Meet the Gawkers
This is our official coming out.
We've been at this thing for a few years now, and we need to clear some things up. On more than one occasion, we've discussed The Loud Pedal with personal friends and acquaintances and figured out that (for better or worse) people don't associate our work/content with us. Part of this is our fault. Since TLP began we have made a concerted effort to keep our faces concealed (trust us folks, it has been for your well being). On the rare occasion that one or both of us has been featured in a blog post or on a FB/Instagram/Twitter post, we have intentionally "helmeted" our ugly mugs. We like to let our followers know that we're doing something awesome, but that the focus is always the cars or the events.
Well, suffice it to say that humility is about to take a back seat in favor of an elevation of our personal status and visibility. Perhaps this is isn't the best idea we've ever had, but we're gonna give it a whirl anyway. Though we will have to show you our hideous visages, we promise to keep the luminaries we meet and cars and events we attend on your behalf, the center of attention. Though you will now have to look at our admittedly self-pufferizing selfies with drivers and personalities, we promise to keep our standards high and the images awesome and relevant.
In addition to forcing you to know what we look like, we decided to give you a little biographical information about each of us. No, this information probably won't enhance your life or help with your understanding of the universe in any way, but it will give you a little background on us and help you understand our passion for all things automotive.
The truth will end up being extremely boring. If we had more talent, we could weave a fictional masterpiece centered around our elevation as heroes of the automotive press. In a story you didn’t ask for, written without the clearest of hindsight, never giving ourselves more credit than we deserve, comes the story The Loud Pedal. We are not aloof journalist that take the high ground toward objective and dispassionate reporting. We are fans and we don't it. When we arrive to report on an event we are just as giddy and excited as all the other fanboys and fangirls.
I turn 41 this year, and when it comes to things automotive, I think that age really belies my reality (in car years?). If I'm honest, when I get to a show or the track, I'm about 13 (some may argue closer to 11 or 12). In my element, I have to look around sometimes and remind myself to act a little more my age. I still like autographs, selfies, hero cards, drivers/celebrities and lots of other bright and shiny objects. For these things, my heartbeat accelerates. When I see a good autograph opportunity, I imagine that I look like George Costanza running from a cake fire at a kids birthday party. Ridiculous, yes, but controllable, no. And speaking of 13 year old boy, here I am:
As far as I'm aware, this was about the time I fell in love with cars and out of love with skateboards. This was probably about the time the obligatory Porsche 911 (red, with whale tail of course) and Lamborghini Countach posters went up on my bedroom wall. That said, it probably wasn't that serious. I mean, sure I was crazy about Kit, Detective "Sonny" Crockett's 365 and 512TR and the A-Team van...but who wasn't???
My serious interest started in the early 90s, when I inherited my mom's 69 Mercury Cougar. This wasn't the boon is sounds like. It was our "family car" for years. It had been sitting on the side of our house for ever and hadn't been started or run for a long long time (today, it would be called a "survivor"). My folks said I could have it if I could get it running and pay for insurance and running costs. My dad and I did end up getting the thing running and moving, if only up and down the driveway #rainman. Unfortunately, because of one big boo boo on my part, and because I soon came to know why FORD was a proper name as well as an acronym, it became apparent that my high school car wasn't going to be a muscle car #sadface. The loss of my Cougar didn't diminish my growing love for muscle cars, which turned into an appreciation of custom cars and trucks. My room became littered with the latest copies of Car Craft, Super Chevy, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom and Super Ford, and probably a few others that don't exist anymore.
The first day of the rest of my life came some time in 1994. I lucked into a job at a local VW Porsche garage in Sacramento, working for Frank and Nick Lettini at Frank's Automotive. It was there that I drove my first VWs, Porsches, Benzes, Beemers and the occasional Ferrari. There was something about those Euro jobs that I really began to like and appreciate. The sound of a mechanically injected 911 got under my skin (probably because it always sounded like all the mechanicals were going to fly apart!). I also started my love for all things VW...yes, both air and water cooled. My magazine collection took a tack toward Top Gear, Autosport, Road and Track, Car and Driver, Evo and 911 and Porsche World. Over the next few years Frank and Nick introduced me to the Monterey Historics, F1 Racing, Le Mans, and historic racing. All of these things are fixtures in my life all these years later and I elevated Nick to best friend and mentor.
I met Mark while in college, and found a willing accomplice with a good sense of humor, a mind thirsty for all things automotive and lots of free time. Our girlfriends at the time (now our wives) had work schedules opposite ours so we had plenty of time to hit the track and car shows whenever we wanted.
The die was cast.
All of these things still excite me and compel me to be part of The Loud Pedal and drive me to want me to share my passion and experiences with you (yes, both of you!)
I was always into cars at some level, but my infatuation developed later in life. It was in college (I know, that’s where everyone “experiments”) that I met Andrew. By this time, he was fully engulfed in fanboy-ism for almost everything with an engine. I was skeptical that the amount time he spent on this hobby was worth it. This friendship introduced me to the automotive world. It wasn’t that I didn’t care before, it was that now I was friends with someone who read every car related publican known to man. Andrew talked about it frequently enough to the point where I finally relented and watched an F1 race. Ok, you have my attention! Enough attention that I would wake up at 4am to watch European F1 races before the days of DVRs and internet streaming. There was no turning back from that point, and I wanted more. California is home to several great race tracks, with one being a little over an hour away from our homes. My first race was an American Le Mans Series race at Sonoma Raceway (aka Sears Point). Within moments of arriving, though not really knowing what was going on, I was hooked. It was from that moment that I wanted to attend and smell (Yes, smell) every race possible.
These were the waning days of film photography (ask your parents), and taking photos was not the cheapest hobby or proposition. I had been into photography from an early age, but the racetrack was my new canvass. Not just a canvass but an organic, always changing backdrop with multiple opportunities to blow through roles of film....and that’s just what I/we did. A race weekend was likely to produce conservatively 15-20 roles of film. Today, you review your work instantaneously, but back then you had to wait until you found the time and money to have the photos developed and printed. Digital photography has made things much easier and cheaper, but I still sometimes miss the excitement of going to the photolab to pick-up prints and see images for the first time.
As the years went by, we both went digital. Rolls of film turned to thousands (and thousands and thousands) of photos and the need for lots of storage. The advent of cheap web space and social media gave us potential outlets to share our work with our fellow enthusiasts. In the early days, even those sharing opportunities that were available had limitations. Web space was expensive and blogging had yet to even arrive on the scene. We were (OK, maybe we still are) an audience two, keeping ourselves entertained with photos and commentary. Over the years though, we have arguably gotten better, made a few connections and improved our craft. Not for any monetary purpose, but just just for the sake of doing it.
Over the years I developed, experimented and sometimes failed at the art of automotive photography. I was lucky enough to have some opportunities to have media access to shoot for a legitimate media organization at several events through a personal contact. All the talent in the world will not get you closer to the action unless you extend your network, meaning making new contacts which later become people, that will take a risk on your talent. Shooting racecars next to the wall as they fly past is addictive and the best rush I’ve ever had. Even today, I cherish every moment in the chaos, and it's really where I feel my zen. Just me, a camera and a snarling beast spitting fire and shaking the ground.
It was during that time of shooting as a “pro”, of attending mandatory photographer briefings, and chatting with other established photographers that I picked up some knowledge of how the digital media world works in relation to being considered for official access. I’ve always been fortunate to be skilled in watching and learning. I didn’t just use my media access to develop the craft of photography, I used it as a learning opportunity so that one day I could shoot for myself rather than for someone else, and get credit for it. You must start out with some talent before anything else to serve as a foundation. I can say with 100% confidence that a social media presence and some great photos aren’t going to get past a good public relations professional, who is likely making the decision on whether you will receive media access. This also means that one must calculate when they are ready to be considered. As I was learning the back side of motorsports journalism, Andrew and I continued to build up a massive catalog of photographs from our years at automotive events.
It was at dinner after a long day the at track that we sat down to eat and I pitched my idea for taking our hobby (sickness) and share it with others. We discussed this over the next hour or so and came away with a shared goal of not just documenting our experiences but upping our game in every way. It was the best combination to build on. While I enjoy shooting the on-track action, Andrew likes documenting the paddock. He also has an uncanny ability to locate obscure things, and find famous personalities and drivers (because his emotional growth is somewhat "paused" at the 12-year-old level). Together, we handle all the angles.
From that day forward, after The Loud Pedal was born, our approach was different. We needed more planning, we entered racing weekends with goals on the material we needed to source to draft a successful review/blog post. To be honest, it is enjoyable in every way, but its not without self-imposed stress to ensure we capture the essence of the event we are documenting. That means we can’t just post some good photos, we need a story to tell.
Finally, this effort is self-funded and self-run. We don’t have wealthy benefactors (we are however open to it) and must use our substantial charms and marginal looks and talent to make this thing work. Most of all, we respect the craft and with our efforts do everything we can to avoid smearing it in any way. We are honored and humbled that you, and maybe one or two more people, follow our exploits, enjoy our photos and wade through our musings. We make no money from this venture, and we do it all for you.
Thank you for for reading.
-Mark and Andrew
The Loud Pedal
Living the Dream.