Every month, I sit down to write this column, and almost every month, it's the same: What the hell do I write about this time? Depending on what's been going on, sometimes it's pretty easy to shout out to everyone who reads the magazine about what's on my mind. Other times, I think back on what I've written before and seriously rack my brain for what can be said that would make people happy that they're mini-truckers and how they can become better enthusiasts to promote our pastime. Sometimes, I spend my soapbox time verbally to try and help our readers build better rides. This month, though, I'm going to look back at the beginning of my life as a mini-trucker and fill you in on a few of the earliest moments that have kept me involved for so long.
One of my first memories of mini-truckin' is from years ago, when I bought my first new truck and started working on it. The truck was an '89 Toyota standard cab, which I bought brand-new and put 15-inch KMC wheels on. It was torsion-bar-lowered and rode like crap on oil-filled stock shocks, but at least it was customized to some degree. Soon after I lowered the truck, I found a group of custom-truck enthusiasts who hung out in my area, and before I knew it, I was a member of a truck club. At the time, I thought I was the king of Alta Loma, California, until I started to see some of the other trucks in my own club, which put my pitiful ride to absolute shame. There were all kinds of customs, in every stage of development, that had me gawking at how these guys managed to get so much changed on a truck. I honestly believe I learned more in those first few months as a new mini-trucker than I did in the following years.
After a while, I became closer friends with a few different members of the club and began going to their houses to absorb information a lot more often than I hung out at home, where I stole my mom's towels to detail my truck. One of the guy's trucks still sticks in my mind. He had a white Nissan King Cab 720 longbed with a fully detailed, chromed, and powdercoated undercarriage. The truck had an adjustable suspension even back then, with a setup that I thought was only used by lowriders. The truck had hydraulics, and although they weren't fast, it could be lowered to any point just by hitting the switches. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when I went over to his house to help work on his ride. When the guy broke his leg in the middle of the summer that year from a dirt bike accident, he asked me to drive his truck to the truck run we were all going to in-force. I was happy to leave my Toyota at his house and roll his 720 to the run, with him sitting in a leg cast in the passenger seat. Sure, I didn't have a place to sleep all weekend, but that didn't seem to bother me. I think I had more fun at Summer Blowout 1990 than any other show I've attended since.
Before long, I realized that all the other trucks in my club were kicking ass at truck shows, where I never showed my truck, and I was simply watching it all go on without me. During the next few months, I decided to make a few major changes to my truck and had an adjustable suspension installed. Now, before you think that mine was the first truck on airbags, let me tell you that this wasn't the case. I didn't have hydraulics; those were just way too expensive for the puny bankroll I had to play with. Instead, I'd heard of a guy in Orange County named Sean Mehaney, who had opened up a shop called Trendsetter. He was laying trucks out like crazy, and some really killer trucks were turning up in the pages of this new magazine I'd started reading called Mini Truckin'. I made an appointment and had the truck in the shop in no time. Within a week, I got a call telling me that I could pick up my Toyota, but I needed to bring different wheels and tires because my truck was so low that I wouldn't be able to drive it. After making a few calls, doing a bit of begging, and parting ways with more hard-earned cash, I had a set of skinny five-star wheels with super-low-profile rubber tossed into a friend's truck, and then headed to Trendsetter to pick up my ride.
A few hours later, I found myself back at my house to detail it again, since it'd been sitting in a shop for a week getting dirty. (Yes, I've always been a detail freak). I inflated the nifty new air shocks, which allowed my truck to lift and lower with switches to the maximum. I got the truck as far up as I could just before I pulled in front of my parent's house. After going in and getting my mom and dad to come check out the truck, I told them to just stand at the curb, and I'd be right back. I drove up the street, turned around, and started toward the house. When I was about a block and a half away, and just out of my parent's sight, I let the last of the air out of the front and rear air shocks, and the truck began to drag. I dragged my first Toyota right past the house, shooting sparks all over the place. I was so stoked, I couldn't believe it! I had the lowest truck I knew of at the time and wanted to see what my parents thought of what I'd done to it. Pulling back up in front of the house, I saw the horror on my mom's face, as well as the disbelief on my dad's kisser. They were confused and didn't understand why my truck had been gone for a week and came back broken. I had to explain to them why being super-low was cool, but they never seemed to grasp the idea. They did, however, begin to understand that I would never be able to leave a vehicle in stock form again, as everything with wheels and an engine since has proved. L8!