"That Guy"Posted Dec 04 2020
We all know “that one guy.” You know the one… the guy that wants to turbo a golf cart, do burnouts in a Cruze “because the tires are getting replaced today,” and LS swap the world, all before lunch time. The guy that is the living embodiment of the mullet. You don’t know one of those guys? Find on ASAP and become his friend. Trust me, you have no idea what you life in the car world is missing until you know “that guy.”
I had no idea how dull my car life was until I met Jacob. Granted, I had fun. By the time I met Jacob, my group “EcotecNation,” was a couple thousand members deep, we were holding meets every summer/ fall and we were having a good time. Then one spring evening, at a local weekly meet, this weird dude kept hanging around my car. He was so excited just to see it and kept complimenting it. Now, if you read my previous blog, you know that my Saturn Ion Redline, “Rochelle,” was (at the time) a basic factory supercharged Saturn with an aftermarket hood and retrofitted headlights. As basic as it was, Jacob was in love! He wanted to know everything about it. It was odd as nobody ever wants to know about the Saturn at the car meets. Then I saw what he brought. A clapped out base model Ion that he was using as a service vehicle. That was when I knew two things. One was that the fascination in his eyes, was actual passion. The other thing was that I wasn’t getting rid of this chatty, yapping, overzealous, high spirited lunatic, any time soon.
By July, Jacob had become a regular fixture at my events. The local weekly meets were always buzzing and he was always there in that base model, telling everyone all about his LS1 Ranger project. “I have the truck, the motor and the transmission, ready to go!” Ironically, he also talked a lot about how he wanted to buy a Redline; the exact opposite of a cool car project like the LS1 Ranger. I would just sigh and shake my head. Jacob was exhausting. He came to Firestone, where I worked and bought new tires for the “Service Saturn,” which were very nice Bridgestones that he proceeded to roast to the point of melting the tread at the sidewall and across the shoulder, when he was auto crossing the poor car with four people inside, twisting the frame so hard that only three wheels were on the ground, at one of our events. That same weekend, we all watched in awe as he blew away an SRT10 pickup at the strip. You know the one with the Viper motor…. That weekend earned him a lot of respect in addition to the remark “if someone gives “that guy” boost, he’s gonna be dangerous.” It was at that point that people started listening to the constant rambling and realizing that not only could he drive but he truly knew how to speak race car!
In September, Jacob acquired his first Redline, “Stella.” Rochelle had blown her motor on the dyno and was “visiting” her Uncle John in Kentucky. Okay fine, the motor was in pieces in his garage and getting built. So I acquired my second Redline, “Basura,” the Spanish word for garbage. This was ironic because all of our Redlines, Basura was the most well behaved. Basura was a high mileage 04 (the first and the bastard child year of the Redline) that had been resprayed, had repaired cracks behind that spray and we were never too sure that the frame was even straight. Anyway, JACOB HAD BOOST! His excitement was unbearable to some. He just couldn’t stop talking about this car. But I was happy for him. He got what he wanted. Then he blew the head gasket on his first pull. The previous owner was kind of a tool so it wasn’t Jacob’s fault. Not surprisingly, this didn’t stop him. He fixed it fast and was back on the road. Every time I saw him he had another new, exciting, completely insane idea on how he was going to make this car better. Rewire this, reroute that, upgrade here, swap out there… oy. I’m still not sure how that poor car made it through.
Stella and Basura on our first road trip to Indiana.
Although sometimes insanely hyper, Jacob is the best person to road trip with. Cruising with him is easy, and riding with him in the Cruze means heated seats, snacks, and lots of cool Vin Wiki videos. He’s like the Martha Stewart of road tripping. If you love cars, you just can’t lose. We spent the following New Years Eve cruising to Indiana with our plastic heaps. Within minutes of arrival, Jacob and our friend Bill were in Bill’s basement molesting some poor broken motor after which they stood in the driveway looking at Stella and Bill’s car, “Bullet,” until it was dark. I vaguely remember fire being a part of that evening. But isn’t it always? The next day, I had an appointment to take photos for my tuner and his family so I took Stella, as Basura had broken a belt. When I was about two blocks away, I received a text from Jacob and Bill that said “we hear you coming. Send it.” So I ripped it hard and blew a hole the size of your head in that muffler. Jacob didn’t freak, he laughed and marveled at how horrifically loud his car was, and inspection was followed by a loud “WHOOOO!!! LOOK AT THAT HOLE! GOOD JOB!” Then he bought earplugs for the drive back to Maryland.
|Stella, Bullet and Basura in Indiana||
Rest in pieces, little muffler
Meant to be a parts car, I acquired car number four for our stable of Plastic Fantastics. Faith, the blue Redline, cost me $500. We named them all so that we could keep track since all but Faith were black. Faith was a flooded hot mess. The interior was trash-tastic and the motor had jumped timing. But the deal was this… Jacob puts in a motor and he can have Basura. I would daily Faith and eventually, give her to my kid. We spent all winter on that car. He fixed, I cleaned, painted, and fabricated. We spent countless hours laughing, goofing off and setting things on fire in that garage. It was glorious. Then one absolutely freezing day in February, Jacob managed to source almost an entire Redline worth of parts for about $400. So he was off to Tennessee, in a Raptor during a snowstorm, to grab that motor only to basically part out that entire car on the ground in 8 degree weather and head home with most of it, in less than 24 hours. An act that impresses even the most hardcore car guys but to Jacob, it was just another day in paradise. Jacob came through, Faith was up and running for the first meet and Basura was off to her new home with him. Are you jealous that I have such an awesome friend, yet?
|The day that we picked Faith up.||Old motor out...||The score!!|
|Waiting for parts...||Faith and Stella at the Dragon||Faith as she sits, today.|
Side note: that was 2016. Faith is still running strong and looks amazing, Stella was wrecked and parted out, and Basura is with a friend, turbo swapped, built, and has all new beautiful grey body panels. When our friend needed help rebuilding that car, Jacob went to help. 7 hours away… to help someone that he never met fix a car that was no longer his own. The awesomeness doesn't stop with helping just me.
Basura... no longer looking like trash.
Finally, Rochelle was home and by this time, Jacob was charged with helping me maintain the new build. He did so, gladly as he still loved Rochelle in all of her mediocre glory. However, no amount of love or zest for race car life had prepared us for what happened. After three months of chasing a weird “misfire,” we thought all was well and Rochelle and I headed off to Michigan for a final dyno tune. Boost! Finally! However, she didn’t survive it. The issue turned out to be a random fueling problem and you guessed it… the newly built motor blew on the dyno. So what did Jacob do when he heard? Well of course he threw my spare motor in the backseat of his suitably deemed “Pit Cruze” and headed straight to Michigan, as any amazing friend would. The staff at ZZPerformance was floored and taken a little aback as they peeled the Saab B207R (stock Ecotec) off the leather back seat OF A CRUZE! At the end of the day, Jacob followed me all the way home to be sure that Rochelle was going to make it. I, in an exchange of gratitude, made sure that I made the best gesture that I could. You see, Jacob quit his job to make that trip for me. So when we drove home, with both cars, I was sure that he had a new job waiting for him at Fleming’s.
|She came home!||Then she broke.||Then she broke again.||Fuel pump #3.||
6AM Racecar "fun"...
|Rest in peace, built motor.||The calvary arrives!||"Quality time" with my build...||Road trip! Back to the KY builder.|
The next two years we spent having a lot of fun. At work, Jacob was my “camera car” guy. He always knew what to do when it came to getting great rolling footage as he blindly yet confidently navigated the Pit Cruze to roll side by side within inches of $100K muscle cars, getting the framing perfect, every single time. If not for Jacob's parking lot torching skills, the DeLorean would have never been able to do 88, out in front of the dealership for a cool photo (even though he saturated the asphalt so deep that it melted) and he always managed to find his way to my desk to show me “something cool,” which meant a video of an amazing feat of race car that he one day hoped to achieve. Every chance he got to hop in the passenger seat of an awesome “dream car,” he did. We have been reprimanded for doing a very low RPM (only 3K) burnout in a Hellcat (we didn’t know we weren’t supposed to do that!), and we have been praised for helping at times that we didn’t have to. One thing that I guarantee you is that if we did it together, we had a hell of a good time. Not one person in this building will deny that if they needed help with anything, Jacob would be there for them. That, we will all miss. Did I mention that he always snuck in when I was shooting cool cars, so that he could “pose” with the cars? Well brace yourself, Tony Fleming. That calendar is coming your way in 2021, my friend! Over the past two years, we have spent countless hours working on our own horrible cars (we are now up to seven between us) in my driveway as the garage has a parts car hogging up space and since I prefer to drive Rochelle, she always needs something fixed. She’s definitely my favorite child. We have had to carpool home more than once because Rochelle is a moody twat which means that Jacob sometimes has run to the rescue to either fix or tow the wench. But hey. That’s the name of the race car game, right?
Right. It is.
But, one thing is for certain. The game is so much more fun when you have an incredible friend playing it with you.
Today, I sit at my desk in the showroom and it makes me a little sad to know that Jacob won’t be sneaking up from the shop for the next “want to see something cool.” A few weeks ago, he moved on and in another month or so, I will be doing the same. He did enjoy his time at Fleming’s but he found his way in to a career in generator repair and as much as I miss hearing him come my way and rolling my eyes because I am too exhausted to handle the early morning ridiculousness that he has in store for me, I am so happy to say that my friend is out there loving that new aspect of his life. I still see him as he parks his work truck at my house overnight. I go to sleep to a big truck by my window and wake up to his blue Redline in place of the truck. Did I mention that for over a year, while he was busy at work, plus dealing with my unnecessary princess of a car, he was also rebuilding his own Redline in the background? Well he was. A project that took a back seat to helping me, many many times. Just one more thing for which I cannot even begin to express enough gratitude.
|"Want to see something cool...?"||The Redline that Jacob rebuilt over two years.|
If you don’t already have a “that guy” in your life, I highly recommend that you acquire one at once. Hell, even Jacob has a “that guy” in the form of his good friend R.J. If you see the two of them together, call a medic. Someone is probably losing a finger. Seriously thought, these are the kind of guys that tie a roadcone to the top of a stock Cruze and end up featured by Killboy Photography because it's just so damn weird. But you have to remember that these are the guys that later in life will tell the best car stories, give you the best help when yours is broken and will keep the car world going. These guys eat sleep and breathe their passion for cars and are the ones that will do anything to see that another enthusiast stays on the road and can to continue their own car world adventure. These guys ARE the car world and I am thankful that they let me be a part of it.
|The Killboy feature... I wasn't kidding.||Jacob: "RJ! Take my pic on this sick Satty!"||RJ: "I gotchu, fam!"|
My friend Jacob is loud, sometimes has no filter, doesn’t know when to shut up and often makes you question how he made it this far in life without being run out of town by angry villagers. I won’t lie. Sometimes he makes all of us want to punch babies. But he is also loyal, kind, and has a bigger heart than anyone that I have ever known. Jacob doesn't know how to purposely hurt someone's feelings and would give you the shirt off of his back yet is unapologetic for who he is. If you don't like him, move along. It is truly your loss. He has definitely brought an element of fun and absolute ridiculousness to my life that I hope will continue for many many more years. Looking back, as much as I found myself frustrated at times, I found myself feeling fifty times more blessed to have this person not give me a choice but be his friend. I am absolutely a better person with a way better car life by befriending someone that I may have otherwise never known, simply because we share a love of cars. Jacob is the friend that I didn’t want and didn’t know that I needed but man, am I lucky that he found me. My car world story is unique, interesting, crazy and a hell of a lot of fun but just wouldn't be as amazing as it is if Jacob, the definition of "car guy," wasn't by my side to be "that guy."