First Hot Wheels Design Award Given to Anime-Themed Creature Car by Danica Lilly Ball

PLANO, Texas (March 30, 2022) – 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, Helena Zou, 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.

“Helena draws almost every day. She dreams of one day becoming a veterinarian, an artist AND a superhero – all in one,” said her father, Gavin Zou. “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.”

The Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest seeks to inspire creativity in youth, encouraging their innovative ideas for future mobility. Nine young artists were selected as the FY22 U.S. winners of the contest, along with 12 Honorable Mention Award recipients. Two special awards were presented: the Hot Wheels Design Award and the Petersen Prestige Award.

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.

“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.

The recipient of the second annual Petersen Prestige Award 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, associate curator, Petersen Automotive Museum.

Through March 27, 2022, the museum is hosting an exhibit that features 3D replicas and prints of artworks by past contest winners. The 3D replicas were created by students from California State University, Dominquez Hills as part of a partnership by Toyota with the university’s Center for Innovation in STEM Education. Replicas of artworks by selected winners from this year’s contest will be displayed this fall.

A national judging panel chose nine U.S. winners (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, visit


Gold Award: “Giraffe Car Delivers Happiness” by Helena Zou, 5, Ridgewood, NJ

Silver Award: “Space Eco-Car” by Allison Yi, 7
Wellesley, MA

Bronze Award: “Ocean Cleaning Vehicle” by Emily Yi, 5, Wellesley, MA


Gold Award: “The Dragon Car” by Rebecca Liu, 10
Santa Clara, CA

Silver Award: “Sweet Car” by Doyeon Lee, 11
Mill Creek, WA

Bronze Award: “Vacuum Cleaner Car” by Kai Sheng, 10, Hammond, LA


Gold Award: “Toyota Dream Orchestra” by Ava Yeh, 15
Mercer Island, WA

Silver Award: “Building Blocks” by Kaitlyn Chen, 15 Medina, WA

Bronze Award: “Nature’s Restoration Shelter” by Kayli Wong, 14, Bellevue, WA

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 The U.S. website is


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About Toyota

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 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

Victor Vanov
[email protected]

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HOT WHEELS DESIGN AWARD 3-080 Steer Clear and Steam Forward into the Future by Danica Lilly_Toyota Dream Car Art Contest 2022

Helena Zou shows her Giraffe Car Delivers Happiness drawing_Toyota Dream Car Art Contest 2022

Detail of PETERSEN PRESTIGE AWARD 3-413 Building Blocks by Kaitlyn Chen_Toyota Dream Car Art Contest 2022

Danica Lilly Ball, age 14, draws her award-winning dream car design_Toyota Dream Car Art Contest 2022

An idea sketch by Danica Lilly Ball of her award-winning design_Toyota Dream Car Art Contest 2022

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