Speaking of the Olympics, it would seem as though things are worse than the media would lead you to believe in Brazil. Take the Olympic Village for example. Granted, one doesn’t come to expect five-star accommodations in a third-world country, but the lack of reliable Wi-Fi (and en-suite plumbing… and a roof), but you really begin to see how bringing in Venezuelan decorators may have been a mistake.
On the bright side, however, it’s nice to see Motel 6 upping their game on the international stage, and hiring what appears to be at least one part-time maid for the duration of the event.
A Merry Christmas to you and yours. Or those you may rent. Or happen to have on Lay-a-Way. Or may be thinking of purchasing soon.
…or should we say “Kiss-mas”?
Oh, SEMA, you bring out the best in me.
Today’s topic: A Half-Dozen Helpful Tips on Fitting in Where You Obviously Don’t Belong — This Means YOU, Guy Who Either Mooched a Pass or Works Somewhere on the Very Fringe of the Industry (ATTN: Guy Who Supplies Thumb Tacks to the Local Auto Parts Store)
1. Don’t grab every pen, Post-It pad, sticker, magnet, ruler, sippy cup, catalog, magazine, DVD, keychain, light-up mascara case, sunglasses clip, lanyard, really tiny pouch to hold, well, really tiny things that you grab at other booths, or extra bags as you stroll by every booth… much less HANDFULLS of them. This tells me that you’re either a complete douchebag, or that you are a hoarder, and yes, probably also a douchebag.
2. Speaking of extra bags, that giant-size tote you’re hauling (with 1/3 of your giant mass listing to starboard to compensate) makes it easier to spot you from afar when I’m looking for outsiders to walk in front of as they take a photo with their flip-phone at mid-stride. There is no fine line between grabbing a few things and EVERY GOD DAMN THING YOU COME UPON. Rather, it’s a giant, conscious leap to make, and your chances of sticking that landing are as good as, well, the next item on our list…
3. No, Skippy, Miss Valve Stem 2014 wasn’t really into you, or super-excited to have another photo shot with you. While you may think that the previous 400 lard-ass, hangers-on waiting an hour to meet her and get that poster were but a warm-up to your brilliant entrance, lugging 3 metric tons of promotional materials and bashing that load into her leg, you can rest assured that all she’s thinking is “only four more hours today, and but three more days until I can cash that check! And why does this guy smell like stress balls and catalog paper, mixed with onions and Axe spray?”
While the people who actually BELONG AT THE SHOW and are WORKING are trying to squeeze past you and the 400 others just like you to get to a meeting, just know that you SHOULD take it personally when I mutter “get the fuck out of my way” to you. That week isn’t play time. It’s feed my family time. Stay home, and look at pictures of booth girls on your favorite forum between taking jabs at cars you’ll never have the skill to build, you pile of shit.
4. Stopping, mid-stride in a busy aisle to text your bros isn’t the wisest idea. I forces me to pretend that I didn’t see you when I plow into you, and then pretend that I’m sorry. That saps energy I was saving for when I have to attempt to control every fiber of my being from punching you in the throat when you finally end your phone call to your bros at home about how hot Miss Fender Washer is, and how she signed your poster “CALL ME, LOL!”, and step out of that stall after 20 minutes of hearing “No, bro, it gets better!”, and look at the line of 35 angry colons waiting to explode.
5. If nothing else, DO NOT use someone else’s pass, or try to slip in with last year’s, or some doctored pass or otherwise. What are you, like five years old? And no, I don’t believe that the Asian guy’s real name was Jesus Angelino Martinez de Venuza. I’m not buying it.
6. For the love of all that is holy, DRESS APPROPRIATELY. Nothing makes you look more out of place than the stained t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops. Honestly. If you can’t respect my industry, at the very least respect yourself. It’s a PROFESSIONAL TRADE EVENT. Not the fucking Piggly Wiggly on Thursday night, you trash.
Some helpful hints and tips for making the most of your “Give Me Free Shit for My Project” SEMA Trip:
1. Be “in” the industry. It helps to have some sort of an established presence. I mean beyond the whole “I have a cool car/truck/bicycle”, or the “I bought so-and-so’s cool car/truck/bicycle”. Have a shop. Perhaps some sort of ACTUAL clout, outside of your five good-time buds.
2. Don’t drop names of people who have no clue that you’re using their name. It’ll make for some good times when the rep you spoke to speaks with me following the show; probably some awkward ones for you moving forward.
3. If you’re going to use your connection with an artist or designer to further your agenda, it helps to utilize a rendering drawn BY that artist for the “project” you’re dreaming up as you go along. See “awkward” above in tip #2.
4. SEMA isn’t your personal fucking gift box. It’s a trade show. The professionals are there to network, and plot and plan the coming year. Your dumb ass just makes it feel a lot longer than the week needs to.
5. Stop bugging the designers for free renderings with promises of “getting some coverage”. Chances are, if the designer is at SEMA, they certainly don’t need you.
6. Yes, we pro’s notice that the name on your badge doesn’t fit with your face… and we can sure as fuck bet that you don’t belong. Your loud-mouthed horseplay on the show floor gave it away early on.
7. I’m not your “boy”. I built this business myself (as did all of the working artists and designers), purely on the reputation of good work, and I’ve been blessed to make the connections I have. I work my ass off for them. If you’d like to think that you’re any part of this, cut a check, and I’ll consider making you a partner.
8. Nobody, and I repeat NOBODY owes you shit based upon promises. In this business, it’s all about what you’ve done before the current project. Nobody cares about what you haven’t done yet. If anyone tells you differently, they’re just as full of shit as you are, and you should hook up, and spend your days hoping and dreaming. We’ll look for it next year in the same “proposal” you’re pushing in peoples’ faces.
I promise that we’ll be less negative next time. Maybe.
While many people operate on some arcane belief that thirteen is unlucky, around the Studio, we find that, like anything, it’s all in what you make of it. To say that 2013, when viewed as a product of the work invested, was a success would be an understatement. There was a ton of struggle, more late nights than ever before, and an absolute will to push things as far as possible, and the payoff was, to say the least, something to behold. We were stoked to see so much work from the previous years see light of day as completed projects, and watch as those projects really came into their own.
To say that none of it would have been possible without you, our loyal friends and fans, well, would be the truth! It’s tough to say “Thank You” in a way that could begin to illustrate our heartfelt appreciation here, but know that it means the world to us. Without you, there would be no reason to turn the lights on each day, much less keep them burning late into the following evenings.
That said, kick back, and take a peek at all of the cool things that you helped to create in 2013, and share in my counting of the many blessings that the year brought my way. I have a lot to pay forward in ’14.
Start at the Beginning
…we could Tarrantino the whole thing, however. Or even Peter Jackson it, and split it into three newsletters, using the second part to merely waste your time with a 25-minute chase scene which only serves to present an idea for a theme park ride. But we’re not so bitter as to do that.
The year kicked off with the usual rush to finish some projects which had slid over from the previous calendar, as they usually do. Completing some minor tweaks on cars that were set to debut, and winding down from a whirlwind of last-minute SEMA work, the year always heads out in a flurry of activity.
In January, the Torino took the first bow in paint in Pomona, setting off what would be a year of serious award-winning magic. From concept:
..to finished masterpiece:
(I made motor noises until Moose fired it up. Then I giggled. A lot.)
…the crew at Rad Rides simply pushed the envelope, and threw down some of the most incredible fit and finish ever. While it was spectacular to see the GPT Special become reality, and then to follow-up by sweeping the 2013 Detroit Autorama Best Overall Street Machine, the inaugural Barrett-Jackson Cup in Reno, the 2013 Optima Batteries Street Machine of the Year, and the 2013 Mothers Shine Award, the icing on the cake was seeing my youngest son’s excitement in, as he put it, “finally getting to sit in it!”.
My son. Sitting in a vehicle I designed, which just spent the year cleaning house at every stop.
Best. Feeling. EVER.
In Detroit, Nailed, Mark’s ’56 Buick swept into the Great 8…
Such a fun project to play on, and one of those cars that is so well-detailed that you could spend hours looking at it, and then head back and see things you missed the first time.
It was neat, too, to see the original sketch for the car on rear seat at the SEMA Show in November:
The new year continued to tear some fresh ground with a killer opportunity to blog for Dodge. And blog I did, by golly. It began with a trek to NY, and some massive support from our friends and family in the hot rod industry. To say that it was insane to witness (and be a part of), well… That’s an understatement. Between our family supporting the heck out of it, and good friends campaigning and pushing (hey Tim and Carrie Strange! That would be friends like YOU, for example.) non-stop, I nailed a gig doing something I truly enjoy: Writing. And talking. And writing and talking about cars, and the stories behind them.
(exploring the 2014 Durango mere minutes after its debut. I was there first. Suck it, Ron Burgundy.)
In May, we nailed the first One-n-Done, working with the great guys at Porterbuilt to complete a front and rear Dropmember (and airbag and rack and pinion!) install in Broey’s truck.
In one day, with about 40 volunteers and friends, we accomplished the task, setting the stage for a number of gatherings geared to entertain, educate, and get some work done. Between the coverage in Street Trucks, the LiveCast and more soon, it was a success on many levels!
Following the amazing win in the REDLINE Dodge contest, I was swept off to some great events, like the All Chrysler Nationals in Carlisle:
Even spent a few moments in the Hotchkis Autocross Taxi. Seemed like the thing to do:
…and the following road trip with Steve Magnante was a blast indeed. As we traveled up North, we stopped at Jerry Stein’s place to take in some history, and complete the Max Wedge overload that began in Carlisle:
…and continued with making some great (and occasionally awkward… OK, mostly awkward) memories along the way, with some great stops, including a tour of the Magnante compound. (you can check out all of that in detail HERE)
The next trip would find me in Detroit for the Woodward Dream Cruise, and a chance to fulfill a childhood dream: As a kid, I was obsessed with Steve Lisk’s Hemi Challenger, and swore to one day cruise that famous loop in a Hemi Challenger myself. Check that one off the bucket list (much, much more on this to come).
(that’s me on the left, tanning my left arm!)
Thanks to the great folks at Dodge and Ignite Social Media for making the dream come true (and for the metric ton of memories and experiences along the way that made the past months absolutely surreal). Much more on that soon.
While in Detroit, I finally got to meet my good friend Arv (go and become a fan of his HERE) in person! I’ve had the pleasure of knowing the man for many moons, and we’d never been able to connect in person. He and his lovely family took time, and we managed to connect at the airport, as I was heading home. While it was a quick visit, it was one of those fantastic moments that I’ll always remember. He’s a supremely talented human being, and I’m humbled to be able to discuss art, design and so much more with the man.
September hit, and the year just got crazier. Sick Seconds, the 1969 Camaro I had worked on with Pro Rides/Denny Terzich, and now owned by Tom Bailey, ripped five consecutive six second, quarter-mile passes, capping the event with a 6.70 at 217.42 MPH. When I coined the name for the car some years back, it began as tongue-in-cheek… Proud to not only see it live up to the moniker, but land a spot in the record books, as well! Not too bad for a 3100 lb. car yanking a trailer 300 miles per day. 2013 was nailing shut so many open chapters for me, it was getting crazier to watch by the moment! Topped the street machine segment, and blew the doors off (literally) the on-track part of the show. Hard work was paying off!
Come Fall, things were a whirlwind, working double-time to keep up, and working on a ton of projects set to debut this coming year… and, wouldn’t you know it, SEMA was heading in fast. I was stoked, as I’d have a few marquee rides on the floor, and I’d be attending with my friends from Dodge and Ignite, so my experience would be drastically altered from years past! I saw the show in a different light, to be certain, and made some great new friends, and got to spend a little time with some of my oldest ones, as well.
Heck, I finally shook hands with my pal Max. Known the guy for years, and have had some amazing (and amazingly weird) conversations with the man, collaborated on some fun projects, and my wife and I wear rings he milled by hand.Yet, until that week, I had never shook his hand. Or been asked to be anyone’s ‘badge buddy’ before. Check another off the list:
Design-wise, I had a few items on the floor.
The Pantera hit the floor with a vengeance, and created a buzz that echoed through the week.
It was certainly a different project to have worked on, and the creativity and level of ingenuity shown by the Ring Brothers raised the bar yet again!
Got to spend a few moments with Sam, who took a break from buying some very historically significant rides, well-preserved, ultra-low-mileage Lambrecht Auction vehicles, and building some clean machines to wander Vegas and pose with my goofy mug by Nailed while at the show:
The SEMA Show wound down with the Torino grabbing the Mothers Shine Award, capping a stellar season in grand style.
Following SEMA, it was a quick blast back home, a few days hosting our pal Tim Strange, who was in town for the Goodguys Southwest Nationals, and the annual Git-Down at Dino’s, which I’m proud to have created some artwork for again:
Highlighting the Goodguys show was seeing Nailed and the GPT Special on my home turf:
…and that about wraps up 2013 here. My sincerest thanks to everyone who has been with us from day one, and to the supportive family and friends I’m blessed to be surrounded by. Without you, I certainly wouldn’t be doing what I do, or checking dreams off of my list at such a pace!
May the coming year be nothing short of incredible, healthy and happy for you and all those you care about, and who care for you. Make some time to appreciate those around you, and never, ever give up. If there’s anything this year taught me, it was that. NEVER quit. Enjoy the smallest moments, and keep marking those little things off your list. We’ll check in soon, and thanks for taking time to do likewise!
Pyramid amp? Check.
Gold-anodized valve covers? Check and check.
Acid-washed jeans? Double that check.
Mullet neatly combed? Check.
King Kobra blasting through those Jensen 6×9’s? Need you ask?
Let’s head back to 1990.
There we were, digging through boxes of memorabilia and assorted keepsakes and whatnot (read as “cleaning up the back room in the Studio again”), and the kid stumbles across a number of goodies that sparked some serious synapse activity. There’s some serious goodies in the boxes (amongst the crap I’ve tossed out, and useful stuff he’s donated), and many will hit the auction block soon… And a few will be made available to collectors, or those seeking to start a museum, finish a collection of their own, or even annoy your own wife by bringing home more stuff… whatever.
That said, check out this nifty bunch o’ stuff from the old Street Machine Nationals East days:
What’s really cool here is the all-over print Beretta tee. It’s damned-near mint (the logo on the chest is showing some age, but still, it’s unreal), and is just a killer tee in its own right. There are wrist bands, a vehicle pass from the ’89 edition, a gate ticket, and a complimentary pass, too. I kept a lot of stuff.
The tie-dye looking shirts have more wear (in sales lingo, that would be “genuine vintage” look, not some crappy filter), and are Large in size. I had, honestly, thought these were long gone.
There’s also a dash plaque from ’93 (with a matching lapel pin)…
This stuff had somehow escaped my eye for a long time, and by fate or whatever other mystical intervention, the box with these items has made it through numerous cleanings and the subsequent purging rituals of “Hell, I never even open that box… throw it out!” days. Is is destined to remain in my Studio, passed down from generation to generation, where, eventually, on an interstellar trek to a distant galaxy in some 400 years, my great, great, great, great, great, great, great (oh, you get the idea) grandchild will spill grape jelly on it, and ruin almost half of a millenia of preservation… with preserves, ironically.
Suffice to say, it sparked some heavy cruising down memory lane… These were the days when cars were built for fun, and the whole mood around the fairgrounds was one big party. Very few egos, not much in the way of “power parking”, or showing off how big of a check you could write, or whole you could dig with credit and multiple mortgages. Pro-Street was well into the wave of excess, and, oddly enough, the cleanest, simplest cars were getting more and more looks, thanks to guys like Scott Sullivan.
Kinda makes you almost eager to accept big hair, acid-washed jeans and loose cassette spools again, just for the atmosphere. Bare-bones street machining. Crank windows, avoiding potholes because drag shocks lacked certain, um, handling characteristics, the scent of racing fuel the clatter of solid lifters (just over that tick from your leaky header gaskets)… scrounging wrecking yards for an HEI distributor or that alternator bracket… The REAL good times indeed. The times that inspire slack-jawed response from today’s fairgrounds folks.
Let’s ignite that mood, shall we?
It’s some interesting history indeed, and heck, we may even package it with some era-specific listening materials (read as “cassettes”), and frame ’em for wall decor! Instant conversation pieces!
Here’s some video to get you in the mood:
…if we find some era-specific shorty-shorts and neon-colored ball caps, would it sweeten the offer?
Speaking of shorty-shorts and mullets… here’s some video my friend Kurt shot while we cruised the mighty Chevelle (see below — I mean for the car… not so much Kurt. If that were the case, we’d have a whole other series of blog posts, and this would get really confusing) around the grounds:
I’ll spare your eyes (and my self esteem) by not showing you what I looked like in those days gone by… But here’s a peek at what I was driving back then:
…and thinking I was all cool, posing the car with a trophy queen. Between this brilliant idea, my mullet, the acid washed jeans and high-top sneakers, and my neon-framed Wayfarers, well, I was a dork. I’m older now… and probably slightly wiser, as well, but the old days still bring a bit of a warm feeling (unlike what you’d get wearing shorty-shorts). Things were good then. The cars were fast, the music was loud, and all was right somehow.
Even if I was a dork.
A quick pick-me-up for the start of your week, with a bold, bad Dart…
I had gotten the call from Tommy at Musclecar TV to sketch some visuals for the pro-street Dart they were planning, and got all sorts of psyched. After all, here was a (mostly) overlooked car, being built in a style I love… Throw on some plans for a blown Hemi, and I was lost in thought. Here was a shot to work with a good friend AND throw down some Dodge muscle with a historical twist! The very stuff I live for anyway!
The starting point was a decent little 1974 Dodge Dart…
…not too shabby, considering. This was, in fact, the very sort of car my friends and I had in (and just out of) High School! A mild street machine with some hefty goals.
Tommy and I decided early-on that the car would be bold, and we’d rely on classic Rapid Transit System colors, and some form of a Hemi billboard graphic. I had suggested keeping that graphic simple, so that any enthusiast could create a striking call-out at home. After a ton of deliberation and experimentation, I arrived at a mix of retro cool and modern style (with just a little pop) that could be replicated by hand, or by use of an inexpensive vinyl mask, which could be made in any local sign shop, and provide professional-looking results at nearly all skill levels. Here’s a peek at the colors we were narrowing-down:
…and the final decision? Sublime Green, of course:
It was a blast to explore the potential of the car, and to call on the storied history of Dodge with such a fun car. After all, when you drop the name ‘Hemi’, ears perk up. When you add ‘blown’ to that word, it gets even more interesting… and when you decide to wrap it all in a bright green, pro-street Dart, well… Need I say more?
Be sure to check out the build episodes here: Big Bad Dodge, and dig the way the guys incorporated my drilled bumper idea!
Speaking of Dodge, I have a shot at winning a gig writing for Dodge on their blog! I was selected as one of five finalists, and flown to NY last month (read more about that HERE if you’d like!) to wander the New York International Auto Show with representatives from Dodge and Ignite Social Media (thanks again!), and film a walk-around with the just-debuted 2014 Dodge Durango. The competition is in the final leg, and I hope that you’ll take a moment to vote for me (Brian S.). You can do that here https://bit.ly/XUMXLO through May 7… And you can vote once per day, every day, and I truly appreciate your support in helping me to not only get a great break, but bring the passion to a HUGE audience each week, and win some great prizes, as well!
Thanks, as always, for looking in!
If you follow along on the site or Facebook, you no doubt know that last month, Brian was flown to NY as one of five finalists in the Drive the Redline Dodge contest, thanks in part to the huge response from all of our loyal friends, fans and family. This is a shot to write for the Dodge blog for six months, and the opportunity is HUGE, not only for this little venture, but for the hot rod and automotive art industries at large… With such a huge audience, this could be a great opportunity to spread some knowledge about our side of the car world, and bring some attention to the aftermarket, and the artists and builders who may never before have seen such large numbers of readers.
As part of the trek to NY (courtesy of the great folks and hosts at Dodge and Ignite Social Media!), we five finalists were filmed by a great (and understanding and patient… well, you get the deal, they were AWESOME) film crew, doing a walk-around of a new Dodge vehicle.
I was fortunate to lay hands on the all-new, 2014 Durango, which had, literally minutes before, made its world debut on the very stage this was filmed on at the Javits Center! History in the making! Very cool indeed… Yet I digress: What makes this thing so cool is that you can customize this monster in over 1000 ways before it even hits our garage! This is the perfect bridge between what we do (design custom vehicles), and the new car market. Personalization is almost unlimited from the factory, and I have to say it, there are details on the Durango which hot wheels turning for projects. You can see a video below.
Speaking of that link, this is where you, humble and valued reader, come in. I’ll need some votes to make this dream gig happen… You can vote once PER DAY, EVERY DAY through May 7. So please, vote every day, share this, and help land the Problem Child in the driver’s seat!
You can either head here: http://blog.dodge.com/drive-the-redline-dodge/, or or, if you’re on Facebook, directly to my entry: https://bit.ly/XUMXLO , or simply click the image below, and be magically whisked away, and drop a vote for Brian S., Gilbert AZ!
And the impressive field is narrowed to the eight finalists competing for the Don Ridler Memorial Award at the 61st Detroit AutoRama.
A diverse field indeed, in a most-impressive year for the show:
’57 Chevy by Hot Rod Garage:
1940 Ford by Cal Creations:
Harker’s wild coupe:
John Mayer’s 1935 Ford:
Buddy Schulz’s 1972 Chevy:
Ken Seresun’s ’34:
Mark Willman’s ’56 Special:
The Greening Corvette:
More info and coverage on our site: Great 8 Finalists at the 2013 Detroit AutoRama
Our man on the scene is busy getting up-close and personal with the cars as they hit the show floor, and we’re updating our coverage on the website as he sends in the pictures, so stay tuned to see more of what looks to be a very strong year.
A lot of the cars we’ve seen so far appear to have a great shot at the Don Ridler Memorial Award, or at least nailing a spot in the coveted Great 8.
Much more coverage to come on our site… stay tuned!