CES, General Posts, Las Vegas, travel

CES 2023 : Be In It

The start of my journey at CES 2023 proved to be different from my beloved automotive world. While there are many avenues where the two intersect, it is interesting to also see another realm of interest.

The Las Vegas Strip was MUCH busier than when I was there for SEMA 2022. You could tell that something was going on the moment I landed at Harry Reid International. Representatives for CES were waiting at the arrival gates to give people directions(and snacks) on where they could pick up their badges.

My flight in from Boston was packed with attendees for this year’s show. The badge pickup process proved itself to be painless, as I was curious how having various pickup locations across the strip would work out. Once my badge waa in hand, I made my way to The Flamingo, my temporary home for the week.

I was fortunate enough to have a high floor room, the 22nd floor, facing the Bellagio, The Cosmo and Paris. The view was incredible. I rested for a bit until making my way out to find something to eat. Ramen- Ya had been on my radar since my trip in November 2022, and I was determined to try it this time. Ramen-Ya is located over near the entrance of Bally’s in the little array of shops and other food stops. I ordered a Thai Tea and their Tonkotsu Ramen with Pork Belly. It was delicious!

I made my way back to my room and watched the Bellagio show from my window. I took a short nap and then went back out onto the strip. It was towards the other end of the strip on my last adventure out there, so we didn’t make our way past The Flamingo very much. I ventured down The Linq Promenade, an ally of shops and more restaurants like In-And-Out Burger, Ramsey’s Fish and Chips and many more. Having been up for almost 24 hours I turned in for an early night, ready for the start of CES in just one day.

Thursday brought the first official day of CES 2023. I started my day with a press release with ASAKA the first helicopter/car hybrid. This is their first fully functional prototype. It is the first 4 seater hybrid that can travel by both land, and air. It is a fully electric aircraft and can travel up to 250 miles on a single charge. Flying cars were predicted long ago, but this is the first of its kind in the world, and I was able to experience it first hand.

The ASKA eVTOL has the potential to make history. Focussed on safety first, they are wanting this to be viewed as the future of a family vehicle with its four passenger capability. But beyond that, it also has tremendous potential for military use, first responders and on demand mobility services.

So how does it all work? The ASKA is powered by a proprietary power system that features lithium battery packs and also has a gasoline engine that acts as a range extender. It features all wheel drive while in driving mode. In flying mode, the wings with six rotors unfold, and allow it to take off vertically, or the conventionally on a runway. Safety was a top priority for designers. In case of an emergency, the large wings can act as gliders to guide the vehicle to safety. I am excited to see where this prototype will be in the future. Full scale testing has been scheduled to start after the end of CES 2023 a preorders are expected in 2026.

Next was the release with Vinfast of their new VF 6 and VF7 Electric Vehicles “Vinfast is one of the world’s most innovative automakers and working together to rapidly deploy Vayyar’s technology is proving to be a rewarding experience,” said Ian Podkamien, Vayyar Vice President and Head of Automotive. “We’re proud to be part of the VinFast story and anticipate great success for the OEM, underpinned by rock-solid safety.”

They unveiled the new VF 6 and VF 7. The VF 6 is small all electric SUV. It has a maximum range of 248 miles, 174 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. The plus version has 237 mile range, 201 horsepower and 228 lb-ft torque. lso mes equipped with a 12.9-inch touchscreen display to showcase all in-car entertainment.

THe VF 7 is slightly larger, and has a longer range of 280 miles on a full charge, 201 horsepower, and 228 ft torque. The Plus version has AWD, a 268 mile range, 348 horsepower and 368 lb-ft of torque. A much peppier version of its counterpart.

Still being weary of the EV market, these two cars were elegantly designed, and not very large. Even though they are considered SUVs, they are small on the outside, and roomy on the inside. Every inch of space is well thought out and used to the best of its ability. Madam Le Thi Thu Thuy, Vingroup Vice Chairwoman and CEO of VinFast Holdings said: “VinFast always strives to bring diverse vehicle options to meet the demands of most customers, while pushing the transition from ICE to all-electric vehicles. VinFast’s VF 6 and VF 7 are models that combine the elements of style, modern technology and outstanding technology in an efficient and fun package. I believe that these models will resonate well with young customers who are passionate about technology and exhilarating driving experiences.”

Up next was to go see the Autonomous Vehicle that would be racing it’s way around the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Friday night and all day Saturday. This autonomous vehicles won the challenge at the last event. It is totally reliant on it’s programming and can drive 150+ mph on the track without any light.

There are a slew of other autonomous vehicles, from being able to drive passengers to and from work in major cities, to delivering groceries and packages with no need for a driver. John Deer has a line of autonomous agricultural equipment, and Hyundai has entered into the water powered realm that will fuel their electric vehicles at bays built in the ocean using the power generated by water.

The first day at CES was a success. The next day I took a deep dive into the audio and video technology that was in Central Hall. Autel created a drone that allows fire and rescue, law enforcement and other such professions to monitor dangerous situations from the air. It allows for them to get an idea of what is going on, without risking sending a person up in the air. With more than 2 hours of flight time and an 18 mile range, this drone will more than likely change the future of how we can monitor from the skys.

Afeela, the lovechild of Sony and Honda looks to be the future of integrated technology that you are not only able to interact with, but interacts with you. With AI that recognizes who is in the driver’s seat and how many people are in the car, it adjust to the presets that the driver previously set. The prototype is still in the development stages, but it is set to be up for preorder in 2024 and delivered to it’s buyers in 2025.

Friday night brought the Lights Out event with Luminar at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. One out of the 9 autonomous Indy cars would take to the track in the pitch black. A team of programmers from several schools across the country and from other parts of the world, each programmed a car to drive the track without a driver. The AI learns the track, and also learns from the other car that it may be competing against. The thing I find interesting here is that these indy cars have real engines still and are not electric, so we still get to enjoy that familiar roar as it drives down the track. Though I feel like these autonomous vehicles being tested, electric ones may not be far behind.

Saturday the 4th annual Indy Autonomous Challenge at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Nine teams from 6 countries and representing 17 Universities came to Las Vegas seeking to win the Autonomous Challenge at CES, built only 7 advanced to Saturday’s challenge. THe rules required that each team qualify in a high-speed race car time trial in a head-to-head passing competition. PoliMOVE, Politecnico di Milano and University of Alabama, won the Autonomous Challenge at CES and set a new world record for the racetrack. Their car reached a maximum speed of 180 mph. Congratulations to the team for all of their hard work!

Day two was complete, and there was still a ton left to see. WIth so many new, innovative and just all around interesting products to see, it was not possible to see them all. So here are the few that I really enjoyed.

Being an avid traveler, and looking in to energy sources for future van life traveling, Geneverse new and existing products really caught my eye. Compact and portable generators are a must if you enjoy camping and traveling in either a conversion van, or even an RV. As we all know, electric hookups are not always available, and in case of emergencies, it is always good to have a backup. Geneverse is one of the most affordable and reliable that are out there on the market. They introduced their HomePower PRO series at CES, the most efficient solar power battery in the industry to date. It can power up to 99% of home appliances in a traditional home setting, and keep it powers for 3-7 days depending on usage. The PRO series can power a refrigerator for up to 30 hours, ensuring you don’t lose your food, 12-16 full laptop. charges and 150-200 cell phone charges.

There are several models in Geneverse’s new PRO lineup; HomePower ONE Pro has a capacity of 1210Wh of capacity, 1200W of rated power and 2400W of surge power, all at $1,499. The HomePower ONE PRO with 2x Solar Panels is $2,599. THe HomePower TWO PRO has 2419 Wh of capacity, 2200W of rated power and 4400W of surge power for $2,499 and HomePower TWO PRO with Solar Panels is $4,799. Either of these two units can be fully charged in 1-2 hours bty wall outlet, or 3-4 hours by solar. A very quick charge time compared to some of its competitors. The units are easy to set up, and completely portable making it best for families, camping, the elderly and RV/Vans. I am looking forward to see how this unit will fare on a week long road trip I will be taking later this year.

mymanu is another company that caught my attention. They currently have their Clik S wireless earbuds that can translate in 37 language in real time. Coupled with their app, you are able to communicate with anyone in their native language seamlessly. The buds can translate in real time. The app allows you to speak into it in your native language and translate back to them in their native language. One thin I found highly beneficial about their app is that it translate back to them with the proper grammar. In a language like SPanish for example they tend to say, “seis cerdoes rosas,” which literally translates to “six pigs pink.” mynanu software allows for the correct punctuation be translated to the other party, very much unlike google translate which often butchers the translations. The Clik S buds are available now, and I will definitely picking up a pair for my future international travels. They also have the TItan, that is currently in the works and available for preorder. It is the world’s first voice-controlled eSim-power pair of earbuds, making the need to carry your phone around 24/7 a thing of the past. Such exciting pieces of tech to keep us connected on another level.

SK Group along with its global partners presented some of the world’s top eco-friendly carbon reduction technologies at CES. With more than 40 new related technologies, let’s cover a few. One, and maybe one of the most important, is the Waste to Resources segment of their display. Plastics, metals and batteries have become a huge problem with waste. SK plans to establish an advanced recycling cluster in Ulsan, Korea with full operation by the end of 2025. The cluster will be abkle to recycle 250 thousand tons of plastic waste each year. SK is aiming to be the world’s largest urban oil field company, while adopting game-changing chemical recycling technology to recycle plastics and turn them into petroleum resources. We only have one earth, and it was very exciting to see companie such as SK looking towards a better future in preserving and taking care of it.

Within SK’s booth was Cala Trio. A wearable device that can help with hand tremors. This caught my eye because my grandfather had tremors from years of working with his hands in a factory. Tremors are often caused by misfiring signals in the brain to you hand/wrist. More often than not, this can only be corrected by brain surgery. With the wearable device from Cala Trio, it send electrical impulses to the brain from your wrist to correct the issues and gives similar results without the risk of surgery. The device also stores and displays information so that you can see information in real time and share it with your doctor.

ADT Commercial, one of the leading security providers partnered with Halodi Robotics who introduced their first security robot at CES. This robot combines AI and augmented reality. This marks a significant step forward for ADT when it comes to to their commercial expansion into the guarding market. The humanoid robot would be controlled by a security guard and would be able to do things such as, conduct autonomous patrols in commercial facilities, perform two way communication, open doors and operate elevators, interact with employees, inspect and remove hazards or obstructions, self dock and self charge at designated stations. This a huge step in the right direction for security as some 80% of alarms are all false. It dismisses the need for a security guard to leave their post, allowing for better 24/7 security in any commercial facility.

Prinker, an honoree at CES for Mobile Devices and Accessories, was in attendance showing off their temporary tattoo printer. The device makes it easy to create and apply water resistant, but soap-washable tattoos to the skin, making it the perfect device for festivals, seeing what a more permanent tattoo may look like and many more fun, creative avenues.

Kohler’s booth smelled too good to pass up, so I did a brief walkthrough. One of their focuses was on shower infused aromatherapy. They have universal shower head attachments that allow you to infuse aromatherapy into your shower. I just might be investing in one of them. An aromatherapy shower sounds wonderful after being at a track or event all day.

Govee, interactive light displays, also had a very interesting setup at CES. Coupled with their app, their light fixtures can display photos, sync to music and even display you own personal designs that you either upload to the app, or draw within the app. It can also sync to your gaming and display the colors and flash to your in game experiences. I hope to get my hands on this product soon as they are launching new products in the coming months

The last of the products that I found interesting were the ones that TCL had on display. On top of TCL becoming one of the more affordable and high quality brands of TVs, they are also developing their RayNeo X2 – AR Glasses. They are the world’s first to realize binocular full-color Micro-LED optical waveguide display in AR Glasses. These AR glasses are lightweight and look like regular glasses without compromising on tech specs. It is your all in on assistant for smart navigation and auto translation to photography and music play. They are powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 platform. THe GPS navigation system uses simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) together with gesture recognition. The bluetooth enabled on-screen message and call notifications allows you to stay up to date wherever you go. The RayNeo X2 also breaks down language barriers, translating in real time and displaying subtitles on the glasses screen, allowing avid travelers, such as myself, build those important connections. The built in hands-free camera also allows users to create content from a first person perspective, giving your viewers a more personal look into what you are experiencing. These will be available for purchase around the the end of the March 2023. Yet another product I am excited to get my hands on!

After my hands on experience at the Autonomous Challenge, I didn’t think that anything could beat that. On Sunday, the final day of CES, I made my way over to the BMW and Volkswagen booth. Two that I, unintentionally saved for the very end. BMW released its i Vision Dee. Dee or Digital Emotional Experience is a profound concept for BMW Group. This enables a completely new type of interaction and communication between yourself and your vehicle. “With the BMW i Vision Dee, we are showcasing what is possible when hardware and software merge. In this way, we are able to exploit the full potential of digitalisation to transform the car into an intelligent companion. That is the future for automotive manufacturers – and, also, for BMW: the fusion of the virtual experience with genuine driving pleasure,” said Oliver Zipse. The BMW i Vision Dee connects with us on an emotional level and is also intelligent enough to anticipate where we may want to go based on previous drives.

Dee is considered as the “Ultimate Companion.” Humans and cars already have a special kind of relationship for those of us that understand what that means. The emotional relationship that BMW Group and the BMW brand is trying to build here is going to define that bond even more. Dee will adapt to the driver’s habits, and will suggest destinations and entertainment. Dee will become a companion to its driver, a sort of “best friend” that can be relied on.

“A BMW lives by its unparalleled digital performance. BMW i Vision Dee is about perfect integration of virtual and physical experiences. Whoever excels at integrating the customer’s everyday digital worlds into the vehicle at all levels will succeed in mastering the future of car-building,” says Frank Weber, BMW AG Board Member for Development.

On top of the 9 different facial expressions that allows it to interact with its environment, it also has the ability to change its color and design inside and out. The future of BMW Group is electric, circular and digital. Further development on the Ultimate Driving Companion will be released throughout 2023.

Volkswagen had a new electric vehicle of their own, the ID. 7. It is VW first all electric sedan based on the modular electric drive matrix (MEB) featuring smart camouflage. This multilayered paintwork is able to create light effects on areas of the vehicle. “With the new ID.7, we are rounding off the top end of our electric model range. The sedan will offer top-class technology and quality. The ID.7 is one of ten new electric models that we are planning to launch by 2026. Our goal? To offer suitable products for our customers in every segment.” Thomas Schäfer CEO of Volkswagen Passenger Cars.

The ID. 7 features a digital camouflage design with unique luminous paintwork, 40 layers of paint with 22 areas of the vehicle that can be activated individually, and a unique QR code that acts as an bridge between the physical world and digital one. Set to release in 2023, it is not the only product that VW is expecting to turn heads in their direction. With several other all electric vehicles on the way, it is no doubt that VW will be another leading competitor in the all electric and fully customizable future of the automotive industry.

So what was your favorite product in my personal lineup? With thousands of products available at the show, it was impossible to cover them all. I hand picked the few areas that I thought were making big differences in how we will communicate with each other, our cars, and the world around us. Technology is advancing in unimaginable directions, and it will be interesting to see what the future holds for us. If you attended CES what was your favorite new product?

Until next time.

Motor on.

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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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Car Shows, Driving, mcacn, travel

MCACN 2022

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.

Ford GT40

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.

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, greenlightcollectibles, Las Vegas, SEMA

Greenlight Collectibles

Walking around SEMA is great. You are able to interact with so many new people and see all kinds of cool up and coming products and seervices.

One of the booths that I interacted with was Greenlight Collectibles. They are a premier manufacturer of authentic diecast replicas of all of your favorite vehicles. They even manufacture other replicas to scale with your diecast vehicles. During SEMA 2022, they were handing out Limited Edition 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 models. A very cool, and free, collectible item I got to take home from SEMA.

Here is another example of some of the items that they have for sale.

While perusing the rest of their booth, one little model caught my eye. A 1967 Morris Mini Cooper S. It is not too often I see many classic mini models, let alone one in my color. The lovely gentleman at the booth were kind enough to part with the model, and it got to come home with me.

Thank you, Greenlight Collectibles! Your booth was the only one I went to with any classic mini related products. My new SEMA shelf thanks you for the collectible item.

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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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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