How the Other Half Drives
ProMotorsports Specializes In Conspicuous Consumption
With gas prices perched firmly in the ionosphere and hybrid hysteria spreading like the Ebola virus, one could be forgiven for assuming the demand for high-powered, high-glitz custom automobiles is currently in full Louganis mode.
According to Jim Lewis, such an assumption would be unfounded. Lewis, who owns ProMotorsports, in Springfield, Missouri, is in the fiscally ironclad business of keeping professional athletes, captains of industry, and other image-conscious quadrillionaires rolling on the cutting edge of automotive performance and style. Chalk it up to vanity, one-upmanship, or good ole bourgeois materialism, but the demand for cost-is-no-object personalized automobiles shows no signs of slowing down. "We started back in 1995 with just a few cars," says Lewis. "Last year, we did almost 50 vehicles, not counting the basic wheel-and-tire jobs."
Although a strict policy of client confidentiality prevents Lewis from naming names, when pressed, he'll divulge that the ProMotorsports client list includes members of the San Antonio Spurs, New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, and numerous other pro ball teams "from coast to coast." If you've ever gazed longingly at the chromed-and-Dub-shod conveyances that fill the secure lot of any major sports complex on game day, chances are you've clapped eyes on a ProMotorsports creation.
In addition to slaking the sybaritic thirsts of private individuals, the company also mints many of the pimped-out, babe-draped bijoux that pack auditorium floors at large automotive- and electronics-industry trade shows. One of the company's more, ah, comprehensive projects was an '05Escalade that formed the centerpiece of the Sony display at last year's Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and Consumer Electronics Show (CES) confabs.
Notable upgrades included a set of manhole-cover-sized DUB or Lowenhart wheels (depending on the venue), a ProCharger intercooled supercharger kit, and a custom "Powder Blue"paint scheme keyed to the hue of one of the electronics giant's latest cellular-telephone offerings. Finally, to ensure that none of the 'Slade's occupants was ever forced to undertake a task so prosaic as driving, ProMotorsports installed 17 televisions and enough stereo gear to induce tectonic migration. "We've actually taken it down to nine TVs since," says Lewis, sounding almost apologetic.
Considering the luxury sport-utility vehicle's status as the bucks-up chariot of choice among the glitterati, it should come as no surprise that heavily made-over Escalades, Hummers, and Range Rovers constitute the majority of ProMotorsports' business. But when it comes toperformance cars, the Corvette reigns supreme. Last year, the company built SEMA Vettes for ProCharger and Weld Wheels, and current projects include a supercharged C6 for one of the Kansas City Royals.
The red convertible featured in this article was recently sold to two-time NHRA record holder John Woods, who in his spare time operates Performance Auto, a successful racing-engine shop and drag-car-fabrication emporium in Oklahoma City. As the accompanying photos attest, ProMotorsports took a comparatively restrained approach when customizing the car, adding only the ProCharger kit and a set of upsized Weld BC10 Forged wheels.
Mercifully, no one suggested installing a television.