It was nearly eight years ago come Jan that I came face-to-face with my soon-to-be mentors Evan Griffey and Jason Mulroney in a casual interview for the technical editor position at Turbo magazine and Import Tuner. It was a dream job and an opportunity that I still cherish to this day.
My automotive career began at the age of 16 when the ink was still drying on my newly acquired driver's license. I managed to scrape up enough cash to purchase my first car, a '83 Toyota Celica GT. It was neither the fastest nor the sleekest car at the time-but it was mine. At the tender age when friends were busy hanging out at malls trying their best to charm their way into the varsity squad cheerleader's pants, I was methodically caught up in an obsession that at that time no schoolmate or my parents could truly comprehend. Blown head gaskets, shattered pistons, melted spark plugs from an overzealous romp of the nitrous and more fix-it tickets than one could imagine was my teenage life all boiled down in a nutshell. The naturally aspirated 22RE powerplant received as many parts as my high school lunch fund and part-time job could afford. An off-road use only Doug Thorley (TRD) header, MSD distributor and blaster coil pack, Mikuni 44mm side draft dual carburetors, high-comp pistons, LC Engineering headwork and HKS camshaft were all thrown into the mix. Although the Celica was quick, it surely wasn't the fastest and smelled of gas odor, which unpleasantly clung to my clothing. Regardless of the many setbacks, I still loved that temperamental bitch and the knowledge I managed to gain while spending countless hours in my parents' garage, installing and often breaking parts in a quest learn the hard knock lifestyle of horsepower tuning.
Times have definitely changed since 21 years ago when I first turned a wrench on my beloved Celica. The car is long gone; I currently own too many cars to count and still occasionally grenade an engine or two but throughout it all, the passion I've developed for the automotive performance world and high-performance tuning remains the same.