08th Jan2015

The Man, The Myth, The Beard: Rutledge Wood

by Michael Chandler

 

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Photo Credit: Matthew McDermott, History Channel

 

He’s big, he wears plaid/flannel shirts, has an impressive collection of cars, and has a melon the size of Europa.  He is Rutledge Wood, and he is one of the hosts of Top Gear in America.  Rut is one of us: he likes/owns weird cars, builds many cool projects, is a motorsports fan, and is willing to sit down and chat with fellow gear heads.  We caught up with him at SEMA last year to get a quick interview.  Unfortunately, my phone (which I was using to record the interview) died before I could get my first question out.  BUT I did take notes!

Rutledge came upon the opportunity to co-host Top Gear while he was working as a correspondent on NASCAR Race Day on SPEED.  He’s a NASCAR fan, but his first race was in 2005.  I asked him what his favorite NASCAR tracks were, past and present.  His answers? Riverside for the classic, but the modern tracks were a toss up between Atlanta Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway.  His favorite NASCAR moment wasn’t a race, but it was going down the hill at Bristol in the snow!  Remember folks, it’s the little things.  Speaking of little things…

Rutledge Wood at SEMA 2014

Rutledge, talking about The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Photo credit Michael Chandler, CAMautoMag.com

 

His least favorite Top Gear challenge involved many little things.  It was the nightmare fuel challenge that was the rat helmet.  *shudder* On an infinitely lighter note, his favorite challenge vehicle was the big single turbo, 2JZ powered Scion xB, which he bought because who wouldn’t want that in their garage?  He also bought the school bus snow plow doom bringer from the Snow Show episode.  Again, who wouldn’t want that??  I asked him for any bits of information about the upcoming season and he wanted to tell me everything, the look was there in his face, but he said that there was too much good stuff coming down the pipe.

And finally I asked about the bearded man behind the bearded man on TV.  In the first season he came clean about his love for Hondas.  I asked if he was still a Honda guy, and he is.  He’s also a VW guy, and a Chevy guy, and a MOPAR guy.  He’s a car guy.  A car guy who’s gone through 75 cars like a boss.  Ok, with that knowledge in hand I asked him what his favorite car is and what mode of transportation was his favorite outside of the car.  Favorite car is a resto-mod ’57 Bel-Air, a total cruiser.  And his favorite mode of transportation is the car.  The plane is convenient, but nothing beats the car.  And finally, if he’s running out the door and has to grab something to sustain himself it’s going to be a protein bar with a cup of coffee or some juice.

Ladies and gentlemen, he is a mythic creature.  A loathsome offensive brute, yet impossible not to look at.  He’s just like us: he works hard, works on awesome cars, and goes home to his family every night.  The only difference is he’s worked as a NASCAR correspondent and now he’s hosting Top Gear.

Words by Michael Chandler, photos as credited
*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
12th Feb2014

Bad Luck Brendon

by Michael Chandler

Lap Battle HPDE3-1

Hitting every light on the way to work and showing up half an hour late. Parking seventeen miles away from the mall entrance, and coming out to see that not only has someone parked next to you BUT they have completely ignored the lines and are millimeters from your car’s door. Running out of gas. All of these are considered bouts of “bad luck”. Brendon Stewart laughs at your bad luck. Why does he laugh at your pain? Because while you were sitting in traffic he was in his garage replacing his second transfer case pinion gear. While you were contemplating teaching that fellow a lesson, he was missing ANOTHER race weekend because his Evo decided to not want to work. What was he doing while you were trudging to the gas station, readying your body for the gouging you were about to receive? Well, let’s just say it was worse than that…

Despite all of the problems, Brendon is hopeful for the 2014 season. He sat down with me to talk about last year’s problems and this years plans.

NASA June 22 HPDE ST Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-82

What happened last season?

In general what happened?

Yeah, in general what happened.

Oh man, last season was tough. I had a lot of really unfortunate situations with mechanical failures in the car. Just seemed like every single time I went out I didn’t ever have a very successful day, until the very last race of the year; so I was always working the car and everything was always not right.

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The most spectacular failure that we all saw was the fire. What happened there?

Umm, that was incredibly unfortunate because that was a brand new engine. So my stock engine spun a rod bearing after 5000 race miles, which is not really that unusual. It was probably time for a refresh, but because it happened I ended up building an engine. Thought I’d spend the money and make it nice, not cut any corners, and it ran really, really well. It was a really good engine, first day.

It was too good to be true

Second day unfortunately, just kinda down the main straight it spun another bearing and started knocking. And I just tried to limp it around to get back to the pits, and it didn’t even make it another half a lap. It seized, shot a rod through the block and everything caught fire, and that’s that.

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So you said that was a new motor, but was that the original transmission? Did you have to replace that?

I believe that was the original transmission, which has been rebuilt a few times. New synchros, maintenance stuff. There’s never been any catastrophic transmission failure, which is good… yet.

Yet *knocks on wood*

But I have blown through two transfer case pinion gears, two engines in this car now. Umm… I think that’s the extent of the really big problems.

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The really big ones that have sidelined you. Was this your first year doing door to door or your second?

First year doing door to door. I was just working on doing all my individual rookie races done so I could get my full competition license. Unfortunately I was only able to complete two full race days, which actually count, so I still need to work on that. Gonna be an interesting 2014.

Did you have to change anything going from TT (time trail) to ST (door to door)?

Umm yeah, the biggest changes were safety items in the car so I really didn’t have to change a lot of, really anything for rules other than safety cause the power to weight ratio rules and stuff like that were all the same.

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So nothing mechanical wise, just safety stuff.

Exactly. I had to get an updated harness, I had to add either a new seat or a seat brace and I added a seat brace. Window net, fire suppression system. I had to change my roll cage a little bit cause it was uncompliant. But other than that…

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The car is for sale, and all I heard was that you want something V8 and rwd for your next platform. But the car hasn’t sold…

The car has not sold, but I do have an interested person potentially … So we’ll see what happens with that, but if it doesn’t go through then I’ll continue to just race this car through next year. Hopefully work on making it more reliable, and be able to finish developing the car because I still don’t feel that I’ve been able to reach its full potential in its current state.

What were you going to be getting? If the Evo sold you’d be getting…

If the Evo sells, or sold, it’d be an S13 240 chassis with an LS1 V8. Pretty basic, reliable.

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I don’t want this to happen, but I gotta ask: if last season’s events start to repeat (this year) will you just hang it up or will you keep trying to get out there?

I don’t know. That’s a really tough question honestly, because it’s been really difficult to keep going and I have so much passion for this sport that I really want to keep going. But at some point. I don’t know, something needs to change for me to keep being able to do it. If I keep having bad luck, or if there’s a really big problem then it’s going to be tough.

Lap Battle-1

Hopefully you can get back out there! And I noticed something. When the car was orange you had the sock monkey hanging from the riser on the spoiler, and everything was kick ass. Then the next year you didn’t (have the sock monkey) and everything went wrong.

It’s true.

Can you have the sock monkey on the spoiler? Or…

Umm… I’m not sure because I got a lot of grief when it was on the spoiler previously, but they let it slide cause it was actually sewn on and they were afraid it was going to fall off and cause debris. But that was also before we moved into the NASA rule set, so they’re a lot more strict now. But maybe I can put it inside the car now.

Kinda like Mumphrey, with Ryan Gates and his Evo.

One extra horsepower!

 

Words by Michael Chandler.  Photos by Michael Chandler, Trent Bray and Michael Wells.

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.
06th Jan2014

Because Van: Bisimoto Honda Odyssey

by Michael Chandler

SEMA 2013 CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (64 of 160)

 

“Anyone who follows me knows I’m a bit of a contrarian,” This is what Bisi Ezerihora said to me when I asked him why he built a 1029 horsepower Honda Odyssey. “Typical is boring, atypical is very exciting.”

Indeed it is Bisi, indeed it is.

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The van has a full interior, so he can hustle his family (our man became a father not too long ago) around very quickly and comfortably. It sits on a massive set of fifteen52 Tarmac R40s, shod in Toyo rubber. All that meat neatly tucks under the wheel arches via a custom AirRide set up.

SEMA 2013 CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (68 of 160)

It looks cool, but you’re still stuck on that four figure horsepower number. How did he do it? Well, necessity is the mother of invention. Back in the day Bisi created the market for single cam F-Series Honda parts. “If you remember years ago there was nothing available for the F22 Accord. We created everything, and now there are a plethora of parts.” Being that lone explorer to venture out into the unknown is nothing new to Bisi and the crew at Bisimoto.

“One thing that Bisimoto Engineering does that really sets us apart from everyone else is that we’re creative, okay? When we have a project like this it allows us to create awareness and create products.” Custom non-VTEC camshafts, pistons, intercooler, fuel system, engine management, and manifolds were created for this project, and will soon be available in the store on Bisimoto.com.

SEMA 2013 CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (69 of 160)

“We’re creating opportunity,” he said to close out our little impromptu interview. Between this, the products and services he offers for other Honda platforms, and the always entertaining projects he does with Hyundai Bisimoto Engineering and Bisi himself will be creating opportunities for many years to come!

Words and Photos by Michael Chandler

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.
25th Oct2013

A Racing Tribute

by Michael Chandler

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At NASA Utah Round 6, Jason Smith qualified and raced in the late Roger Miller’s SCCA World Challenge BOSS Mustang 302S.  It was a fitting tribute for Jason, who without the help of Roger and a few others wouldn’t have the career he has, to race his friend’s car one last time.

I emailed the busy man with a few questions, and after a twenty hour day that included prepping the Discount Tire/Innovative Garage FR500S Mustang for the season ending endurance race (October 26 at Miller Motorsports Park), he got back to me.

CAM: How did the opportunity to drive Roger’s car come about?  Did you put the idea out there, or did someone approach you with it?

Jason Smith: Cheri (Roger’s wife) and I have had been talking about the possibility of me driving Roger’s World Challenge car for a couple weeks before the race. She wanted to make sure it was acceptable to the rest of the family. After getting the go ahead from them, Cheri called the Wednesday before the NASA race. As I sat there on the phone in the shop listening to her on the phone, give me permission to race her late husbands race car, my eyes teared up. Such a HUGE honor for me. I was beyond stoked for this.

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CAM: What was going through your head when you were in the car, waiting to go out for your sessions?  Were you nervous at all, or did you treat it as you would any other day?

JS: I didn’t want to put to much wear on the car, so I only went out to qualify and for the race itself. I sat there waiting to go out for qualifying, which was pretty much business as usual. Being an instructor in the Ford Racing School I am lucky enough to be on track 2-3 times a week in a mustang. So no big deal. I went out and and turned a few laps, felt out the setup and came back in to the garage. Qualified P5 overall and like 3rd in class.

I don’t think it hit me until I was gridding up for the race. Cheri, Richard and Harly (two of Rogers children) came up and started taking pictures. Cheri stuck her head in the car and said. “I’m proud of you and Roger would be too.” Again my eyes teared up and the weight of driving (more importantly, not wrecking) Roger’s pro car, fell on me. I thought to myself over and over “DON’T SCREW UP!!” I was nervous as we followed the pace car out on track. I was nervous as I warmed the tires on our parade lap. I was nervous as we started to grid up for the rolling start. I was nervous UNTIL……I watched the green flag wave and every gnarly v8 surrounding me roar simultaneously. Adrenaline, confidence and instinct took over. Nervousness was gone.

CAM: You had a good battle with Bob, you ended up in P1 in class and took home racer of the day/hard charger/racer of the world.  You’re no stranger to winning or battling people on track, but did it feel different doing it in that car?

JS: YES! Very different. I’ve had winning races, losing races and races where I just should have stayed home. As soon as the green flag dropped, things just went good. At the exit of turn 1, I had picked up 3 spots and went to P2 overall. I had gotten a decent start and passed a car in the breaking zone of turn 1, another by the apex and was side by side with Bob Evans in his Nascar Cup Car from apex off. Seemed about 8 laps of insane battle with Bob before he finally bested me as we caught lap traffic. I did everything I could to keep him behind me, without putting Rogers car at risk. We had a close, CLEAN battle. Such awesome racing, I was happy to be involved in the entire experience. And the fact that it all happened in Rogers car, with his family watching, made the entire experience that much more gangster.

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CAM: Roger meant a lot to those of us involved with NASA.  What was your relationship like with him?

JS: I considered him a great friend. I would call him for advice on business, computer stuff and racing. He would call me and ask my thoughts on his personal race car, NASA and different race teams he was working with. He took interest in my career, helped out where he could. Roger, along with a few other key managers at Miller Motorsports Park, are the reason I’m able to work in this industry. It’s rare to meet a guy as busy as he was, that would still take the time to talk to you. With everything that dude had going on he was ALWAYS willing to lend a hand. Iv’e always admired that about him and tried to pattern myself the same way.

The whole weekend meant so much to me. I want to thank Cheri, the Miller family and the MMP staff for everything they have done for me so far. I greatly appreciate their support and allowing me to be a part of such a rad facility.

Miss you sir.

 

Words and photos by Michael Chandler.
*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.
29th Sep2012

Shop Feature: Nip N Tuck Performance(revisited)

by Trent

Recently (ish) we went back to Nip N Tuck Performance to catch up with Dustin and Mitch and present them with a challenge.  My brother’s car had a whole host of things wrong, and they said they’d fix them.  These things included:

  • Two broken motor mounts
  • Bad wheel bearing
  • bad valve cover gasket
  • bad serpentine belt
  • terrible seats (but they couldn’t do anything about these.  I just felt like expressing my disdain for them)
And they fixed them…  In an hour and seventeen minutes!  Thus proving that they’re not just a performance shop.
After that Trent and I got to working on this here little feature.  The shop has changed quite a bit since the last time we brought you a feature on it.  Counters went in and were wrapped in a carbon fiber wrap.  Product was carefully placed in the display cases, and then around the shop because they carry a lot of stuff.
The outside has been painted gray and yellow, and they got themselves a big Duramax Silverado which hangs out in front of the shop.  You can’t really miss the building, nor can you miss the big diesel pickup with Nip N Tuck stickers, carbon fiber trim and “NIPNTUK” license plates.
In the shop itself were some serious projects: the 700AWHP Evo we showed you, a blue SRT4 with a massive rotated mount turbo kit and a fuel system where the trunk used to be, and a 4AGE swapped Toyota Corona.
So to sum up: Nip N Tuck is different because the building has been painted and the show room has been given counters; however, it’s the same because they can build you a serious car while fixing all the problems on your mom’s Camry.

 

Words and photos by Michael Chandler, Video by Trent Bray

*Article, photos and video are copyright of CAMautoMag.com and their respective owners. Images and words may not be re-posted, re-distributed, modified or copied without expressed written consent from CAMautoMag.com

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07th Apr2011

Interview: Nip N Tuck Performance

by Trent

CAM Nip N Tuck LogoNip N Tuck Performance is a small shop in Orem, UT. They offer a lot of services: custom wiring harnesses, wire tucks, full track car harnesses, automotive electrical diagnosing and repair, general auto mechanics and diagnosing including, tune-ups, timing belts, clutches, engine repair, head gaskets, front-end and suspension repair or installation, performance part installation, minor upholstery repair and upholstery kit installing (meaning if you buy a pre-made kit from online or the dealer they can install it), engine swaps, transmission swaps, and repair. Or if you’re like me, they’ll make your car drive-able again.

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