06th Feb2015

Meet Your Heroes

by Michael Chandler


Someone, somewhere once said to never meet your heroes.  They said never meet your heroes because they can never live up to the ideal you’ve built for them in your mind.  I take issue with this.  I had two posters on my wall as a kid: a Lamborghini Countach and Michael Jordan.  From everything I’ve seen and heard, MJ is a hyper-competitive guy who has taken to posterizing old guys at his basketball fantasy camps.  The Countach is impossible to drive, you can’t see out of it, reversing it requires a spotter and someone to stop traffic, and the “creature comforts” leave something to be desired.


One year when I was a kid two things happened: I saw Michael Jordan play and I saw a Countach in person.  The events weren’t related; however, if I saw MJ driving a Countach down my street my little head would’ve exploded.  Why am I telling this rambling story?  Because I met one of my heroes, the Lambo, and it didn’t change how I thought or think about it.  It’s still one of my favorite cars, flaws be damned.  My feelings would probably change if I drove it, but that would be getting to know it and not just meeting it.


The other morning I went to Cars & Coffee because I wanted to shoot photos and clear my head.  At the far end of the parking lot there was this pair of Diablos: a 1997.5 Roadster and a 2000 VT.  These were the stars of the meet, people were coming up and taking photos of and with them, Chad (owner of the green machine) was revving the motor for the children and was answering pretty much every question about the big Italians.  For some of these people, these were/are their hero cars.  And they were loving them.


Did the dog leg gear box let them down?  No.  Did the tall instrument cluster and low seating position kill the image of their hero?  Not a chance.  These people got to walk up to their hero, say hi, take some pictures and gawk at them.  None of their flaws shown through.  Were the fans aware of these “issues”? Yeah, anyone who has read ANYTHING about them knows the problems, but that doesn’t matter.  Seeing the car you had all over your wall as a kid in the flesh makes you completely ignore all of those issues.  You go back to being an excitable little kid.  It’s great.



When I was in high school I wanted two cars: an Evo (to spite Trent who had just picked up a brand new STi.  I was and am a very petty person) and a Mopar of any sort.  Challenger, Charger, Dart, didn’t matter.  I just wanted one.


When I was pulling in to park, I spotted this Challenger T/A.  I parked as close to it as I could (without parking among the cars who were there to be seen) and instantly noticed a Ford F-350 that had all of its utility modified out of it parked next to the Challenger.  The hulking mass of the diesel cast a massive shadow over the car, making a proper photos showcasing the color and graphics on the T/A almost impossible.


Then, suddenly, the Ford grumbled to life and slowly rolled out of the parking lot.  The driver’s side of the Challenger was awash in sunlight, and was being approached by the owner and a giddy passenger.  I snapped off a few frames, and then…


The owner fired it up, and let the 340 roar.  His passenger was grinning ear to ear as the mechanical noise of the trio of carburetors fed fuel and air into the motor.  I was giddy too.  This wasn’t the first time I had seen a nice Challenger, but it was nice running into one that was fanning the flames of enthusiasm in a young fan.


The posters may have come down long ago, but the kid who put them up is still alive in all of us. Weekly meets like Cars & Coffee give us opportunities to be wide eyed, excitable kids.  Wake up early on Saturday, go meet your heroes.

Bonus gallery!:

Words and Photos by Michael Chandler
*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.



09th Jan2015

Living The Dream

by Michael Chandler

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How do you measure success?  Are you successful if you have millions of dollars, property across the globe, dozens of cars, a few boats and access to a private plane?  Is it having a family, working a 9-5, 3 kids, a dog and a modest house?  Is it finishing that dream build you’ve been wanting to do since you were old enough to know whats what?  What if it’s none of those, but a combination of them?  People say that I’m living the dream because I cover races, take pictures of cars, and occasionally travel to do so.  I don’t say that I am.  If anyone I know is living the dream, it’s Jason Smith.  His job is to teach people how to drive fast in the desert, and race across it himself.  He has his drift project BMW and daily drives a very nice Ford Raptor.  He has a nice house in the suburbs of Las Vegas, where he lives with his lovely wife, three awesome children and two dogs.  That’s the dream, but it hasn’t always been.

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I first met Jason way back in 2010, right after CAM was founded.  I was going to cover the NASA Nationals, specifically the Honda Challenge races because the only locals I knew were running in that.  And I barely knew them.  I was going to interview the three of them, but before meeting face to face I sent them some basic questions.  I figured we would chat when we met and I would have more.  Jason was the only one to respond to the email questions.  At the interview he told me he wouldn’t be running in Honda Challenge, nor would he be there most of the weekend because of his job at Discount Tire.  But he had set up the other two cars for success (which was undone by an out of town “expert”).  That told me he was a good dude, and he would only cement that the longer we knew each other.

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We would run into each other at the track, we added each other on Facebook, and one day I had a problem.  The tires on my Subaru were toast.  I needed new ones, but I didn’t really want to deal with the local tire dealers.  Then Jason piped up.  He said that if I bought a set online that he would mount them for me.  All I would have to do is drive to his shop, Innovative Garage, in Orem.  So I did just that.  I was ready to pay him for his services, but he said it was all good.  He owed me for the Honda Challenge coverage.  After that we kept in touch on Facebook and such, seeing each other at meets and the track.  Then he moved his shop to my neck of the woods, and then something else happened.

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Our boy got a job at Miller Motorsports Park, working on the Mustangs, taking people out in said Mustangs and being a driver/instructor for their Raptor Assault program.  Our baby boy was growing up!  Innovative was still kicking, and they were doing a lot of suspension set up for local racers.  They were also dabbling in the local drift scene.  Before long Innovative was the title sponsor, and Jason (along with some of the local drifters) was the driving force behind Salt City Drift.

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From tire tech to a driving instructor by day and champion of the local drift scene by night, He had come a mighty long way.  Through him drifting had a better foothold at Miller, and some locals had sponsors for their pro-am endeavors.  It had looked like Jason had set down roots, and wouldn’t be leaving Utah.  How could he?  It’s not like an even better opportunity would come along…

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As fate would have it, a better opportunity did come about.  The Vegas Off Road Experience offered him a position where he’d be doing a lot of the same things: instructing, working on the vehicles, and racing said vehicles.  Not just little things, but full on desert races: Vegas To Reno and the Mint 400.  He also go to do stuff at SEMA, like drift and jump one of the VORE Raptors and hob knob with industry execs.  If that isn’t top 5 dream job, then I don’t know what is.

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I consider Jason a true friend, a guy who if he needs something I’ll go out of my way to help.  And he’s done the same for me and CAM.  When we needed a place to stay for SEMA last year he opened his house to Joey and I.  He hooked me up with parts for Rhonda, and I’ve shot some products for Innovative and Miller when he was there.

When people ask me what living the dream is I point to my friend Jason and say “that”.  He’s doing what he loves, providing for his family by doing so, and raising a trio of awesome kids.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Words and photos by Michael Chandler
*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.


31st Dec2014

2014: The Highest of Highlights

by Michael Chandler

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It’s been quite a year! We had our usual SEMA trip, covered some interesting races, and even did a little bit of traveling for some grass roots drifting.  I braved a storm in Brandon Wicknick’s trailer, and got a ride in his pro level drift car.  I chatted with celebrities, and got to see a friend making a living doing arguably the coolest job in the world.  I think we had a fun filled year, but for me the highlight was covering the Pirelli World Challenge.

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Sports car racing is something I’ve always been a huge fan of, especially GT racing.  Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring are some of my bucket list events.  I missed out on the ALMS stops when they came through Miller, so I always thought I would have to travel to see some big league GT racing.  Then I saw Miller Motorsports Park’s event list.  At the Utah Grand Prix, along side the Porsches and Stock Cars, would be the Pirelli World Challenge.  I instantly applied for credentials, and then was told I needed to apply closer to the event, instead of four months early.  So I waited.  And waited.  And waited.

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I applied a month before the event, and was approved.  I was very excited, and nervous.  This wasn’t a NASA event, this was one of the biggest road racing series in America! With international manufacturers! And television coverage!  Years ago I got to shoot a Mountain West Conference men’s basketball game at the University of Utah.  That was big, because even mediocre college basketball is bigger than road racing is in this country.  The World Challenge was bigger to me, because I cared more about it than I did that basketball game.  I also had to attend mandatory media meetings for the race weekend.

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It was here that I finally met one Chance Hales, whose work I had been seeing for a little while, East Coast shooter Shawn Pierce and Gavin Pouquette.  It was awesome to meet up with new people who share the same passion.  The four of us had a good time.  At least I did.  We talked about racing, race tracks, and cars in general.  It was one of the best weekend I’ve ever had at Miller. It was also interesting in that I got to see how serious the regular shooters of the series were.

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One of the cars stalled at the start of the GT class race, causing a a multi-car incident that took a long time to clean up.  I took this opportunity to lighten the situation, which did not go over well.  Death glares from the regulars.  Apparently everyone wanted to keep it deathly serious, except for me.  I thought it was funny, and I was having the time of my life.

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And there you have it, that was my highlight from 2014.  I am truly blessed to say that this is my job, that I take pictures of cars and write some words about them.  I look forward to bringing you more pictures and words about racing cars, show cars, every day cars and whatever else kind of cars we come across in 2015.

Words and photos by Michael Chandler
*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
04th Aug2014


by Michael Chandler

There once was a time where you would see an advertisement for a vehicle, and that ad would tell you about the vehicle.  Now we have a three minute music video about a minivan (which is a rehash of a four year old video they did… FOR THE SAME VAN!) and YouTube channels filled with videos that are just commercials that didn’t make the cut.  I understand advertising is a tricky business, but do we really need these ridiculous productions for, to be honest, rather mundane products?  I don’t think so.

Here’s a commercial for a Honda Odyssey.  It’s a short spot, but it shows off the van.  It’s ridiculous, but not three minutes of ridiculous and it doesn’t have a past-his-prime Busta Rhymes in it.  No swag, no sixteen bars, just thirty seconds of “Here’s a van, and some ridiculousness, but mostly a van.”

“But Michael,” you’re saying “the swagger wagon commercial is funny!” Sure, it is.  That’s your opinion, and you can run with it all you like; however, I disagree with your opinion.  I don’t think it’s funny.  I can see that it can be, but not for me.  Here’s a funnier series of commercials:

It’s funny because we’ve all wanted to do that to some peoples’ cars, and it works as an ad because it’s saying “The Mark 5 GTi is better than your homemade whatever”.  It has a message other than “swagger wagon” and “we’re suburban parents who fall asleep at 10:30pm.”  Volkswagen has some of the best ads, hands down.  They’re entertaining, and they make a point without beating you over the head with a shtick or talking down to you.

Kia, in addition to building cars that aren’t terrible, are making some good commercials as well.  Entertaining, and just informative enough to make you look at an Optima. or a K900, or Adriana Lima…

The American manufacturers have had some solid spots as well…

And also some odd ones…

And ones where they don’t seem like they’re trying.

I understand that commercials for everything have to hit certain criteria, which is different for everyone making the ads and for everything being advertised.  I’m not demanding that all new vehicle commercials from here on out be thirty seconds of entertainment bliss, or that we outlaw Dennis Leary from yelling over another Ford truck commercial.  I’m not even asking Toyota abandon the whole “swagger wagon” thing (although I think they might want to think about it); no, I’m pointing out that that video is ridiculous.  It doesn’t push the van, doesn’t make it cooler or more appealing.  Are you afraid buying a minivan will make you less cool to your kids, who will for a long time think that you aren’t and never were and never will be cool? Don’t buy the one that refers to itself as a “swagger wagon”, that will only exacerbate the situation.  If you desperately need to buy something that can haul people AND things, then buy something that society has agreed is cool.

Words by Michael Chandler

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.
01st Aug2013

The CAM Journal: Would you electric?

by Trent

I have been given a lot of grief lately. Actually, hate. Hate is a strong word, right? It’s suitable here. Many people consider themselves car people only if they live and breathe race fuel. Obviously that’s not the case as you can be into cars and only be into the aesthetic aspect. Here at CAMautoMag, we tend to focus on the racing aspect of cars and so many were shocked to find out that I had traded in my petrol-powered vehicle for…a Nissan LEAF.

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You heard me right, a full-electric car. I work from home and my wife stays home with our daughter, for short jaunts around town, this car is perfect for us. So have I jumped off the deep end, I don’t think so. The car is torquey and up to 30-40mph, it feels pretty quick. Sure the steering is numb, but you don’t need an electric car to get that. I still own a V10 Dodge Viper and a turbocharged Honda S2000, and now a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, so I still love cars, but I wanted to try something different.



In spire of the hate, this car has a legitimate racing pedigree. It won it’s class at Pike Peak in 2011. Nissan developed a full-on race car based on the LEAF to showcase what could be done with it. Nismo even developed a special edition model that is soon to be released that decreases drag and weight on the car. They are dedicating the time now, because there will be a day when electric cars are more prevalent. I’m not saying it’s the solution by any means, but we are trending that way in the short-term.

Can I still have fun with this car over the next 2 years? Well I already have wheels for it, so that’s a start. This car requires a different mindset than a traditional car, and it’s not for everyone, but I think there is great potential in the future for an electric or hybrid performance vehicle. Mitsubishi has toyed with the idea for the next Evolution, Ferrari and McLaren are all-in on hybrid systems in their new supercars, so why is it that I take for all intensive purposes, a Nissan Versa with some batteries, and get hate? I feel that people don’t understand its purpose, but here I am, I’ve jumped in, I’ll let you know if the water is fine over the next year or two.

Words by Trent Bray

18th May2013

CAM Goes To COTA: Day 1

by Michael Chandler

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It’s the inaugural Austin 400 V8 Supercars race, and as a group Trent, Cherp, James and myself decided to chip in and come down.  We’re going to be down here until Monday, and at the track today and tomorrow.  We flew in yesterday and went straight to the track.  Here’s a brief run down of events preceding and during our trip to Circuit of the Americas here in Austin.


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Cherp flew in to Salt Lake from Seattle.  He did some prodigious foursquare-ing, and proceeded to creep on us at the terminal in Salt Lake until we found him.  Him, Jamie and myself grabbed some coffee before boarding.  Unfortunately we were separated during the flight, and they got a window on their aisle.  Cherp and I were left to entertain ourselves…


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Naturally, when we deplaned, we were greeted by a bar.


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It was then time to procure the rental mobile.  We were getting a Focus, or something “similar”.


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The idea of the Focus gave Jamie a stroke… Or something…


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…while Cherp seemed just delighted by the prospect of the Focus.


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Similar?  YOU BET!  Similar price?  the BMW was $50 more PER DAY.  So we opted for the Focus, which we have claimed as our own.  And then we were off!


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She’s a sight to behold.


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You know who was excited to get in?  JAMIE!


We were greeted with raucous backfire from the Aussies and Kiwis during the practice session we watched.  We were then treated to a practice session from one of the support series: IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup, where we noticed some familiar cars from Miller Motorsports Park.

We’ll be back out there today, and tomorrow.  Follow the lot of us on Instagram and Twitter for more photos and shenanigans: @camautomag @cherp92lx @dubbindahl and @mchandphoto

Words and photos by Michael Chandler
*Article and Photos 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.
31st Dec2012

2012 going on 2013

by Trent

HNYThis year has been full of highs and lows. We’ve traveled, we’ve changed things up, added new crew members, lost one important one, and we keep striving through it all.

This year was the most I’ve ever traveled for work before. This site, believe it or not, doesn’t pay the bills. So all of our trips mostly came out of my pocket(thanks to those who chipped in). It was all worth it though, we got to meet some great people, many who are now friends, see/shoot/film some amazing cars, and generally live the dream. Between all the car sites I manage CAMautoMag was the first and holds dear to my heart even though sometimes the other sites get more attention.

This next year we will focus more on racing and hardcore motorsports to further refine what the site is about and keep our core audience happy. We always have [func-shun] for those interested in show cars and the scene surrounding it. Of course we’ll be camping out at the race track in the CAMotorhome this summer to ensure you get more racing coverage and features of those pure-bred track cars.

This year we lost our own, Johnny Northrop, and I often think about texting him or seeing a car he’d love and sending him a picture. He will be missed, and he didn’t want anyone to know he was suffering, he was always putting on a happy face, so we will do the same this next year.

More effort has been put into our Facebook page this year and it is the best place to stay up to date with us. We also maintain our Twitter and Foursquare and occasionally our Pinterest. We’re really everywhere you are. Follow along as we continue this journey.

-Trent Bray

20th Nov2012

European Invasion: GT3 comes to America!

by Michael Chandler

Hooray for the six of us who enjoy World Challenge!: Jalopnik broke the news that the glorious GT3 spec race cars of Europe will be racing in the SCCA Pirelli World Challenge. What does this mean? Which cars are GT3s? Who has the edge: the WC GT cars or the GT3s? Let’s start by introducing our new guests’ family.

Photo credit: Getty Images

GT3 started out as a production based Pro-Am series, fielded by privateers in customer cars. GT1 (C6.R, DBR9s) and GT2 (911 GT3 RSR, M3 GTs) reigned above GT3 for several years, until some things happened. Notably GT1 breathing its last breath. Now GT3 has sub classes for pro-pro and pro-am drivers, and is raced all over the world in various series: British GT, SUPER GT GT 300, Grand Am GT and some others.

Now that that’s covered, let’s talk about what kind of cars you’ll see in addition to the usual World Challenge GT fare.

(There are four classes in World Challenge, but we’re going to focus on the GT class because it’s the top tier class and is probably where the GT3 cars will land)

Photo credit: Mark Weber

The GT field has some serious metal: Cadillac CTS-V.Rs, 911 GT3 Cups, Audi R8s and… Volvo S60’s? Before you scoff at the Swedes just know they finished second in the manufacturer’s points behind Cadillac and ahead of Nissan, Corvette AND Porsche! It’s a stacked, and rather diverse field, but it’s not as deep as the GT3 field: 10 different models for WC GT compared to 13 for GT3. And whereas the WC GT field features (dare I say) pedestrian fare, the GT3 field has more exotics. 458s, Gallardos, even Ford GTs are still legal and McLaren announced the MP4-12C GT3 recently. Almost seems unfair…

Where will they fit in? Who knows. As it stands we just know the GT3 cars are coming and the World Challenge cars will be legal in other series across the world. What may happen is they new cars will push the current cars out like they did in GT 300, which would be sad because the current cars are pretty cool. Or they may create a new class for them, or they might just all get along. Either way, we’re gonna see some awesome match ups.

photo credit: hkedwardtong on flickr

Lets take a look at the top two GT cars against the top two GT3 cars we end up with CTS-V.R vs. SLS AMG and S60 vs. 458. One is far more interesting than the other: the one with the Volvo. Why? Because the S60s have beat out 430GTs, R8s and 911s, so out gunning a 458 isn’t too far fetched.

We’ll also get to see how Cadillac stands up to international competition, and then there will be McLarens against Lamborghinis and Aston Matrins. It’ll be like Forza or Gran Turismo or the SPEED channel, except in person and with other races! This is a golden age my friends.

Now if only we can get the Trans Am series going again…

Words by Michael Chandler, photos as credited.  Special thanks to Fred Smith, aka @porsche914yr74 on twitter and on Jalopnik for his article where I got the information about GT3

*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

12th Sep2012

Inside Dave’s Unit

by Michael Chandler

Before Trent, Tommy and Dave abandoned me left for their SF trip, Dave and I went up to his storage unit to grab some stuff that he had sold/is selling.  Now, we’ve known Dave for many years but this provided a look into…  Well, we already knew this but here’s a chance for you to get a little glimpse into what is going on in Dave’s unit, nay head…  STORAGE UNIT!!!  MIND!!!  Stupid double entendres…

He has three cars in there in various states of togetherness.  A SN95 Mustang Cobra (theft recovery), a Mitsubishi Starion TSi (on its second head gasket) and his FC RX7 convertible (no engine, but no drive shaft either).  The Starion is the closest thing to a drivable car in there, which makes sense considering it was the last thing put in there.

He also has remnants of projects past in there, such as the “Ghetto Bastard” CRX which sported an exhaust off of an EF Civic sedan.  

Dave has a lot of goofy, weird stuff in his garage, which makes sense because Dave (like the rest of us) is a goofy, weird guy.  We’re proud to have Dave on board, and we’re rather excited to see what he pulls out of his head/unit next.  STORAGE UNIT!  Son of a!…

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

 *Article, Video, and Photos 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
08th Sep2012

A Day in the Life

by Trent

It’s been busy here at CAMautoMag, even if the site doesn’t seem to reflect that. We’re busy with a canyon cruise coming up and working on new ideas for the site. Yesterday I decided I needed to show what our day was like.

I got working about 9am uploading and spreading the word about by latest [func-shun] video. But the day really started off about 11am when Mike(he gets a late start) needed to take his brother’s ailing Nissan Altima down to Nip N’ Tuck Performance. This was convenient since Dustin made some changes to the shop and wanted us to come down and see what was new. I wisely made the decision to bring my least reliable vehicle(the Viper) to play support vehicle.

The showroom was looking nice and we documented the changes, enjoyed some of Dustin’s wife’s chocolate chip cookies with double stuff Oreo’s inside(hint to any other shops wanting features, MOAR cookies!), and challenged the crew to finish the laundry list of problems on Mike’s brother’s car in 1 hour. At this point we were joined by Dave who literally lives a stone’s throw from Nip N’ Tuck and Tommy dropped by during his “lunch break”.


In just one hour and 17 minutes, the job was complete! During this time Dave and I decided to switch cars to something less brutal(the CC). Upon our return, we broke out the video cameras for a healthy combination of magic and awkwardness. By the time that was done, we had to head to pick up some food and get to a previously scheduled shoot.

And what a shoot it was! Expect it next week. The Nissan Juke that wanted to pass, backed off after these flames were spitting game. We’d planned to hit the late night drag races at the track and had an hour or so to kill after the shoot, so we did what car guys do and headed to my house to play Forza 4. We met Tommy back out at the track along with some more car friends and managed to clear out an entire section of the track with our loud, obnoxious banter, but we had to support a couple local Evo’s that are easily 10-second cars, but fear of breaking parts lead to 12.1 and 12.0 second runs.

After the races, we hit up everyone’s favorite late night eatery, Denny’s where, like men, we enjoyed hot chocolate and breakfast fare.

We rolled out and went our separate ways from there, but we all got home about 3:30-4am after starting at 11:30am. More days like this need to happen. And now, some parting shots of the crew.


Shot, edited, and posted from my iPhone, while holding my 1-month old daughter in my arms. Please excuse formatting mistakes.
-Trent Bray, All rights reserved.