Car Shows, Driving, General Posts, Interviews, Las Vegas, mcacn, Powersports, SEMA, Track Events, travel

Best of 2022

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.

Until next year!

Motor on.

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Car Shows, Interviews, Las Vegas, SEMA

Toyo Tires x Leen Customs

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!

Until next time.

Motor On.

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Driving, Interviews, mcacn, travel

Kittie’s Warriors Foundation

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.

https://www.kittieswarriors.org/take-action

If you are a creator, you can also donate your artwork to them so that they are able to continue selling these colorful pieces and bring awareness to all type of cancers.

There is a warrior in all of us, and we can make the difference together.

Until next time.

Motor on.

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Car Shows, Driving, Interviews, SEMA

Hagerty and Mobil 1 Partners for the Love of Driving

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.

Until next time.

Motor on.

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Car Shows, General Posts, Interviews, Las Vegas, SEMA, travel

1973 De Tomaso Pantera

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!

Until next time.

Motor on.

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Driving, General Posts, Interviews

The Heart of Lemons

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.

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Interviews

The Kitchen

LIFE: Lowriding Isn’t For Everyone. If you’ve seen this sticker, you might have seen the beautiful 64 Chevrolet Impala named “The Kitchen,” owned by Sally Dawson. The name came from Sally’s friends joking with her early on that woman belong in the kitchen, not at a car show. And so the name was born. We had the chance to sit down with Sally and photograph her one of kind lowrider and get a little bit of the history behind it.

The Impala came home to Sally in February of 2022. She was originally looking for an Oldsmobile Station Wagon. She had dedicated a lot of herself to the shop and was ready to find something that she could work on for herself. Her intentions with the Oldsmobile was to hot rod it. While she was looking, she came across the Impala and she describes it as just feeling right. As a classic car owner, I am very familiar with this feeling, as I am sure many of us are. It was located in Philadelphia. She found it on Facebook Marketplace. In her desperate search for the Oldsmobile, she began just putting in the year, 1964. In just putting in the year, she stumbled across the car that was meant to be hers.

She had found it during the work week, and went down that same weekend to go pick it up. It had originally been built in New Hampshire where it was converted to a two door in the 80s. It was then sold to someone in Colorado who then passed it to the person in Philadelphia who then sold it to Sally who brought it back to New England. When she picked up the car it had no motor, transmission, or interior and had been sitting in a garage for over 20 years. The seller had some interior panels and other parts that they gave with the sale. The car was in rough shape. The seller was sick and was unloading his entire collection. Sally believes that even though circumstances like his are unfortunate, it can bump a car into the right hands.

Sally’s friend was hosting their season opener car show in May, the Kingpin Season Opener, and made it her goal to get the Impala ready. She did the motor, the transmission and interior, air ride suspension and painted the roof. Sally’s heart lies with the lowrider scene She had never painted a roof before, so it was a new experience. She spent a couple nights, a lot of coffee and some time on YouTube to help her. The drive to the Kingpins event was the Impala’s maiden voyage. Sally describes the first event as nerve-wracking and you can see her white knuckling the steering wheel in any photos that may be out there.

The next item on her list is the body work. Because it was converted into a two door so long ago, the body panels are beginning to fail. Sally wants to ride out the rest of the 2022 season because once she starts in on the body she knows it will be like opening a can of worms and will likely turn into a couple year project. She knows that once she starts, she has to dedicate herself to it for the long haul and make sure it is something she really wants to do. Understandably, this would make anyone hesitant to start, even those with a lot of experience like Sally.

It’s encouraging to see woman in the car community, and there are more of us than ever before. We discussed that even compared to a few years ago, woman are attending shows with their own cars, and even doing their own work and maintenance. The car world is evolving, and is vastly different than it was when Sally first got into it. But the differences are good ones, and we hope that it continues in that direction for many more years to come.

Until next time.

Motor on.

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Interviews

The Curves of the 50s

At the peak of a new decade, the 1950s birthed a new generation that would carry on a legacy for years to come. The Chevrolet Fleetline Deluxe first rolled off the line in 1941, and was manufactured through 1952. The exterior smooth curves and original chrome and stainless trim, quickly made it a staple of its time.

We got to sit down with Ashley to photograph and talk about her 1949 Chevrolet Fleetline Deluxe Fastback. She got into cars young. Her dad was a mechanic when she was growing up and he had a 1973 Ford Ranchero that she worked on with him frequently. She can remember bleeding the breaks when she was seven, barely old enough to have the strength to push down on the pedal.

Ashley started her hunt for her own classic vehicle about 2 years ago. After a long time of searching, the perfect one popped up in August of 2021. She was originally looking for a Ford Shoebox, but gained interest in the Chevy Fleetlines. She drove out from Hampstead, NH to Troy, New York to go look at one She decided that this was the one for her and brought it home. Once it was back in her territory, she looked at it more closely. It needed a lot of body work. The body mounts were gone, the floor pans had holes and the inner rockers were “non-existent.” She got to work and brought this classic vehicle back to some of its former glory. Ashley was able to enjoy it for a little bit of the end of the season last year. Over the winter, the bondo on the hood showed itself as the weather changed. They stripped the hood and repainted it. While stripping it, they discovered five bullet holes. Ashley likes to think it may have been a bootleggers car.

Her Fleetline is still a work in progress. There is still a lot to be done; the interior, the exterior, and all the wiring. It is kept in storage over the winter. Her old boss at one of her mechanic jobs allows her to rent one of their lifts for a day to be able to work on it. Otherwise, she is out in her driveway doing it old school. With the car being dropped two inches, driveway works proves to be a challenge.

This is Ashley’s first baby, her first project car. She has always loved the era of cars between the late 40s up to the early 60s. The classics from the 50s is where her heart lies. Those smooth lines, body styles and curves that first rolled off the line in 1941 is what eventually brought Ashley to love it now as it once was back in its prime.

We hope to circle back with Ashley as she continues to work on her classic, and see the final result.

Until next time.

Motor on.

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Driving, Interviews, Uncategorized

Horsepower Farm

Hey everyone, welcome back to my blog. Today we are going to do something a little different. I’d like to start interviewing people that I know and that I come across along the way and share their stories. I will be sharing what they do, how they got in to cars, where it all started and what exciting things they are working on now and will be in the future.

For my first one, I interviewed my friend Rick Serino. Rick has been a car enthusiast since he was a child. For him, it started with Matchbox Cars. He had “all” of them, and they were all categorized. I asked if he had any pictures, but cameras were a luxury when he was a kid.

We moved on to his first car, which was a 1976 Mercury Capri. For those who are unfamiliar, like I was, it was basically Mercury’s version of Ford’s Mustang. This was when Rick first started messing with Stereo Systems. His dad was an electronics teacher, so he got him into electronics at a very young age. He had access to tons of electronics that were broken when he was growing up, which allowed him to mess around a lot. He would take things apart and put them back together. “Like the Professor on Gilligan’s Island.” He would mess around with everything from speakers to lights. Hang them on his wall and wire them all together. Every ‘toy’ he had was taken apart and made his own. He attributes his talents and knowledge of how things work to his father. Without him, he wouldn’t know how to make the art he does today.

We chatted about Cruising Downtown 2019. For those unfamiliar with that event, just over a thousand car owners and a couple thousand car enthusiasts gather on Elm St. in Downtown Manchester, NH for one of the biggest car shows in the state. Rick set up shop with his welded art and collection of cars for the show.

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Mostly everything sold, except for just a few larger items. He went on to explain that the dismantling of electronics transferred to the dismantling of the electronics in cars. He always had an appreciation for the mechanics of them, but never quite knew what to do until his late twenties. At that point, he had the money to start buying stuff and messing around with them. After his first Mercury Capri, he owned a Subaru, and from there he got a Capri 5.0. This was his first muscle car, which he changed the exhaust, corroborator, wheels tires, and put his own big stereo in it. “Shit you can afford when you’re in your twenties. Rick then joined the military, sold the Capri 5.0 and bought a 1977 Camaro when he was out in Indiana. He pulled the motor, transmission, added nitrous, a new exhaust, wheels and tires, took out the back seats and put in a stereo. It had about 26 speakers from what he remembers.

One of the cars that Rick had bought was a Red and Black Chrysler 300

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The stereo was built by Traffic Jams, had Air ride and everything else. The car was unfortunately totaled when someone pulled out in front him while driving. Unfortunately, there was nothing that could have been done. One of his cars that I best remember him for is an old Ford Truck. He originally picked it up in 2001 and it was black with yellow and orange flames. It is now white with black and tan flames and looks bad. He built the transmission, drive train and rearend of that car, gutted the interior. Recently he blew the motor and put a whole new transmission and motor in, among a long list of other things. “Built from the ground up.”

He most recent project is his 1930 Ford

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Rick has about 6 spaces at his house for cars and then a few more at a shop up the road where someone helps him with his projects. I moved on to his MINI, as he did own one. Which was the reason that I had originally met him. I asked what made him get a MINI. His response was that he always wanted one, “car guy stuff.” He went on to say that every car guy wants one, and he doesn’t care who they are or what they say. In Rick’s opinion, the little compact British car is just missing 150HP, which is easily attained. From there, the little machines are unstoppable. His MINI had nothing too crazy done to it, exhaust, cold air intake, wheels, tires and of course, an updated stereo.

I asked Rick what was the most fun car he owned, and his response was the MINI Cooper. He raced it, met a bunch of people and went all kinds of places. The MINI community really is a force to be reckoned with. However, he followed with it’s not the most powerful or the most exhilarating, but definitely the most fun he’s had. The most powerful car he’s owned is his truck.

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I then asked what was the worst car he owned, and his response was his Subaru. They are fun, but the particular one he owned was nothing special.

He’s done a lot of car projects over the years, and the one that he has( and is) enjoying the most is his 1930 Ford. He just bought the body of that car and has been building it from the ground up. A “tin can.” He took the engine, transmission, tires and rims, brake system, and electronics from the Chrysler 300 (shown above) that he crashed and dropped the shell of the Ford right over it all. The challenges with this project now is just finding the time to work on it and the man power to help.

Rick has a full time job, along with the building of other people’s car that he does, and all the welding work that he does on the side.Welding art has always been something that he’s done, but he never really sold it. After his accident, he messed around with it and was posting stuff on Facebook. People were always asking how much his pieces were and they eventually grew in to people asking for custom orders. Before the Christmas of 2018, he had about 20 orders stacked up. It’s worked out though, and he has continued to create things. Here”s a few things that he has created.

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I asked him where he gets all the stuff for his creations and he said he’s been collecting stuff for 20 years. People drop off things here and there, but mostly it’s been collecting. Rick keeps himself busy, although sometimes he wants a break. Money is money, and you can’t say no to thousands of dollars. Plus, its still a lot of fun.

In the future, Rick would like to host an event at his place, which really would be attainable. He wants to be able to never leave his house and make money, which in a way, he’s already half way there. He’s living the dream.

So follow him on Instagram, @horsepower_n_goats and on Facebook, Horsepower Farm. And he also loves Tool, which was playing in the background of our interview.

Thanks Rick!

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