Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Post Comp Days: Santa Monica & a trip to see our friends Jay and Bernard.

In the days after Formula SAE West, we had the pleasure of traveling around southern California, battling traffic and sun burns.

On Sunday, the day following competition, we were stuck in California (we know; we're suffering), awaiting our visit to the Big Dog Garage to show Jay and Bernard Car 51. As such, we decided a visit to the beach in Santa Monica was in order. Following this, we headed south to Long Beach for an evening of grilling at Cockpit Team Leader Elizabeth Carroll's apartment. Thanks for having everyone, Liz!

Monday morning, we were up early and (luckily) had little difficulty battling the traffic from Long Beach to Burbank. While unloading, Jay drove past us in the same yellow Hudson Hornet that he was driving the last time we stopped by. We rolled Car 51 up to one of Jay's multiple garages and, upon knocking on the door, were greeted by the big man himself, who opened a garage door and ushered us inside.

We introduced the team and with a quick showing of hands of new team members - it was apparent that over 75% of the team hadn't been to Jay's place before. Following introductions, Jay gave us a personal tour of the entire facility, stopping at over a dozen cars and telling us the history of the manufacturer, model and exact vehicle sitting before us. Often times, he even went into depth about the previous owners. It is really amazing at the wealth of knowledge that Jay has about his collection; I'm surprised each time we've visited.

Also impressive was that the Big Dog Garage went Green in a major way since last June. Reducing waste and using clean-manufacturing methods for fabrication of parts was cool to hear about, but even cooler was that through the use of a turn-of-the-20th-century electric generator and with the addition of solar panels, the garage is now energy independent of the City of Burbank (sometimes even feeding energy back into the grid). Congratulations on these great accomplishments, guys!

Arriving back at Car 51, Bernard and another employee of Jay's stopped by. I asked the man if he worked there and his laughing reply was priceless: "Yes, if you can call this work." All I can say is that it must be nice. We spent the next half an hour talking with Jay and Bernard about the evolution from Car 9 to Car 51, as well as letting them in on some secrets in-store for the 2009 car. The talk ended by giving Jay, Bernard and Bernard's wife, Rosalie, their own MSU Formula Racing Team Denim shirts. We know that Jay loves denim shirts, so we thought the gift was quite fitting.

Thanking them all for another great tour, we loaded Car 51 back into the semi, hopped onto the expressway and bid our driver, Darick, a fond farewell.

We spent the rest of the day walking around Hollywood, before heading to Hermosa Beach for dinner with team alum Mark Brown. Our final day in socal was spent relaxing and meandering around the Hermosa pier before making the short jaunt down Pacific Coast Highway to LAX and hopping on a plane to head home.

I think that I can speak for everyone who went when I say it was another trip of a lifetime. A second one, for some of us. We hope that you enjoyed the pictures and video; we certainly enjoyed your comments and emails. Reading them, it felt like some of you were right here with us.

I'll be updating the blog throughout the summer as we travel around the midwest exhibiting Car 51 at various shows, educational events, and Make-A-Wish functions. Just look in the Events column of our website to see where we'll be - many of these are open to the public and free of charge.

Finally, please don't hesitate to contact me if you ever would like any of the pictures you've seen here:

Go Green. Go White. Go Fast.


Southern California Coastline

Pier in Santa Monica

Another shot of the Santa Monica pier


End of the day

Our newest team members: Jay Leno & Bernard Juchli

Team @ the Big Dog Garage

As the movie Hancock was opening at the Kodak Theater the next day, the street was partially blocked off.

Hollywood Sign

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