GM makes it official...

...and files for bankruptcy.

From the AP story lede:

"WASHINGTON – General Motors, the humbled auto giant that has been part of American life for more than 100 years, will file for bankruptcy protection on Monday in a deal that will give taxpayers a 60 percent ownership stake and expand the government's reach into big business."

NSR Porsche 917 photo tour

Some photos I took of the new NSR Porsche 917k Piper livery.

SCX Mini newsletter

GM: Not even the Volt can Save them. Chrysler - Last chance for Hornet

GM is finally dead. For my thoughts about its demise, see the first-ever post on this blog. GM: Designing Disaster. Even the upcoming Volt, the car that may save the world, can't save GM from maple-sirrup-sipping puck slappers.

But maybe there's still some hope for Chrysler. I've mentioned it before, but the Dodge Hornet was always a good idea. It's the only small, American car anyone might possible begin to consider thinking about owning.

C'mon, Chrysler. GM didn't listen and now look.

General Motors Executives Had Little Use for History

Hi folks -- It looks like tomorrow GM will declare bankruptcy. Business historians will look back at this time as one of the most significant in American industrial and organizational history, and plenty of blame will be shared among various executives, UAW leadership, the blue-collar workforce, and federal government. Ironically, perhaps, GM has had little use for history until recently, and indeed has avoided releasing documents that would have provided historians with the raw material to write a thorough and useful 20th century history of America's greatest firm. One can cautiously learn from history.

For example, the last time that GM had its back to the wall, in 1932, Barons magazine reported renewed efforts to sell cars in the wake of a 35 % decline (note in April, 2009, the decline was more than 40% from 2008).

The headline from the April 4, 1932, issue of Barron’s proclaimed, “General Motor’s Sales Off About 35%” followed by the next headline, which read, “Super Sales Force to Distribute Buick, Olds, and Pontiac to be Headed by Richard H. Grant.” The latter article reads, in part:
Formation of the Buick-Olds-Pontiac Sales Company, a super sales organization for the distribution of Buick, Pontiac, and Oldsmobile cars, is announced in Detroit by Richard H. Grant, vice-president of General Motors. Mr. Grant, in addition to his activities as general supervisor of sales, advertising, and service for General Motors, will have active charge of the new organization. “The new organization is planned to intensify and improve the operating efficiency of our distributing outlets for these three lines of cars,” Mr. Grant said. “The present field organizations for the three brands will be combed for the best talent available and their united efforts under one directing organization will, we feel, form the strongest and most efficient sales force ever assembled in the automobile industry. The three cars will continue to be merchandised through the present dealer and distributorship organizations and the management expects to increase materially their sales through the new organization.” Richard H. Grant, under whom the new organization will function, says: “The great middle class ground from $500 to $1,500 is in need of special attention. It would be economic folly to offer only one car. The public demands, and we shall continue to offer, three cars in this class. All talk of a discontinuance of any line as a result of this move is utter nonsense.” “The nation is junking more cars than it is buying. Auto buying has been at a low level for two years and something must turn soon to bring the public back in the market for new cars. People who have had automobiles and who can afford them will never deprive themselves of this modern luxury.”
Richard(1877-1957) and Laura Grant, about 1955

Now perhaps we can see why the announcement of GM's ending the Pontiac brand makes no real sense today, just as it would have in 1932. Same with the fate of Oldsmobile. These were cars for everyday people, and it is the purchases of everyday folks that will take us out of the auto recession. Both brands had a very loyal following.

Richard Grant remains one of my auto history heroes. I live on property that was once a part of his Normandy Farms estate located in Washington Township, Ohio, near Centerville and Dayton. But that is not why I value his professional life. Grant was both very smart and very practical; he took life by the horns and shaped his world.

For more on Grant, see my The Automobile and American Life, pages 54, 59-61.

Pick-Up Trucks of the Future and Revised CAFE Standards

Gretchen Wilson, also known as the "red-neck woman," posing on the bed of a Chevy truck

Hi folks -- this is a response to an inquiry I just received from a reporter who writes for the Christian Science Monitor:

Hi Patrik -- You have asked a complex and important question about the future of light trucks given 2012/2016 CAFE standards. Until now, the bundling of trucks and SUVs under CAFE was a travesty. SUVs are for the most part a luxury and a consumer choice used primarily for the convenience of the owner and family. Light pick-up trucks are not, however. They work as hard as their many owners. If P.J. O'Rourke, writing recently in the Wall Street Journal, is right that the greens and elitist bureaucrats are now disproportionately influencing Washington legislation and Detroit manufacturers, then the pick-up as we know it is in trouble. And while April, 2009, sales statistics suggest that pick-up sales are really no different than passenger sales in terms of the large downturn (about 40%), smaller, lighter, and less powerful trucks in our future may be shunned by the "authentic" pick-up buyer, who does want a large bed to haul all kinds of stuff, room on the inside for his overweight body, wife and children, and a menacing front bumper guard that could push my old Porsche into a ditch with minimal effort.

If models do change to become more energy efficient and less powerful, the good old boys and girls who do not live in the Virgina suburbs will keep their old trucks forever. And they need to, for many are small craftsmen and repair folks who don't have the money to buy new every two to four years. If they cared what people thought about what they drove, they wouldn't be in a truck to begin with!

I have a good friend, Cliff Brockman, who lives in Xenia, Ohio, on a small farmette. He has an old 1975 Chevrolet Silverado with enough miles on it that it probably could have gone to Mars by now. I can't tell you how many engines, transmissions, body parts, etc. have been put on this truck over the years. Doors rust, rocker panels fall off, and yet the truck still goes, and probably would make it to California today, although with its oil leaks you would need to take a couple of cases of 20w-50 oil along. The truck is painted primer black, except for sections that have faded off on the hood, and with its gun rack, looks like something someone would keep in an Aryan Nations or Taliban compound. But boy, does it get the job done! Cliff doesn't make a ton of money, but he hauls wood, scrap parts, old GM engines, etc. in it, and it doesn't fail him. Consequently, with his supplementary income and activities, he does just fine. And it is often weighed down beyond capacity.

I think what Cliff has done for years is what many Americans will do, if pick-ups become more expensive, less powerful, lighter and with less capacity. They will say the hell with Washington and the bureaucrats, even if they tax gasoline or force stricter emissions controls.

To: John Heitmann
Subject: cs monitor story on 'truck of the future'

Hi John, I'm working on a story about how the new fuel efficiency standards will affect America's love affair with the truck. I'm focusing particularly on the vast legions of small contractors who make their livings off the beds of trucks, and how higher costs, different configurations, etc., will affect them. Will we see a surge in rebuild shops so they can keep their old trucks on the road longer? Since they often operate on small margins, will they be unduly punished by higher standards, and will their trucks even be able to do the job? I'm setting this against the backdrop of the truck's unique role in American society and work culture. Curious to get your thoughts. An email response would be fine on this end, since I know you're in Germany at the moment. Many thanks! best, Patrik.

Relay For Life demo-Hughesville, Pa.

Photos from a demo I did at the Relay For Life in my town... lots of fun and some new slot racers were born I think!

See the photos at this link.

P.J. O'Rourke on "The End of the Affair"

Thanks again to Ed Garten , who pointed out to me O'Rourke's elegantly written and thoughtful article that appeared in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal. Here is the link for those who want to read it.

O'Rourke's essay should be read not only by folks who lived the love affair with the automobile during the 1950s and1960s, but also their children who continue to wonder why Dad loves a car more than Mother! O'Rourke pulls no punches in this essay, and here are a few choice quotes:
"Politicians, journalists, financial analysts and other purveyors of banality have been looking at cars as if a convertible were a business. Fire the MBAs and hire a poet. The fate of Detroit isn't a matter of financial crisis, foreign competition, corporate greed, union intransigence, energy costs or measuring the shoe size of the footprints in the carbon. It’s a tragic romance—unleashed passions, titanic clashes, lost love and wild horses."
O'Rourke goes on to discuss horses and horsepower and the significance of mechanical power, which elevated our status, enabled us to be cool and "ennobled us." But subsequently, Americans moved to the suburbs, where the mundane tasks we pursued unwittingly turned the object of desire into an appliance. But despite this dilemma, we chose the car, the car didn't choose us, and perhaps there is a very faint hope on the part of O'Rourke that we can still choose to keep it in our hearts:
"But cars didn't shape our existence; cars let us escape with our lives. We're way the heck out here in Valley Bottom Heights and Trout Antler Estates because we were at war with the cities. We fought rotten public schools, idiot municipal bureaucracies, corrupt political machines, rampant criminality and the pointy-headed busybodies. Cars gave us our dragoons and hussars, lent us speed and mobility, let us scout the terrain and probe the enemy's lines. And thanks to our cars, when we lost the cities we weren't forced to surrender, we were able to retreat."
O'Rourke doesn't like what he sees right now happening to the automobile industry and the American automobile. Ultimately, what he fears, is the loss of freedom and liberty, orchestrated by pointed-head government bureaucrats and green environmentalists who are taking away from us something distinctly American. And here he is right on, for as long as Americans are on wheels, no government can monitor and control us adequately. The car remains our freedom machine, and hopefully we will stand up to keep it that way.

Opel Goes its Own Way

Alfred P. Sloan (6th from right) in Russelheim. 1929.

Eighty years ago, Alfred P. Sloan travelled to Russelheim, Germany, to formalize the General Motors Acquisition of Adam Opel AG. Unlike Ford Motor Company, which had set up its own establishments overseas, GM acquired a number of companies -- including Opel, Vauxhall, and Holden -- to become a true multinational corporation by the end of the 1920s. The relationship was far from a happy one at times-- particularly during the years of WWII, when the German Government used the Russelheim plant to manufacture critical components needed for the conflict ( i.e. Ju 88 Bomber parts) -- but in more recent times, Opel was one of the brightest units within GM, and a place where talent was groomed before coming to Detroit. All that is now apparently over, the result of GM's inability to sustain Opel, and the intervention of General Motors and the parts manufacture MAGNA.

Opel workers embraced Adolph Hitler during the 1930s.

I was never a big fan of Opels when they were imported into the U.S. during the late 1960s and early 1970s, sold on the lots of Buick dealers. To me, there seemed to be something cheap about them, but I am sure fans of the brand would roast me if they could catch me right now for saying those criticisms. It also happened that when I had my Unfall last Friday night, the car that hit me was an Opel, so I still see that insignia as the hood of the Opel made impact on the side of my VW. Opel cars and I simply do not get along.

1973 Opel GT, in my opinion the best post-WWII Opel

As Opel goes its own way, however, I wonder if GM's contraction in the world marketplace, and specifically Europe, actually parallels America's loss in influence in economic markets overseas as we battle recession and unemployment at home. Government officials and economists project an upbeat end to our recession after the next several quarters , but I wonder if something more lasting and significant is happening that will affect future generations of Americans in their search for the American Dream.

NX-1337 Flame Thrower Art Car - SS Alpha Fox

NX-1337 Flame Thrower Art Car
NX-1337 Flame Thrower Art Car

NX-1337 Flame Thrower Art Car in action
NX-1337 Flame Thrower Art Car in action
by jurvetson
Don't know much about the NX-1337 Flame Thrower Art Car but It seems to be at every event. Its also the vehicle featured on the Maker Faire Button every hear so cudos to you NX-1337 Flame Thrower Art Car owner. Hopefully I will see you in about 9 hours and find out more about you.It sorta looks like a meter maid car out of a star treck movie or something. When you park your star ship illegally in dock 54 you get flamed.

2009 USRA Scale Nats Coverage on Facebook

Become a fan of the 2009 USRA Scale Nats action May 30 to June 7 on Facebook:

Mid-America Raceway and Hobbies on Facebook

Rock the Bike a Pedal Powered Music Stage by Fossil Fool

Paul the Fossil Fool's Bike
Paul the Fossil Fool's Bike
by xtracycleinc

Paul the Fossil Fool is the only MC who can rock a mic while he rides his bike. He is the inventor and producer of the Soul Cycle, an on-board audio system for bikes and the Down Low Glow, a neon lighting system that he designed and built. I met Paul two years ago at my first Maker Faire, where I saw his incredible bike for the first time. Last year he organized Rock The Bike a human powered music stage and this year will feature 10 local bands. Hey paul do you think I have enough links up for you? See you this weekend

Video from Last Years Rock The Bike

The Unvarnished Truth about the Current Automobile Crisis in America

Thanks to Dr. Ed Garten for forwarding me this letter. It is must reading for anyone interested in dissipating the "smoke" and getting at the heart of our current crisis:

Auto Supplier Tells GM Where to GO (and HOW to get there)!

This message says a lot about our need to stand up and be responsible. Hopefully it will get a wide distribution. This is one of the greatest responses to the requests for bailout money I have seen thus far.

As a supplier for the Big 3, this man from Franklin, Ohio, received a letter from the President of GM North America requesting support for the bail out program. His response is well written, and has to make you proud of a local guy who tells it like it is. This letter and Mr. Knox are real. Check it out at


This is GM's letter:

Dear Employees & Suppliers,
Congress and the current Administration will soon determine whether to provide immediate support to the domestic auto industry to help it through one of the most difficult economic times in our nation's history. Your elected officials must hear from all of us now on why this support is critical to our continuing the progress we began prior to the global financial crisis.
As an employee or supplier, you have a lot at stake and continue to be one of our most effective and passionate voices. I know GM can count on you to have your voice heard. Thank you for your urgent action and ongoing support.
Troy Clarke
President, General Motors North America


Response from Gregory Knox, President, Knox Machinery Company, Franklin, Ohio

Gentlemen: In response to your request to contact legislators and ask for a bailout for the Big Three automakers please consider the following, and please pass my thoughts on to Troy Clarke, President of General Motors North America.

Politicians and Management of the Big 3 are both infected with the same entitlement mentality that has spread like cancerous germs in UAW halls for the last countless decades, and whose plague is now sweeping this nation, awaiting our new "messiah," Pres. Obama, to wave his magic wand and make all our problems go away, while at the same time allowing our once great nation to keep "living the dream." Believe me folks, The dream is over! This dream where we can ignore the consumer for years while management myopically focuses on its personal rewards packages at the same time that our factories have been filled with the world's most overpaid, arrogant, ignorant and laziest entitlement minded "laborers" without paying the price for these atrocities. This dream where you still think the masses will line up to buy our products for ever and ever. Don't even think about telling me I'm wrong. Don't accuse me of not knowing of what I speak. I have called on Ford, GM, Chrysler, TRW, Delphi, Kelsey Hayes, American Axle and countless other automotive OEM's throughout the Midwest during the past 30 years, and what I've seen over those years in these union shops can only be described as disgusting. Troy Clarke, President of General Motors North America, states: "There is widespread sentiment throughout this country, and our government, and especially via the news media, that the current crisis is completely the result of bad management which it certainly is not." You're right Mr. Clarke, it's not JUST management. How about the electricians who walk around the plants like lords in feudal times, making people wait on them for countless hours while they drag ass so they can come in on the weekend and make double and triple time for a job they easily could have done within their normal 40 hour work week. How about the line workers who threaten newbies with all kinds of scare tactics for putting out too many parts on a shift and for being too productive. (We certainly must not expose those lazy bums who have been getting overpaid for decades for their horrific underproduction, must we?!?) Do you folks really not know about this stuff? How about this great sentiment abridged from Mr. Clarke's sad plea: "over the last few years we have closed the quality and efficiency gaps with our competitors." What the hell has Detroit been doing for the last 40 years?!? Did we really JUST wake up to the gaps in quality and efficiency between us and them? The K car vs. the Accord? The Pinto vs. the Civic?!? Do I need to go on? What a joke! We are living through the inevitable outcome of the actions of the United States auto industry for decades. It's time to pay for your sins, Detroit. I attended an economic summit last week where brilliant economist, Alan Beaulieu, from the Institute of Trend Research, surprised the crowd when he said he would not have given the banks a penny of "bailout money." "Yes, he said, this would cause short term problems," but despite what people like politicians and corporate magnates would have us believe, the sun would in fact rise the next day and the following very important thing would happen. Where there had been greedy and sloppy banks, new efficient ones would pop up. That is how a free market system works. It does work if we would only let it work." But for some nondescript reason, we are now deciding that the rest of the world is right and that capitalism doesn't work - that we need the government to step in and "save us." Save us my ass, Hell - we're nationalizing and unfortunately too many of our once fine nation's citizens don't even have a clue that this is what is really happening. But, they sure can tell you the stats on their favorite sports teams. Yeah - THAT'S really important, isn't it? Does it ever occur to ANYONE that the "competition" has been producing vehicles, EXTREMELY PROFITABLY, for decades in this country? How can that be??? Let's see. Fuel efficient. Listening to customers. Investing in the proper tooling and automation for the long haul. Not being too complacent or arrogant to listen to Dr. W Edwards Deming four decades ago when he taught that by adopting appropriate principles of management, organizations could increase quality and simultaneously reduce costs. Ever increased productivity through quality and intelligent planning. Treating vendors like strategic partners, rather than like "the enemy." Efficient front and back offices. Non-union environment. Again, I could go on and on, but I really wouldn't be telling anyone anything they really don't already know down deep in their hearts. I have six children, so I am not unfamiliar with the concept of wanting someone to bail you out of a mess that you have gotten yourself into - my children do this on a weekly, if not daily basis, as I did when I was their age. I do for them what my parents did for me (one of their greatest gifts, by the way) - I make them stand on their own two feet and accept the consequences of their actions and work through it. Radical concept, huh. Am I there for them in the wings? Of course - but only until such time as they need to be fully on their own as adults. I don't want to oversimplify a complex situation, but there certainly are unmistakable parallels here between the proper role of parenting and government. Detroit and the United States need to pay for their sins. Bad news people - it's coming whether we like it or not. The newly elected Messiah really doesn't have a magic wand big enough to "make it all go away." I laughed as I heard Obama "reeling it back in" almost immediately after the final vote count was tallied. "We really might not do it in a year or in four." Where the Hell was that kind of talk when he was RUNNING for office. Stop trying to put off the inevitable folks. That house in Florida really isn't worth $750,000. People who jump across a border really don't deserve free health care benefits. That job driving that forklift for the Big 3 really isn't worth $85,000 a year. We really shouldn't allow Wal-Mart to stock their shelves with products acquired from a country that unfairly manipulates their currency and has the most atrocious human rights infractions on the face of the globe. That couple whose combined income is less than $50,000 really shouldn't be living in that $485,000 home. Let the market correct itself folks - it will. Yes it will be painful, but it's gonna' be painful either way, and the bright side of my proposal is that on the other side of it all, is a nation that appreciates what it has and doesn't live beyond its means and gets back to basics and redevelops the patriotic work ethic that made it the greatest nation in the history of the world and probably turns back to God. Sorry - don't cut my head off, I'm just the messenger sharing with you the "bad news." I hope you take it to heart.
Gregory J. Knox, President
Knox Machinery, Inc.
Franklin , Ohio 45005

Scraper Bike - By Tyrone Stevenson Jr

Photos by Jacob Fenston

The scraper bike was birthed in Oakland by Tyrone Stevenson Jr., a 20 year old. AKA Baybe-Champ Da Scraper Bike King/Creator/Inventor. The idea came from cars that ride in Oakland called scrapers — basically an old model car, such as a Buick, that's painted a custom color to match the bright rims that are so big that they scrape the inside of the wheel well. Stevenson and his friends took those aesthetics and applied them to bicycles, fitting large wheels on small frames.The movement went viral when a video about scraper bikes when up and went global with 3 million views. Tyrone is right now working on getting his own store front and working in is his community to help keep the youth out of trouble and in a positive frame of mind.
"The Scraper Bike Movement seeks to capture the creativity of youth living within dangerous communities. It gives them a positive outlet that is fun, educational, and promotes healthy lifestyles. The Scraper Bike Movement offers youth a sustainable group of peers that is positive and motivating. They want to expand and enlighten young people's perspective on life through fixing and painting bicycles. Our goal is to support youth entrepreneurship and cultural innovation. The Scraper Bike Movement has been around for about 5-6 years and is now starting to get exposure worldwide."

-Tyrone Stevenson Jr
The Scraper Bikes will also be at this years Maker Faire

Seat Leon-Holiday Inn newsletter

Twitteri on Cars: The Twitter Auto blog post thing

Swedish supercar koenigsegg

As everyone and, indeed, their mother - I now twitter. And, since I originally cooked this up as a way to help your juice, wet eyeballs on Alex's Carmageddon - my funny video series - my car tweet, as apparently we call these things - is called Alxs Carmageddon. But Alex, why isn't there an 'E' in your name. Because like everything else on Twitter, there's a tight limit on the characters you can use. So, you can't do what you do with your car blog. If I want to talk about the Swedish Koenigsegg - pictured, I better not and just mention Chevies. Car Twittering's in its infancy. Like with anything else car bloggish, you're best off following Autoblog and checking in with my Carmageddon Tweet to see how the filming, editing and posting is going. If you haven't watched, here's what happens: I go to places like Los Angeles (where I'm partially from) and Germany (where I don't like very much) and I show car culture at its purest - and review a car or two if I get around to it. I do an amazing Smartcar ForTwo Review - yes, video, in my first few posts L.A. MPG- discussing last year's fuel crisis as I go along. There's some laughs in it too.

My next effort, as you saw in a previous post, is Alex's Car Scheisser - shot on the Autobahn. You can follow the Alex's Carmageddon Tweet to see how it progresses!

Thursday Hate: The more they protest...

...the more guilty they are.

There was nothing going on behind the scenes. Sure, Roland. Transcript here, audio here.

Listen to his voice. And Rob sounds like a child molester trying to lure a kid into his van.

It makes my eardrums slimy.

(Thanks to Tankboy for sharing)

Mercedes Pens Art Car at Maker Faire 2009

Mercedes Pens Art Car a Art Car Fest
Mercedes Pens Art Car a Art Car Fest
Costas Schuler aka The Pen Guy is a graphic designer, artist, motivational speaker comedian, husband and proud father of three beautiful girls. Life has always been interesting but never quite the same ever since he started working on his Mercedes Pens Art Car now covered in 10,000 pens that was inspired from reading a book called "Art Cars" by author Harrod Blank. Now that the car is pretty much done he has set his sights higher and want to collect a million pens in the next five years to make more pen art.

Lunapillar Mutant Vehicle - Human Transport at Maker Faire

Lunapillar Mutant Vehicle
Lunapillar Mutant Vehicle - Human Transport at Maker Faire
The Lunapillar is a mobile kinetic sculpture created by Jeff and Lisa Hannan insired by the whimsy of recycled and found materials. This mutant vehicle will transport groups of people around the Maker Faire this weekend in comfort and bliss, I can't to get my ride in style.

A Reporter Asks Me Questions About Ford

Occasionally reporters contact me about contemporary auto issues. This morning, David Kaplan, a business reporter for the Houston Chronicle, asked me some questions about Ford. I have attached the questions from David and my brief answers:

Is there any overall thought you have about Ford in the context of the struggling auto industry?

"In my opinion, Ford is in the best shape of all the carmakers, despite the very real challenges in terms of finance and reduced consumer demand. They have the best product line, and most importantly, the government is not involved in their business. So all the compexity of trying to please multiple constituencies is not a problem at Ford the way it is at GM and Chrysler. Put another way, they have their autonomy, the most important aspect related to any large business, and that is critical."

Historically, how has Ford been perceived by the American consumer, if one can generalize?

"Until the recent past, Ford was seen as #2, behind GM in terms of breadth of product. But for some time, savvy consumers have recognized that Ford quality — all in all — has exceeded that of GM, and both the F150 and Mustang have a brand loyalty that is the envy of the industry. Above all — and especially now in times of crisis — Ford stands for "American Made" and America."

Do consumers still want trucks and SUVs? I know the Ford F-150 is hugely successful. Any thoughts on its future?

"Yes, Americans still want trucks. The F-150 is a workhorse for the farmer, jack-of-all-trades, and homeowner who takes care of the yard and the home. It reflects our ability to 'get it done.' Even if gas is $4.50 or more, many Americans will stick to their trucks and SUVs, because we like added room and the perception of enhanced safety if involved in an accident."

Do you think Ford is concerned that Chrysler and GM have advantages from either bailout funding or bankruptcy?

"I don't think that Ford executives perceive that GM and Chrysler have any advantages because of government intervention and financial support. Those two companies are just beginning to experience the confusion that comes from having too many cooks to stir the broth, so to speak. And who wants the UAW to hold a stake in the firm?"

Anything else you'd want to say Ford related?

"Ford should survive this crisis intact and will be a player in the global auto market for years to come. What the upheaval means for the future of our country, however, is the key question, and its outcome will do much to determine the place of the U.S. in the global economy during the 21st century."

Hennepin Crawler by Krank-Boom-Clank

Hennepin Crawler at Burning Man
Hennepin Crawler by Krank-Boom-Clank
Hennepin Crawler at Handcar Regatta 2008

This four wheeled pedal powered monster is called the Hennepin Crawler and created by a group called Krank-Boom-Crank . They are a kinetic industrial arts collective located in Santa Rosa, CA, who made this giant mutant vehicle from about 90% recycled material, such as:

  • Discarded lawn furniture
  • VW Bug & antique Cadillac parts
  • Old wooden furniture
  • Industrial culvert pipe & aviation wire
  • Plenty of old bike bits
  • Other minor found parts

New Revell's announced

A number of slot cars shown for release this year by Revell/Monogram at this link.
Wendell Scott's stock car shown above.

Wendell Scott began racing in 1947 and in 1959 he won 22 races at the local Richmond track and was track champion, also in 1959 he won the Virginia state sportsman title. In 1961 Wendell moved up to Grand National racing and in 1964 on a one-mile track in Florida he became the first and to date only African-American driver to win a Grand National event. In the 1967 season driving a Ford he finished 10th in the point standings, one of the four times he finished in the top ten at the end of a season. Scott was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1999.

Maker Faire 2008 - Vehicles , Art Cars and More

Whirlygig Emoto - Battery Powered Steam Punk Electric Scooter

More photos via flickr

Tom Sepe is the creator of Whirlygig Emoto Art Bike, a Battery Powered Steam Punk Electric Scooter. And if you think that's a mouthful, lets break it down for you one piece at a time. Yes this is a scooter that looks like its steam powered but in fact runs on a couple of batteries. Its also made to look like something made in the early 19th century around the Victorian era called "Steam Punk", look it up because its too long to go into it. Tom is also a multidisciplinary artist, performer, video editor and chef who also worked on Draka the Dragon, a 140-ft Flaming Metal Dragon, and The Runamock Fishvan. He also does custom fabrication work that can be seen in clubs, restaurants and private homes throughout the Bay Area. Check out Whirlygig Emoto in action.

TCW Toolbox: Be PRO, or what NOT to say on the podium

Is this Heaven?’s Iowa.

If you’d have asked either myself, Peter, Noelle, or Seth this question Sunday night in Muscatine, the sun setting on a hot, hard day over the fast food joints and strip malls outside our cramped hotel room, we’d have said, “no, it’s hell.”

Noelle was with us for her virgin foray up the Snake and in fact her first race of the year. I was going for the win after my top 10 in the 4s last year. Peter had the same aspirations for the 3s event, and while Seth was recovering from his recently broken ribs, he is still one skinny dude and a hell of a climber.

By day’s end, Noelle was dropped early, I’d finished 27th after starting in the front row, sweaty and snotty, slow and weak. Peter was strong early, riding off the front like a he-man, but fell back to the last money spot, and Seth only lasted five laps before getting pulled.

What form! What panache! (Photo by Ryan Fay)

Sunday in Muscatine was even worse, relatively. Noelle was off the back and time trialing alone. I finished 13th in the 4s, unable to get through the clusterf*** at the top of the hill (but the speed bump was fun, especially at 40mph - best part of the race...I am going to LOVE CX!)before the last turn. Then I doubled up for the open Masters 30+ lining up right next to Andy Crater and Dewayne Dickey, two former pros and got dropped in two and half laps. 2nd lap in I was right with them up the hill until Crater attacked through the tight chicane turn before the start/finish.


I tried to close it, triedtriedtried...died. They came around after turn 1, before the descent to the speedbump and I tried to recover. But after landing (yes, landing) the hammering started and the gap opened again like a battle axe wound up the hill. Past the line again the motorcycle passed me and left me for dead. One more lap alone, I couldn’t see them at all. I figured I better get out of the way and save them the trouble of pulling me since it wouldn’t be long before they did. Besides, the hot dogs smelled pretty good.

Peter was sitting in the 3s like a patient tiger, then working his way up when he had the worst luck in the world, crashing out sitting 4th wheel on the last turn before the finish.

Seth was dropped with 7 laps to go in the pros race. From my vantage point on the grassy knoll by the final, chicane turn, Crater and legend Steve Tilford would come by breathing like steam locomotives, chugging rhythm to their cadence, at 25mph. Everyone behind them was grimacing in pain. Recovering from broken bones cannot be easy at that level.

So come today in Rock Island I grudgingly put on the kit, and half-heartedly warmed up, while Noelle stayed with her group, and laid down a really powerful sprint. Meanwhile, I moped around the side streets...I won’t say just how low I was Sunday night, but it was down there. Yet when I saw Mike Seguin’s beaming face just off the course, with 30 minutes to go time for the Master’s 30+ 4/5, it couldn’t help but put me into a racing mood.

(Photo by Matt Dawley)

I guess I raced angry, or at least with out any self-applied pressure, never sitting further back than 10th wheel. My bike handling skills are immeasurably better this year after all the descending in SLO and Asheville. I maybe touched the brakes twice on one of the more technical courses out there (the HED Stingers I now own let me bank my Max Lelli into next Tuesday. I still can’t believe I own wheels like that). I did a lot of work trying to bring one dangerous break back - a counter attack by a much stronger rider who went off as a less threatening move easily came back - or maybe get off in it...but 3 laps to go we were back in. One to go everyone jumps. By turn five holes are everywhere as they run out of steam. Seegs is sitting 4th wheel, and I’m right behind, when maybe 50 yard to turn 7 they go four wide.

I remembered Randy saying to me, “first person through turn 7 and 8 wins that race. Do whatever you have to and be first.”

So I did. I came around, and took the turn inside, but clean, Seegs whooping and then yelling at me immediately to GO FASTER. Shifter goes clunk. I go faster. Seegs: “FASTER!!!” Shifter goes clunk. “FASTER!!!”

Turn 8.

For the first time in my 3 years of racing I see the line. With nobody in front of me.

And then I see Seegs.


Another guy right on his wheel. I throw, just like Coach Randy taught me, and get 3rd by maybe 2 inches.

All the frustration and anger and bitterness came rushing out of me in two huge barbaric yawps that echoed off the river town’s brick downtown buildings.

It made all the pain go away - a team win.

(Ryan Fay)

We tried to turn it around, and we did to an extent in the 4s race, but those damn juniors in front of us, 5 of them, held their gap from the their jump with one to go. Rewind to the start: Seegs is off the front immediately breakin’ legs, then chasing down other nascent breaks, while I sit in. It was team work between the two of us all day long. 7 laps to go I come by and ask how he feels, and I can’t really understand what he’s saying, I realize he needs to recover. 2 turns later, I had to take a dig to bring back a junior when nobody else would chase. The Mesa 14 year old who took 3rd at Snake Alley and won in the Melon 4s was off in a growing gap while two of his teammates blocked. Once back in I went to the back to recover and it took me until turn 3 of the last lap to get back up to where I could yell at Seegs, “yo! Outside!”

He faded left, I jumped on his wheel, and we tried like hell to close the gap to the five strong juniors in front of us, but coming through the last 2 turns to the finish we just didn’t have enough time. And after five races in three days, just not enough gas.

Yet we still finished in the money twice that day, and both of us made the podium. I now had $120 extra in my pocket as well.

Peter stuck a break of originally four, riding two others into the ground, for 2nd place and talked the winner out of his champagne. The speed of their effort absolutely destroyed the field in the only race that received real rain. Early crashes in the wet corners left gaps everywhere, and when they were out of sight from the main field once it finally reorganized to chase, their gap grew to almost a minute.

And Seth stayed with the P/1/2 pack, and finished in the top 50 in a race where he really never used a gear less than 53X14.

The ride home from Iowa was indeed heavenly.

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Lego Jeep Art Car - On the road again headed to Maker Faire 09

LEGO Jeep at Maker Faire almost done
LEGO Jeep at Maker Faire almost done
by bonniegrrl

LEGO Jeep Art Car with climbers

LEGO Jeep Art Car with climbers
by Paula Wirth

LEGO Jeep Hood Close Up Art

I cant believe I have not posted the famous Lego Jeep Art Car on ACC. Here in all its glory entertaining kids of every age, who are all over it having fun. Legos are for everyone and Kevin Mathieu creator of the Jeep Lego Car has apparently not left his inner child behind. How awesome it is to be able to just pull over any time and play with your legos. Those famous Bay Area traffic jams seem less insane now that the lego car is on the road headed to this years Maker Faire.

Hand made bikes of a very unusual nature

Office Chair Bike
Office Chair Bike
Wood Bike
Wood Bike
Drift Wood Bike
Drift Wood Bike
Wood High Wheel
Wood High Wheel
Compact Bike
Compact Bike
Triangle Bike
Triangle Bike
Scooter Bike
Scooter Bike
photos via

Tom Kabat is a former serious cyclist who still loves bikes. An engineer, 30 year bike commuter and bike tourer (Trans America 1976), Tom was inspired to build bikes after seeing other great home built pedal machines at Kinetic Sculpture races and a wide variety of antique bikes on display in museums. I had the weird pleasure of riding on a few of these bike at the maker faire last year and trust me, they don't ride like a "regular" bikes. But the beauty of these strange contraptions is that you get to see your life flash before your eyes over and over again. Once you get the hand of it then you are free to ride around maker faire as much as you can take. I know I am going to try it again this year.

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