a series of free STEM-based lessons and curriculum through Toyota USA Foundation partners, virtual field trips and more. For more information about Toyota, visit www.toyotanewsroom.com.