General Posts

You Vs. You

We all struggle, whether it be in our professional, or personal lives, family. friends, our job, our cars, there is always something that may be weighing on our minds. It can be something as simple as what we want to make for dinner that night to something as complex as if we should walk away or not. Often times when I come back from a large event or trip, I question myself. Did I use my time wisely? Did I do enough? Could I have done more? Did I miss an opportunity because I wanted to do something else instead? These are a few things I ask myself when thinking about the dream I am trying to pursue.

The week I had was great, and I couldn’t be anymore grateful for the opportunities that did present themselves, and will continue to do so. But a lot of other obstacles came to light. I had a discussion with someone very important to me a while ago about the decisions that we have to make. The hardest decisions we make, are the ones we already know the answers to. And yet, we hesitate. We hesitate for many different reasons. But prolonging the inevitable will just make it hard on us in the long run.

I read a quote not long ago, “It’s You Vs You,” by Alysha Wagorn. Our lives are not all butterflies and rainbows. It is also darkness and hurricanes, and one cannot exist without the other. The quote goes like this,

“Learn to go with the flow. Take each day as it comes. Slow down and listen. Accept your thoughts. Let them come and go. Take back your power. Pursue your passions. Chase your dreams. Shape your future. Forge your own path. Don’t be afraid of making the wrong choices – be only afraid of never having the courage to try something new. Step out of your comfort zone and back into yourself – into who you’re becoming. Express loudly. Bloom wildly. Live boldly. Get out of your own damn way. It’s you vs you. It’s always been you vs. you.”

We all struggle. We all get in our damn way and caught up in our own thoughts. The important thing is not how fast you reach your goal, or how well you do it, but rather the amount of times we get pushed off our paths and find our way back. I know that I will always have doubts about my journey. I may try and blame my shortcomings on others, but I only have myself to blame for allowing distractions. Others have tried to blame me for their own shortcomings, but like myself, they have no one to blame but themselves.

What I do know is, I’ve made it this far. I have pushed, overcome, pursued, built, and continue to work on the life that I am living and want to live. I have done everything in my power to ensure that I have what I need, and can obtain what I want. The journey is not easy, but nothing worth it ever is. My journey is not over. I will continue to have days where I feel like I am not good enough, and I will also have days where I feel on top the world. The light cannot exist without the dark.

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

Viva Las Vegas and SEMA 2022

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!

Until next time.

Motor on.

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Fair, General Posts

Weymouth Lantern Festival 2022

We all know that Google tracks our every search and suggests products or events that its algorithm thinks we may be interested in. Often times, my suggestions are spot on. As I was scrolling one night, the Weymouth Lantern Festival, happening on my birthday, came up. I looked into the event and it looked interesting. I had seen similar events where they launch them into the sky, but this event launched them into the harbor in Weymouth, MA. I decided to buy a ticket and attend.

Since I was working that day at Palmer for their Laps with Larz event, once that event ended, I hopped in my car to drive back across the state for the Lantern Festival. When you arrive, there isn’t much parking close by, unless you got there early. There is a lot only about a 15 minute walk away. The streets of Wessagusset Beach are quiet and quaint. Beach themed mailboxes lines the streets as you walk to the water. Food trucks and vendors lined the streets hoping to draw in the festival goers.

If you bought a ticket to participate, you check in at registration and then they give you the lantern to decorate. Here was mine.

It was fun to decorate. For a little bit I walked around the beach. People then started releasing their lanterns into the water. I ventured down to the shore to watch.

It was fun to watch them float around and see everyones creation illuminating on the water. I decided it was time to release mine and set my intentions for my upcoming year.

I released the year that had come and gone before me with all the challenges and victories that came and went with it. It was an emotional experience as I recalled all that had happened, and the plans that I set into motion. Some times were difficult, but things also happened that I never thought would have. It just goes to show that we never know where we will end up, the opportunities that will present themselves and the people that we will meet along the way. The sun went down, and everyones lanterns made the bay glow.

As I turned to venture home for the night, I am grateful for all that the 27th year gave me, and can’t wait to see where the 28th will bring me.

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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Driving, Track Events

Laps with Larz

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.

Until next time.

Motor On.

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Fair, Fiar, General Posts, travel

Topsfield Fair 2022

Fried dough, carnival rides and games, what more can you ask for from a state fair? If you live in New England, chances are that you have made a trip to the annual Topsfield Fair in Topsfield, MA at some point. Since I was a baby, or so I have been told, I have gone to the Topsfield Fair. With my birthday being on Columbus Day Weekend, and the fair always being during the same time, it became my birthday tradition. When the pandemic struck in 2019, the fair, like many other events, were canceled. For a short while, that tradition would have to be put on hold. However in 2020, the fair came back around and it was time to carry on the tradition.

This year has been full of twists and turns, so I ventured to the fair with one of my good friends during the week. We picked to go on a Tuesday, and it ended up raining. However, the rain didn’t stop us or a bunch of other happy fair goers. I primarily go for the food, which were some of the only booths open. We took one loop around the fairgrounds first before deciding what to indulge in first. We ultimately decided to start with a classic, Italian Sausage with peppers and onions.

Next we indulged in some lemonade and German fries.

Next on the list was a Chinese Sausage on a stick, which was just too good to take a photo. But here is the booth, that won best food at the fair this year!

We finished(or so we thought) with an apple crisp topped with vanilla ice cream.

As part of the annual tradition, I must go and see the biggest pumpkin that one of the locals spends all year growing. This year’s pumpkin broke all previous records at 2,480lbs.

The last stop on the annual Topsfield tour was to go and see the baby chicks. Since I was a. Hold, I have loved the fuzzy little baby chickens. So cute. At the fair there is a chance to to view the hatchery where you can watch them hatch, and then see there little fluffy selves make a fluffy chick pile.

Lat but not least, I had to pick up some caramel apples for my mom and sister back home.

On the way out we grabbed one final fair goodie, a pulled pork grilled cheese sandwich. It was an item definitely not needed, but one too good to pass up and just too good to hold onto long enough for a photo.

The rain didn’t stop me from enjoying my annual tradition, and all that I have grown to love about the Topsfield Fair.

Until next time.

Motor on

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General Posts

The 27th Year

I wrote “The 24th year” back in 2019. I felt as though it was worth reflecting on the year that I had. To share my struggles and my triumphs so that maybe someone out there would not feel so alone on their journey. Since then, there was only one year that I did not care to share my journey. Each year, it is tough to look back at some things that have happened. But it is as equally as joyous to see how far that I have come in just 365 days. So let’s dive right in.

My year starts right after my birthday in mid October. On October 14th, my best friend gave birth to a baby boy, and I became an Auntie for the first time! There was nothing quite like what I felt when I was able to hold my nephew for the first time. He was so small. A whole world in front of him and life ahead of him. I want nothing but the best for you my little tato!

At the end of October I ventured back down to North Caroline to attend Mini Mayhem put on by Cars and Cameras on YouTube. Although unpleasant people are attached to these memories, I still had a great time ripping around on my mini bike at Busco Beach.

When I returned home to New Hampshire, I had a photo shoot scheduled with the lovely Lightfox Studios. They are a wonderful photographer who specializes in body positivity boudoir shoots. This was my second one that I had done with them and I had such a fun time. It was noted by them that I did not smile during my first shoot until one of my favorite songs came on. This time, I was nothing but smiles the entire time. I can’t wait to do another one in the near future.

Fall came and went and the winter months were slow to move along.

From February 3rd through the 8th I went to Disneyworld in Orlando Florida. It was the first time I had taken a solo trip to Disney, and I had a great time! I had been a few times prior with some girlfriends, but there is something about traveling and doing things alone that make it a little more special. When alone, you can stops and truly enjoy what you are doing. I went to Animal Kingdom on my first day there, then Magic Kingdom, Epcot and then Hollywood Studios. It was a wonderful trip that I will always remember.

It’s worth noting that doing things alone is important and very beneficial. Often people ask me how I could go on vacation alone, but I actually prefer it. I believe you can’t be happy with anyone else until you are fully happy with yourself. Plus, if we are always waiting on someone else to go do something with, we will never get a chance to see everything that we want.

It was tough getting back from the warm weather in Florida and into the cold air of New Hampshire. But home is home. I stopped at one of my favorite spots, Sweet Waffles and Boba in Chinatown in Boston.

If you live in the NH/MA area, this is a must try on your list if you are a foodie. The waffles are made with mochi and are crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. I like strawberries, but there are a whole array of other toppings to choose from. They are also big car people and have a wall of their customers cars on their wall.

The rest of the winter was quiet. I sold my Camaro. I was sad to see it go. There was so much I wanted to do with it. But it was not practical to keep it. It brought me some joy for the year, and now its with its new owners.

I crocheted some new items.

I had some fun creating my vehicles in Gran Turismo 7 and taking photos in scapes mode.

April rolled around and that meant car show season was upon us. I was eager to get back out there and continue doing what I loved. Hosting and attending car shows, and just being able to go for a drive.

I tried my own hand at repainting the bumper on my MINI after an unfortunate collision with a barrel on a windy night. I jammed out on my old ipod while doing the job. Over the next couple of days, LuLu also got a new pair of shoes. She was ready for her next big journey.

My own car show, Southern New Hampshire Cars and Coffee suffered a last minute change in venue. The Friday night before my first event, I received a call stating that the location that I had picked out was no longer able to host the show. With less than 48 hours til showtime, I was scrambling. I did not want to cancel. On Saturday afternoon, another venue came through with the help of one of our dedicated attendees. With less than a day until our event, I updated the address and asked everyone to share it to as many places as they could. With much joy, my first event was a success and had its biggest turnout yet. I am truly grateful for my car community.

The Miata was up next for a new pair of shoes, and damn do they look good. He also got a new shifter knob that I had been eyeing for quite some time.

I then said goodbye to the mini bike that I took down to North Carolina for Mini Mayhem with Cars and Cameras. Although a lot of fun, there was no need for me to keep it around here.

The end of April brought my most anticipated trip of the year so far, MINIs on the Dragon. I have had my MINI for almost 10 years now, and this was one of the events that I have been trying to get to for almost as long. Something always stood in my way, be it work, or school, or just generally not having the funds to go. This was the year. Nothing was going to stop me from getting there. I met up with my Friend Steve in MA to head down to his girlfriend’s house, Emily, who happens to live in North Caroline. They met at the Dragon 10 years ago. I would joke with them that everyone meets their soulmate there after hearing stories of all the people who met their significant others at this event. Little did I know.

The drive down was LONG, and by the time we pulled into her driveway it was almost 4AM. We would be getting up in just a few hours to drive the rest of the way to Fontana Village. An hour before getting to the resort, we stopped at Rocky’s Hot Chicken shack, a MUST for you fried chicken lovers out there.

We pulled into Fontana just as the sun was setting. The road leading into the resort is windy and has great views of the mountains in North Carolina.

We unloaded the MINIs and took a brief lap around Fontana. I was quite tired, and quite grumpy. It was definitely time for some sleep.

The event started on Wednesday. As the MINIs began to arrive, I was reminded why I love my car so much. The MINI community is one that is centered around individuality and being yourself. Everyone is welcome to come and meet likeminded people and just have a good time. Wednesday night consisted of Spaghetti Dinner, an annual tradition. It was nice to see some new people. I sat back quietly and observed the comradery.

Wednesday morning, my good friend Steve took me on the The Tail of the Dragon, part of Route 129, for the first time. The road is curvy. It dips and bends with the mountain. Inexperienced drivers, and those with weak stomachs, should not attempt this 11 mile stretch with 318 turns. Steve drove down, and I drove back. After that first time, I was hooked. For the next three days, I got up early to hit the Dragon alone. Much like Autocross, or riding a motorcycle, you must be completely present while driving the Dragon. Oncoming traffic is not visible when coming in or out a turn. It is important that you “stay in your lane;” the slogan of the Tail of the Dragon.

The rest of the MINIs on the Dragon event was great. There was a Cabin Crawl, that consisted of 8 cabins with a signature drink and some with a food item. By the end, I was definitely crawling. The following night there was Bingo, followed by fireworks. Saturday was bittersweet. An entire week of MINIs, driving, new friends, firepits and overall good times was over. As I was sitting under the tent of vendors with my friends, an unexpected individual walked into my life.

Chance encounters like this one are part of the reason I enjoy traveling so much, especially alone. In a single moment, it all changed for me. But I did not know it at the time. This person would become someone very important to me. Myself, him and his friends went to dinner at Topoco, just down the road from Fontana Village. Afterwards, we all sat around one last campfire before we took our leave for home in the morning. A bittersweet goodbye, but I’d see it all again in a year’s time.

In mid June, the individual I’d met at the Dragon came to visit. I instantly felt connected, comfortable and safe. And for the first time in a long time, understood. We spent a week getting to know each other, and he accompanied me to Foxwoods where we enjoyed some go karting at Monza. I had a pre-planned concert to see Trevor Noah, but he waited with me in line until I went in. Soon he had to head back home several states away, and we were apart once again.

After that visit, I felt like I had been woken up. It was as if I had been sleeping this entire time. Something inside me ignited, and I could feel my world start to change. I spent the next week cleaning out my space, purging of the old to make room for the new. And even though he wasn’t here with me, his support and encouragement was.

The next month went by slowly. I attended some events here and there. My next big one would be Miata Day at Larz Anderson Auto Museum. Having never been there, I was very excited to go. During my time there, I reconnected with some old friends, and was able to see America’s largest vintage car collection. Soon after I attended the Tutto Italiano event they held there as well. Something else started to wake up.

Summer kept moving quickly, and I made another decision to bring a new family member home. On August 4th, I welcomed home, Mochi. She was an 8 week old French Bulldog. I loved her the moment she was handed over to me. A beautiful little squishy face, big ears, and a round belly. I had wanted a Frenchie for so long, and one was finally mine.

Next, I took a trip to Vermont to attend the annual Mt. Equinox Hill climb. The annual Mt. Equinox Hill Climb brings with it members of the VSCCA(Vintage Sports Car Club of America). Racers from around New England gathered, eager to climb the 5.2 mile road as fast as they could in their vintage racing cars. Watching them race their cars up the hill was an exhilarating experience. There is still so much life in the bones of vintage cars, and these racers give them a chance to show that.

After this event, a part of me I thought was long gone started to itch at me. In high school I used to do a lot of photography. I even considered going to school for photography for quite some time. Having always been a creative person, I wanted to rekindle with my old flame. I purchased a new camera as the one that I had been using was more than 10 years old. It was a great feeling to unbox a new camera and get back into something I used to love.

A few weeks later I attended the annual Dream Ride event in Connecticut. It would be the first place I would get to test out my new camera. The weekend includes activities that are fun for the Dream Riders and their families and friends. Automotive enthusiasts from all over the world come together to support the Dream Riders and their journey. It was a beautiful experience and I will definitely be back next year.

September rolled around and my favorite event of the year was coming up. On Saturday during Labor Day weekend the Manchester Rotary Club hosts their annual Cruising Downtown event in Manchester, New Hampshire. Thousands of cars and spectators line Elm St. My day starts at 5:00 a.m. when all the cars get lined up eagerly waiting the show. Throughout the day I get to see old friends, and make new friends. I also got to witness a beautiful display of vehicles locally and from other parts of New England. You can read about the full experience in my previous post about Cruising Downtown.

The next day I headed back down to Foxwoods Resort Casino to attend another pre-planned comedy show, Gabriel Iglesias. I had seen him a few years prior in Massachusetts, so I was very excited to be able to see him again. Comedy shows are something I very much enjoy, even alone. I attempted some Monza karting again, and even beat my previous best time by 1.7 seconds.

The following week was the annual Seafood Festival at Hampton Beach. If you are a seafood lover, this is a must attend event for anyone who lives in the New England area. A full write up of this is also on my blog and a previous post.

The following weeks got extremely busy for me. I wanted to expand my horizons with photography and wanted to dive deeper into my blog that I had left neglected for several years. I started reaching out to several of my friends that I knew had interesting and cool cars, and ask them if they would be willing to let me photograph it an interview them for my blog. Soon after that I received an opportunity to start writing for Upshift Magazine at Larz Anderson. It was very grateful for the opportunity and was eager to get writing. Although at this point my first article has not yet been published, I have no doubt that that will come soon.

The next several weeks included me photographing and interviewing people that I knew, and some that I did not I have the opportunity to meet a lot of new and interesting people having just been around to several car shows and putting myself out there. I’m always surprised and excited at the receptiveness of people when I tell them what I am trying to do, and what I hope to accomplish. Other car enthusiasts understand that our cars are not just our cars. They are an extension of ourselves. And I hope that in this and future blog posts I can share some of that with you.

A September was coming to a close, I did my annual maintenance on my vehicles which included inspections, oil changes, and registrations.

From September 29th through October 2nd, I traveled to newport, Rhode Island for the annual Audrain Newport Concours and MotorWeek. I was hesitant at first, because it was a different world than what I was used to in regards to car shows. The vehicles here have cared for in rebuilt on a different level than what I was used to seeing. They were built to perfection, as if they had just rolled off the line. A full story on MotorWeek is also on my blog for you to read more about. If you live in the area I recommend attending the event if you can.

After attending a lot of car events, and spending a lot of money on cameras and gear, I was feeling awfully discouraged with where I was at. I felt as though maybe I was not on the right path, and I should not be pursuing what I’m trying to do. On Thursday October 5th I attended a lecture at Lars Anderson. David Saggio renowned automotive photographer was coming to talk to us about his passion, and what he looks for when composing a photograph.

After this lecture I felt very inspired. And I also felt less alone in my struggles. David said to me that all artists struggle for their art, and it is part of the process in becoming who we want to be. All that I was experiencing was normal, and I needed to keep pushing through.

On October 8th, my birthday, I went to Palmer Motorsports Park, to photograph the Laps With Larz event. Another whole year has come and gone. I am not the same person walking into 27 as I was walking into 26. I am not the same person who walked into 26 and a half, or 26 and 3/4.

Later in the evening I ventured to Weymouth, MA where their annual water lantern festival was held. I got to decorate my own lantern and release it into the water. It was a very spiritual and moving experience. As everyone intentions manifested as paper lanterns on the water, I took one last look before I began my treck back home.

I have grown so much this year, emotionally, professionally, and spiritually. Every day I become more of who I want to be, and can see a little bit more of that dream that I want to attain. It is exciting to wonder where my journey will take me when I sit down to write The 28th Year.

Until next time.

Motor on.

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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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Car Shows, travel

Audrain Newport Concours & Motor Week

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.

Until next time.

Motor on.

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