Looks like we’ll be out at the last MORE race of the season, the Holiday 200 on December 1. The race will be a toy drive for Toys for Tots. Gotta bring an unwrapped race car for a lucky kiddo! From my understanding the race is 2 short courses of about 20 miles. They split up the fast cars and the slow cars and you get a few hours on one course and then you switch. I don’t know if they’ll put 1600 in the fast group or slow group. We’re kind of slow fast cars. At any rate, I’m so excited that Pepper Junus has agreed to co-dawg for me. She and I took 1st in class at the Powder Puff in October and we are hoping for a repeat. Mark Burke will take over for the second course, with a super secret co-dawg. Let’s just say we are working on having the lightest passenger weight possible with his co-driver. I’ve heard Jason Coleman’s co-driver is a midget, and I aim to beat him.
And my week leading up to the race promises to be full of awesome. I’ll be hanging out at the LA Auto Show for Roadfly. Word on the street is Porsche will be debuting a new sports car, and since I just got out of a 911 I’m excited to see what it’s all about. I’ll also get the chance to drive the new Beetle convertible. But on Friday evening I have to high tail it out of LA to Barstow in time for tech. If anyone can give me a ride let me know.
Remember you can still purchase our calendar, featuring some rockin’ female off road drivers. All proceeds will go to getting us to Morocco for the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles AND help fund mammograms. How rad is that?
I’ve had a few people email me in the past few weeks asking how I got started working for RoadflyTV. (For those of you who know me only from racing, click on that link, then come back here.) In these economic times, where people do well in school, have amazing skills, get out and interview, send out resumes, and otherwise beat their heads against a wall and STILL find themselves out of work, I’m almost ashamed to say how I joined Roadfly.
I got lucky.
No joke. Yes, I have always been into cars. My car of choice is a small, RWD convertible with a manual transmission (save for a brief dalliance with a little Honda del Sol in graduate school) and I’ve always driven off road in some kind of air cooled VW dune buggy or baja bug.
I had been off road racing with my dad for about a year when I met the Roadfly crew. Jessi had just left to pursue her Ph.D full time and Roadfly was looking to replace her. I distinctly remember telling Charlie (that’s the boss at Roadfly), “Look, I can’t replace Jessi. She’s fantastic and people love her. But I am a high energy personality. I am funny and quirky and smart. I’d love to work for you but don’t think I’m going to wear Jessi’s shoes, because they are not going to fit.”
Charlie agreed. He wanted someone like me, but he understood that my style wouldn’t be for everyone, and I’ll admit I have my haters (I’m thinking of printing up t-shirts that say “I’m a Holla Hater” and if you don’t get that reference go here around 1:05). But the people who don’t like me love the other host, Ross and those that don’t like the patented Ross Rapoport Style are, in general, Emme Hall fans.
I was just in the right place at the right time. But what about those of you who want to have a totally rad job like mine?
- Network, network, network. If you’re not on Twitter, get on it. Follow all the car accounts, comment on them, hell Jalopnik posts about 100 things a day…send them a tip or an idea.
- Start your own blog. Write. About anything related to cars. You don’t need access to the press fleet to write about cars. Check out my pal’s blog Cars Aren’t Scary. He just writes about what moves him, automotive-wise.
- Find out if any of your local car dealerships have YouTube channels and offer to do walk around reviews for them.
- Go to the car shows. Bring your video camera. Talk to everyone.
- Join SCCA. You’ll meet a ton of people who love cars just like you.
- Practice in front of the camera and review your tapes. I realized that I have a tendency to talk too fast and that my excitement can come across as downright crazy unless I rein it in.
- Be nice. To everyone. Offer to help when you can. It will come back to you, I promise.
- Did I mention network? I have made countless connections over Twitter, one of which resulted in me getting seat time in their race car.
As with all things in life, you have to figure out what you want to do and then do it. It sounds simple but of course it’s not. So here’s another one: Never, ever, ever, give up. Ever.
At one point during this weekend I said to my dad, “What day is it?” To which he replied, “Saturday.” To which I asked, “Day or night?” It was just that kind of weekend. In three days we drove LA-Barstow-Parker-Parker Strip-Parker-Anaheim-Venice Beach-Barstow-Hacienda Heights-LA-red eye to DC.
I left DC late Thursday afternoon on a ticket I had earned by refashioning a pal’s pink gorilla suit to get it ready for her boyfriend for Mardi Gras (I swear I can’t make this stuff up). At LAX I picked up the 2012 Audi A5, with a manual transmission thank you baby Jesus, to review for Roadfly. From there I drove up to Victorville and met Dad. Early the next morning we were off to tech for Parker 425.
Now before you get all excited, this is not a race report. The trip to Parker was merely to See and Be Seen. I met up with, Michele, my navigator for the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles in Morocco. For those of you not in the know, this year we were planning on running the Gazelle rally, a 9 day adventure similar to Dakar except it’s all female, points are awarded for shortest distance not fastest time, and no GPS is allowed. All navigation is done with an outdated map and a compass. Unfortunately Michele needs to have some surgery so our plans are on hold. You can read the whole story at www.teamcouragegazlles.com But we wanted to make it out to Parker to show the off road community that we are still determined to run with the Gazelles.
So we worked tech. I mean we WORKED it! We talked to the Fast Aid guys, we joked around with the Dirt Sports Magazine dudes, we chilled with Azunia Tequila, shot the bs with the guys from Major Performance Engines, checked in with PCI race radios…hell we even discussed how Dakar could be promoted better in North America with Darren Skilton. But enough of the shameless name dropping. Let’s just say we had a great time. For my twitter followers, I tried to get some pics out but the network was so crowded it was impossible.
We spent the night north of Parker at some old time race guy’s house and I remember something about a jacuzzi and my dad acting like a turtle on his back and that’s really all you need to know about Friday night.
The next day we had to get to Anaheim by 3pm to meet with a potential partner, but we knew we HAD to watch some of the race. There was an awesome spot where the cars would go under highway 95, race the largest part of the loop, then come back under 95. You caught them coming and going. So there we were, just chilling and we hear, “Oh man the Hall Ass Racing truck is here? Hide your beer, everyone!” It was Randy, Carol, and Guy, some old neighbors from San Felipe. What a small, small, world.
If you haven’t watched an off road race before, its a little different than a pavement race. Spectators are required to stay off the course, but there are still no barriers between you and the cars. This means that it can be quite dangerous, as evidenced by the California 200 tragedy a few years ago. However, Best in the Desert did a great job keeping everyone safe. The safety guy in our area made sure everyone was a safe distance from the course, and when this bozo couple tried to cross from one side to the other he was ON them like stink on poop. They returned to their place much maligned, as they should have been. A hot course is a hot course, and just because you can hear these guys and see their dust before they get to you, doesn’t give you, as a spectator, carte blanche to just walk across the lines.
Alas we couldn’t stay long as we had to get to Anaheim. I don’t want to say too much about it as we are still negotiating, but a few weeks ago I got a call from a speciality fabrication company who expressed interest in partnering with us. It’s a family owned company and dad and I had a blast meeting everyone. We were even their guests at the Supercross that night. Expect a fairly big announcement soon, but for now all I will say is that we are looking forward to hammering out the details.
After a quick sleep in Anaheim it was off to Venice to pick up the new race car. Now let me start off my saying that this whole weekend was an exercise in herding cats. I had to make sure we met up with Michele at the designated time, then she and I split off from dad at tech so we had to coordinate meeting times, figure out where we would sleep that night. Getting dad out the door on Saturday morning was a bit of a chore (his goodbyes tend to be a little long), then we had to separate ourselves from the Old Gang at the race and make it to Anaheim on time, and find a place to crash that night.
So the final hurdle was getting the car up to Barstow for a little testing. Skiny, who raced the car in the Baja 1000 as part of his Gentlemen’s Guide to Racing series, had it in storage in Venice Beach, but he had to go out to Vegas that Friday. It was ridiculous to think he could drive from Vegas to LA, pick up the car, then bring it back to Barstow, so we did what Gentlepeople of Racing do: Skiny called his girlfriend, she gave us the keys and the title, we hitched the car up to the truck and brought her up to Barstow. Now, we had met Skiny before, but I don’t know a lot of people that would trust 2 people to basically steal his car and bring it to an appointed place in the middle of the desert. But trust us he did and when Skiny came up behind us about a mile away from the Slash X, we knew it was cosmic fate.
The throwout bearing is bad in the car, so when Skiny took off with me as co-dawg, she made an awful, awful noise! But once she started there was no stopping! With the longer wheel base she handles the whoops SO much better than our 5 unlimited. It’s not necessarily more powerful, but she could definitely run through the whoops better. There’s no speedometer in the car, but on the flat I’d say we were up to 70 mph or so…and this is with a motor that hasn’t been prepped since the 1000. Major Performance built the engine originally and they know the car well. They said the car SMOKED all the other 1600s in Vegas to Reno a few years ago. Same engine as we have now. That’s not to say that I’ll do the same thing, of course. Getting the most out of this car is going to be a challenge. I’ll have to change my mind set to realize that whoops may or may not mean “slow down”.
I took a little bit of video while we were out there. I need to do just a bit of editing, but I was on that red eye last night. Even though my pal upgraded me to first class on the way home, I probably only slept two hours. Just rolled right from the airport to work. So video will happen tomorrow, probably. The entire photo album is up on my Facebook page for your enjoyment. But for now, this is Mega Monkey Motorsports™, off to find my bed after a whirlwind weekend of dirty fun!
Well, in what some may call “crazy” and I refer to as “quirky and charming”, I got back last night at 2:30am after solo driving nearly 1000 miles at one stretch from outside Tampa, FL to DC. I realized that was my second longest marathon solo car drive, the longest being from Santa Cruz, CA to Glenwood Springs, CO this past summer. Although I did nap a bit on that 1100 mile drive, so maybe it doesn’t count. Nah….it counts!
Well, dad has gotten the baja all ready to go for the Mexican 1000. YAY! 2180cc engine, new tranny, dual 40 mm Dellorto carburetors. We’ve also got a new tire rack on the back that will fit a front or rear tire, and a roof rack. Dad has promised pictures soon. The San Felipe 250 is this weekend. The gang down in Mexico will be watching from Matomi wash. I really hope to be able to race in the 250 soon.
A few pictures for y’all. I got my mug in the March issue of S & S Off Road. Here’s a screen shot.
And it seems I am now driving around a bit of a Franken-Miata. I got the SECOND tear in a month in the top of the car. I had put the top down this morning to bring a dress mannequin to work (don’t ask), and later in the day when I popped it back up…huge tear! I’ve fixed them both with Shoe Goo. It’s raining now…I hope it lasts. The Shoe Goo, not the rain. I just need to buy myself a few weeks until work slows down. Then its hello roll bar and brand spanking new top!
I can’t believe that I’m actually pleased with my first review. I am usually super hyper critical of myself, and honestly I was afraid to watch this. I had to have Jenny and Karina on the phone with me before I would watch it. You know, for moral support. But I am really happy with it. I know I’m gushing a bit, but this is a new feeling for me.
Next up is the 2011 Infinity FX50. This reviewing gig is pretty damn cool!
Well, it looks like I’ll be doing some car reviews for RoadflyTV on You Tube. They are the fourth largest car review site on You Tube and their videos routinely get tens of thousands of hits. Sweet! You can check out fellow reviewer Ross Rapaport’s take on the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland below.
And while you’re checking out their You Tube channel , why not subscribe and you’ll be emailed when my review of the 2011 Jetta is up.
You can also check outwww.roadfly.com , the complete automotive resource for buyers, sellers, and owners like you. And ME!