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.
During trips and time away, I am often reminded of how lucky I am. It is easy to get caught up in the misery of day to day life. I have met people on my adventures that are so incredible in what they have built, that it humbles me.
At MCACN in Rosemont, IL, I came across one vendor that caught my eye, Kittie’s Warriors Foundation. Being at a car convention, it was different to see a vendor that was not necessarily car related. They were here for a purpose, a mission. I needed to know more.
The Schmidt families matriarch was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. This rocked the very foundation of the family, leaving them with many unanswered questions and lot of concern. Kittie fought, as any warrior would do, for herself and for the family that she loved so dearly. When she transitioned in 2013, she left a lasting impression on her family, and anyone that knew her.
It prompted the birth of new life, Kittie’s Warriors Foundation. This 501(c)(3) is a non-profit organization, dedicated to helping cancer patients in need. A large portion of funds goes towards cancer research every year with the hopes that a cure will be found, but in the meantime, there is a need for support on an individual level as well. KWF is able to continue their work by monetary donations, and the sale of art that is also donated to them. All proceeds go directly to the grant program to help individuals who are in financial need while they go through one of the most difficult times of their life. With so many decision that need to be made, a financial burden should not be weighing on their mind as well. Kittie’s Warriors Foundations helps lessen that load and be there for them in their time of most need.
The colorful display at MCACN brings awareness to all types of cancer. The foundation received beautiful donations to set up at their booth for MCACN.
If you are able to donate to this foundation, please do so.
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.
When us car enthusiasts think of the term “lemons,” it is not often in a positive light. It’s often viewed as a negative term that refers to a car that gives us nothing but issues and problems one after another. However, to some of us it is a term of endearment.
I recently got together with my friend Jason Hopkins who has been a member of the Lemons Racing community for quite some time. I photographed his 2020 Subaru Impreza with a 5 speed manual transmission. He describes his car adventures as somewhat common, but also uncommon. From a young age he was always into Hot Wheels and car magazines. He had posters of everything and anything car related on his walls. From the classic Lamborghini Countach to the humble Dodge Stratus. Jason has been in the car show scene as well as the Lemons Racing community.
Jason’s main love for vehicles lies in the history of them and all the little quirks that make us love them. You can find the connections in the automotive racing community. Jason has taken part in a few Lemons Rallies, which are cross country scavenger hunts. He has also done a few autocross events. But Jason’s “claim to fame,” is his facebook group the Citrus Racer Lounge. The group brings members of the Lemons Racing community together from all over the United Stated and all of the world. It is one of the largest groups for lemons racing in the world. Jason was even invited to Facebook Headquarters in 2019 as one several hundred admins to attend the Leadership summit. He also does some social media PR for a racing group in New Zealand and several other of his friends.
Jason’s automotive journey has been unique and has allowed for him to make a lot of friends. Like a lot of us, he does as much as he can with the resources he has, and continues to make new friends and help out the ones he can in the automotive community. We’ll circle back with Jason as he continues his journey through the uniqueness of the Lemons Community.
Palmer Motorsports Park, located in Palmer, MA, was the brain child of the NER SCCA (Sports Car Club of America New England Region). Soon they created the NER Investments LLC to create, own and operate Palmer Motorsports Park. After many professional and public hearings, they issued a special permit to build in December of 2007. The LLC then signed with a local developer to build the new circuit layout, hotel and restaurant, private garage and visitor center.
The track, Whiskey Hill Raceway, was completed and operating in May of 2015. The track is 2.3 miles long, 40 feet wide, has 190 feet of vertical elevation, 14 turns and most of all, unbelievable scenic views of the mountains that span past Massachusetts and into, Connecticut, New York, Vermont and New Hampshire.
On October 8th, 2022, Larz Anderson and Palmer hosted their annual Laps with Larz event. It is their annual event that allows for inexperienced or new drivers that want to go a little faster the ability to do so without the requirements of a full on track day.
The morning was cold, but that didn’t stop anyone from attending this event. Some had come in previous years and some were attending for the first time. Being the photographer for the event, I had the opportunity to drive around the track in the morning before anyone else so that I could pick my spot. When the driver’s were ready to hit that track, they took me up to corner 10. Corner 10 is perfectly situated up on a hill, so that I had a view of corner 8 as well. Below is a view of the track and what corners are where, curtesy of palmer Motorsports Park’s website.
As the cars came down the track, you could hear the engines revving around corner 6 into one of the first series of turns. One after another, they were lead by a more experienced driver. Each group went around the track three times before returning to grid. The first lap was slow, just to get them used to the track, the second was where they were able to pick up some speed, and the third was full on (as much as it could be).
In the middle of the day, the attendees broke from their runs on the track. Some of them got the opportunity to partake in hot laps with Ron Savenor. These lap required those participating to wear a helmet as he was going to give them the full track experience. Even not being in the passenger seat for this part, I had participated in ride alongs at several track and autocross events before, and I recall the feeling quite well. It is a different experience from when you are driving the track or course on your own. It is a bit more exciting, or maybe frightening. In my opinion it is only frightening because you are not the one that is in control.
At the end of the day, and after almost filling up one of my SD cards, I had the chance to take my turn on the tack. I had my 2001 Miata that day, one of my more fun cars to dive, and one of my manuals. While you can still have fun on a track with an automatic car, I prefer to take the turns in a manual. You have more control over the speed of your vehicle without having to use your break as much.
I would’ve liked to have taken my laps a bit faster, but it was still great to experience the track first hand for the first time. As I was walking back to my car to head to my next adventure for the day, I heard someone say it best, “it was great to meet you today, It is always a good time to get together and meet new people with a common interest.” It is small moments like that one that make the experience that much more enjoyable. Having the chance to meet more like minded people is always a bonus to any car event. I will definitely be back for more events at Palmer Motorsports Park.
On Sunday September 18th, I had the privilege of being a part of the photography team at the 20th annual Granite State Comicon. One thing that have really enjoyed recently is being able to capture the memories of other people. Seeing their happiness and enjoyment through a lens give me a different appreciation for the little things in life. I was assigned to the Kids Con Are and the Armory. Kinds Con consisted of character meet and greets, and arts and crafts. It was an area where kids could just be kids and enjoy their favorite super heroes or princesses, or both!
Since I was only there for a day, I was able to experience just a fraction of what the convention had to offer. In the Armory, there were a variety of artists and game developers showing people their latest and greatest creations.
The talented individuals who gather here to display their pieces are incredible. It is always interesting to see what the world looks like through other people’s art. One of the sections in the Armory that was a big hit was the Star Wars themed area. There were live droids rolling and beeping around, greeting weary travelers on their journeys.
What an absolute privilege to be able to be part of the Granite State Comicon team. I can’t wait to be back next year and capture more great moments like these!
This summer has brought a lot of great opportunities for me to write about my experiences, and I could not be any more grateful for it. Sunday September 11th, Larz Anderson Auto Museum held Mercedes Day. An onslaught of beautiful Mercedes and their owners flocked the grounds of the estate. These cars are a testament to the craftsmanship and durability that comes with the name, Mercedes.
This event was a great opportunity to step back, observe and listen. No matter the vehicle on spotlight, it’s good to see people come together and talk about something that they love and enjoy. I found a spot to park myself and took a few photos of the cars rolling in. Here are some of my favorites.
My good friend Matt brought their family Mercedes to the show. For Matt, this car was more than just a car. It belonged to his father who passed away last year. His father bought it in 1995, when the car was 10 years old. His mother did not have any romantic attachment to it and just wanted it gone. Matt’s sister did not want it gone and kept telling Matt that she thinks their father is talking to them because she kept seeing them out and about.
Grief is a funny thing. We hold on tight to those memories of those gone before us. For some, getting rid of reminders of those loved ones is one way to help the grieving process. Matt’s mother was certain that she wanted to sell the Mercedes. They found someone down in Cape Cod who was interested and Matt agreed to take it down to them. Matt’s mother was nervous about the car braking down and offered to follow him down. Matt told her to just drive down with him.
On the way down to the Cape, she said that the car drove really nice and asked if the car had a radio. Matt’s dad had nothing but the best, of course it had a radio. He turned it on and it was her favorite song, “Somewhere Out There.” His mother got emotional as they continued on there way.
As they pulled up to the dealership, the interested party was up front and honest. He stated that the amount of money that he would offer would not be life changing. He somewhat convinced her to keep the car, stating to just let her kids and grand kids enjoy it. On their way back home, Matt turned the radio on once again and “Celebrate Good Times” started to play. Matt and his mother both agreed that his father was there in the car with them, telling them to keep the car. Since that day, they have decided to keep the car, and it will remain in the family forever.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Michel, another Mercedes owner in attendance of Mercedes Day at Larz Anderson. Michel has not one, but two Mercedes, one is a 1987 190E 2.3-16 and the other is a 1985 190E 2.3-16. The 85′ is a blue-black color and the 87′ is a smoke silver. Michel’s love for this model started way back when he used to play Gran Turismo 3. For those unfamiliar with the video game, it is a racing simulator. In order to race in the different cups and on the tracks, you have to earn your “licenses.” One of the licenses that were required had Michel in 190E 2.5-16. He had to attempt the specific license quite a few times. The game is as realistic as possible. Michel fell in love with how the car handle. He did some research on the car just to learn more about it.
A week later, his brother called him while at a local used auto parts shop. The shop frequently received rare car donations. Michel’s brother said he was standing in front of a 2.3-16. When they asked about it they were told that someone had already put a deposit down on it. The parts shop also said that the Mercedes didn’t run and it needed a new motor. They were told to wait another week to see if the other interested party actually came to pick it up. The other party never showed, so Michel, his brother and father grabbed a jumper pack and went down to pick up the car. They completed the needed paperwork, paid for the car, and then jump-packed the car. To the shops dismay, it started right up and turned out to not need a new engine. And so the love affair began.
Michel drove the car for a few years, and then sold it to someone in Montreal. After a couple of weeks, Michel and his brother were out driving when they stumbled across another 2.3-16 sitting in a driveway in Saugus, MA. Michel knocked on the door, and a little boy and his father answered the door. The father said it was his brother’s car. He got the owner’s number and patiently waited for his chance. He saved the number under the model of the car. He called a few times a week, starting all the way back in 2010. As time went on, he called less and less. He continued to call or would drive by occasionally to see if the car was still there.
One day when he drove by he did not see the car parked in the driveway. But it was just blocked by a another car, a Hummer, that the owner had purchased. Fast forward to 2021, Michel’s calls and texts had gone unanswered, but still he persisted. One day he decided to take another ride out to Saugus, MA to see if he could persuade the owner. By then, the car had been sitting for more than ten years. It had sunk into the black top and the paint was faded. But he still wanted the car. He rang the doorbell, and a much older boy answered the door. It was the same little boy who had answered the door 10 years ago. He remembered Michel and said that he would pass the interest along to his uncle. Michel gave him every single number he could possible be associated with so that he would not miss the call.
The call finally came. The owner of the Mercedes called and Michel answered the phone to laughter. The current owner, Sonny, was amused, and impressed, by Michel’s patience and persistence over the ten year span. Sonny stated he was moving away, and told Michel he would sell him the car. They agreed on a selling price, and Michel and his father went down the next day with the cash in hand. They took it home, put it up on a lift and it surprisingly had no rust, even after sitting for so long. The car is currently being repainted. So we got a chance to photograph his other 1987 Smoke Silver Mercedes.
To some of us, a car is not just a car. It is an extension of ourselves. Thank you Matt and Michel for sharing your stories.
This one is for all of you foodies out there. If you live in New England, chances are that you love seafood. Around here, we indulge in the privilege’s of living right near the ocean. Seafood is plenty and delicious. For the past seven years or so, I have enjoyed the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival alongside my fellow New Englanders.
One of my favorite things I like to enjoy first is bacon wrapped scallops from the Saint James Booth. Simple and delicious is all I can say.
Next up is a new to me from last year’s festival the Donut Ice Cream Cones. These are donuts fried into the shape of a cone, filled with your choice of vanilla or chocolate ice cream, and a variety of toppings. I got the original, which is a cinnamon sugar donut cone line with Nutella, filled with vanilla ice cream and i topped it with strawberry sauce.
My friend got the Apple Pie one which is a cinnamon sugar cone lined with caramel, apple pie filling, streusel topping and vanilla ice cream
The process to make these looks quite interesting. Just look at all those delicious cones waiting to be deep fried and served to hungry festival goers.
Next on my list is a booth that was new to me last year as well. They were a one stop shop for everything you could want. Lobster, fish and chips, fired clams and much more. having tried their Coconut shrimp last year, I got them again this year and they did not disappoint. I also got a plate of their snow crab legs, which I devoured too quickly to take a photo of. But here are the shrimp.
Being one of the busiest booths on the strip for the event, they are nonstop making food ensuring that there is plenty to go around.
There is also a strip of vendors selling their homemade items. One booth caught my eye that did engravings on jewelry pieces. They also had dog tags. I got one for my new puppy Mochi.
Under the beer tent on the beach, there is a live band playing music. The energy of live music is unmatched by anything else in my opinion. People come together to dance and drink and enjoy just being there.
Further down the strip on the clamshell stage, there is another band performing live music. People are dancing with each other and enjoying their time after feasting on all the seafood.
At the end of the night on Saturday, they put on a fireworks show to close out the day.
With COVID-19 not allowing some of these events for a couple years, it is good to get back out here and enjoy them again.
Hello my friends. Welcome back. It has been quite some time since I have been here. The past two years I was attempting to find peace in another person. It consumed me, all of me. I lost myself in the whirlwind of emotions and adventures. But all the while, I was trying to find something that was not there. I was trying to force something that was not meant to be mine. There were good times, and there were bad. In the end, I found the strength inside me to walk away from someone I loved. It was the right decision.
What I learned about myself after the choices I made is the truly empowering part. I found myself again. I found my smile. I rediscovered my glow. I had forgotten what it was like to do things on my own, without having to worry about another person bringing me down. The freedom to be was liberating. No one to judge me. No one to question me. No one to try and control how I should be. I went on drives by myself. Saw my friends more. Got back into crocheting. Became more creative. My weekends of tiptoeing on ice were over.
All of this new found freedom did not come easily. There were times when I was deeply sad. I would relive the past and the good times and wonder if I made the right decision. My mind would then bring me back to all the reasons I walked away. Day by day, the doubt faded and I knew I had made the right decision. As the days continue to pass, I continue to fall in love myself more and more. Accepting myself for all the beautiful chaos and flaws that make me who I am.
This is my 26th year. This is my time, I can feel it. In this past year, through the hardships that life brought my way, I managed to travel and experience new things with people I care about. I finished my Master’s Degree in Forensic Accounting. I started a new job in March that I am grateful for. I can work from home, or pretty much anywhere. That ability has given me the chance to travel and still work without having to compromise too much of my time. My business took off this summer, having one of the best seasons yet. I got my motorcycle license. I bought a motorcycle. And I love this bike. One of the best decisions I could have made.
Earlier this year, I traveled to Florida and Pennsylvania. Two of the best vacations I’ve had since Covid rocked our way of life.
In Florida, I ate at a restaurant called U And Me: Revolving Hot Pot. A cut robot named peanut sat you at your table. It was delicious and a great way to end a perfect day.
In Pennsylvania, I found the next car to add to my collection of vehicles.
Say hello to Carla. My 1992 Chevrolet Camaro RS. She needs some love, but she’s perfect to me. I sometimes think she is more trouble than she is worth. BUT, nothing that is worth it in the end is going to make things easy for you. I drover her 300 miles from Pennsylvania home to New Hampshire. She made it all the way with no problems. I’m grateful she fell in to my lap. With the price of cars on the rise, I am not sure I would have had another opportunity like this to own one. She is currently down in North Carolina with a friend, waiting for her restoration.
Other fun things I did this year included a Lindsey Stirling and Guns N Roses concert, my Best Friend’s Baby Shower, I bought a Mini Bike to take off roading. So many new and wonderful experiences presented themselves to me.
This year was filled with ups and downs. Some out of my control, and some fully caused by me. I said goodbye to people. I said hello. I reconnected with old friends and made new ones. I grew closer to people that I didn’t think I would. There are yet more adventures and experiences that await me that I have planned, and some that have not yet been a thought in my mind.
No on is coming to save you. You have to be your own person. Love yourself and do what makes you happy. Motor on my friends.