Freelancer and Former staff Editor Share His Street Trucks Experienceu
IT FEELS WEIRD TO WRITE ABOUT MYSELF SINCE I’M USUALLY WRITING ABOUT ALL OF YOU, BUT I WAS ASKED TO TELL YOU GUYS ABOUT MY HISTORY WITH “STREET TRUCKS,” SO HERE GOES!
I’m lying here with a sore back underneath one of my latest projects, about to slip in a set of lowering blocks. Then it hits me: This is how it all started for me— with a set of lowering blocks, lying underneath a truck, albeit minus the sore back. The first time I did this I was 16, and I had just bought my first mini-truck after seeing a local mini-truck club cruise up to the In-N-Out down the street. I. HAD. TO. LOWER. MY. TRUCK. A quick trip to Pep Boys for some supplies and I was well on my way!
By the time I was through with high school, I had owned a couple more mini-trucks and bought a new second-gen S-10 right after graduating. According to the dealer, it was the first one to be sold in California which, if true, is pretty cool. If not, I’ve been living a lie all these years, so we’ll just pretend it’s true for now.
I was spending as much time and money as possible on all things truck, but at the same time I was trying to figure out what I was going to do for a career. One thing never, changed, though—whatever it was, it had to involve wheels!
The short version is that I was on the path to becoming a car designer by taking night classes at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, and was planning on going full-time once I got accepted to the Transportation Design program. I was way short on what I needed for tuition, even after getting a scholarship from Ford, so I switched gears to studying toy design at Otis College of Art & Design. Hey, I could still design toy trucks, right? Then, things got weird.
While on summer break one year, I was offered the opportunity to apply for an associate editor position at a now-defunct compact truck magazine. Somehow, I got the gig (luckily, I was a mini-trucker, already owned a camera and knew someone on the inside) and spent the next couple of years learning the ins and outs of the industry.
While working there, news eventually got around about a new custom truck mag that was in the works, and the reported staff was basically the dream team of the truck publishing world. Not too long after, I started seeing some familiar faces at shows that had been conspicuously absent for a while. Steve Stilwell, Brian McCormick and Courtney Hallowell were all of a sudden everywhere, it seemed, and they were all wearing clean white shirts with yellow and blue “Street Trucks” logos on them.
And before I knew it, “Street Trucks” was everywhere, and it was instantly the raddest rag around. More on that in a bit.
At one point, things got crazy at the mag I was at, so I began planning my escape. Not wanting to leave anyone hanging, I quietly started asking friends in the scene who might be the perfect person to take my place. As luck would have it, a couple of weeks later I was catching up with some dude named Mike Finnegan at Texas Heat Wave, and he mentioned how he was moving back to California from New York and hoped to get some sort of magazine job. I had no doubt in my mind that he would be perfect, so I told him that he should definitely apply at the mag since a spot was about to open up. I turned in my notice as soon as I got back to California. You’re welcome, world. In all seriousness, it was obvious from his passion that he was going to go on to great things, so I’m just glad I had the opportunity to step out of his way!
And so I left to work at another publication, but it was an automotive industry business-tobusiness mag. Long story short, I was there for about a month. OK, the whole story is actually pretty short—it was boring and was sucking the life out of me, so I did everyone involved a favor and left to assume the role of shop manager at my buddy Jay LaRossa’s shop, Sportruck Specialties.
Working with Jay was an amazing time during an amazing period in the truck industry, and I’m eternally grateful for him extending the offer to get paid to hang out at his shop, but he knew I had some other stuff in the works. In fact, I had been bugging Steve, Brian and Courtney to hire me so I could hang with the cool kids, and to my surprise they were all for it! The only setback was that, as a new magazine, they didn’t have the budget. Little did I know it, but they had hatched their own plan to make it happen. On March 1, 2001, I started my first day at “Street Trucks” as the unofficial fourth Beetle, and the first task at hand was to head off to San Diego with Courtney and “Import Racer” editor Paul Morton to help shoot the job that would pay for my first year’s salary—a tri-fold ad for Arelli Wheels. Yes, that was an expensive ad!
The years that followed were just as amazing, and aside from getting to photograph and write about the coolest trucks and truck stuff on the planet, I got to work with my idols on a daily basis. Hell, I got to go to lunch with them every day, which was somehow even cooler! And yup, I got to build some cool trucks with the help of many folks in the industry.
For some reason, though, I got burnt out after a few years and left in August of 2005. I still loved everyone I worked with, but an extended break was in order. Looking back, I probably just needed a vacation, but as the saying goes, “It is what it is.”
Not sure of which direction I wanted to go in next, I decided that now was the time to try out whatever I happened to be interested in. That meant owning a T-shirt company, doing freelance graphic design and even publishing a drifting magazine for a couple of years with a couple of buddies and my wife. All of these things went hand-in-hand with marketing, so I eventually took a position at a huge online automotive parts retailer, where I created a new marketing department. With social media gaining traction, it was the perfect time to grab an early foothold and start creating video content for the company, which got a ton of traction and got me some attention, including some YouTube awards and new freelance jobs. Toot, toot!
And then something amazing happened. A simple “what’s up” on Facebook from former “Street Trucks” editor Kevin Aguilar in 2015 turned into a long phone conversation and a lot of catching up. Before we hung up, I was back on board as a “Street Trucks” freelancer, and I’ve felt like I’m back home ever since!
So yeah, it’s been a wild ride so far, but I look forward to continuing to be a part of “Street Truck’s” ever-evolving history for many more years to come! ST