The performance automotive industry can be a very elusive place. Most, if not all, of my friends got into it for the love of everything automotive. I still have numerous friends that are in this industry, but as with any job it can be a struggle. Some were underpaid, some overworked, a few just lost interest and found a new career altogether. My story is not much different than some of theirs. You see, I have been in and out of this industry for 20 years. I have searched for and found better opportunities, more money, and benefits. The thing that I had to learn about myself in the workforce was, it was never about any of these things. For me, it was about doing what I loved day in and day out. I truly believe that if you can find your passion and make a living at it, you are winning. Not just with your job, but with your life as well.
In order to understand where my passion comes from we have to back up a little. I grew up on a small farm outside of Quanah, Texas. In its heyday, the town of Quanah had a population of a whopping 4,589 people. On my birth certificate, it stated that my fathers occupation at that time was a bonafide cowboy. At six-feet, two-inches and 210 pounds, Bob was exactly what most people think of when they imagine a cowboy from the Wild West. Dusty grey felt hat, weathered leather chaps, long sleeve pearl snap shirt with blue stripes, worn cowboy boots, all of which were posted on a Red Rhone horse named Rooster. He was a rugged looking dude that was almost selected to be the Marlboro man in the ’70s.
My Dad was very passionate about his work and the cowboy life. I was not.
You might be wondering why I’m telling you all of this. Well, first off I think it’s a pretty cool occupation, especially in today’s society. Secondly, my Dad was very passionate about his work and the cowboy life. I was not. By the age of 10 I had been bucked off, stepped on and dragged through mesquite tree pastures more times than I care to remember. This is around the time that my addiction was fueled.
In 1985 my parents purchased a Manco Dingo go kart for me and it was awesome! It was equipped with off-road tires on the rear, glossy black paint, satin gold wheels, roll bar, and a Briggs and Stratton five horsepower engine. Any kid my age would have been super-pumped to have such a beastly kart. Unfortunately, I was not. You see, my best friend Gary had an identical go kart but with a different engine. His little five-horse Subaru-powered Dingo would literally leave me eating dirt and dust around our homemade racetrack. For a 10 year old (or any competitive male), this is a huge problem. I needed a solution and I needed it fast. After playing with the throttle, I figured out that the pedal had a stop on it. I adjusted it to wide-open throttle expecting to release all of the horsepower the Dingo could handle. Surely this thing would pull wheelies and shred the tires! Nope, not even close.
Completely disgruntled I went back to work and that’s when it happened. I discovered the infamous governor. For those of you that don’t know what a governor does, it is nothing more than a safety device to limit the engine’s rpm and to destroy one’s childhood. Armed with a paper clip and some Berkley fishing line, I completely bypassed the standard foot-operated throttle for a new handheld method. The results were in fact, ridiculous. The engine roared to life and would now throw fist-sized rocks and drift on command.
Gary’s little Subaru was the the first thing on my mind and it was time to line them up. I yanked that fishing line and the engine screamed to what I thought sounded like 10,000 rpm. I almost felt bad for Gary because in the fashion of a 500 horsepower shot of nitrous, I was gone!
I distinctly remember the grin on my face and the bugs in my teeth as we ripped around that little black clay dirt track for hours. It was a glorious feeling, but one that was short lived. You see, turning a five horsepower Briggs motor at double its normal operating rpm can cause some problems. That poor Briggs engine was screaming like a banshee until that rod decided it wanted out of the current situation. As the little high-revving engine exploded, it spit stock Briggs and Stratton components all over that back straight. Was this setback going to stop my fun? Not a chance. Go karts led to motorcycles, motorcycles led to cars, big-blocks, nitrous, turbos, superchargers and eventually all things LS.
In 1999 while working for Nitrous Express, I started experimenting with LS-specific nitrous systems way ahead of the performance aftermarket. Unfortunately some of the results were really similar to that little five-horse Briggs engine due to the infamous LS1 connecting rods. The industry did catch up rather quickly and now you can find just about anything you need. Holley even created a world renowned event called LS Fest. This is a three-day event built around an engine. Think about that for a minute.
The LS platform is so good, so popular, it has its own venue with a cult-like following. The only rule to get a vehicle in to the show is that it must have an LS or LT powerplant. Holley is bringing 20,000 people to the party in Bowling Green and it’s growing. They even added a second LS Fest in Las Vegas because a ton of enthusiasts couldn’t make it to Kentucky.
The LS platform is so good, so popular, it has its own venue with a cult-like following.
Another great example of the LS influence, this publication. LSX Magazine solely exists due to the platform of this engine and the support of the aftermarket. So if it wasn’t produced, my new career here at Power Automedia might not even exist.
Since that’s not the case, I am ecstatic to be part of the Power Automedia team and to be the new Editor of LSX Magazine. My goal for this publication is to bring you, the reader, content that is informative, innovative, and entertaining. I really want to hear from you guys and girls on what you like or don’t like. It’s really hard to make improvements on anything if you don’t have solid feedback. I expect to learn some things from you along the way and I hope you do the same. I’m very blessed to be back in the industry I love and I trust my passion will be obvious in my work.