How do you eat an elephant? It’s 5:12 a.m., I’m groggy after getting to bed at 1:14 a.m., aided by four Coronas to help shut off the “knock-list” in my brain. I don’t know how many nights I’ve spent building ZedSled in my sleep, or waking slumber/half consciousness. I kick myself for being in this position … again!
In 36 hours, the car will be loaded onto a trailer headed to Vegas, and there’s 18 items left on the list, and six have been kicked to the curb because there’s simply no time. It’s been said, “ It’s not how good you are at building cars, it’s how good you are at disguising your mistakes.”
Those who have displayed a car at SEMA or any other trade show, or even a car show, know what this means. There’s no such thing as a perfect car, but that doesn’t stop us from trying. Why didn’t I plan to have this car ready by June? Oh, wait ... I did!
Things happen, life happens, there are delays in manufacturing, delays in shipping, and then there’s “the prototype.” Yes, it’s cool to have cutting-edge stuff on our cars, and even cooler to have “the first” of something bolted on our projects. I’ve been lucky enough to have this happen a couple of times, but it’s stressful knowing that so many things have to come together perfectly for it all to happen. Sometimes the prototype has a cool factor of 11, and sometimes the prototype is a crash and burn. And where the @#&^$ did that fluid leak come from?
SEMA thrash …
TC Penick says, “cut and shove to fit,” with a half-smile on his face, knowing that he won’t half-ass anything because his standards are so high.
Chris Slee is as laid back as any human being I know and brings humor and calm to any room, along with a mad skillset in every aspect of car building.
Ian Johnson is a jack-of-all trades and makes fun of a low-stance Camaro at every opportunity but has a keen eye for design and can kick out finesse-work as easily as a homebuilt four-link, long-travel suspension for a 500hp LS-powered rock bouncer.
Tim Strange is a machine! He’s been doing this so long his body just switches to a non-sleeping mode during SEMA thrash.
Steve Longacre is a skilled digital designer and artist, and his OCD helps big time when it comes to tedious but critical jobs (pouring 10 quarts of transmission fluid through the famous Lokar adapter thingee).
David Branson (DBR High Performance) is cool, too. A talented calibrator, versatile hot rodder, and a great friend.
DBR, David, and Jon Coleman stepped up big time for ZedSled with encouragement, time volunteered, and technical support that made the difference in us making this SEMA happen.
Wade Mcgowan from Race Part Solutions talked me off the ledge a couple of times, and John Urist was an excellent source for tech help as well.
Grant Salter can throw himself into any aspect of any project with expertise, and Randy Jones (Ricky-Bobby) is as talented as any of ’em, and funny to boot! We needed Randy Jones many times over the past months.
The truth is, I needed all of them, Rob Ranier, Jeremy Clarke, Barry Bannister and his mad skills on the buffer, Chris Robinson and his Ninja Custom audio, and there are several more that are unnamed but never forgotten.
These builds are punishing, frustrating, stressful, aggravating, and just plain hard to do, but Man, do you feel alive while doing it!
Would I do it again? I think you know the answer. One bite at a time, Baby!
Hope you said “hello” at SEMA.