How did you first get interested in cars and restorations?
I grew up in Alaska, and in my havoc-wreaking teenage years, a close friend of mine got a 1969 SS396 Chevelle, and something changed. I still had no real direction but I did have some passion - a seed was planted. My father then presented me with a bribe, which I had no real choice but to accept: "Go to military school and you'll have transportation next summer." I had my heart set on a '68 Camaro, and thinking about that car got me through lots of pushups, demerits and long walks on the guard path. Back home, I got a '67 RS/SS 350 and life was good, but I soon had to return to military school in Wisconsin, where I eventually graduated, which, looking back, is probably one of the best things that ever happened to me.
What brought you to The Forge?
I had a few friends in Colorado, which was the most like Alaska without being Alaska, so off I went. My best friend's dad told me about a program General Motors had, and two years later in 1995 I had an Automotive Service Education degree. I then went into the dealership world which was great. I met my wife and made lifelong friends, and I also was introduced to racecars. Believe it or not, I made a bit of name for myself drag racing a Buick Station Wagon. I also fell in love with circle track racing and knowing less than nothing built my first racecar – and what a piece of junk it was. Seven long years later I won a championship at Colorado National Speedway in the super stock division and had multiple wins at the old Second Creek road course.
Then life happens and things change course. Mortgages become heavier than wrecked racecars, and priorities shift. After almost 20 years at the dealership, it sold and my wife and I found ourselves without jobs, but not without joy. Our crowning achievement Madison had been born 6 months prior (she’ll be three in May). We didn't panic. I landed a job as a stay at home Dad while Mom went off to work. For 18 months I didn’t lift a finger to look for a "JOB,” because I had a full time one at home.
The first time it crossed my mind to seek employment was when I saw an ad for "assembly mechanic" at some "Custom Auto" shop in Loveland. I thought, ‘I better check this out.’ It sounded like something I should have done 20 years prior. And now the show goes on, and I’m back to wrenching on cars, which I said long ago I would never do again. But this, this is different...
What's your role at The Forge now?
I apply 20 years of experience to building vintage cars regardless of make, model or size. And in the end it better be right or I might as well just go home (like all jobs). I talk too much and take my time to do everything well, because at the end of the day if the person whose car I worked on is pleased then I'm stoked. I give every car the attention it takes to win the race, whatever that may be…