The Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals is an annual event that takes place at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois. After SEMA, I had the honor or being offered the chance to go and check out the largest display of American Muscle Cars in the world. It is a place for enthusiasts, both young and old, to come together over their love for these classic vehicles.
I landed at O’Hare International Airport from Logan Airport at 8:30AM on Saturday November 19th. I went to the hotel to drop off my luggage and then made my way straight to the convention center. As soon as you walked through the doors, you could smell the oil, fuel and tires from the classic vehicles lying in wait on the showroom floor. A display of Corvettes greeted me.
The Chevrolet Corvette is one of my all time favorite vehicles, and is definitely my favorite piece of American Muscle. I walked over to Will Call to pick up my badge so generously left for me by eXoMod Carbon. Thank you so much, Rick!
Vendors, car displays and happy event attendees covered the floor. There was so much to take in. I took a couple laps around the floor to see what was there, and then went back through to capture some more specific details. So, where to begin! It is hard to pick. I will start with this 1960 Corvette.
In 1960, this Corvette won 1st in its class making history at the famous 24 hour Le Mans Race. The #3 Cunningham Corvette held this title for more than 40 years. An impressive win for the car at the time.
While on the topic of Corvettes, there was this 1969 unrestored L88.
19,000 original miles, and two time Concours winner in 2017 and 2019. This 427, 4 Speed was one of 116 built in 1969. It has also been awarded the NCRS Top-Flight, Bloomington Gold Certification and MCACN Triple Diamond Award.
There were also an array of vintage mini bikes. These were especially interesting for me, as I used to own a Coleman Mini Bike and attended Mini Mayhem in North Carolina last summer.
This 1981 Z28 Chevrolet Camaro had my heart.
With so many interesting vehicles there, it is hard to pick just a few to write about. There was this custom one of a kind Mustang, with a removable hard top and custom sound system. Photos of this build, do not really do it justice, but here it is.
Most of the cars were set up close to each other in their classes or groups. It made it a little difficult to get clean shots of individual cars, but it also made for some neat opportunities to catch these cars sitting together like a group of friends would.
Next up, this 1977 Dodge Charger SE caught my eye. I had never seen a White Charger before. Usually, the ones that I have seen in the past were black, green or purple. The white gave it an old feel and a certain elegance to it.
There were an array of Superbirds and Daytonas in the Wings Over America section. This was particularly interesting for me, as I had never seen so many Superbirds and Daytonas in one place before, let alone one right after the other.
One in particular caught my eye. This 1970 Plymouth Superbird had a very different paint job, with matching helmet and model car. As the board states in one of the photos, this car is in its “as raced,” unrestored condition.
What an interesting take on this iconic piece of history.
Another section of the convention that seemed to always be busy with people was the Barn Finds & Hidden Gems. As the name suggests, these were cars that were found in as is condition, and either still ran, or were rare pieces not commonly around, let alone now. A few of these gems were in running condition, which made it that much more impressive. For years these old bodies could have sat, but they were not ready to give up. They are now on the hands of eager owners and restorers, so that they may be returned to their former glory when they rolled off the assembly line.
The Studebaker Legends was another section that had some beautiful cars that you don’t get to see everyday. Like a 1963 Studebaker R3 Avanti that was Hot Rod and Motor Trend’s Test car.
Amongst the cars, there were also several vendor booths set up. One had metal art of some of our favorite cars.
There was also Kitty’s Warriors, which I will be writing a separate piece on. They are a non-profit that donate 100% of their proceeds to cancer patients and their families.
Johnny Lightning was also in attendance, selling model cars and an exclusive 2022 MCACN Superbird model.
Last, but certainly not least, there was the Premier Unveiling of the most anticipated builds of the year., the 1971 Plymouth Cuda built by Mopar Obsession/eXoMod Carbon.
I won’t spoil all the fun as this car will have it’s own write up coming soon. This drop top 440+6, with a Shaker hood and intake, leather interior and go wing was absolutely stunning in person. The color was perfect for this iconic vehicle.
My first experience at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals was one to remember. I had never been around so many classic American muscle in one place. The best part of shows like this is that a lot of these cars are driven, all the time. They were raced, dragged, driven, family hauling for years, and are still kicking around. It is truly something to be appreciated. I am so grateful for the experience.
Here is a full album of photos from the event. If you’d like to support me and my adventures, please consider sharing and purchasing a photo.
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!
As we all wind down from the long weekend, there is a lot to reflect on and be grateful for. Some of us take vacations, spend time with loved ones or spend time alone. And some of us spend out time doing something that we love. Labor Day Weekend brings with it Cruising Downtown in Manchester, NH. One of my favorite events of the year. The Manchester Rotary Club closes down Elm St., and many of the adjacent side streets so that thousands of car enthusiasts can enjoy a day of beautiful vehicles. My morning starts at 4AM with my alarm clock. Although it is early, I am excited to get out of bed and start my day. My 1962 Morris Mini-Minor was ready for her final event of the season before her seats would make their way down to CT to a friend’s shop to be reupholstered.
Before the actual event starts, show participant gather in the parking lot of the Brady Sullivan building on Elm St. I arrived at the lot at 5AM. The sky was still black and the vehicles and their owners were still waking up.
Rotary club volunteers are busy getting last minute registrations ready and handing out preregistered envelopes. People converse with each other, happy to see their friends. For some, they only get to see these people a couple times a year during car show season. The people are on of the main tings that I look forward to when I attend this event. With everyone’s busy day to day lives, it is good to come together and be able to enjoy a common interest.
As 7:15AM rolls around, everyone starts their engines to cruise together to Elm St and find their spots for the day. My Friend Abby and her 1078 Volkswagen Bus and 1969 Volkswagen Beetle are already parked and patiently awaiting the cars to cruise downtown.
Once parked, my favorite thing to do is watch and photograph them as they all roll through. One after another, the registrants for the 2022 show found their spots for the day and got out to wander the street to take in the sites. By 10AM, the streets are filled with spectators. They speak with owners of their favorite vehicles about their builds and indulge in some fair food. Several of my friends were set up along Elm St. Either with their vehicle, or with their business as a vendor. It’s worth noting that locals find it odd walking down the middle of Elm St. It’s almost like that just for the day you are transported into a different world. Here are a couple shots of what I missed coming in.
This even is always my favorite one of the year. It is good to see people that I don’t normally se and enjoy a day of cars.
Until next time. Motor on!
You can purchase photos from this event to support me on my adventures at the link below!
Hey everyone, welcome back to my blog. Today we are going to do something a little different. I’d like to start interviewing people that I know and that I come across along the way and share their stories. I will be sharing what they do, how they got in to cars, where it all started and what exciting things they are working on now and will be in the future.
For my first one, I interviewed my friend Rick Serino. Rick has been a car enthusiast since he was a child. For him, it started with Matchbox Cars. He had “all” of them, and they were all categorized. I asked if he had any pictures, but cameras were a luxury when he was a kid.
We moved on to his first car, which was a 1976 Mercury Capri. For those who are unfamiliar, like I was, it was basically Mercury’s version of Ford’s Mustang. This was when Rick first started messing with Stereo Systems. His dad was an electronics teacher, so he got him into electronics at a very young age. He had access to tons of electronics that were broken when he was growing up, which allowed him to mess around a lot. He would take things apart and put them back together. “Like the Professor on Gilligan’s Island.” He would mess around with everything from speakers to lights. Hang them on his wall and wire them all together. Every ‘toy’ he had was taken apart and made his own. He attributes his talents and knowledge of how things work to his father. Without him, he wouldn’t know how to make the art he does today.
We chatted about Cruising Downtown 2019. For those unfamiliar with that event, just over a thousand car owners and a couple thousand car enthusiasts gather on Elm St. in Downtown Manchester, NH for one of the biggest car shows in the state. Rick set up shop with his welded art and collection of cars for the show.
Mostly everything sold, except for just a few larger items. He went on to explain that the dismantling of electronics transferred to the dismantling of the electronics in cars. He always had an appreciation for the mechanics of them, but never quite knew what to do until his late twenties. At that point, he had the money to start buying stuff and messing around with them. After his first Mercury Capri, he owned a Subaru, and from there he got a Capri 5.0. This was his first muscle car, which he changed the exhaust, corroborator, wheels tires, and put his own big stereo in it. “Shit you can afford when you’re in your twenties. Rick then joined the military, sold the Capri 5.0 and bought a 1977 Camaro when he was out in Indiana. He pulled the motor, transmission, added nitrous, a new exhaust, wheels and tires, took out the back seats and put in a stereo. It had about 26 speakers from what he remembers.
One of the cars that Rick had bought was a Red and Black Chrysler 300
The stereo was built by Traffic Jams, had Air ride and everything else. The car was unfortunately totaled when someone pulled out in front him while driving. Unfortunately, there was nothing that could have been done. One of his cars that I best remember him for is an old Ford Truck. He originally picked it up in 2001 and it was black with yellow and orange flames. It is now white with black and tan flames and looks bad. He built the transmission, drive train and rearend of that car, gutted the interior. Recently he blew the motor and put a whole new transmission and motor in, among a long list of other things. “Built from the ground up.”
He most recent project is his 1930 Ford
Rick has about 6 spaces at his house for cars and then a few more at a shop up the road where someone helps him with his projects. I moved on to his MINI, as he did own one. Which was the reason that I had originally met him. I asked what made him get a MINI. His response was that he always wanted one, “car guy stuff.” He went on to say that every car guy wants one, and he doesn’t care who they are or what they say. In Rick’s opinion, the little compact British car is just missing 150HP, which is easily attained. From there, the little machines are unstoppable. His MINI had nothing too crazy done to it, exhaust, cold air intake, wheels, tires and of course, an updated stereo.
I asked Rick what was the most fun car he owned, and his response was the MINI Cooper. He raced it, met a bunch of people and went all kinds of places. The MINI community really is a force to be reckoned with. However, he followed with it’s not the most powerful or the most exhilarating, but definitely the most fun he’s had. The most powerful car he’s owned is his truck.
I then asked what was the worst car he owned, and his response was his Subaru. They are fun, but the particular one he owned was nothing special.
He’s done a lot of car projects over the years, and the one that he has( and is) enjoying the most is his 1930 Ford. He just bought the body of that car and has been building it from the ground up. A “tin can.” He took the engine, transmission, tires and rims, brake system, and electronics from the Chrysler 300 (shown above) that he crashed and dropped the shell of the Ford right over it all. The challenges with this project now is just finding the time to work on it and the man power to help.
Rick has a full time job, along with the building of other people’s car that he does, and all the welding work that he does on the side.Welding art has always been something that he’s done, but he never really sold it. After his accident, he messed around with it and was posting stuff on Facebook. People were always asking how much his pieces were and they eventually grew in to people asking for custom orders. Before the Christmas of 2018, he had about 20 orders stacked up. It’s worked out though, and he has continued to create things. Here”s a few things that he has created.
I asked him where he gets all the stuff for his creations and he said he’s been collecting stuff for 20 years. People drop off things here and there, but mostly it’s been collecting. Rick keeps himself busy, although sometimes he wants a break. Money is money, and you can’t say no to thousands of dollars. Plus, its still a lot of fun.
In the future, Rick would like to host an event at his place, which really would be attainable. He wants to be able to never leave his house and make money, which in a way, he’s already half way there. He’s living the dream.
So follow him on Instagram, @horsepower_n_goats and on Facebook, Horsepower Farm. And he also loves Tool, which was playing in the background of our interview.