If elves could build race cars and Santa could fit them down your fireplace… we would all have race cars!
There’s no such thing as a Race Car Santa Claus, but with some luck, I might show up and build you a race car in your own garage. Seriously. I show up to your house with a bunch of tools and turn your car into a race car, right there on the spot.
I bought a Ford E450 motorhome with a 9′ “toy hauler” garage in the back and a 1,500lb lift gate. I bought a bunch of fabrication tools and now I have a mobile workshop. Tools like a Millermatic 215 with a tig torch and spool gun which I can power through a Miller Trailblazer 325. I bought a Baileigh RDB-175 hydraulic bender with a digital degree readout. My notcher will get upgraded, but I have brand new Stronghand Tools Build Pro Tube Notcher. I also bought a Baileigh manual Iron Worker & Punch to make life easier. I have portaband, an air compressor, and ton of of other tools. I can build race cars anywhere.
Your neighbors might hate you… because I’ll drive the RV to your house, weld a cage into your car, and do as much other work as possible, so you can go race. But if you don’t have 220 power, we’ll need to run the generator to weld. And if you don’t have space to bend tubes, we’ll need to do that outside in your driveway. But I will build you a roll cage.
Race Car Santa Claus!
Wait. What’s the catch? There really isn’t one.
For those that don’t know my story, I’ve been really fortunate and want to give back to the racing community. I’ve also learned a lot about building race cars in small garages and Race Car Santa Claus is a great way to show others how to do it themselves. But it’s about more that just giving back, and teaching others, it’s about keeping the motorsport dream alive.
I was nearly 30 by the time I raced wheel to wheel. There were too many hurdles to overcome so I just kept running track day after track day. Part of my goal is to pick some good individuals (that hopefully are fast) and accelerate their dream by a few years. I really dont care if you’re fast. I care if you’re a good person.
I always dreamed of racing cars and going on great adventures with my friends, but I became an investment banker instead. I was successful, but I wasn’t that happy. So in 2009, I left the finance world and moved into my mom’s house to live my racing dream for just one year before going back to work.
Nine months into the year, I found a way to enter my “$500 rally car” into the Mexico round of the World Rally Championship. Jalopnik published the story and I sold it to Jeremy Renner to turn into a movie. The article also become the second largest story that Jalopnik has ever published in the history of the site at the time. So I decided I should try to race cars for as long as possible.
It’s now been a decade since I quit banking. That’s 10 years of playing with cars. 10 years of adventures. 10 years of racing. 10 years of vacation. During that time, I’ve realized most of car dreams. I’ve raced at the Nurburgring! No it wasn’t the 24hr like in my dream, but I did qualify for the 24hr race. In just 5 years since I quit my job, I earned the right to my dream.
I built the first BMW to run the Baja 1000. No it didn’t finish, but I built in 14 days, and I built it on the floor of SEMA. I entered Targa Newfoundland which I used to watch on Tv every year. It never occurred to me that I would finish 2nd behind Canadian Rally Champion Andrew Comrie-Picard. I raced to the top of Pikes Peak; I crashed there too(a different year). I ran the Mint 400 – that race from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. And somewhere along the way, I started writing for some of my favorite publications like Jalopnik.com and Road&Track. I even set one of those 0-60 times in the back of the book for the 911 Turbo – I can’t tell you how many times I used to check that time for that specific car, and wonder where it came from as a kid. Now I know it was some guy like me!
I know it sounds like I’m bragging, but it’s important to understand why I’m doing this. I was able to realize my car dreams(well most of them) because I have amazing friends. I also have a super cool mom that let me take over her garage and move my friends in when we needed to prep for races.
I earned an education that got me the job that allowed to me to quit that job and go racing for a year. Not everyone has all these things working in their favor, but they might have a similar dream. Now I’m in a position to help them realize their dream, much like my friends helped me realize mine.
So I’m going to build a few race cars for strangers. Race Car Santa Claus.
How Does It Work?
You apply and I choose my favorite person nearby and go build them a race car. I’m going to choose drivers that have spent time learning and giving back to motorsport. I’m going to choose drivers that have gone as far as they can and simply lack the resources to take their driving to the next level and race. Im going to choose drivers that are having fun with their friends and still dream of great adventures with race cars.
I’m also going to choose builds that have the best potential for showing people how to build a race car. Race Car Santa Claus is primarily an education program. Yes, a few people will get free race cars, but a so many more will learn how to build their own race car because we are going shoot each build and explain every step of the process.
I’m also going to choose builds that have a high probability of success. That means most of the parts should be present to complete the build and the driver should have the resources to get their license and go racing.
Let’s be clear about this. I am not buying parts for your car. I am building your roll cage. So you need to have your parts sitting there ready to go. In most cases, the build will be installing a roll cage and safety gear. Other times, I’ll help to swap your suspension and larger projects might require a cool motor swap or custom fabrication. But generally speaking, your car should be ready to race before I show up and cage it.
With some luck I’ll start working with safety gear companies and parts companies so you won’t need to have all the parts. But for now, the project needs to be completable when I arrive.
When Does It Start?
Now! But this won’t run non-stop. I’ll knock out a car and then put the RV in storage and maybe a month later come back for it to knock out another. I dont want to spend my entire year caging stranger’s cars – for free. But I’ll give you a week here and a week there. I bought the best tools money can buy(that still fit in an Rv) so we should be able to work rather quickly.
How Do You Apply?
Click on the link below and fill out the application. There are some random questions in there because Im doing this for fun. I want it to be fun. I also want to see your car, I want to see your garage, and I want to see you. I want to see the parts(if you still have more work to go), your friends, even the local restaurant or bar if it’s awesome. I might be building you a free race car, but I’m going to have fun and see America in the process. So if there’s something cool about where you live, I’ll probably ask you to include that too.
I also want to know how much time you’ve spent preparing to go racing. Whether that’s reading every book you can find or volunteering on teams or for sanction bodies, or simply wrenching on cars any chance you get, you should include it.
The photos don’t even need to be good. I want to have a feel for what Im getting into if I show up at your house. Just take a picture on your phone and upload it. The answers to the questions are more important.
I also might call you and ask you a bunch of questions. Some of them might be about stuff you don’t know about. Like who is Mark Donohue. What is the Unfair Advantage? Or how did Phil Hill buy his first Ferrari? Who is Caroll Smith? If you can’t answer them, I might send you a book and tell you I’ll call back in a month or two. Or I might ask you to tell me a story about your favorite moment in motorsport or how you learned to work on, or drive cars. It’s my program which means its going to be a little different and I’ll probably make up the rules as I go. But keep in mind why I’m doing this. I have good intentions.
What Else Should You know?
The motorhome is San Diego based, so the initial builds will all be on the west coast and likely in the southwest. Keep in mind I will show up in a 27′ motorhome and will need to park it in your driveway for 5-10 days while we finish your car. So make sure your neighbors won’t freak out.
We can unload a lot of the equipment and work in your garage if there’s room, but we’ll still be going back forth to the rv truck to get more tools. I can move it at night to a hotel, but it will be there during the day while we work. If you have a 220v circuit in your garage, all the better, but otherwise the generator will make some noise when we actually weld. But these things need to be considered before you agree to have me build you a race car.
We are going to shoot a bunch of video, so you need to be comfortable being on camera and letting us shoot in your garage. There will be forms and stuff.
When were done, you will sign an IOU promising to help someone in your area finish their car. You just got a free race car. You need to do something to pass on the favor. Hopefully you send me back that IOU signed by the person you helped with a picture of their car. I know a lot of people won’t follow though. But Im at least going to try.
Those are the basics and they will probably change as I learn through this process. I hope to see you soon!
Help Me Find The Racers
I’m also looking for referrers. People that work in racing, or work in or own a race shop, or work for a car club, etc to help me find the best applicants for a free roll cage. If you’ve been doing this for a while, sometimes its pretty obvious who should go racing. Help me find them!