I wanted to get into a new hobby. One condition: it had to have a motor involved. Well I couldn’t just choose one, so I’m going to try as many as I can. I’m starting this NewGuy series of articles to document my sampling of all sorts of motorsports and car cultures. It will be all things I have virtually no experience with, and I’ll show you all my adventures!
*Disclaimer: This article requires a decent knowledge of the Roadkill YouTube show to know everything I’m talking about.
Day 1: Auburn Hills, Michigan
In not-so-true Roadkill fashion, my brother and I showed up to the send off event for the Roadkill Takes America tour an hour and a half early. We had only intended to drive with the rally for a few miles...little did we know. Needless to say, we beat everyone there...including the Roadkill crew. So I took this picture:
It was soon after that I was sitting on the dune buggy’s roof rack, wondering if I was in the right place, when a Roadkill van came cruisin’ in with someone shouting “Want to help setup?!” out the window. I of course responded, “Absolutely!”
Well that someone turned out to be the producer of Roadkill, and after demonstrating my next level van unloading skills, we got to talking about the upcoming week of Roadkill Takes America. She asked us if we were going on the trip, and I explained that we wanted to but couldn’t afford the cost of hotels. She became reserved for a bit, obviously thinking, and came back to me with an offer to pay “some of our hotel costs in exchange for grunt work.”
I was sold. My brother was sold. We called our dad (also our boss) to see if we could get the week off work to road trip the dune buggy to Texas with Roadkill...he was not sold. He eventually and grudgingly gave us permission and told us (Jalops, cover your ears), “Fine, you can go...but you’re not taking the buggy. Take that piece of shit Miata.”
...and with that lovely introduction, here is my chariot:
By the time we swapped cars and said our goodbyes, the Roadkill caravan had already taken off down the road. So now we’re barreling down I-75, trying to catch up in a questionably reliable car with half the interior taken apart repeating our new motto for the week, “We’re only 50% sure this is a good idea, but we’re 100% sure we’re going.”
Day 2: Bowling Green, Kentucky
As promised, we were put up in a hotel for night (thanks Dodge) and we were now part of the Roadkill crew. I’m now eating breakfast at the same table as Freiburger and Finnegan, two of my automotive internet heroes. I wasn’t used to this yet, so I kept pretty quiet.
My brother and I, along with the producer’s assistant and Finnegan, were sent off to Holley’s headquarters to pick up Blasphemi and set up for the factory tours that would be held there in a few hours. Things got set up quite quickly, so I actually got a tour from a guy named Blane who works in marketing at Holley. He later showed me his LS-swapped 240SX and gave me his card...he must have seen my “Roadkill Crew” shirt and mistaken me for someone important.
I was later sent off to Beech Bend Raceway to deliver some papers to the producer, and I spent the rest of the day selling merch and running tools back and forth while Finnegan tested and tuned Blasphemi. The car was having trouble making a clean pass and seemed to be running wrong...it was later realized that the car was out of gas. Because Roadkill.
I got to mount some wheels on the Roadkill Atomic Van. I worked on a Roadkill car!
Day 3: Memphis, Tennessee
Day three’s activities started with Comp Cams tours (didn’t get to go on these) and ended with a [burnout]. I sold a lot of merch and gave away a lot of stickers...are you beginning to see a trend?
Day 4: Tulsa, Oklahoma
This was a BIG day. We started at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit and after selling a shirt to basically everyone who showed up, I got to watch Freiburger and Finnegan tear up the track with the Vette-kart and General Maintenance. My brother got to swap drag slicks on General Mayhem at the track’s shop. I had never been to a track before, but now let’s just say the Miata are eagerly looking to do our first track day, bro.
After Hallett, we were off to Tulsa Raceway Park for midnight drag racing. Let me tell you, people in Oklahoma (Oklahomans?) take their drag racing very seriously. Hundreds of cars and what seemed like thousands of people flocked to this drag strip for some of the fastest paced racing I’ve ever seen. Cars were making a pass nearly every 30 minutes. I sold Roadkill shirts and hats like a madman, and eventually another crew member offered to take over for me because I “just had to watch the races from the media room.” What’s a media room? ...only the coolest place to watch drag racing.
After the racing was over and the track closed, I got to talking with the owner of the track, who is a Miata and Grom enthusiast. Yeah, we got along.
Day 5: Ames, Oklahoma
This day was what made this rally so unique. It was spent at Hajek Motorsports Museum, which is an old school in
the middle of nowhere Ames, Oklahoma that housed and impressive collection of early funny cars, 10 late model Cobra Jets, wrecked salt-flat cars, and basically anything the owner was into.
Oh yeah, and he took us next door and showed us THE FORD GT90. I know you Jalopponauts love this car. He even started it for us. I touched it.
...and when I say this was in the middle of nowhere, I mean the Ford GT90 is on a lift in a building that looks like this:
...in a town that looks like this:
Day 6: Fort Worth, Texas
The final day. I’m getting tired at this point. HA! Yeah right, I’m kickin’ it every day with my internet heroes. By now, Finnegan had heard that my dad called my Miata a piece of shit and has been calling it the same ever since. We struck a deal a few days earlier that if the car made it to Texas, he’d have to say it wasn’t a piece of shit. Well we’re in Texas!
Day six started with tours of Painless Performance’s factory, and we took a picture of all the long haulers before leaving for the drive-in movie theater where we’d watch a few episodes of Roadkill!
The crew finally got to kick back and enjoy the fact that the whole rally went so well, and I spent a little time handing out gift cards to the concession stand where people were elated to get free beer, courtesy of Dodge. The final episode ended, we packed up the cars and said our goodbyes. The guys even signed my car.
Day 7: Non-Stop Service from Texas to Michigan
I threw in a day 7 because while the rest of the crew got to fly home to California, my brother and I had 18 hours of driving in a old, loud, and cramped Japanese roadster ahead of us. I took this time to reflect on the previous week, and how lucky I was to find myself eating and joking across from Finnegan at dinner a few days earlier, and realizing that these YouTube stars I idolized were simply people. Roadkill may be the only real reality car show, it is simply a small camera crew documenting two car nuts and their shenanigans. Nothing’s fake, staged, or scripted. I’m thankful for the experience and hope to see my Roadkill friends again.
Here’s what the car looked like when I got home!
*Special thanks goes out to my dad, my family for packing the car for this spontaneous trip, my brother, the guys at Roadkill and all the friends I made along the way.
So what’s next for the NewGuy series? I have a list of things I want to try that include driving the Miata through a Michigan winter, finally driving the buggy at Silver Lake sand dunes, and even something as simple as showing a car at a car show. But maybe you have a better idea, let me know!