The Edgiest 4x4s of the North American International Auto Show

Among the glitz and glam of the newest sports cars at the 2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) were the mighty 4x4s that dwarfed them. Whether horsepower, off-road capabilities, or distinctive appearance is your aim, there’s something for everyone to love. Here are five that stood out for one reason or another, plus a gallery if you crave more.


Ford Raptor

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Equipped with Ford’s turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 Ecoboost, the Raptor has a snarling 450 horsepower and plenty of grunt with 510-lb-ft of torque. It also has rock crawling abilities, but this supertruck is built with multiple off-road mode options. Terrain mode pulls hard through even the roughest countryside, and mud and sand mode slows throttle response and turns on the rear differential locker, which is perfect for crawling out of mud pits or deep snow. Rock crawl mode locks the rear and engages low range, while Baja mode keeps the turbos spooled, the transmission in high range and alters the throttle response for high-flying ambitions.


RAM 1500 Rebel TRX

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It’s a fresh concept that RAM deems worthy of the “Off-Road King” label, and after seeing the Rebel TRX at the NAIAS, we agree. This purpose-built pre-runner truck would be the most powerful factory-produced half-ton pickup in existence, if RAM actually does make our dreams come true by putting it into production. The two full-size spare tires mounted in the truck’s bed mirrors the beginnings of a truck that’s ready for the Baja 500, as does the 13-inches of wheel travel. Built with a hardcore off-road suspension and powered by Mopar’s 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi, this rig can handle the harshest terrains at speeds of over 100-mph.


Jeep Wrangler CJ66

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For the hardcore wheeler looking for a factory rock crawler, the CJ66 concept would come out on top, if Jeep decides to send it into production. It’s built with a plethora of Jeep components, including a TJ frame and 10th Anniversary JK Rubicon bumper kits. The body is modeled after the 1966 CJ Universal Tuxedo Park body. We had to take several minutes revel in all of its glory. The oversized fender flares, custom roll cage, under armor and rock rails practically dare you to make that climb, and you would take that dare because the 5.7-liter Hemi, six-speed manual transmission, and pair of loaded Dana 44 axles have your back. If worst comes to worst, the Warn winch is a solid backup plan. Other notable features include Dodge Viper seats with harnesses and the two-way air system, which takes the hassle out of airing the tires up and down for varying conditions.


Toyota 4Runner

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The Toyota 4Runner caters to those who desire a high level of off-road capability teamed with maneuverability through trails, and enough space to pack for a couple weeks worth of camping. The four-wheel-drive option is a choice base for every explorer’s dream rig. Toyota’s Crawl Control feature assists with overcoming challenging obstacles by regulating engine and braking force with five different settings. Meanwhile, an optional Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System promotes extended wheel travel for optimal control and stability. Too tired to set up camp after an adventure-filled day? No problem, there’s plenty of room to crash in the back.


VLF X-Series

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VLF is known for taking unique attributes from production vehicles to incorporate their own unique styling. The X-Series resembles a giant mustard-yellow adult-sized hot wheels toy, except this one runs on its own power sourced from a 2017 Chevrolet Colorado’s 3.6-liter V-6 engine. The chassis and drivetrain are based on the Colorado, but the behemoth Hummer H2 is what inspired the exaggerated box-like figure, if you couldn’t tell. The X-Series is not just a concept car: VLF plans to bring it into production at the Auburn Hills, Michigan plant.


Still want to see more? Take a look at the gallery below!

Open Letter to The Grand Tour – Female Cars!

Apparently the guys on The Grand Tour (which happens to be a show I thoroughly enjoy) believe that there is no difference in a car for a male versus a female. We have no need to have anything tailored to us, unlike female underwear and bicycles, and it would be the same as female pencils, which is just stupid. And, that ended the conversation.


Hey James, Richard and Jeremy! I have a slight issue with this idea! Listen up!


As a woman, I find that I do have different needs in a vehicle and they may not be what is on your radar. I do agree with you – of course we all want a reliable engine. And of course we want a car that is easier to park — although I don’t really have an issue parking my ‘59 Chevy — but I digress. Obviously when it comes to the basics of a vehicle – we want the same things: performance, style and quality. But there are a few things that would be helpful.


First, blind spots. Now, maybe Richard can understand my plight, but at 5’4” with shoes on, I find my blind spots are much worse in some cars than my 6’2” husband. There are definitely some vehicles that are designed for us ‘average height women’ vs our ‘average male’ counterparts.


Next, colors. There is definitely some overlap here. We all like red, black, silver – but man, I want a dark metallic purple with purple interior accents. I would love to have more ‘girl’ color combinations available. Not that it has to be marketed that way – but how many freaking boring silver cars do we need to continue to put out? When I go to buy nail polish, there are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of colors.


Consoles. It’s great that many of the new cars offer spaces for up to 4 drinks, (because everyone drinks several drinks at a time) but how about something a little more functional? Perhaps a hook to link my pocketbook on? Or a larger area under the armrest that I can simply put my purse in. Maybe even lock it in there, so I can go for a run at the park, and not worry about someone simply breaking into my car and taking it. It adds an extra layer or protection… just in case.


Headrests. Some headrests are so bulky that you can’t see behind you, even in the mirror. Maybe if I were taller.. But anyway – how about a cut out? Then I could see what the child behind me is getting into.
These are just a few things. I think you would do well to have a fun loving bantering chick pop into your show, give you guys a bit of a different perspective. Maybe bring Amber Heard back. She was fun. If she turns you down – I’m game. 😀

Throttle Gals meets the CARs franchise

Cruz is apparently brought into Team McQueen to train Lightning - allowing him to continue to be competitive against the newest generation of racecars: Namely Jackson Storm

Cruz is apparently brought into Team McQueen to train Lightning – allowing him to continue to be competitive against the newest generation of racecars: Namely Jackson Storm

The newest "Hot Shot Rookie" who is also the obvious antagonist of the movie

The newest “Hot Shot Rookie” who is also the obvious antagonist of the movie

Cruz Ramirez in the final design - sketch phases

Cruz Ramirez in the final design – sketch phases

Cruz Ramirez in the final design - sketch phases

Cruz Ramirez in the final design – sketch phases

CARs 3We’ve heard the rumors and have seen some clues about the newest characters (in this case, cars) movie in the Pixar collection – Cars 3. The advance trailer shows the star – Lightning McQueen in what appears to be a horrific accident while racing the newest ‘hot shot rookie’ about 10 years after the original movie debuted. The concept – McQueen is the last of his generation racing, against cars that are built for more speed that McQueen is equipped for. Enter the Throttle Gal – Cruz Ramirez. Cruz is NOT a racecar – but instead is a trainer. She hails from the generation of the newest nemesis – Storm, but relates to McQueen’s generation.

John Lasseter (Chief creative officer of Pixar), along with Jay Ward (Cars creative director) and Jay Shuster (Production Designer at Pixar Animation Studios) were on hand to explain the concept of the Cars franchise, along with the design of the cars in the movie from the inception of the franchise through to this newest in the trilogy. Lasseter started by explaining how the oil in his veins led to the idea of this franchise, and stated that they ‘always keep the car guys – and Gals in mind, and wanted to get the details right.” (Yes, he used the word Gals…) They spend a tremendous amount of time researching every detail imaginable for their movies. This made me especially happy when they revealed the details about the newest female movie lead – Cruz Ramirez. Cruz has (according to Pixar) a lightweight alloy body running on an Aerodynamic Venturi Channeled chassis, with a 0-60 og 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 202mph, powered by a DOHC V-6. This actually puts her faster than McQueen’s specs, yet just shy of Storm. Yet, they purposely did not make her a fellow racer – rather she is the newest member of Team McQueen. She is brought on the train McQueen to take on the newest cars, and especially antagonist Jackson Storm.

Personally, I am excited about this move. Ward and Shuster took turns describing their new female lead. They commented about design features; how they wanted her fast, strong and able to “hold her own.” I guess we will have to wait for the movie’s release this summer to see how she ‘holds her own.” Perhaps it’s because I have 3 boys who I’m sure will want to see this opening weekend that I will be there when this debuts, or maybe it’s just because I personally love this Pixar franchise, but I will be there with high expectations. I hope all the rumors are true and that the hype around this movie carries through for a most excellent experience for every Throttle Gal – even the animated ones.

38th Annual Concours d’ Elegance of America

By: Karl Nilsson with Brian Rhodes

Imagine seeing over 300 of the world’s most spectacular automobiles in one place! Sunday, July 1, 2016 marked the 38th Annual Concours d’ Elegance of America. It was held in Plymouth, Michigan on the beautiful golf course at the Inn at St. Johns. Since its beginning in 1979, the show has grown in prestige and attendance. It is now considered an equal member of the Big Three Concours, sharing the honor with the annual shows at Pebble Beach (CA) and Amelia Island (FL). Walking among the cars, it’s easy to feel the passion of the collectors, restorers, and owners of these amazing treasures dating from the Brass Era  through the present. The show used to be limited to cars built prior to the 1970s, but recently added Modern Collectibles to acknowledge the exotics (can you say Ferrari Testarossa?) that many of us lusted after as teenagers with posters on our bedroom walls! This year, the  show ranged from a 1907 Thomas Flyer through the elegant classics of the Jazz Age to the raw muscle cars of the Sixties that roared down Woodward Avenue. From custom-bodied examples of the coachbuilder’s art to racing legends like the Ford GTs that beat Ferrari at Le Mans, it was all on display in the outskirts of Motown – where automotive history is still being made!

img_0538Four GT40 MK IV Racing Coupes were built, all fitted with 7-liter engines and prepped to Le Mans specs. This version was driven to victory  at Daytona and Sebring by Mario Andretti and Bruce McLaren. It went on to finish 4th at Le Mans in 1967.

 Dating back to the 1930s, Vintage Airstream travel trailers are highly collectable. This 1965 Airstream Caravel is being towed by a pristine 1967 International-Harvester Travelall Wagon. This one-owner brute was powered by a 345-cubic inch V8.

img_0547This Lancia Stratos Coupe by Bertone was shown at the 1971 Turin Auto Show. Only 492 of the mid-engined Italians were ever built. The stock version hit 144 mph, and the race versions dominated world rally competitions

img_0553“Best in Show” 2016  Winner! This 1937 Talbo-Lago T150CSS Coupe is a “hemi” with a 4-liter six topped with a hemi head that cranked up 170 horsepower. Produced in France, the ultra-rare Talbot-Lagos are among the most sought-after collector cars on earth. Exceptionally streamlined and light, they became known as the “teardrop” racers.


Who knew Spain built cars? In 1898, Hispano Suiza made electric automobiles! This 1921 Hispano Suiza Torpedo (403 cubic inches with overhead cam) was originally owned by Horace Dodge (Yes, of the famous Dodge brothers!). It was found in a barn in Romeo, MI in 2004.

img_0563Designed by Jean Bugatti, son of founder Ettore, this is a 1939 Bugatti Type 57A. Produced in 1934 through 1940, the Type 57 was the ultimate road car. This example is known as the “Waterfall” Bugatti due to its unique grill work.

img_0572This 1983 Lancia 37 was built for one purpose – to win European rally events.  Power comes from a tiny four-cylinder supercharged engine producing 325 wild horses. This car won the championship in 1985.

img_05751972 Chevy Vega “Grumpy’s Toy X”. This short wheelbase monster set NHRA records with 9.42 seconds at 147 mph. That speed blew out the “Hemi Haulers” and earned Bill (Grumpy) Jenkins a roomful of Pro Stock trophies.

img_0581This rare 1972 AMC Gremlin Pro Stock raced against Pintos and Vegas. This example had AMC factory support.

img_0587Check out the lighting gear! This 1985 Lanci Delta S4 Racer campaigned in World Rally Championship events. This S4 dominated hill climbs due to being mid-engined with all-wheel drive. With only 1759 cc four-cylinder, the Italians found 560 horsepower to go sideways in the snow-covered mountain roads.

img_0659The street racer of its day! This sleek 1928 Auburn Speedster was built in Auburn, Indiana. Its boat-tail styling and 8-cylinder engine made it a favorite of thrill-seekers and movie stars.

img_0680This original 1963 Studebaker Avanti R1 Coupe featured a Paxton supercharger. This modernistic grille-less body was too expensive to build in steel, so Studebaker chose the same company that built the fiberglass panels for the early Corvettes. Studebaker’s financial problems caused them to halt production after just two years. The car is featured in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

img_0694Imagine five Ford GTs lined up side by side. 50 years after beating Ferrari at Le Mans in 1966, a Ford GT won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2016. This row of current racers were on hand to celebrate!

img_0698Head for the nearest Grateful Dead concert in this 1967 Volkswagen 21-Window Samba Deluxe. This example is the last of the first generation VW Buses built on the original rear-engined sedan. Today’s ubiquitous minivans can be traced back to this vehicle.

img_0706Forget Ralph Nader and enjoy this 1963 Chevrolet Corvair Rampside Motorhome by San-Cruiser. This rear-engined rarity has its original appliances and screened-in roll-out awning.

img_0724This rare 1949 Cadillac Custom Sedan Woody has a glamorous past. Hollywood’s MGM studio ordered six new Cadillacs from Hillcrest Cadillac in Beverly Hills, then customized them as Woodies to transport their movie stars to location shoots.

img_0750This 1971 Dodge Pro Stock Challenger turned heads at the Concours! The open hood showed off a 426 Hemi engine with dual 4-barrel carbs on a tunnel ram intake.

img_0768Only 100 of these have survived! This 1958 Studebaker Golden Hawk Hardtop Coupe was essentially an early “muscle car” (352 cubic inch V8) that beat the 1968 Pontiac GTO by eight model years.

img_0769This 1956 Lincoln Continental MK II Convertible was designed to draw a higher caliber customer into Lincoln-Mercury showrooms and defend the luxury car market.

img_0789This car defined elegance and prestige during the Great Depression. Rare 1931 Duesenberg Model J Convertible was owned by the heiress to the Woolworth department store fortune, Clara Peck.  This is the only Dietrich-designed convertible known to exist.

img_0784Owned by the man who built the Empire State Building! Millionaire Andrew Eken bought this 1934 Packard Stationary Coupe by Dietrich as a gift for his wife. Then it was lost for over 50 years. Today, it is one of only five in existence.

img_0792Photo 32 – 0792: Ahead of its time! The 1934 Chrysler Airflow Sedan was the first production car to be streamlined for aerodynamics. Chrysler built a wind tunnel at their Highland Park plant just to test it. Sadly, the public was not ready and it was a sales flop.


Pony Car showdown. This 1965 Ford Mustang is a 2+2 Fastback (priced under $2,500 when new). Parked next door is a 1965 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S with the performance package of a Commando 273 cubic inch V8 with four-barrel carbs and a hot cam. Most folks don’t know it, but the ‘Cuda beat the ‘Stang to market – it debuted in 1964, becoming the first “pony car” in Motown history.

Stay tuned for more show coverage from these guys! Thanks Karl and Brian for sharing with us! ~Doniimg_0788

A moment with JIMBO from the Reverend Horton Heat: Throttle Guy of Issue 19

Recently I had the pleasure of having an informal chat with Jimbo, the bass slapping musician from the Reverend Horton Heat. As the Throttle Guy for Issue 19, he was more than happy to give us a personal look into his life.


Doni: What guilty pleasure do you have in your music collection?
Jimbo: My favorites include the Ramones, which is not very rockabilly but that music really grew from the soul. Girl Groups, I love their melody. I like all bands, even ones that aren’t that good. If it means something and they are trying, stretching themselves – I find beauty in that. Even me! What I lack in talent I make up for in show.

Doni: What are you doing right now during this phone interview?
Jimbo: Honestly, folding laundry. (laughs)(Shit he even does laundry! He’s a normal person!)

Doni: So what is your house like?
Jimbo: I live in a pink house from the 50s. Looking out the back window at okra, tomatoes etc, our garden. Nice to come home and see.

Doni: What is your favorite part of touring? Tell us some stories!
Jimbo: My favorite part of tour is playing. We never get to see anything. One time we pulled up to Niagara Falls, and we got out to look at it. Another bus pulls out, bunch of smoke pours out when 7-8 black guys exit. It was the Wutang clan. Neither of us knew what each other said due to our accents. So we got to see the falls with the Wutang clan. Imagine us, the Reverend Horton Heat and the Wutang Clan nodding to each other. I have a million more stories.

Doni: So, tell us more!
Jimbo: We were playing Fillmore in San Francisco opening up for Johnny Cash and had another quick show. But, due to contractual obligations, we couldn’t use our name. So, we were the Pajama Party Orchestra. Were in dressing room drinking Jack, etc. Cash came by and said hi. He’s like: “I’m Johnny Cash”, and we’re like, Yea you are! June led him out of the room by his earlobe. Apparently he’s stayed too long. She’s taking care of it, we had liquor and she wasn’t having him in that. It was out of love.

Then, there was Little Richard. We were in LA across from the House of Blues at the Hyatt House. For many years, Little Richard lived in the penthouse. We happened to get a room there, and during the day we walked down past the bar. There are a guy in silk pajamas in the bar. He called me little Paulie McCartney. “Come over here” he said – and gave me a hug. He was wearing little Prince shades. We took pictures. Were on either side of him leaning over – looks like Weekend at Bernies.

Doni: Who do you hang with on tour?
Jimbo: We try to see all the bands that we play with. Koffin Kats are coming on the next run. And Unknown Hinson. And of course. Lucky Tubb – good friend of mine. We enjoy MI area.

Doni: How did you end up in the Reverend Horton Heat?
Jimbo: True story – I lived in Houston and had a band called Six Gun. Someone called me and told me to go see this band called the Reverend Horton Heat. I was tired, so I was like,  I don’t know. I went to see them and was blown away. Got to talking to them while cleaning up. I chatted with the bass player. I asked,  “Can I slap your bass?” I started doing this triple slap thing that apparently they had been talking about. Jim walked up to me and asked for my phone number. I got a call from him a week later and his bass player were discussing techniques. He drove down, I auditioned. Had a show 3-4 days later. Had to learn 2 hours worth of material in a few days and made it through. And to think, I almost didn’t go.

Seriously, playing music for a living  makes me the luckiest guy.

Doni: What’s your favorite car, or hot rod?
Jimbo: I am an old truck guy. I like all old trucks. I have a mid 70s old chevy truck that I work on. Jim (Heath) had an old 5 window Chevy.

I also have a Land Rover which holds family and 2 upright bases.  I have 3 tattoos of my bases on my legs and an arm. I think I have had 10.

Doni: What are your favorite Reverend Horton Heat songs to play?
Jimbo: Right now – She Likes The Smell of Gasoline. I get to do a lot of slapping on that song. And then there is Wildest Dreams on the romantic side. Now, right now,  any aggressive punk song. I don’t get tired of them. We’re getting ready to bring out some of the old songs.

Doni: How long have you been playing?
Jimbo: In band for 28 years.  Six Gun in Houston TX. was my first band. That was more punk rock. Then Stray Cats came out. A friend of mine, Finger and I, we wanted to play that kind of music. He stole a bass form a school, dragged across the field and I decided to learn the upright bass. I taught myself.

Doni: What is the background of the Jimbo songs (both of them)?
Jimbo: It’s all Jim Heath. At times I amuse him. He’s a very people person, he soaks in people and their personalities. John Lennon wrote songs on weird stuff Ringo would say. It’s off the wall. I amuse him. He throws stuff together. It’s funny. I am flattered. Just silly things that go through his mind. I like the way the song (The Jimbo Song) slows down, tells a story and then goes into that fun rockabilly. I own all of it.

Doni: What is your family life like?
Jimbo: Married for about 18 years. She puts up with me. 2 kids. Austin and 9 year old Hunter. He’s a wild cat. Oldest plays upright bass in orchestra in music special school. I taught a master class in the school. They all lined up and I taught them to slap it, but don’t think the teacher liked it.

We used to play ¾ of a year before families, but now we are usually on tour 6 months. Going to Australia soon. And, my 16 year old son is set to get his driving permit today.

Doni: What do you think about the concept of  a Throttle Gal? What does that mean to you?
Jimbo: Well, I guess because I met you, a gal that isn’t a pinup girl but actually enjoys the car culture and can get grease on their hands and have fun, be part of a goup – love of cars, rockabilly culture. Not uptight. Let your hair down, and be real.

Half the time we meet people they are playing a part. Expressing the love of the culture all the time and not be uptight about it. That’s a Throttle Gal.


You know what Jimbo? We agree. I can’t wait to see you next time our paths cross.


“Hey Doni – Let me teach you how to slap a bass!” ~Jimbo

If you want more info on this awesome guy, and the great fun music of the Reverend Horton Heat, check out

Photographer Tara Hurlin Heads to Northern Michigan’s Empire Hill Climb Revival

It’s an event that locals look forward to all year.

The historic Empire Hill Climb, located in the quaint, otherwise quiet town of Empire, Mich., ran for just shy of two-decades before a severe crash in 1982 shut everything down. The hill was re-awakened in 2014 when local rally fans, Mike Kelty and Ian Dawkins helped bring the event back as the Empire Hill Climb Revival. This year’s race brought perfectly cool, sunny weather, and I was there with bells on.

When the Hill Climb was founded in 1964, the old-school mindset, “Run what ya brung,” was the usual way to race up the challenging, ½-mile course. The hill has seen some of the best cars from their respective time periods compete during the original timed races, including Jaguar E-Types, Austin-Healeys, AMC Gremlins, Formula Fords, Triumphs, Porches, a large compilation of Corvette clubs, and even a Ferrari or two.

This year’s stars included balls-to-the-walls driver Mikko Kataja’s and his eardrum rattling 1980 Toyota Starlet (who left his mark on the event with a new 21.222-second record time), also seen was Mead Korwin’s sling-shotting 1971 Lola Lola, Cody Loveland’s monsterous Enviate Hypercar, a brilliant blue 1987 BMW 325is driven by Patrick Waligore, and local favorite Dylan Helferich who skidded to an effortless win in the AWD class with his rough-and-rugged 2000 Subaru Impreza.

But enough talk, lets get on to the photo gallery, because that tells all!


A Celebration of the American Dream, the Annual Woodward Dream Cruise

Over 45,000 vehicles shook up Michigan’s Woodward Avenue for the 21st consecutive year on August 20, 2016. Woodward Ave., also known as “Detroit’s Main Street”, was the world’s first concrete highway ever made and runs Southwest from Pontiac, Michigan to Detroit, the heart and soul of America – the Motor City.

The Woodward Dream Cruise is the world’s largest annual one-day automotive event, bringing in over $56-million dollars to the Metro-Detroit economy and attracting around 1.5 million spectators each year from around the globe. License plates from Vermont, Colorado, Arizona, Missouri, and Michigan’s surrounding states, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, were identified throughout the day.

The variety of cars is as diverse as Detroit’s culture: Muscle cars, exotics, imports, sports trucks, off-road vehicles, customs, hearses, hot rods and rat rods lined the streets for the moving car show extravaganza. Unique,  hand-built creations also caught the eyes of the spectators, who lined each side of Woodward Ave with tents and folding chairs to watch the action.

But it’s not just a cruise. Multiple car shows and displays are spread across several cities, accessible right off of Woodward Ave. There’s a car show at every turn, and there’s something for everyone to love.

This photo gallery only scratches the surface of the intensity of the weekend. Considering the constant distractions from the magnificent scattering of vehicle displays and the reverberating rumbles of classics on the road, it is nearly impossible to see everything in a day, and that is exactly why millions of people return every year.


Roadkill’s Street Racing Revival leaves its mark in Pontiac, Michigan

By Tara Hurlin

When I arrived at the brand new M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan on Friday, August 19th, I immediately heard tires shredding against the freshly-tarred skid pad. My uncaffeinated-paced walk transitioned into a slow run that resembled a corny chick flick scene; A lustful woman dramatically running to her long lost lover, arms wide open. All that was missing was the kiss.

Roadkill, a series that airs on MotorTrend, is known for their automotive chaos: David Freiburger and Mike Finnegan work together to hunt down and purchase affordable, rough-looking car projects to get them back on the road as inexpensively as possible. It’s all about having fun, even when they are roughing it on the side of the road. They joined forces with Dodge to present fans with an epic event called Roadkill Nights. Last year was a success, and this year was even bigger: For the first time ever, Woodward Avenue was closed for legal drag racing.

I was about to join over 30,000 people for an entire day on Woodward Avenue, Roadkill style. First stop, a joyride in a Dodge Hellcat.

The smell of smoked tires crept farther up my nostrils as I approached the skid pad. Tires screamed bloody murder under the deep rumbling power of the Dodge Hellcats, when suddenly a loud “POP!” reverberated through the atmosphere. The first tire out of hundreds that would meet their demise that day gave in to the hot pavement’s abuse.

Thanks to Dodge, spectators were able to feel a Hellcat’s power for themselves, and I was the first one in (right after Detroit Fox News and a few others who were running the show). The Hellcat took off faster than a viper strike and drifted around corners as if the tires were made of butter. Now it’s my turn to drive right? No? Aw, well, maybe next time.

Roadkill Nights accomplished the impossible by being approved to run the first legal road races ever held on Woodward, which allowed people to re-live the old school drag races without the fear of being presented with a “high-performance driving certificate”. Anticipation flooded the crowd as the clock struck 1pm. Race time. The grounds rumbled for hours as cars, trucks and SUVs tested their limits and left behind deep black lines of rubber that will remain on the street for years to come.

I knew there were more activities going on outside of the races, but it was impossible to peel myself away. A 20-minute rain gave just enough time to mow down on some bbq, use the ladies room and browse the car show while Woodward dried enough for the next rounds. Each vehicle on display was a custom in its own right, whether by the hands of Mother Nature or by the owner’s innovation, and the diversity is exactly what I love about Roadkill.

Before sundown, Roadkill’s Dirt Track Challenger hit the strip, after swapping the rear end in their hotel’s parking lot, of course. To add to the suspense, a potentially disastrous hold up caused by an incorrect u-joint was averted when the proper part was found at a local parts store just in time for the Challenger to be re-assembled the day of the race, during lunch hour. According to Freiburger’s glee after the first burnout, the struggle and lack of sleep was all worth it.

The smell of gas and burned rubber take on a whole new meaning after sunset. The lights over Woodward Avenue set the perfect ambiance for the ending of Roadkill Nights, resembling the nostalgic effect of flashlight drag racing. The cool night air was a relief for every spectator, and with the uncomfortable heat gone, the energy in the crowd rose. The engines sounded more determined than ever and the burnouts lasted longer.

The fastest remaining drivers raced head-to-head until the end. The crowd gasped in unison each time a competitor got squirrely between the track’s concrete barriers. Maintaining traction on the street wasn’t easy, but these guys had skills, and they weren’t messing around. Each vehicle in the winner’s circle was none worse for the wear, and the owner’s faces glowed in the darkness from the day’s rush of adrenaline.

In first place for the quickest Dodge was Mike Moran’s black 1969 twin-turbo Hemi Charger. (Duh, he was photographed as a line of black blur in several of my photos.) Runners up in the All-Dodge group were Greg Charney in his baby-blue ‘68 Dart, and Tom Drago and Micheal Cole with their modern Hellcat Charger SRTs.

Tom Bailey, known for his intimidating, record-breaking 1969 Chevy Camaro, is no one-trick pony. He took first place in the All-Run Fast Four class. Standing with him in the winner’s circle were the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place winners of the All-Run fast four: Bryant Golstone with his ’73 AMC Javelin, Adam Hodson and his ’73 Camaro, and Mike Moore’s diesel Silverado.

We don’t know if this special event will ever happen again, but it is one that is sure to go down in history. #BecauseRoadkill. (Yeah, I just did that.)



Want more? Good vibes are in the photo gallery below!




This article originally posted on Driving Line.



The battle between the EPA versus Vehicle enthusiasts continues: Non-road vehicles are at stake

By Tara Hurlin

Cars are an enormous part of my life. They are my livelihood, my passion and my love. They give me joy, a reason to smile and an outlet when I need a break from day-to-day dramas. Nothing makes me giggle like hearing a car’s engine backfire or the blow-off valve flutter. And the EPA wants to take it all away.

For those who haven’t “heard” from the various posts being shared on social media outlets, the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency), has stepped far beyond their general environmental knowledge and into the realms of automotive culture, to threaten to take away millions – yes millions – of American Citizen’s rights to drive the cars they love, all based upon their misguided beliefs. If this is new news to you, I encourage you to do all of the research you possibly can, because there may come a time when the automotive hobby and industry will need to fight back.

Racecars are a rich and intricate part of American history. They have saved lives and kept people out of trouble. They have raised money for thousands of charities and have inspired people who come upon hard times to hang in there and keep building their cars, in turn contributing to society. For some, it is all that they live for and all that they have to look forward to.

If it wasn’t for the hobby and passion for performance modifications, my husband may have never been my husband; he might not have even lived. Emotional and mental stability are an intricate piece to the puzzle while trying to heal your body from overcoming traumas and heavy treatments for cancer throughout your childhood. He spent countless hours modifying vehicles while other kids were out getting into trouble, or worse. The cars were his constant in life – his saving grace.

Ryan Thompson, president of Thompson Racing, says “I was born into the automotive world; my dad was career mechanic. It’s something that I greatly enjoy doing, and it is also a constructive outlet for adrenaline junkies to get their fix of excitement. Much of my time growing up was spent working so I could afford playing with cars, and when I wasn’t at my job, I was actively building and driving them. For the most part, that trend continues to this day.”

Dylan Helferich, a rally car driver for the Relentless Rally Team, talks about how these cars have had such a positive impact on his life; “Everything in my life is handled by getting behind the wheel or picking up a wrench, whether it is pets being put down, break ups or any other hardships. Competing in rally demands full focus, so it keeps your mind from wandering to those places you don’t want it to go. When my friend Matt Marker passed away during a competition, it did not deter me from my passion, it only pushed me closer. Building and racing cars kept me closer to him even though he was no longer there, and because of this I offer an open invite to anyone interested in the automotive racing world to participate in any of my builds or on my team, to spread that same motivation and way of release.”

Cody Loveland of Lovefab, Inc. and Affinity Aero, LLC., has proudly built his life around the aftermarket racing industry, and he states, “Having made a living from the industry since 2002, this legislation will potentially crush the business that I dedicated my entire life to, and in turn it would diminish my family’s income, putting our livelihood in jeopardy. The racing world is a minute percentage of pollutants compared to more easily obtainable and cost-effective regulation alternatives that won’t shatter lives, hopes and dreams.”

Christopher Post, a dedicated teacher, IT consultant and part-time administrator, says the automotive world is his outlet; “It’s hard to put into words because it is so central to how I encourage myself to stay positive – it’s the only thing I look forward to that belongs purely to me. Cars are my passion and energize me for the incredible amount of work and love I pour into my school and family, but I can’t afford even a remotely new Porsche or other high-performance car because I have an idealistic job. Instead, I have to transform inexpensive cars into experiential performance machines. When I am at the race track, all of my worries and stress evaporate and I remember who I am individually, and then I am ready to serve others again.”

Amy Holbrook, a hot rod builder, says that her entire family bonds through their love of custom cars, “Our cars and builds keep our family going; it gives us all something to look forward to — it is our legacy. It teaches our son about hard work and responsibility and it keeps our minds busy thinking of new ideas.”

The law has always stated that any tampering with federally mandated emissions controls on street-driven cars is illegal, but now the EPA is proposing to encompass any vehicle that is not driven on the road. This means that any manufacturer that produces performance parts that do not meet emissions regulations could potentially be put out of business completely, in turn affecting the entire hobby as a whole. The EPA maintains broad abilities to make laws and serves directly through the discretion of the President of the United States, but they have limited ability to enforce the set laws. Manufacturing companies are at the highest risk, but in turn, so is any off-road hobby, whether racecars, snowmobiles, overlanding vehicles or dirt track vehicles.

The EPA may not be taking away our rights to enjoy our hobby at this given moment, but modified vehicles are the low-hanging fruit that is easy to pick, even though motorists in this niche of the hobby are more environmentally conscious than, let’s say, lithium-ion battery production companies, bottled water companies, and who could forget Monsanto, the company that thinks it is ok to put poison into the earth and into food we eat.

Cars are our life and an intricate piece of America’s history, and passing this needless law will endlessly destroy the lives of good people — it has the potential to take away thousands, if not millions, of jobs. Turning American Citizen’s lives upside-down is not the answer to environmental issues, there are much, much larger environmental problems at hand.

Copyright Office Grants Exemption to Allow for Vehicle Modification

For those of you following this story:

Diamond Bar, CA. (October 27, 2015) – The U.S. Copyright Office today issued a ruling to allow vehicle owners to perform vehicle diagnosis, repair and modification without fear of prosecution under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). However, the Copyright Office declined to provide the exemption to third parties who diagnose, repair or modify a vehicle on behalf of the vehicle owner. The Copyright Office concluded that extending the reach of an exemption to cover third-parties requires a legislative amendment undertaken by Congress. Access to a vehicle’s telematics or entertainment system was also specifically excluded from the exemption. 
Earlier this year, in support of the industry and consumers, SEMA provided comments to the Copyright Office seeking an exemption from the DMCA for circumvention of controls on vehicle software for the purpose of vehicle diagnosis, repair or modification by the vehicle owner. “The issue of copyright affecting the ability to diagnose, repair and modify vehicles has come up recently due to the proliferation of advanced vehicle technology, specifically software, in modern vehicles,” said SEMA CEO and President Chris Kersting. “SEMA has always maintained that the right to access vehicle systems to utilize, maintain and upgrade vehicles is legal as fair use under copyright law, as are activities undertaken to achieve interoperability with aftermarket products.” 
The DMCA was enacted in 1998 and prohibits the circumvention of measures put in place by a copyright owner to protect copyrighted works. The law also includes a provision allowing the Copyright Office to grant exemptions from this anti-circumvention provision, and the exemption for vehicle repair, diagnosis or modification was granted under this provision. A copy of the SEMA comments is available on the Copyright Office website at
About SEMA 

SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association founded in 1963, represents the $36 billion specialty automotive industry of 6,814 member-companies. It is the authoritative source for research, data, trends and market growth information for the specialty auto parts industry. The industry provides appearance, performance, comfort, convenience and technology products for passenger and recreational vehicles. For more information, contact SEMA at 1575 S. Valley Vista Dr., Diamond Bar, CA 91765, tel: 909-610-2030, or visit