I'm pretty sure I can officially call this post a "tradition" now. Or maybe I have before, I can't say for sure. A year ago was, well, a year ago, and a lot has happened since... and in more ways than one. 2017 was a unique year: it was one in which I promised myself more time and less stress. I took on no major builds (by my standards, at least), I did minimal traveling, and most importantly, I told a lot of people "no," which is something I haven't been the best at in previous years. The result of my actions yielded a year unlike any other, for better and for worse. In respect to my photography, I failed to capture that perfect racing moment, or imagery that helps to grow my portfolio. It admittedly makes for a "Year in Photos" that is a bit sillier than past iterations. On the other hand though, for once, my "Year in Photos" is less about the imagery, and more about the content itself. The images represent a year of personal experiences, growth, and good times. For once, it's my year in photos, not my year in photos.
2017 began with a feature. A few months prior, thanks to one of my dearest friends - Oxer - we were given the chance to photograph an automotive legend. Known as Van Go, this 1963 Ford Econoline van designed and built by Coby Gewertz is a staple in the world of custom automobiles. I'm confident in saying that much like the Gypsy Rose, or Cadzilla, it's one of the few machines that will end up in the automotive history books. The chance to tell its story was an incredible way to start 2017. It's one of my favorite pieces to date, and will certainly go into a portfolio of its own.
Shortly after Van Go, I buckled down and shared the story of the Speed Star Racing BMW M1. It was one of my favorites from Monterey Car Week in 2016, and is rich with history that rivals any other. Its crowning achievement is its position at the top of the leaderboard: it's the winningest M1 in motorsports history.
In February, I finally managed to get myself back on track, quite literally. After years of photographing from the sidelines, my project E28 known as the StanceWorks "Parts Car" was finally ready for prime time. The February event marked the first of many last year, helping to ignite a new hobby and passion that I'm excited to grow in 2018. While not my first track day ever, it may as well have been. Ever since, I've been working to bring my times down, always chasing a new personal best.
As my interest in time attack racing grew, it was an incredible opportunity to meet the team at Spoon Sports USA, and to photograph the famous center-drive FD2 Civic. As one of the fastest FWD time attack cars ever, it was a joy to see the engineering, the style, and the battle scars in person. I always enjoy an opportunity to teach, and sharing this car's history leaves it as one of my favorite pieces of 2017.
In April, we hosted the first event at the StanceWorks HQ in some time. Following the success of our first Open House in 2016, we aimed to bring friends, family, and fans back to our small lot in Costa Mesa. This time, though, we changed things up. After partnering with VARA, we hosted PRE/GRID, an event geared towards celebrating grassroots vintage race cars in hopes of bringing new fans to the sport of vintage auto racing.
In January of 2017, my FJ62 was totaled in an accident thanks to a teenager driving beyond his means and the speed limit. As a result, I was without my truck for more than 6 months. Following the damage from the accident, I knew it was time to move on, and began the hunt for a replacement. In March, I found exactly what I was looking for: a tan FJ60 with no rust to be found. After hauling it home, I began the tear down, and in May, I had made enough progress to show the world what I had been working on. Amongst a slew of mods, a 6.0 LS-swap was the centerpiece of my new build, sure to be a fitting replacement for my former FJ62.
One of my favorite cars of the year was yet another Jeff Tighe creation. This S52-powered E9 3.0 CSi was perfect in every sense, meshing new and old nearly seamlessly to offer an E9 experience that I am sure is paralleled by few. As with many features, this car also offered a chance to spend more time with its creator, and Jeff Tighe is one of the guys anyone in the BMW community might be fortunate enough to know.
Todd can take credit for some of the most inventive cars to ever land here on StanceWorks. His latest creation and daily driver - this spotted and dotted '15 Sportwagon - had me smiling ear to ear. Our shoot location, with blue hues that matched the car and a spotted wall that brought things full circle made for one of my favorite photo sets of the year.
Come August, my Land Cruiser project was finally road and trail ready. To break it in, a few close friends and I took off to Big Bear for a weekend of trails and camping. The truck was incredible, and entirely worthwhile, marking the completion of yet another project. With 34" Nitto Tires, 17" forged Fifteen52 wheels, an Old Man Emu Lift, bumpers, a rack, and tons of accessories, the truck is finally coming together as everything I had hoped.
Most years, we're given the opportunity to unveil something new, with some shoots standing a bit more spectacular than others. This year, we made due on the lawn of Pebble Beach, eager to share one of BMW's newest concepts: the Z4 Roadster. Seeing it in photos prior to the event left me wanting more, but its presence in person was something truly unique and admittedly inspiring. I'm incredibly excited to see how this car looks once it reaches production, and now that 6 months have passed since we photographed it, we're getting closer to the real deal than ever before.
Monterey is Monterey, and there's few other ways to put it. Car Week has grown immensely over the past number of years, and 2017 marked what I believe was our 5th year of attendance in a row. I aimed to make the trip less about work in 2017, and more about enjoying the event as a whole, and I'm happy to say I was wildly successful in that endeavor. While I returned home with a record few number of photos. I enjoyed everything the spectacular week has to offer.
In 2017, I finally had the opportunity to let Rusty Slammington loose on the streets. Keith Ross joined me to take photos, and Jared Houston joined in for video, and together, they helped me bring my beloved car to life for the first time in years.
In a one-two punch of sorts, shortly after sharing Rusty for the first time in ages, I unveiled the latest iteration of the "Parts Car" E28. After partnering with Motul, Andrew and I aimed to redesign the E28's colorway to celebrate the history and talents of the Motul brand. Inspired by a small selection of historic Motul BMW race cars, Andrew penned a new livery suited specifically for the lines of the E28 sedan. After fitting a few new modifications, we made our debut at SEMA: a huge success. With a track day just days away, I'm anxious to see photos of the new stripes on track.
My final feature car of the year belonged to the famous "Collector," and it's one of the more unique cars I've had the chance to share in quite some time. Period correct in every sense, this car is one for the history books, or perhaps even the bible of BMW modification. It's always a joy to share bits of the Collector's collection, and this one marked hopefully the first of many more to come.
And finally, closing out my year, was one of my favorite weekends of 2017. With the FJ60 still truckin' along, we packed up and went out to Anza Borrego State Park, and followed some camping with a trip to visit the Salton Sea. It was a wonderful weekend away, and the kind of piece I hope to write more of. We'll just have to see if it's what people enjoy.
Here's to 2017, and now 2018 too. Today marks yet another year of articles, and the start of our 10th year here. Thanks to everyone who has been here for the wild ride, and to everyone who will be here for the year to come.