A very special item at the NIP Gala 2010!

The National Inclusion Project Gala of 2010 will feature an item that has been well-known and loved in the Clay Nation for many, many years. No, we're not auctioning off Clay himself...  but this is the next best thing!

Diane "Cookie" Knappenberger has generously donated the Claymobile for this year's auction. Like a loyal Clay Aiken fan, this car has been to numerous concerts and appearances, beginning with the Jukebox Tour at Musicfest in Bethlehem, PA, last summer's Timeless Tour concert at Lancaster, PA and a special appearance with Clay Aiken himself on TV at the Morning show with Mike & Juliet on February 22, 2007. She has been enjoyed by countless fans all over the world, including some special friends from Japan, Singapore and Spain who visited with her in Lancaster this year.

While many have seen her and have had pictures taken with her, few have gotten to know her full story. Before she travels on to the next chapter of her Clay adventures, this is an opportunity to get to know one of the best loved icons of Clay Nation.

Here is the story of the Claymobile and her adventures as related by Cookie herself.

When I began to create her, my intent was to keep Clay's name out there almost everyday. People who knew I was a fan would keep saying to me, "Where is Clay...we never hear anything about him?" I decided to change that and show my support by keeping his name out there almost everyday! It gave me the opportunity to share all that Clay was doing with anyone who asked...both fans and non-fans. I was always positive and many learned just what an incredible young man Clay truly is! Also, from the very beginning, I was hoping it would benefit Clay's foundation in some way.

When I was on the M&J Show with Clay and he made the comment, "We should auction your car Cookie." that is when I decided she would eventually go to NIP! I feel it is a promise I made to Clay and now I am fulfilling that promise. When I have her on display, she is there for the fans to enjoy.  For me, she represents the fans love and support of Clay.

I worked with a local car graphics business, "Impressive Signs", and went to them with my idea. We started with the scripted name on both sides along with the silver and gold stars and the music notes. The first tour poster on the hood was for Jukebox. The local group I belong to sponsored the big poster...I did the rest. The graphics guy took a picture of the car then superimposed the design on the car so I could see how it looked. After a few changes, we had just what I wanted. I had the vinyl decals printed out and my older son (showing love for his Mom) and I spent an entire Sunday afternoon applying the decals. Over the years, there have been many additions. I sprinkled all the CD covers on the trunk lid and tour posters to the hood as the tours happened since Jukebox. There is even a poster depicting his Broadway stint!

Later, when she was to be part of a fundraiser for UNICEF in Cary, a  friend of mine, Susan Friedman, created a design depicting Clay's career from American Idol to the then current time. This was applied to the trunk lid in the form of a wrap so it covers the entire trunk lid.

Everything else on the car is the original. Since I now keep the car garaged when I'm not using it, the decals have held up very well. The only thing it needs replaced frequently is the sparkly silver stars as they loose their sparkle fairly quickly. I have a good supply on hand that will go with the car!

I am glad you asked about the M&J Show! I think many think I had asked to be on, but in fact they invited me. Here is how it happened! I knew Clay was going to be on the show as a co-host. I emailed the show about 2 weeks before and thanked them for having Clay on the show and said how the fans looked forward to it. I told them what a big fan I was, a little about the car (no pics were ever sent)  and said I thought he knew about the car but had never had a chance to see it and that I had never had a chance to meet him and hoped that someday both would happen. I never expected to hear back, but lo and behold about 5 days before the show was to air, they contacted me and said if I brought the car into NY they would be sure I would meet Clay. Well, come on now, who would not jump at that chance...so I gathered up 3 of my Clay Fan friends and off we went for the adventure of a lifetime as it turned out!!

 I never knew anything about what they had planned!! I was told to have the car at the studio at 6AM and that was all. I just thought that after the show Clay might come by to see it!! Boy was I in for a surprise!!
When I got to the studio they had an area blocked off for the car...in NY you need special permits to park a car on the street...so I pulled in and parked. Since there were so many fans who wanted to be there, they had set up bleachers outside for all those who could not fit in the studio...the studio only holds about 75 people.  I'm sure they all wondered about the car!! It was the first time the show had ever done part of the show outside so there was much to do!! The director only told me that after the show started Mike and Juliet would come outside to talk to me about the car.....so I stood outside totally unaware of what was going on inside.

Well, to my total surprise, when the fans started screaming, I realized Clay was coming along with Mike and Juliet. Oh, and how did he smell...I could not tell you I was lost in those wonderful green eyes!! He was very congenial and we did have lots of fun...at least I did, but he seemed to enjoy the interaction as well.I think he was surprised that anyone would do that to their car!! His comment..."I don't even like myself this much, Cookie".
Then, of course, they hit me with the trivia contest thing right on camera...I panicked!! The only time I had with Clay other than what was seen on camera was when we were backstage standing together and  I said to him..."Clay, you gotta help me with this...I'm no good at this trivia stuff" and, of course, in his snarky way he said to me, “I'm not helping you.  You probably know more about me than I do". Well, I think he realized how right I was and how little I research him when the contest started, which is why I think he finally said at one point "I'm trying to help you, Cookie".
Of course, they rigged it so I would win that wonderful vacation in the Bahamas which my hubby and I truly enjoyed and will cherish forever! So, you can see I really had no clue about any of it...and Clay was a good sport about it all. I never had any personal time with him ... only what everyone saw on TV. They even kept me in a private room, so I did not even get to see the show! Of course, I was thrilled and even when I look back on the show I have to pinch myself and say, "Oh, my did that really happen". That truly was an awesome experience...one I would wish for every fan!!

The car is a favorite of Jerome's. There is a sticker that says, "Yes, I'm a Claymate...if you have a problem with that take it up with Jerome". I think he likes having his name on her as well! Whenever I bump into him he always asks about the car!!
Just recently Faye saw the car and even sat in it in Lancaster. I think she enjoyed it and even asked, "Are  you sure you want to donate this". The vehicle is out and about almost everyday as I use it almost daily. No special treatment…just much TLC!! I work hard to keep her in tiptop shape both inside and out and under the hood.

I use this vehicle almost everyday and when I go to Clay functions. She is not babied...I use her..of course keeping her out there was my main goal! She does receive much TLC! It is always a very special moment when I see fans enjoying her. There are many moments that stand out! One would be the fun my friends and I have on the way to concerts. When getting closer to the venue, fans will pass us then you see the brake lights go on and they slow down until they are right along side the car ...when you look over, there are usually many with cameras or cell phones taking pictures and waving!!

 When I am at stop lights, it is fun to look back and see the person behind me taking pictures and smiling and waving! When it's guys, I figure they are trying to get in good with their girlfriends!! LOL.
Another really fun thing that happened because of the car was when a local radio station put a call out over the air trying to find the lady with the Clay car. My friend called me and I contacted the station. They asked me to be the American Idol analyst the year Taylor Hicks won. I was on the radio twice a week and I did pick the winner. Most of my guesses were right(just luck) and they were amazed. It allowed me many opportunities to talk about Clay and what he was up to...in fact one morning they had a coffee drinking contest and took a sip after each time I mentioned Clay's name...at the end, they said they had their caffeine for a week!!

Another adventure was the summer 3 of my friends and I traveled all the way to Raleigh for the Cary and Ashville concerts. That was the year she was part of a fundraiser for UNICEF! She got all us there safely ...even though she held much luggage and 4 fans! She panted climbing those mountains in NC on the way home but she came through like a trooper!

There is another fun story which occurred the first summer we had our annual Clay Beach Retreat Day at a fan's beach house. The car was parked along the screened in porch. People ogled all day as they passed it on the way to and from the beach!!
That evening as we were sitting on the porch, all of a sudden the motion sensing flood lights popped on and there were 3 young girls sneaking around the car and trying to peek in the porch. When the light flashed on, they asked if Clay Aiken was there!! We invited them inside and shared clack with them and loaded them down with tons of Clay goodies...books, CDs and pictures. They were so excited!!

What do people say when they see her...many ask if I'm his Mom or a relative! There was only one time over the years that I got any negativity and that was when I was traveling to a concert in Conn. when a car full of "rednecks" made fun of me and the car! I chose to just ignore them!

I have a wonderful, understanding husband. When I told him what I wanted to do, his only comment was.. "you’re not going to keep it in our driveway are you???" Only joking, of course, as he has over the years enjoyed seeing me have so darn much fun! Of course, he will not drive it but does travel to concerts once in awhile in it! I do remember one time he had to drive it for some reason and when a car full of cute young girls hollered and waved at him he thought that was pretty enjoyable!
From the beginning, this wonderful little car has been a joy for me. I have never wished for anything other than the support of the fans. I have enjoyed  letting it represent the love and support of the entire Clay Nation and being an ambassador for Clay! It is after all for Clay and the fans!! I will miss her...I do already, as she has been a big part of my life for the last 6 years! My dear traveling friends have already expressed how traveling to concerts just will not be the same. I hope whoever out there wins the auction will treat her with TLC and have as much fun as I have had! It's with bittersweet feelings that I bid farewell and pass her on to someone else!! She has been part of my heart and soul and I will miss her!


For more details on the Gala and the auction, visit the National Inclusion Project (NIP) website.

Category: 9 comments


CCOL4HIM said...

Great post! I left a message for you on Facebook. Take care & God bless. Love always, Cynthia

katy said...

Loved reading the history of the car. What a neat way to promote Clay Aiken!!

Anonymous said...

Awww...your story was so touching Cookie :) I truly understand how you must be feeling now. I was really so lucky to be able to spend some time with Claymobile. Thank you so much Cookie.

Here's hoping that she will fetch a handsome sum for NIP and will find herself an awesome new owner :)


Carolina Clay said...


What a wonderful idea for a blog! I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting Cookie's story about the Claymobile and look forward to more.

The blog site is beautiful, as well as interesting technically. I think Clay Aiken would be very proud of the saints, legends, and goddesses in the Clay Nation.

Anticipating many more stories you have to share!


LovesClaysVoice said...

Scarlett, I really enjoyed Cookie's story about the Claymobile! I hope it brings in a lot of money for the National Inclusion Project! I would like to see Clay drive it just once! LOL

Anonymous said...

Hi LovesClaysVoice....Me to.. but remember he can't drive a stick...LOL. Thanks everyone for the sweet and understanding comments...I loved sharing this story with you! Cookie
PS...Didn't she do a great job!!

Anonymous said...

Great job scarlett! Love the story of Cookie. Is she getting a new car?

Lisa said...

What a wonderful story! Thank you so much for sharing it and thank you Scarlett for writing it. :) I'm sure that it will do great at the NIP Gala this year. Take care, Lisa

Nanna said...

Hey Scarlett! Love that story! I do think we should try a new fundraiser with the SSS! I would love to see you dying yarn again........and I would love to participate again! Did anyone else get back to you? Any ideas?

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