Tag Archives: Blue Belle

A Louisville recap, Detroit, Chicago, Blue Belle, a Ridler Candidate and more…

Hey there Kids! We find ourselves back in a truck headed ‘North to (what feels like) Alaska’. Not in my truck, though. After our last episode in Louisville, I drove our rig (with the Hudson) up to a friend’s shop in the suburbs of Detroit to leave for a week whilst I flew home to be a dad, husband, boss and an employee.

The Hudson and its Louisville "booty"...
The Hudson and its Louisville “booty”…

In case you were wondering, we did well in Louisville and earned our remaining needed points to have a position in the ISCA Finals this year, located in a city we’ve never shown in, Chicago. Other than the distinct possibility of getting shot, I am looking forward to seeing what I understand is one of our Great Skating Rinks (also a lake?) and seeing how the Hudson places in the Superbowl of our industry.

Our tickets to the E-ride in D-town...
Our tickets to the E-ride in D-town…
Blue Belle's awards-Shreveport 2012
There aren’t many things prettier than Blue Belle, however Penny, her owner, sure gives her a run for her money…

Now we are back on the road, this time hauling our old friend “Blue Belle” and convoying with a new friend, Tim Palazzolo of GAP Racing and his as yet unseen “Stampede” project (a Ridler Award hopeful) to Detroit, then Chicago the following week. Blue Belle is a veteran to traveling to and competing in these shows, however Tim Palazzolo and his “Stampede” are rookies and taking a swing at not only a hit, but a Grand Slam, their first time at bat.  Also, wait until you see the dead Italian cows that were “unstitched” inside this little horsey by the crew at Compton Custom Interiors, another rookie coming to The Big Show.

JF Launier and his 2014 Ridler Award-winning Riviera
JF Launier and his 2014 Ridler Award-winning Riviera – there are no boundaries when it comes to automotive creativity at this level of competition.  
"Gold Digger" - the 2010 Ridler Award winner.
“Gold Digger” – the 2010 Ridler Award winner.
Yes, girls can play, too. Tammy Ray won the Ridler Award in 2010.
Yes, girls can play, too. Tammy Ray won the Ridler Award in 2010 with the “Gold Digger”. Ya gotta love the creativity in names as well…

In case you don’t know what the Riddler Award is, look it up. In a nutshell, it is the custom automobile world’s Olympic Gold Medal, and there is only one awarded – with no Silver or Bronze. All or nothing. Bold aspirations for a Houston-born, bad-ass “I can’t tell you yet”. Although we did not bodywork or paint this one, we were honored to have created the custom colors for it, wetsand and polish the entire clearcoat and tighten up a few loose ends. I’d love to show you images of the car and what we did, however the Ridler Award requires that the first showing be in Detroit and it be a true debut – not seen in public before, anywhere. So, think of a very fast horse and a color that is usually identified as sad -which this horsey is definitely not! Good luck to Tim and his crew at GAP Racing, although we doubt he’ll need it. Well, kids, its time to hit the Cracker Barrel, load up on eggs, bacon and coffee and head “norther”. I’ll do my best to keep the blog updated as we take this journey to some unexplored territory.

Until next time,



2013 International Show Car Association Championships…

PAINTHOUSE, for the second year running, is honored to have earned a trip to the ISCA Finals with not one, but two, of our projects. Dana and Noel Irvin, our ‘dynamic duo’, have earned the privilege of bringing their hot rods, “Night Mare” and “Blew Bayou“, to the Big Show here in Lafayette, LA. Penny Weiss’ ’55 Thunderbird “Blue Belle“, a finalist at last year’s Championship, also came along for the ride just to show for fun.



Stay tuned and I’ll post pics to our Facebook page as the weekend develops.



Dallas Autorama, here we come…

Blue Belle - Dallas Autorama 2012
Penny Weiss' CASI Cup winner from last year returns to grace to show poster for the 2012 Dallas Autorama

It has been very busy around PAINTHOUSE since we returned from the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California. We are returning to this year’s Dallas Autorama with last year’s CASI Cup winner, “Blue Belle“, owned by Penny Weiss. Also tagging along are two rookies to this show, “Blew Bayou” belonging to Noel Irvin and “Night Mare“, stabled by his wife, Dana Irvin.

Blew Bayou - 2011 Millwinder selection, Houston Autorama and 1st place at 2012 Grand National Roadster Show
Night Mare debuts at the 2012 Grand National Roadster Show - first place.

Also showing this year will be our long time buddy and road-tripper, Mac Bernd, bringing his newest toy, an all-original 1969 SS Camaro, big-block, 4-speed. Although we didn’t build this beauty, we did do a final color sand and polish on it to bring out the best in the classic Hugger Orange color.

Mac's Camaro - 1969 SS
Mac Bernd's 1969 SS Camaro - big block, 4-speed

Don’t miss a chance to see all 4 of these cars up close and personal this coming February 17-19, 2012 at the Dallas Market Hall. We’ll look for you this coming weekend.

Until next time,


Three-peat complete: Best of Show in Ft. Worth

Best of Show third consecutive year: Blue Belle

Amid vintage brick streets and in between intense, but welcomed, thunderstorms, Penny Weiss and her ’55 Thunderbird, Blue Belle, have won the Best of Show award at this year’s Cowtown Cruisin’ for Cure car show in Ft. Worth, Texas this weekend. More importantly, the show proceeds benefit research of and screening for prostate cancer, the second most deadly disease for men.

Along with the honor of Best in Show came a check for $500.00, which was quickly donated back to the show to be given to the cancer research foundation. They can do much more good with the funds than we can.

The interesting back story to this is the fact that PAINTHOUSE has now brought home the Best of Show honor for three years running. $umday, the ’62 Vette of Jennifer and Steve Keffeler won the silver cup in 2009 and Candy Apply Blonde, the ’57 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible of Jeff and Ann Smith were the top dog last year. Winning 3 years in a row is incredibly humbling considering the level of cars that come to this great little 5 hour show in downtown Fort Worth.

We will most certainly be back next year in a quest to bring home a fourth Best of Show. More importantly, we will be back to enjoy the vintage downtown Ft. Worth atmosphere, the fantastic array of automobilia, the friends we’ve made and certainly to help raise money to further the research, and hopeful cure, of prostate cancer. Whether we win or not, this is a fantastic way to spend a Saturday in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Until next time,


Blue Belle makes the Fab Four in Big D


No, this is not an award given by the Beatles! Blue Belle, our ‘55 Thunderbird project, has been selected into the rarified air of the Fab 4 here in Dallas. Much like the Detroit Riddler has a Great 8, or Houston’s Millwinder selects the Magnificent 7, the Dallas Autorama has a Fab 4 that ultimately leads up to their big award.

Although I think I know who will ultimately win this award, I am humbled and honored that Penny’s little hot rod was chosen to be one of the four. The thanks goes to my crew back at PAINTHOUSE. So, “Loose” Bruce Woodings, Mike Stuart, Cliff Groontok, Tim Kubelka, Craig Kelly, Jennifer Borcherding (she’s mine) and not to forget James Klouse, Ed White, Eric Brockmeyer, Ron Mangus and Skylar Petroski: Good job guys. Thank you.

Tomorrow with bring the results and finally a trip home to my family. See y’all Sunday.


Blue Belle’s Travels


The Grand National Roadster Show was a fantastic success. The trip home was quite a contrast to that. Under ‘normal’ conditions, it takes two 12-14 hour days to return (or one hell of a long non-stop trip, which I’ve done more than once). This return trip was much different, taking 4 days, and including some harrowing driving and even one “spin out” off of a very icy road (glacier would have been more apt).

BlueBelle_leaving Flagstaff-1


Dick Weiss (the car’s “other” owner) and I left Pomona, CA, on Monday morning headed east on I-40 for Flagstaff, AZ, Albuquerque, NM and finally home. I must admit I am a sucker for driving through the mountains, so I chose this route on purpose. The drive out of California was as uneventful as the drive westward to the show. We approached Flagstaff with the knowledge that some winter weather lay ahead, but not really knowing its severity or exact location.


As a side note, for several years, Flagstaff has been a favorite travel stop of mine. I have stayed there several times, with a couple of them including my family, and once with the family of $umday’s owners, the Keffelers. Our favorite haunted hotel is there, The Monte Vista, so ask me sometime about my ghost story from when we first stayed there several years ago.


BlueBelle_the storm

Flagstaff was awesome, as usual. We headed east out on to the plains and Albuquerque. As we drove on, the impending storm became obvious. We drove on into it, as the snow began.


After a few hours of driving into the snow, we reached Albuquerque. At this point, the storm was on full blast, with the temperature down to 6 degrees and the wind blowing at 30-40 mph. The wind chill was down around –15 degrees. I love the winter weather, but that is way colder than my Houston-based butt is used to.


After we settled in the room, I noticed a pile of snow on the floor near the door: the wind, blowing at 35+ mph was blowing snow through the door jamb and into the room. That’s not something you see in Houston very often, okay, ever.

BlueBelle_the storm-10


As we left Albuquerque the next morning, we were greeted with a landscape covered in snow, and our newest traveling companion, Mr. Ice. It took quite some time to climb out of the valley Albuquerque is in and get to Santa Rosa, where we would exit I-40 and drive southeast down into Texas. By the Santa Rosa exit point, the icy roads had diminished, and traveling was at a somewhat faster pace. We made it through Lubbock and were heading toward Abilene on I-20 when our pal, Mr. Ice, returned. We had gotten to Sweetwater, Texas, about 40 miles west of Abilene when we decided it was time to stop. While fueling at a truck stop, we were told that I-20 going East was at a standstill from a significant layer of ice and the wrecks that were resulting from it. We found one of the few rooms left, and parked it for the night, as did literally thousands of Semi’s. They were everywhere: in parking lots, truck stops, down city streets, along the freeway, etc. I have never seen so many trucks in one place at the same  time.

Blue Belle_snow rainbow


The next morning, we left out with hopes of making it home, as we should have been there last evening, Tuesday, and were still several hundred miles away. Despite what seemed like a good omen, the snow rainbow did not bring us good luck. Our unintended passenger, Mr. Ice, had other plans for us, and many others, as the day wore on.

IMAG0200Blue Belle_wrecks


Blue Belle_wrecks-4IMAG0205

IMAG0206Blue Belle_wrecks-11

Now, after we reach Abilene, a distance of about 37 miles,  several hours later, we head south on Highway 84 in an attempt to finally get home. At this point, we had seen over a dozen wrecks, driven for hours on a true sheet of ice at well over 10 mph and then…it was our turn.

While driving on Hwy 84, on a downhill slope, the truck lost its steering, started to veer to the left and then…around came the trailer, spinning the truck with it. As it all happened, seemingly in slow motion, (it only lasted about 4 seconds) we ended up parked on the opposite side of a 4-lane highway, pointed in the opposite direction, now facing uphill, unable to move the rig, but unharmed in any way. Just prior to and shortly after, semi trucks and passenger cars  passed us. How they were absent at the time of our spin further reinforces the fact that someone else is running this “show” we call Life.

We were not headed up this hill a few minutes ago...

We sat there nervously joking about what had just happened, then got out and surveyed our condition and checked on Blue Belle and the trailer’s contents. Too our amazement, not a thing was out of place. The car was exactly as we had last seen it at the last fuel stop, all the display components were where we had put them and suddenly life was very good! We returned to the truck and attempted to move back on the road, but to no avail. Even with 4-wheel drive locked in low, the wheels just spun, unable to move the trailer (7000#, maybe more) out of our thankfully soft grass landing pad (albeit frozen, snow and ice covered). The picture above may look very tame, but it was 8 degrees, the wind was blowing at 20+ mph (wind chill down in the –teens, ouch!), the incline was steeper than what you see indicates and the ice was over 2” thick. It was like trying to drive uphill on an ice rink. I have lived in Colorado Springs, and Mr. Weiss lives in the mountainous area of Idaho, and neither of us have ever been this cold or seen this much ice cover this much geography.

Blue Belle spinout-1

There was no shortage of people (good Samaritans) that offered to help, or take us somewhere, which was a welcome sign that the world is not such a bad place after all. They just couldn’t really do anything. One local fella stopped, and attempted to reach a tow truck driver he knows, but he could not reach him. After about 30 minutes of calling, with no results, we assured him we were going to be fine, and he went on his way, promising to check on us as he came back by later.

Trailer unhitched_2011

Blue Belle spinout-2

We decided we had to unhitch the trailer, lock it up, and try to reach the next town, Coleman, in search of a wrecker or anything that might help. We also knew that we may have to leave the car/trailer on the side of the road until this frozen landscape thawed enough to get the trailer out. We hunted around to find something to put behind the trailer tires, just in case it should decide to continue down the slippery slope under its own gravitational power. We finally found an old tire, and a broken tree limb, to hopefully hold our precious cargo in place until our return.

Once we were back under way, trailer-less, we headed south toward Coleman. After a few miles of slow driving, we came upon a Heavy Duty wrecker (tows semi-trucks) and a local Sheriff, working to get a tanker rig back on its way. We spoke with the wrecker crew, and they said they had two more commitments, then they would meet us at our truck, in 1-2 hours. We went back to wait. Also, the Sheriff let us know that the ice continued for at least two more counties to the South. Lovely.

Blue Belle spinout-3

In our downtime, we had to idea to take one of the trailer’s torsion springs and see if we could break up the ice and get the truck’s tires back down to pavement, and ultimately, traction to pull out the trailer. After about 30 minutes, we managed to crack away enough ice to allow us to back up to the trailer, re-hitch, and attempt to pull it out. As luck would have it, with the truck in low 4-wheel drive and as much throttle as the slippery blacktop will allow, we were able to release the trailer from some of Canada’s finest ice and the glacial grip of our unintended roadside destination.

Despite the simple nature of it, the next challenge proved to be turning around, as after getting back on the road, we were headed the wrong direction. The concern was that if we had tried to turn around on any kind of a slope, the heavy trailer would slide downhill and drag us with it. We crawled along until we found a relatively flat spot near a road intersection and were able to manage a successful U-turn and regain our momentum southward, and ultimately, home. By the time we reached Coleman, it was dark, we were tired, hungry and ready to stop for the night. The day’s progress: 13 hours, 83 miles, one ‘spin-out’, near frost-bitten and, thankfully, zero damage.


To add to our good fortune, we found a new Best Western and an fantastic “log cabin” steakhouse, The Way Station. If you’re in the Coleman, Texas area, try it, you won’t regret it. Their breakfast the next morning was equally as impressive.


Our trip the next morning proved to be less eventful. As we traveled further south, the ice continued to lessen, and once we were near Austin, the roads were clear and we were again traveling at the posted speed limits (no faster, not us!). I have to say, after crawling around at 10 mph or so for the last couple of days, driving at 60+ seems like we’re hauling butt.


Ahhh, the exit to the house. After 1600 miles, 4 days, 3 motel rooms, countless cups of coffee, borderline frostbite and one minor miracle, we made it home. I will be the first one to admit that someone WAY above my pay grade made sure we got here. Because of other weather events in the Houston area (more ice!), we chose to not attend the Waco Autorama that we had previously committed to. We will instead travel back into the frigid North this next weekend to the Wichita Falls Show (February 12-13, 2011).

Stay tuned, as we continue the saga of Blue Belle’s Travels.

Until next time,


2011 Grand National Roadster Show


We are back on the road, heading east after a great time out here at the 62nd Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona. The Blue Belle garnered much more than her fair share of attention, especially from the lofty heights of this show. The level of quality, across the spectrum, out here is nothing short of amazing.

There are 8 buildings housing several hundred cars, trucks, bikes and even a couple boats. The show also has a ‘drive in’ car show that happens on Saturday and Sunday. This year it drew over 900 cars on a flawless California day Saturday. I spent much of Saturday walking around and soaking up the phenomenal collection of automobilia found outdoors, in addition to the obvious indoor show. This event truly can lead to sensory overload. It is something that every car fan should experience at least once in their lifetime.


At the end of the day, she took home First in Class (Mild Sports), an outstanding Display award and, incredibly, the Outstanding Sports car of the Show. That was more than we ever expected at what  could be considered one of the greatest car shows ever. I think Penny is happy!

I better put this computer away and get back to driving. The show has started as we head east into Albuquerque, and ultimately, Waco, Texas, for the next stop on the Blue Belle Express. If you’re in the area, stop by the Waco Convention Center this weekend.

Until next time,