Friday, July 12, 2013

What is a Crew?

What is a crew, and what makes up a crew?  Is it the cars?  The people?  Is it a lifestyle maybe?  Car crews and teams have always been something that I've paid attention to, and in the recent years, crews seem to be as popular as ever with the rise of social media.  Anytime you go to a meet or show, you see the various crews and clubs all parked together kind of like how everyone hung out in their group or clique back in high school.

While some of us may be a few years beyond high school, we still seem to seek out a crew to be a part of.  The drama may not be as present, but there still seems to a bit stirring about this community, and there are friendly rivalries, but nothing beats hanging out with your friends.  That right there seems to be what a crew is made up of; friends.  Friends that share a common passion and who share a common style, but friends.  A crew will get together outside of meets, whether it's to help a fellow member work on their car, or if it's to just get together at someone's house and enjoy some food and drinks.  They're people you can count on to be there for one another.

The bonds and relationships can be equated to an extended family.  Through good times and bad times, everyone sticks it out together.  There is definitely a sense of comradery and pride when it comes to being with a crew.  You're all in it together, and being a recruit or someone new, getting the crew sticker was like a right of passage. 

Crews do come and go though, but the ones that stick together for good are usually the ones that start as a group of friends.  I guess I just have this vision in my head of some friends who all work on their cars together and have a similar style, and always hang out together.  Before long, a name sticks to them, and others get welcomed into the fold.  Sometimes they get big, and there are chapters all over country or world.  Sometimes they stay smaller, and centralized to keep the close family feel, but the love and bond is still the same throughout.  It's a feeling that only someone who is apart of a crew can describe it seems.  It really is kind of hard to put into words.

Sometimes though, things don't work out.  Whether politics, or drama get in the way, people break off, grow up, or grow out.  Disagreements can happen anywhere, but a strong crew like a strong family will work them out.  However, there are cases where an individual doesn't want to work out an issue and decides it's best to say goodbye.  It's never an easy thing to do especially with friends whom one considers more than friends.

Okay, so you're probably wondering what I'm getting at with all this crew talk, and why you've been seeing only photos of one car, my car.  Despite becoming a freelance writer, I still need a personal outlet to put thoughts down that I probably wouldn't have the chance to share with others for the publications I work for.  The past six months have certainly been a roller-coaster ride for me as I discovered who my friends were, and see the crews I was apart of either fall apart, or find out that I wasn't really apart of to begin with.

There's no one to blame other than myself, and certainly no hard feelings towards any party.  To be honest, things just kept on going the way they had been.  While I sorted stuff out, I came to realize that what I was in high school and in college is always what I'll be, which is a lone wolf.  I was never apart of one clique, and I had few friends, but I could talk to anyone.  That hasn't changed over the years as I still find myself not belonging to any crew or group, and am one that can still hold a conversation with anyone.  I just roam meets and shows by myself with my camera, and go on leisurely cruises to nowhere with just my car, music, and usually my camera in tow.

It's not like it's a bad thing either.  Some just like doing their own thing, and for me it's a simple case of I don't belong.  My car is a good example of that as it takes inspiration from a variety of sources and subcultures in the car community.  Like me, it doesn't fit in, but for some reason people can't help but notice.

In the end though, I'll never lose my respect or admiration for the tight-knit crews.  They will always be something I look up to, maybe because it's something that I'll never see myself apart of.  I'm one of those "bigger-picture" guys, and try to give back or help the community as much as I can.  I think crews are the face of the car community because the actions of many carry far more weight than the actions of one.  With that in mind, I hope the crews out there do a good job of representing the community as a whole.  If you're still reading this now, thanks for taking the time to stay to the end.  I can only hope that you'll take something away from this and can relate to it.  If not, oh well, and hopefully you at least saw some cool pictures.  I can only do so much, haha.  Till next time.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Top Ten Cars of 2012

I know that I don't update here much anymore, but I decided to come back and do another top-ten list for 2012.  It's already 2013, but I guess it's better late than never.  If you're wondering why I don't post much here anymore, well here's the reason; I am now a feature writer for Stance Nation which I am extremely happy to be.  Doing features for them plus my regular work makes me very busy resulting in this place kind of being forgotten.  We'll see what the futures brings for this place, but for now I hope you'll enjoy this summary of my favorite cars from 2012.

Number 10:  Henry Chan's MK4 Toyota Supra
Henry's Supra was one of my favorite shoots to kick off the 2012 year, and the car was beautiful to boot.  A complete build through and through this Supra is a remarkable car.  By touching all of the bases when it comes to building a car, Henry lands himself at number 10 on my list.

Number 9:  Nate Stanley's Chrysler 300C
Nate's 300C takes credit for being one of my first photos to ever go viral being shared on a large number of car sites and pages via facebook, and for good reason too.  Nate's 300C is another "complete" car featuring a ton of custom body work, air-ride suspension, and one of the first, complete SRT-8 engine swaps.  All of this puts him at number 9.

Number 8:  Zach Kurth's Chevy Impala
Zach's Impala is just one of those cars you can't ignore.  The car is absolutely mint but has been well sorted by the veteran hot-rodder.  A big motor, flawless body and interior work, big wheels with meaty tires, and a slammed, air-assisted stance put this classic beauty at number 8.  This car has been getting lots of love over the winter so stay tuned for when it rolls back out this year!

Number 7:  Mike Merkt's Subaru WRX
Mike's WRX is one of the cleanest around, and he's one of the nicest people you'll meet.  Always down to hang out at a car event, you can spot Mike and his WRX at events in MN and his home state of WI.  With a few go-fast goodies added to the boxer-4, and that oh-so-perfect stance with polished Work XT7s, Mike's WRX sits at the number 7 spot.

Number 6:  Adam Tieden's Corvette FRC
Adam's FRC Corvette may have one of the shorter mod lists of cars that I have featured, but that doesn't take away from how stunning this little, red Corvette is.  Anywhere this car goes it draws attention to itself.  The red paint definitely pops out and the wheel fitment and ride height even get the stance crowd going.  This simple, but effective package lands Adam's Corvette in the number 6 spot.

Number 5:  Orange Cadillac (owner unknown)
 I clocked this amazing car at the Frankensteiner's Ball show this fall and could not stop drooling over it.  One of my all-time favorite cars and it's built just right.  The bright, loud paint, custom flame job, slammed to the ground on air with some nice wheels, this car is just amazing.  Wish I could find out who built it and maybe schedule a shoot.  If you're in the know, drop me a line at  

Number 4:  Mitch's MK4 Toyota Supra
Mitch's monstrous black Supra ends up at number 4 for more reasons than just the basketball inhaling turbo under the hood.  Put simply the car was built with all of the best parts available to make the most horsepower possible, and it does that very well and looks damn good doing it.  Definitely one of my favorite cars to date.

Number 3: Tattoo Mike Olson's Audi A4 Avant
Tattoo Mike's latest daily turned into, well Tattoo Mike's latest daily.  After retiring, and parting out his world-famous mk4 GTI, Mike picked up this avant to be a little more "sensible."  I don't think that word exists in Mike's vocabulary because it was only a matter of weeks before it featured coilovers, one-off CCWs, and some custom body-work.  Now it's all torn apart getting air-ride and a 2.7t swap with a 6-speed trans.  Will the madness never end?  Not for this man.  It ends up at number 3...for 2012.

Number2:  Sij's "Lambo-Killer" 240sx
This car was built to do one thing; dominate.  I'm going to lay it out simply here; 2JZ-GTE, 3.4L stroker, high-compression, Precisions Pro-Mod 91mm, 6spd, Pro-EFI, Tilton, the list keeps going.  The result?  1441rwhp on boost only...and it was limited to that because they ran out of injector.  This car is monstrous.  Built by Sound Performance in Chicago, IL, you know it's done right, and it sits at number 2.  As a bonus, here's a shot of the engine bay;

Number 1:  Max Moss's MK4 R32 Golf

Max's R32 Golf tops the list for a number of reasons, but most importantly is how much the car has changed over the year.  The build this car has undergone is phenomenal and it's far from over.  Housing Tattoo Mike's old 3.3L VR6 turbo motor, Max's R puts out 500awhp and looks damn good doing it.  With tons of custom touches and those 19" Work VS-XXs, Max's R made an impact wherever it went picking up hardware at some major shows including h2oi picking up 3rd in its class.  He's been busy over the winter too, and this car will be a serious contender in 2013

That wraps up the list for 2012.  Thanks again everyone for all the support over the years.  I'll be busy again for 2013 and hope to share my work again with the world.  For now, catch me over on Stance Nation and my facebook page NL Projects.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My 10 Favorite Cars of 2011

Whoa, welcome back here!  Yeah, I've been busy and this place kind of got pushed on the back-burner.  You see, I kind of started writing for another website, VIP'D Out as well as doing a couple of features for Wheels of Thunder Magazine.  So, it's not like I completely stopped covering cars and photographing them, I've just been doing it for other people.

What that means though is that over the last 12 months, I have had the chance to shoot some pretty cool cars.  Now, one of my favorite blogs to read is The Chronicles, and every year Joey puts together his Top 10 list.  I really look forward to that segment every year because he really does pick some of the BEST Honda builds to be featured.  It's kind of like a year-end special of your favorite TV series where all of the best episodes are played one after the other.  Now, my Top 10 list won't be as extensive as The Chronicles', but I hope it will provide some entertainment for you all.  Mind you, these are all local cars to MN as well.  Perhaps next year I'll include cars I traveled to go and shoot, but this is a blog to showcase the local talent.  So, let's get on with the list:

10.  '61 Chevy Impala Hot-Rod

I spotted this car at the Cars and Coffee event here in October.  Really wanted to talk to the owner, but alas that is a hard thing to do at big shows.  This is how I like my domestics, but really cars in general.  Every inch of this car had been worked over.  Plus, it helps that the car is sitting on the ground (literally, the headers for the exhaust get planted when the car airs out).  Definitely a stunner for sure.

9.  Sam Henry's LS6 240sx

Sam's 240 is definitely well solidified on this list.  Talk about an amazing build, plus the guy really uses the car as seen here.  Sam's also a really cool guy to boot.  When I was picking cars for a magazine feature earlier in the year, I really wanted to pick Sam's car, but obvious things like the body damage take away from the magazine appeal, in my opinion.  I hope a spot here offers some consolation, but I do see bigger things for Sam, and his car in 2012.

8.  Dave Mallman's Turbo E36 M3

This car would also get the award for transformation of the year.  In 2010, this M3 used to be silver and super-charged with black OZ wheels.  Now, it's Ford Estate Green Metallic, turbo'd, and the Kinesis wheels were completely refinished in gold.  The result...ABSOLUTELY STUNNING!  Pretty sure this car got shot for Performance BMW Magazine as well, so check it out if you find the issue.  Dave's also a pretty cool guy. I always love seeing this car out and about.

7.  VIP S500 Benz

I don't think there is a better car to represent the Mid-West VIP scene than this Benz right here.  First clocked it earlier this year while the body was still being worked on, but now the car is all finished and looks right tough.  The shocking thing too is that this car is NOT on air!  It's actually on hydraulics.  Definitely a bit of a twist, but the rest of the build is amazing.  The owner does come and hang out with my crew too, i'mSTANCED, but regardless this car was going to be on my Top 10 list.

6.  Andrew Nguyen's G35 Coupe

Andrew's G is definitely one of the top contenders for the MN stance scene, but the build behind the car is a lot more than just coilovers and wheels.  Check out his feature over on VIP'D Out HERE.  Not only is the car fantastic, but Andrew is a really cool guy too and a good friend of mine.  When I told him I wanted his car to roll with me to Wek Fest Chicago this year, he went and get EVERYTHING fixed on the car and re-painted.  The kid is dedicated for sure, and that speaks volumes.  Can't wait to see what he has planned for 2012.

5.  Ivan Johnson's C30R

Okay, seriously, tell me when have you seen a C30 look so damn good!  I have always liked these cars, and when I was introduced to Ivan in 2010, his looked great then on springs and 19" ADRs.  For 2011 he came out with KW coilovers, 18" Forgestar wheels, and an E85 tune that really gave the car some balls.  For being so simple, the car has made a huge impact.  Happy to have him in the i'mSTANCED family and can't wait to welcome a new member shortly.  Yep, Ivan and his girl are expecting a baby very soon!

4.  Eric Winsor's C5 Corvette Race Car

If there was ever a car for the term BECAUSE RACE CAR, this is it.  Eric's C5 is an exercise in the best of the best.  Built for the sole purpose of road-racing, this car has been gone through like no other.  The motor; a 442ci small-block LS7.  The brakes; big enough to slow the rotation of the earth.  The tires; wide enough to make a steam-roller blush.  This car has everything plus the kitchen sink and the house to go with it.  This C5 has more into its suspension than most people spend on a car.  It's big, it's bad, it's fast, and it definitely makes my Top 10 list.

3.  Adam's Toyota Supra Turbo

Renaissance Red with a big-single, of course it's going to make my list.  Adam's Supra is definitely not too far off from what my Supra would look like if I owned one.  In fact, a little encounter with my IS300 shortly after he bought it is what pushed him to make the monster here.  With 800hp going to those massive rear tires through a TH400 transmission, this car is no slow-lane plodder, and those massive CCWs out back even get the stance crowd tight in the pants.  Classic Supra styling with classic Supra power puts this car at number 3.

2.  Imola Motorsports' 997 Turbo

Not only did this car land me a feature on Stance Nation, but I think it's also one of the best shoots I have done to date, and the car is simply beautiful.  Kevin, the owner was very friendly and let me have the car for a few hours while I shot it.  This is another complete car, where every part has been touched, and the car is used for its intended purpose too.  This car put form and function together which is why it is one of my favorites for 2011.

1.  Jessie & Kris Clewell's MK1 Golf

Okay, I'm going to honest here.  If I ever did a top 10 list of all time, this car would be number 1.  Jersey's build is just immense and Jessie and Kris have done most of it themselves which just adds to the whole package.  I have a huge soft-spot for MK1s, and I really think this is one that can be mentioned with the greats on a global level.  This car is number one to me for so many reasons and a car that I never get tired of seeing.

Well, there it is, my little honors list for 2011.  With that, I do promise to stay on top of things here.  I have a lot on my plate, but I'm going to try and not forget why I started this little blog.  To everyone, enjoy the holidays with your family and friends, and see you all in 2012!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wek Fest Chicago 2011 Part 3: The Finale

Okay...better late than never.  Things have never been busier here at PS117, which is a good thing.  I'm working on a lot of new projects now so expect to be seeing my work published elsewhere as well as here.

Final coverage of Wek Fest Chicago.  As I mentioned the show was a lot of fun and really laid back.  Me and a friend even got to suit for a little which was a real hit with the crowd (I'm sure you've seen pictures on other sites of the two furries running around...would be me and my friend Jyno...haha).  We all gathered around at the end for the awards and there weren't any real surprises there with each winner deserving of their award.  Tattoo Mike took home 1st Place GTI for his Camo-wrapped R32 Turbo GTI, so big congrats to him for bringing home some hardware for us.  Best-of-Show went to an absolutely amazing Chevy Nova.  I couldn't get any individual pics of it because there was always a big crowd around the car.  Thanks again Wek Sos and Fatlace for putting on such a great event!  Hope to see you all back next year.

 I've seen this Lexus GS over the years and it's amazing to always see it better than last time.  Took home 1st Place Lexus.

 VIP M35 from Fizz Autosports

 Fizz's sexy S15....look at that fitment!

 Impressive line-up from Top Speed.  Their R34 hasn't changed in like 5 years, lol.  Still looks amazing though.

 VIP'd GS.  Owner was pretty cool.  Came over to my LS and talked for awhile.

 The Tjin Edition Ford Mustang.  Such a beautiful car.  Amazing how big Neil has become in the industry.  I remember his S14.5 build from years ago.  He turns out show-stopper after show-stopper every time.

 Chii Racing.  The Nova that won Best-of-Show is up front.

 Chris's Supra.  Good to see it back.

 My buddy Reid's Supra.  Reid takes all of my money.  Not because he's good at hustling me, but because he works at Sound Performance.  

Okay, the Hondas that came out to Wek Fest were killing it!  Seriously, we're talking Cali-quality here.  I was totally blown away by a lot of the Hondas there.

 This CRX was down-right amazing.  Such a flawless car and by far one of my favorite cars of the show.  Everything about it was spot on and the bay was just flawless.  Oh, look at the windshield...Rywire.  This car could hold its own at any Cali show.

Tattoo Mike mean-muggin' for the camera

Then I told him to move so I could take a pic of his GTI that rolled out with us.  Congrats on 1st place!

 Another very well built Honda.  This Wagovan was clean.

 More jaw-dropping Hondas.

 Serious bay in this Prelude.

 Another R34.


 Really liked this 2nd gen xB

 Wide-body MK3 Jetta

 Another spotless bay.

 This SL55 AMG was another show favorite for me.

 Another Honda...another awesome bay.

 Some nice bikes by the stage.

 Another shot of Neil Tjin's Mustang.

 Of course gotta show some love to my boy Ryan's Supra over at the Eat Sleep Race booth.  I've known Ryan for a number of years and he's always been great to hang out with.  His new Supra is just as nice as his old IS300.

 Loved this Matte-Orange GTI.

Gonna close it out with a shot of Dave from Touge Factory's 180sx.  Yep, real deal here.  Saw it after the show near our hotel at the Wendy's, haha.

Thanks again Chicago!