I've been into Mustangs since before I was even old enough to reach the pedals. I remember watching old slides as a kid, seeing my dad in his Army days in his brand new '65 fastback, his first Mustang, which was soon replaced by a Silver Blue convertible. Hearing the tales of his many exploits in his pony cars and in the drag racing career that followed planted the seed in me that would grow into a lifelong love of all things automotive.
In 1988, at the age of 16, I got my first car -- a '65 Mustang coupe. It was a straight little driver that had spent most of its life in Arizona and was therefore essentially rust free. Its restoration began shortly thereafter, and I built a strong new 289 for it using knowledge I had gained in my job as "low man on the totem pole" at K.A.R. and Associates (now K.A.R. Auto Group) in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio. Working on that car over the next couple of years I basically learned every lesson there was to learn the hard way, but it is these lessons that have been most valuable to me in the long haul.
I turned a lot of wrenches on a lot of Mustangs over the following years, both as a mechanic at K.A.R. and on our own cars. One of my most memorable projects was a Black Jade 1970 Shelby GT-350 that won its class and "Best Shelby" honors at SAAC-18, the 1993 annual convention of the Shelby American Automobile Club. My buddy Shannon Brown, who built the Shelby with me, and I drove it from Columbus, Ohio to SAAC-18 in Watkins Glen, New York, ran it hard on the open track for a couple of days, polished it up, won the show, and drove it right back home again. We never were fans of "Trailer Queens"!
I dabbled in late models for a time after that, learning a thing or two about fuel injection and computer-controlled cars in the process. I took an '89 Saleen convertible and added a Vortech supercharger, Tremec 5-speed, headers, exhaust, and more and ran it in a handful of open track events. By this time I had caught the track bug in a bad way, but it would be a number of years yet before I would get into real road racing competition.
In 1996 I had the opportunity at K.A.R. Auto Group to build a Silver Blue '65 convertible just like the one my parents had over thirty years prior. The car was purchased by Ford Motor Company to be used for promotional purposes, a fact I'm still proud of to this day.
Soon thereafter, I moved to Flagstaff, Arizona. After earning a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Northern Arizona University, I accepted a job with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA and went to work on the Mars Exploration Rover Mission to be launched in 2003. The three ensuing years were a time of intense hard work and pressure as I helped build the rovers' suspension systems and transitioned onto the Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations (ATLO) team. On ATLO, we subjected the spacecraft to an exhaustive battery of tests to try and prepare for any eventuality the extreme mission conditions might present. Somehow I also found the time to spend some of that overtime pay on a new project -- a 1983 Mazda RX-7 built to compete in the Sports Car Club of America's PRO7 road racing series. I earned my competition license and got a few races in, but my demanding work schedule dominated everything else at the time. The ATLO experience culminated with a 4-month stay at Kennedy Space Center/Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to see the twin spacecraft through final testing, integration, and launch.
The successful launches saw us all return to JPL to wait out the 6-month cruise time to Mars. I got to work on the next Mars mission, currently slated
for launch in 2009, and reacquainted myself with the race car. Both rovers landed successfully in January of 2004 and began their missions on the surface of Mars. I did a stint in the Surface Mission Support Area ("Mission Control") as one of the engineers responsible for monitoring the health and activity of the rovers' mechanisms.
My mind was inevitably back on cars. Even during some of the most exciting phases of building the rovers, the part of my day I most looked forward to were the couple of hours at night I would spend in the garage building the race car. It was only a matter of time before I realized once and for all that that is what I was meant to do. I quit my job at JPL and opened a small shop near the beach in Ventura, CA to build my dream cars.
Now these cars are becoming reality. I'm always looking for a new and exciting project to devote myself to, so please contact me if you're interested in owning a truly special Mustang built exactly the way you want it!