2022 has been one of the most exciting years yet. Regardless of all the struggles and hardships that this year also brought for me, I was able to capture and be part of some incredible moments. This post was inspired by a fellow blogger who suggest I do a visual publication of what I experienced this year. For this last blog post of year, here is the best of my 2022.
Here’s to the 2023 year being even more exciting, unexpected and wonderful than 2022.
Hansel Echeverria, founder of Leen Customs based out of LA is a collectible Pin creator of all our favorite cars, from the super cars, to rally racers and everything in between.
His first design was based off of a 2004 Rally Subaru. For him, it was a question of whether or not he should be doing this. Pins were up and coming, and they were popular in the car community already. It was not until he went to Design Con in LA that he realized that pins were very popular. He bought a few to commemorate his trip and then decided to move forward with making car pins. There were all of these popular car cult classic, such as Fast and Furious, and there was no one out there creating something like pins for the fan base.
His initial few drops sold out before 9AM. A response he was just not expecting. From there, it has all been up and up. He partnered with Toyo Tires to do collaboration on their SEMA cars from 2019 along with a few others. He pitched an idea to SEMA to do a limited edition set of pins to give away at the SEMA show for cars that are displayed in Toyo Treadpass at the week long event. The idea was to highlight the builds of these great car enthusiasts and give the fans something they could take back with them along with the great memories.
The fan base for Leen Customs has been incredible over the years. Attendees of SEMA stood in line for hours just to get their hands on these beloved pins created by Hansel.
Here are a few of the builds that were on display and their tiny pin counterparts.
Thank you so much Toyo Tires and Leens Customs for making such a great partnership that we can all enjoy. See you next year SEMA 2023!
The Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals is an annual event that takes place at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois. After SEMA, I had the honor or being offered the chance to go and check out the largest display of American Muscle Cars in the world. It is a place for enthusiasts, both young and old, to come together over their love for these classic vehicles.
I landed at O’Hare International Airport from Logan Airport at 8:30AM on Saturday November 19th. I went to the hotel to drop off my luggage and then made my way straight to the convention center. As soon as you walked through the doors, you could smell the oil, fuel and tires from the classic vehicles lying in wait on the showroom floor. A display of Corvettes greeted me.
The Chevrolet Corvette is one of my all time favorite vehicles, and is definitely my favorite piece of American Muscle. I walked over to Will Call to pick up my badge so generously left for me by eXoMod Carbon. Thank you so much, Rick!
Vendors, car displays and happy event attendees covered the floor. There was so much to take in. I took a couple laps around the floor to see what was there, and then went back through to capture some more specific details. So, where to begin! It is hard to pick. I will start with this 1960 Corvette.
In 1960, this Corvette won 1st in its class making history at the famous 24 hour Le Mans Race. The #3 Cunningham Corvette held this title for more than 40 years. An impressive win for the car at the time.
While on the topic of Corvettes, there was this 1969 unrestored L88.
19,000 original miles, and two time Concours winner in 2017 and 2019. This 427, 4 Speed was one of 116 built in 1969. It has also been awarded the NCRS Top-Flight, Bloomington Gold Certification and MCACN Triple Diamond Award.
There were also an array of vintage mini bikes. These were especially interesting for me, as I used to own a Coleman Mini Bike and attended Mini Mayhem in North Carolina last summer.
This 1981 Z28 Chevrolet Camaro had my heart.
With so many interesting vehicles there, it is hard to pick just a few to write about. There was this custom one of a kind Mustang, with a removable hard top and custom sound system. Photos of this build, do not really do it justice, but here it is.
Most of the cars were set up close to each other in their classes or groups. It made it a little difficult to get clean shots of individual cars, but it also made for some neat opportunities to catch these cars sitting together like a group of friends would.
Next up, this 1977 Dodge Charger SE caught my eye. I had never seen a White Charger before. Usually, the ones that I have seen in the past were black, green or purple. The white gave it an old feel and a certain elegance to it.
There were an array of Superbirds and Daytonas in the Wings Over America section. This was particularly interesting for me, as I had never seen so many Superbirds and Daytonas in one place before, let alone one right after the other.
One in particular caught my eye. This 1970 Plymouth Superbird had a very different paint job, with matching helmet and model car. As the board states in one of the photos, this car is in its “as raced,” unrestored condition.
What an interesting take on this iconic piece of history.
Another section of the convention that seemed to always be busy with people was the Barn Finds & Hidden Gems. As the name suggests, these were cars that were found in as is condition, and either still ran, or were rare pieces not commonly around, let alone now. A few of these gems were in running condition, which made it that much more impressive. For years these old bodies could have sat, but they were not ready to give up. They are now on the hands of eager owners and restorers, so that they may be returned to their former glory when they rolled off the assembly line.
The Studebaker Legends was another section that had some beautiful cars that you don’t get to see everyday. Like a 1963 Studebaker R3 Avanti that was Hot Rod and Motor Trend’s Test car.
Amongst the cars, there were also several vendor booths set up. One had metal art of some of our favorite cars.
There was also Kitty’s Warriors, which I will be writing a separate piece on. They are a non-profit that donate 100% of their proceeds to cancer patients and their families.
Johnny Lightning was also in attendance, selling model cars and an exclusive 2022 MCACN Superbird model.
Last, but certainly not least, there was the Premier Unveiling of the most anticipated builds of the year., the 1971 Plymouth Cuda built by Mopar Obsession/eXoMod Carbon.
I won’t spoil all the fun as this car will have it’s own write up coming soon. This drop top 440+6, with a Shaker hood and intake, leather interior and go wing was absolutely stunning in person. The color was perfect for this iconic vehicle.
My first experience at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals was one to remember. I had never been around so many classic American muscle in one place. The best part of shows like this is that a lot of these cars are driven, all the time. They were raced, dragged, driven, family hauling for years, and are still kicking around. It is truly something to be appreciated. I am so grateful for the experience.
Here is a full album of photos from the event. If you’d like to support me and my adventures, please consider sharing and purchasing a photo.
Hagerty and Mobil 1 are household names in the car community. When we think Hagerty, protection with the best service for our beloved classic vehicles may come to mine. When we think Mobil 1, quality of gas may come to mind. But these two companies are much more than just insurance and gas.
While at the SEMA convention, I got the chance to speak with a couple representatives from both Mobil 1 and Hagerty about the new partnership between these staple companies in the automotive community. Mobil 1’s mission is to share the love of driving, and Hagerty’s purpose is to save driving and car culture. I spoke with Doug Clark, Vice President of Commercial Partnership and Business Development. He stated that there is such an authentic fit between the two companies, that it just made sense for them to come together. The partnerships goal is to create compelling content, which they both already do individually. So why not double up and grow it exponentially.
Their other goal is to cultivate the community. There are 750,000 Hagerty Driver’s Club Members. Hagerty also partners with video games, like Gran Turismo, where you can take advantage of some Hagerty Diver’s Club Member perks in game. Hagerty is about, “creating on ramps and lowering the barrier to entry.” They know that people that are in their 20s and 30s are gaming, and even more women are now gaming. Hagerty wants to give them the opportunity to discover cars. In today’s day and age, it is not abnormal that people are discovering different cars and what they like in games. In Gran Turismo, if you earn enough credits to get to the Legends Dealer, you gain access the Hagerty Collection where you will have the opportunity to learn about the cars that are available that day and go through the history. It’s yet another way to get people involved and appreciate the history and love of cars. Hagerty Driver’s Club Members can receive a special code that will give them access to a limited car in Gran Turismo with a special Hagerty Livery that they can enjoy in game. Each year, you have the chance to receive a special car from Hagerty as long as you are a member. Mobil 1 partners with Rocket League, bringing a different sort of relationship between consumers and companies. Rocket League has a virtual high octane car that players have the ability to use in game. from Mobil 1.
Both Hagerty and Mobil 1 work to bring new people into the community as lover’s of cars and driving. Mobil 1 focuses on quality gas for your car. This partnership also wants to focus on car care with a purpose. Hagerty protects it’s club members with roadside assistance and with their firm foundation of insurance. When Hagerty receives a claim, they are able to help keep our beloved cars on the road so that we can continue to enjoy them. The products of both Hargety and Mobil 1 are top quality, and they will continue to deliver that to us in new and exciting ways. Doug describes the partnership as just a natural alignment.
Mobil 1 and Hagerty have been working on this partnership for about a year. They are excited to continue to cultivate the driving culture. I spoke with Ryan Allen, Mobil 1’s Brand and Partnership Manager, and he states that a lot of people simply view cars as a commute. But there are just as many of us that view cars as more than that, where we enjoy the actual drive. Through the partnership, they are trying to bring a lot of the joy of driving back to the consumer. There will be some very unique content that will come as a result.
He goes on to say that it is not always necessarily about the car, but the love and joy of driving, which is where they are trying to get back to. They want to celebrate the love of driving and the act of driving together as a community. Mobil 1 has access to many driver’s in Formula 1, NASCAR and NHRA. Bringing Hagerty and Mobil 1 together is going to bring about some unique content, that goes above and beyond what they have already created on their own.
The ultimate goal is to continue building the community for generation to come. The future of car culture and driving is in the hands of those who may not have discovered it yet, and continuing to expose it to as many people as possible. This partnership will give them an abundance of avenues to be able to do that.
We look forward to what this newfound partnership will bring to our community.
Walking around SEMA is great. You are able to interact with so many new people and see all kinds of cool up and coming products and seervices.
One of the booths that I interacted with was Greenlight Collectibles. They are a premier manufacturer of authentic diecast replicas of all of your favorite vehicles. They even manufacture other replicas to scale with your diecast vehicles. During SEMA 2022, they were handing out Limited Edition 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 models. A very cool, and free, collectible item I got to take home from SEMA.
Here is another example of some of the items that they have for sale.
While perusing the rest of their booth, one little model caught my eye. A 1967 Morris Mini Cooper S. It is not too often I see many classic mini models, let alone one in my color. The lovely gentleman at the booth were kind enough to part with the model, and it got to come home with me.
Thank you, Greenlight Collectibles! Your booth was the only one I went to with any classic mini related products. My new SEMA shelf thanks you for the collectible item.
On the very first day on the floor, I met Tony Ortiz, the owner of a 1973 De Tomaso Pantera. It is just one example of some of the beautiful builds that were in attendance at SEMA 2022. The car has been highly modified. The front and rear end was made to simulate a 2005 or 2006 Ford GT (one of my favorite cars). The parts were made out of metal so that they could be welded to the car. It has full air ride suspension, a 454 cubic inch clevor engine, which is a 351 Bosch windsor block with cleveland head. It has a CF transaxle, 180 degree headers, and the seats are practically on the ground. They also relocated the water pump so that they could put a clear plastic lense on the engine bay and the cabin to the car. The rear tires are 345s on 18×13 wheels and the front is 275s on 17×11 wheels. It took a period of three years for them to complete the main resto mod on this car. But the project, like all of them, is still being worked on. Little things here and there are always being improved upon or modified.
Tony wanted it black with a wide body. So they fabricated the wide body as well. His love lies in the european styling with an american V8. The rumble of the V8 is just irresistible, and draws a lot of attention. Even being a 1973, the sound and look of these cars will always turn heads. We talked about how just hearing the sound of a V8 makes you turn to look to see where its coming from. The other thing about these engines is that not only do you hear it, but you feel it. The deep growl that resonates through your chest is another reason why we love our classic engines. Tony said there is no radio in the car, as you wouldn’t be able to hear it anyways. You spend all of your time listening to the engine.
Tony’s plate, “BLKPNTR,” stands for Black Pantera. He’s from Arizona, so he hunted for a black and blue plate so that it would keep with the black and blue theme as to not draw attention away from the car itself. The rear lights are also painted black. There is a heat shield on the trunk where the engine is, engraved with the logo for De Tomaso. For those unfamiliar, De Tomaso is the manufacturer of the Panteras and has a very unique and notable design.
The painter of Tony’s car was in the Marines, and the stickers on the inside of his trunk symbolize his group number. Tony wanted to make sure that his friend, along with other fellow Marines, were honored. Tony said that it keeps us grounded and humble. Without the men and women who serve our country, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the cars we love so dearly. Other small touches on this 73 is the shifter, which is also made to look like the De Tomaso logo. The logo is also incorporated on the dash and on the seat belt harnesses. JMD, the booth that Tony’s Pantera was in at SEMA 2022, supplied part of the exhaust system that was used in the build.
We had a great time talking with Tony, and learning about his one of a kind build. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to speak with you and take some awesome photographs of your car!
I am back from my week in Las Vegas, Nevada for SEMA 2022. All I can say is, wow. Being across the country for the first time, and for such a big event, was an incredible experience. I met so many great people and made new friends.
The week started with the flight from Logan Airport to Harry Reid International Airport. We landed in Las Vegas Nevada at about 7:30PST. We met up with some friends, Dave and Lorenz, at Polo Towers. We dropped our bags, wasted no time and hit the strip. We walked down to Encore for a little bit and hung around. Jet lag soon set it, so we headed back to Polo Towers, our home away from home for the week to get some rest.
The next morning, we got up and headed over to the Las Vegas Convention center to grab our badges.
It was this moment when it finally started to set in for me. I was here, in Las Vegas, at SEMA, one of the most sought after car events in the world. A good friend of mine pushed me to apply for credentials, and I am so glad that I listened to them. With two days left til show time, there was a lot of hustling around the convention center grounds to get it prepared for the event. A few cars were set up and ready to show off.
The bare inside of the convention center left much to the imagination, so we headed back down the strip. We walked over to the Bellagio and took a look in the flower room. It was quite beautiful.
We then made our way over to The Cosmopolitan where we had some much needed breakfast at District Donuts. Sliders. Brews. Once we were back at Polo Towers, we dropped our gear and then headed back out for the day to walk the strip. The first stop I had on my agenda was the Hello Kitty Cafe. It was just as adorable as I thought it would be. I had to hand it to my bunk mates for the week, Dave, Lorenz and Josh, who all put up with my silliness on day one.
From there, we made our way back through to The Cosmopolitan for Secret Pizza. This place is unmarked, except for a hallway of albums lining the walls, and the lingering smell of cheese wafting through the corridor. It made for some great lunch. If you are a foodie, like pizza, and small incognito spots, this should be on your list. We then made our way over to Planet Hollywood and walked around in there for a little bit. All in all, there was a lot of walking to be had that day so we headed back to Polo Towers to rest.
I was still itching to go out, so Dave and Lorenz accompanied me over to the Bellagio where we watched the fountain show, found some cool street art, listened to some performers and I got to take some night shots of the city.
What I anticipated to just be an hour hanging around, turned into several. The lights and sounds of the city were intoxicating for me. Everywhere you look, there is something new, different, exciting. I have not been anyplace like this before, and I wonder if I will ever find someplace like it again.
Since I knew I was going to be getting up early the next day, we finally headed back. It was good to spend some time with some new people and get to know them. I knew it was going to be a great week.
5AM came quickly, and a little easier than anticipated. With the time difference, it was 8AM back home. We headed back over to the convention center where exhibitors were still busy getting set up. There was only one day until show time. Several more cars and booths were set up. It was cool to see the convention hall pre show, and pre people. It was quiet except for the beeping of forklifts and ripping open of boxes for setup.
After some wandering around the convention center, I headed back to the hotel for the day. It was a long morning, and I wanted to relax from the 15 mile walk the night before. I spent some time in the room with Dave and Lorenz editing photos and talking. Later at night, we went out to Old Vegas. It was Halloween afterall, so might as well have a little bit of fun. Old Vegas had a completely different feel. The canopy covering Freemont St made you feel like you were inside, but still able to enjoy the outside air. There was a mini truck show going on as well, so we went to check it out.
We ate out at Nacho Daddy. They had great Quesadillas and Nachos. A delicious end to the night. Tomorrow marked the first day of SEMA, and I was ready.
5AM came quickly again, and off to the convention center we went. We tackled South Hall since there weren’t too many cars set up in there. But there were some awesome paint jobs.
At 7:30, we made our way over to Westgate for the Kick Off Breakfast and New Product awards presentation. Breakfast and coffee was served, and we were able to network with some great people. The highlight of the breakfast was watching Ken Block’s Hoonitron take on the streets of Vegas. For those unfamiliar, Hoonitron is the first all-electric Gymkhana car. Audi dedicated their entire design team into creating this car. If you haven’t seen the video of Ken Block enjoying the Las Vegas playground, here is a link.
Having not seen the video beforehand, but familiar with what it was, it was quite a treat to see it for the first time to kick off SEMA 2022. When Breakfast concluded, we made our way over to North Hall which was a showcase of artists, stereo systems and the Battle of the Builders stage. Some of the stereo builds in this hall were absolutely incredible. When I tell you I have not seen any systems like these before, it is the absolute truth.
As 930am rolled around, we made our way over to the Hoonigan Burn Box. We walked around and saw some of the crazy drifters that would be out in the box in just a couple hours. It was the calm before the week long storm of burnt rubber and smoke.
I didn’t know what to expect that morning. I had never been to a drift event before. I had the privilege of being directly behind just the concrete that separate drifting cars from myself. When they sent that first car out a little after 11AM, I was hooked. The adrenaline rush that took over me as I watched these cars drift around was intoxicating. The smell of burnt rubber, and smoke filled the air. The sounds of the engines revving at their redline and tires screeching is something I will be hearing in my sleep for a while. Photos don’t do an event like this much justice, but here are a few of my favorites from the morning.
The crowd cheers, the cars burn it up faster. The energy in the air is electric. I could’ve, and wanted to, spend my whole day there in the Burn Box. So I did. we made our way back to the hotel for a few hours to do a photos dump, and then made our way back for the 3PM show where they did it all again.
At the end of the day, we were covered in rubber bits from all the tires. The burnt tire smell lingered in our clothing and hair as we made our way to the Tesla Tunnel to take us to the West Hall and Lot. The Tesla Tunnel is an underground system that allows you to take a Tesla from the Central Hall lot over to the West Hall. It saves time, and saves your feet a little bit of walking. Once we were there, I got to see one of the coolest Classic Mini builds I had ever seen.
Seeing this little Ghostbusters MINI was the best way to end the day, and was the only classic mini on the entire show floor. Represent! We made our way back over to Polo Towers for some much needed rest. SEMA day two would be where I tackle the halls and see who I can meet.
Central Hall was on deck for the day. It was great to have the opportunity to walk around the show floor with no one around, because I probably looked like a lost puppy wandering around wide eyed for several hours. So here are some my favorites from Central Hall.
With so many fantastic companies and builds on the show floor, it is hard to pick just one car out of them all. But one stood out to me.
The attention to detail, airbrush, and lace metalwork was stunning, and unlike any custom car I had ever seen. I did not get a chance to talk to the builder of this beautiful piece, but I am sure they know that they did a wonderful job. Bravo Hoppos!
With there being over 1 million square feet of ground at the Las Vegas Convention Center, it is hard to know if I was able to see it all. But I certainly got to cover a lot of it. Here is some more of what was hanging around outside.
With the end of day three, it was back to Polo Towers for a couple hours before hitting the strip for another night of adventures and exploring. We headed out a little late, and local Police were closing off part of the strip. After just seeing the video of Ken Block in the Honitron earlier that week, that was my first thought of what could be going on. In the distance, we heard it, the roar of a Formula 1 engine. Definitely not Hoonitron. We walked down the strip a little bit to the fount in front of the Bellagio, and there we saw where the magic was happening.
The Oracle Redbull racing team was here, filming a promo, likely for the F1 Race coming to the Las Vegas strip next year. It was one of the most incredible things to witness, I still have chills thinking about it. What are the odds that we were in the right place at the right time to witness this incredible moment. The rest of the night was quiet and the roaring of the engine was now a distant memory. It’s unexpected moments like this that make traveling into the unknown so exciting. You just never know what will happen and what you will stumble upon.
Thursday at SEMA was an open day to roam around. I had captured a lot of what I wanted to and spoke to a ton of a great people. Stay tuned for their individual posts later this month. I tackled South Hall, Toyo Pass and then a quick run through back Central Hall to get some more specific details of stuff I might have missed. I chatted with Greenlight Collectibles who were giving out Limited Edition 2021 Mach 1 Mustang models with a special livery for the SEMA Show. After chatting with them some, I spotted a Classic Mini model on their shelf. Having just told them about my own Classic Mini, they let me get the one on display. Thanks Greenlight Collectibles! This is a great addition to my Classic Mini collections. More to come on this great new company.
I then made my way over to the Traxxas booth, an RC car booth. They had a great interactive setup where peoeple could test out their RC Broncos.
The display of vehicles out in the Toyo Pss were unmatched by most others on display. Here are a few from the spread.
Toyo Pass also spent the week handing out limited edition pins. I was lucky enough to get my hands on most of them. Another blog post will be up on those that you can read about.
Later in the day, I got to try my hand at some Airbrush with iwata. It was very fun! Yet another hobby I’d love to take up!
Thursday night we went out for some fun at Hakkasan Nightclub in MGM, Dave, Lorenz, Tony and I spent the night out on the strop and had a great time. Friday brought on a full day of rest before SEMA Ignited that night. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love watching cars roll into a show, and I love taking photos of them even more. For the grand finale of the week, here are some of the best cars rolling in.
My first experience on the West Coast was incredible. I couldn’t have dreamed of what I would see, who I would meet and the adventure I would have. It was truly humbling to be around so many incredible minds and talented builders. As I boarded the plane and took off to head back home, I already started planning my next trip out to Las Vegas. The intoxicating energy, the lights, the food, the people and most of all, the unexpected is what make the city so interesting. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to go to SEMA and all the people I met this week. More stories to come, stay tuned!
The end of September is here. And my journeys brought me to Newport, Rhode Island for their third annual Audrain Newport Concours & Motor Week.
Newport is rich in automotive history dating back to the Gilded age. The first American Car Race, the Vanderbilt Cup, took place there. The picturesque mansions and vast Atlantic Ocean make it the perfect backdrop for a Concours Event.
Motor Week begins on Wednesday, September 28th with a Member only Seminar and Cocktail party at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Individuals and household names, such as Jay Leno and Donald Osborne, kick off the start of another year of automotive appreciation. Enthusiasts from all over the United States and some from across the globe gather to take part in Motor Week.
Thursday opens with a Bonhams Auction preview. Beautiful antique vehicles and some vintage pedal cars were on display. Eager buyers stop in to see if there is something present they simply cannot go home without. They will have their chance to bid and own a piece of automotive history at the Bonhams Auction on Friday. But for now, these old cars are eagerly awaiting their new home. Several Seminars are also held at the Casino Theater located inside the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Thursday also includes access to the Audrain Automobile Museum and Internation Tennis Hall of Fame to it’s Motor Week attendees. The Audrain Automobile Museum opened it’s doors on 2014 and has continued to grow ever since. It is described as, “More of an Art Museum than a Car Museum.” The collection contains over 200 vehicles that are strategically rotated and displayed, 15-20 vehicles at a time, based on current themes. You can visit the museum at different times throughout the year and you’ll never see the same display twice.
Thursday concludes with an exclusive invitation only Welcome Dinner held at Ochre Court.
As day three of Motor Week rolls in, attendees have another chance to view the vehicles on auction with Bonham before they find their next owner to appreciate them later on in the day. The Gathering is held on Friday at Rough Point. This beautiful mansion on the cliffs of the Atlantic becomes a showcase of member vehicles, and a place for people to enjoy each other’s company and common interests on a historic piece of Newport property.
There were several opportunities to attend seminars hosted by some of the big names that were in attendance. One of the Seminars I attended on Saturday morning was the Redefining American Muscle with Jay Leno and Tim Kuniskis. Tim is the CEO of Dodge and he sat down to discuss the present and future of American Muscle Cars. The Dodge Challenger is an iconic piece of American Muscle History. As someone who appreciate all that American vehicles have to offer, I was skeptical when they began talking about the new electric Dodge. Tim spoke about the skepticism of a lot of us traditional car lovers. Where is the feel, the sound? Many of us, myself included, have not driven an electric car. Tim goes on to discuss that the design for the Electric Challenger includes a lot of the look and feel that lovers of Dodge have grown familiar with. He encourages people that have not driven an electric car to try it first. After listening to Tim discuss the respect and love that went into the design for the Electric Challenger, I am less opposed to giving the electric vehicles a chance. But my heart still lies with those cylinders and pistons.
The rain came in late Friday night, but that did not stop the hearts of the drivers for the Tour d’Elegance. 90 year old vehicles, and some with their tops down, toured from Second Beach in Middletown, RI to Little Compton. From there, they came back to the historic Bellvue Avenue, which was closed off to allow for the driver’s to display their vehicles and stop for lunch at LaForge and out of the rain. It was a sight to behold to watch the tour come back from its journey, let alone in the rain. All smiles as they took their places for the afternoon.
At the end of the day, I attended one final seminar hosted by Jay Leno, Jay Ward and Donald Osborne. They spoke about vehicles as the character. For those unfamiliar, Jay ward is one of the creators of the Pixar movie Cars. He has also worked on other beloved Pixar films like Ratatouille and Luca. He spoke about why these movies are so believable, and what draws us to them. It is all about consistency. The world of talking and living cars is believable to its audience because the world they live in consistent. Jay spoke of other movies that were less than believable, like opening the hood and seeing the problem with your engine is that the timing belt just ‘fell off.’ If you know, you know. Seminars like this are fun, and they inspire us creators to look for the small details that make these fantasy worlds believable and most importantly loveable.
Sunday brought the most anticipated event of all, the Concours d’Elegance. This marks my very first Concours event to attend, and I was very excited. I arrived early at 5AM, unable to sleep the night before. However, because of the rain, the cars had not been displayed the night before like originally planned. Instead, I had the opportunity to watch the cars roll in, one of my favorite things to watch at any car event. The grounds of Rough Point are perfect to host a Concours event. Another picturesque mansion that transports you right back to when these vehicles were in their prime.
The field is filled with beautiful cars competing in their respective classes in the Concours d’Elegance. Vendors are set up to showcase their one of a kind merchandise. A VIP tent is set up to shelter attendees from the high winds sweeping in off the coast with food and drinks. One of the greatest parts of any events like this are the people. The old and new connections made sharing a mutual passion is unmatched. The day was long and windy, but it was one for the books. As the winners of their classes were called to center stage, there was nothing but smiles as they collected their trophies and loot.
The hard work, dedication and craftsmanship that goes into maintaining these old vehicles is something that only a few of us can understand. There is history in the bodies of these machines that would have many stories to tell if they could. As classic car owners, we do our best to share their history with the world for many more years to come. It was a pleasure to meet new people, and appreciate these pieces of history.
As we all wind down from the long weekend, there is a lot to reflect on and be grateful for. Some of us take vacations, spend time with loved ones or spend time alone. And some of us spend out time doing something that we love. Labor Day Weekend brings with it Cruising Downtown in Manchester, NH. One of my favorite events of the year. The Manchester Rotary Club closes down Elm St., and many of the adjacent side streets so that thousands of car enthusiasts can enjoy a day of beautiful vehicles. My morning starts at 4AM with my alarm clock. Although it is early, I am excited to get out of bed and start my day. My 1962 Morris Mini-Minor was ready for her final event of the season before her seats would make their way down to CT to a friend’s shop to be reupholstered.
Before the actual event starts, show participant gather in the parking lot of the Brady Sullivan building on Elm St. I arrived at the lot at 5AM. The sky was still black and the vehicles and their owners were still waking up.
Rotary club volunteers are busy getting last minute registrations ready and handing out preregistered envelopes. People converse with each other, happy to see their friends. For some, they only get to see these people a couple times a year during car show season. The people are on of the main tings that I look forward to when I attend this event. With everyone’s busy day to day lives, it is good to come together and be able to enjoy a common interest.
As 7:15AM rolls around, everyone starts their engines to cruise together to Elm St and find their spots for the day. My Friend Abby and her 1078 Volkswagen Bus and 1969 Volkswagen Beetle are already parked and patiently awaiting the cars to cruise downtown.
Once parked, my favorite thing to do is watch and photograph them as they all roll through. One after another, the registrants for the 2022 show found their spots for the day and got out to wander the street to take in the sites. By 10AM, the streets are filled with spectators. They speak with owners of their favorite vehicles about their builds and indulge in some fair food. Several of my friends were set up along Elm St. Either with their vehicle, or with their business as a vendor. It’s worth noting that locals find it odd walking down the middle of Elm St. It’s almost like that just for the day you are transported into a different world. Here are a couple shots of what I missed coming in.
This even is always my favorite one of the year. It is good to see people that I don’t normally se and enjoy a day of cars.
Until next time. Motor on!
You can purchase photos from this event to support me on my adventures at the link below!
It’s been a while blog world. I have had a busy summer filled with car shows, events, new friends, new jobs just life in general. Since I was last here, I have continued to conquer autocross and Louisa won a few car shows. But perhaps the biggest adventure of all was a trip to Pontiac, Michigan this past weekend.
Some of you may have heard of Woodward Ave, some may not. I was one of the people who had not. For those who don’t know, Woodward Avenue is the heart of Pontiac Michigan. It is said that this was where the first ticket for street racing. This happened in March of 1895. The road first saw big spoked wheels and wagons. But in the 50s cars changed into something more reliable and became something we used to get from point A to point B. This 13 mile stretch naturally attracted a lot of people. Drive in diners started to pop up all along the road. Unlike today, a lot of these places were family owned. Coupled with the long wide stretch of road and automotive lovers in the surrounding area, it has taken its place in car history.
When spending some time with my boyfriend at the shop where he works he mentioned the event ‘Roadkill Nights’ that was happening the coming weekend (August 9th and 10th) in Pontiac, Michigan. He said he wanted to road trip out there. Famous last words of mine, I said, ‘let’s do it’. The following week consisted of getting his Caprice road ready and a little more safe for us to travel in. We looked at the route, 11 hours, 685 miles, not too bad! Then we realized that was going through Canada which we couldn’t do. So instead it was 13 hours and 764 miles. Meh, still not bad.
Monday August 5th
I was sitting at work dying for it to be the weekend so we could head out. We decided it would be best to leave Thursday night in the early morning so we could get there Friday evening and have a little time to explore.
Thursday August 8th, 12:45AM
My alarm went off after only getting 3 hours of sleep. I was still pumped though and ready to go. We packed up really quick, loaded the car and were ready to go. I was in charge of the route. It was dark, quiet. It was 1AM. No one was around. We headed out towards Keene and hit a long stretch of road in Vermont, Route 9 (more to come on this road later). We stopped at some rest stops along the way, I slept through a lot of the morning driving. We stopped for breakfast in Weedsport, New York at a place called Cook’s Village Diner. Small, a lot of locals.
It was good! Bacon makes any day better. We continued on in to Pennsylvania Welcome Center, took a quick break and hung out in the grass. You could see out into the distance forever. The day was beautiful.
We stopped again in Erie, Pennsylvania at a place called Tasty Bowl for lunch. I had broccoli, rice and chicken and tried sushi for the first time. (Yes, it was indeed, Tasty.)
Driving definitely takes a lot out of you, or in my case, being a passenger takes a lot out of you. We stopped again in Avon Ohio for some nuggies at Wendy’s and a trip to Goodwill. Thrift shopping is fun, don’t knock it til you try it! By he time we left it was about 3:30PM. We had a little less than 4 hours to go until we would reach the hotel.
At 7:00 PM we finally reached destination number one Courtyard by Marriott. We checked in and it was definitely time for a shower and a nap. The schedule events for Friday were done, but we went cruising around anyways. There were some cool cars still out and about rolling through the streets of Pontiac. We went to a place called Moose Preserve Bar & Grill for some dinner and drinks. It had been a long 20 hours. But we made it. The fun begins tomorrow.
Saturday August 10th 7:00 AM
For someone who was only able to sleep for like 5 hours in the past 30, I was feeling pretty good. It was likely because I was just so excited to get started on the day. We had picked out breakfast the night before so we could just get up and go. We decided on a place called Kerby’s Koney Island. It was ironically right across the street from the place we went to the night before. The inside was cute, it looked it had been there for a while. We sat at the little counter across from the open kitchen. Staff was friendly, and you could tell that they had worked together for a long time. Requests were met with curiosity for their own personal cooking and carried out wonderfully. I’d come back again.
Next it was off to Woodward Ave for the main event. There were several lots off site that we needed to be shuttled to the event from. The shuttles were old schoolhouses, and I emphasize the word old. I’m more of a nervous person than not, I freak out on the T in Boston when it goes over a bump, this was something else. ANYWAYS when we arrived and got off the bus (and even little before that) we could hear the screeching of tires burning rubber. My boyfriend turned to me and asked if those were tires, I laughed and said “hell yea, I think so.”
First up, we needed to check in with MotorTrend, a subscription service to various car videos, builds, drag racing, you name it. Being a subscriber gave you access to the MotorTrend Lounge which was out of the sun, had free snacks and drinks and gave you one free beer (to start at noon). There were also a number of people who would be there throughout the day that you could meet and have sign stuff and chat with. The out of the sun part was the best to me. They also gave you a fastpass to the Dodge Thrill Rides, which was where all the tire screeching was coming from. In one section there were Dodge Chargers and Challengers drifting around course taking people for thrill rides. Our fastpass was for 2:30-3:00, so we had to wait a little bit.
First up was the concourse, the section set aside for people who registered and wanted to show their car. Most of them were Dodges, and rightfully so I suppose, but there was a lot of other cool stuff to see as well.
Like this Prowler and Viper sitting pretty side by side
77ish Trans Am
Early 70s Corvette
67-68 Ford Mustang
A mixture of things
My boyfriend and a sexy cop lady
We attempted to watch some drag racing, but unless you were in the VIP section or managed to score a seat high up in the bleachers you didn’t have much luck seeing anything. We wanted to get a glimpse of the starting line, but that turned out to be pretty difficult. So we checked out some merch, I bought a t-shirt and some stickers (of course). The day was winding down. It was just about 2:30 and time for the thrill rides. When we walked to that area, the line was so long we didn’t see the end. Someone in passing said that the wait was three hours long. Hundreds of people wee standing there. But only a handful were in the fastpass line. Thank goodness. The speaker keeping the crowd entertained had a great voice. He was talking to a kid who was in line, telling him about how they burn through thousands of tires a year, just regular tires too. They are allowed to come, make a mess of wherever they’re at and then go, no clean up required. I would guess there is someone else to do that? But who knows.
It was finally our turn to go. I started to get really nervous. Uncontrollable laughter ensued. Queue ridiculous high pitched screeching as the Charger we where in took off and whipped around the cones. Here’s a video inside the car, and some photos I took outside.
This was the ending of a ridiculously fun time. Here is the video of our time at the event.
We had seen all that we could and it was time to start the long journey back home. We took the famous 8 mile road back out. But there was one place I needed to stop before I left…
Years ago I used to watch a show called Hardcore Pawn. One of those cheesy pawn shop reality shows. I hadn’t thought about the show in years, but when I was wondering what else we could do or see while we were in Detroit, this place popped in to my head. And you can bet your ass we visited.
Maybe this isn’t cool to some people, but it was wicked cool to see. I had never been someplace that I had watched on TV. Inside was smaller than what TV made it look like, but still cool to see none the less. The owner, Les Gold, was even in the back behind the counter and I got to catch a glimpse. I was trying not to freak out, as this was just an everyday pawn shop for everyone else there. I had my fill and we left. A quick trip to Starbucks and we were back on the road.
Man, that 13 hour car ride did not seem so exciting since now we were leaving instead of going. But I was happy that we would be returning back home to the familiars of New Hampshire. It’s cool to watch how highways and scenes change from one state to the next, until you’re back where you know.
8 hours in to our excursion home, we stopped at Niagra Falls, the New York side. I know, I know, “its better on the canadian side,” but again, we couldn’t go through Canada. It was just about 6:30AM when we got there, so it was quiet, not many people were around It was the perfect opportunity to get some videos and some photos before the crowd rush came in. By the time that we reached the actual scenic view, the crowds were already starting to roll in. I did manage to grab few pictures before that though.
Breathtaking is the only way I can describe it really. I hadn’t seen anything like it before. The view of the Canadian side was nice, and I will definitely be back again to see the opposite view. Heres a quick video of us walking around, there really arent words to describe it, so I’ll show you instead.
We stopped for some yummy breakfast,
and we were back on our way home. We still had 7 hours to go.
When we finally hit Vermont, we were feeling good. Roads looked more familiar. The air was fresh. Route 9 awaited us again, and this time, not in the dark. This last video is of Route 9 through Vermont, our last stretch to home.
The experience was amazing. A last minute road trip I would not have wanted to take with anyone else. More adventures await us in the future.