Giving Thanks for Automotive Experiences

With Thanksgiving and the holidays around the corner, our Store Team Members are giving thanks. We asked them to share the automotive experiences for which they’re most grateful, and we were truly inspired by what has shaped their paths. Whether it was learning how to work on cars from family members or mentors, interacting with customers at the store, or teaching others how to DIY, these stories demonstrate the genuine spirit of the season. Read on to see what they’re thankful for.

Photo Credit: denlinkbarmann/Flickr

Photo Credit: denlinkbarmann

From Wesley Mathis — Murray, KY

My dad has been gone from this world for three years this January, and I am so indebted to him and the life lessons that he taught me over the years. I remember my dad working on Mom’s car and his trucks to keep them in top shape. Dad showed me how to do everything on a car, from changing oil to a camshaft to even obsolete tasks such as replacing points and condensers in a distributor. The most important life lesson, however, that my dad taught me applies to both cars and life in general. I remember one spring in the 1980s while we were working on the hydraulic hoist on a 1967 Chevy C60, my dad was looking down on me with his prematurely aged skin from years of working in the sun as a farmer and his button-up blue shirt that he always wore, saying, “Son, it is shameful to be lazy. To hire for a job that you are capable of doing yourself is just wasteful and lazy. One will always take more time than money; take that time to figure out the problem and repair it.” That advice from a 10th-grade dropout (because he had to work on the family farm) I have found works with everything in life, everything from my 1970 Chevelle SS to marriage.

From Patsy Langston — Dothan, AL

I have worked in automotive parts, service, body shop and paint for over 38 years. In all of that time I have to say I am most thankful for the lives that have crossed paths with mine. I have met some of the most wonderful people you could meet being in this business and have made lifelong friends. I have worked for and with people who have deeply inspired my life, met a few famous people, shared automotive nightmares and laughs, and laughed about the nightmares. All in all I couldn’t see myself enjoying anything so much and am thankful for the people who have been a part of it.

From Brian Sandeen — Machesney Park, IL

I was one of those people who grew up in a family where we never took care of our own vehicles. My parents were the type who always took their cars to the dealership for repairs, oil changes, etc., or replaced a vehicle every two years or so. When I began working for Advance in 2009, I had very little if any experience working on cars. I got this job because of my previous background dealing with computer-part numbers in a warehouse, and at that time I took the job just for something to do as I was a full-time parent.

Since then, my wealth of automotive knowledge has grown. Things that I couldn’t do seven years ago is now second nature. Having this job has taught me how to maintain my own vehicles, from the minor maintenance such as oil changes to major work such as changing an alternator, starter, doing brake jobs, and so on. I was able to practically rebuild the front end of our van thanks to what I have learned working for this company. I am thankful for the general manager at store 8138 in Kingwood, Texas, who took a chance on me and hired me. If it wasn’t for that opportunity, I wouldn’t have learned what I have over these last few years.

From Danita Bachman — Powell, WY

I am most thankful for everything my dad taught me, from the simple check your oil and tires to changing and repacking bearing and overhauling engines. It made me what I am today, a proud manager of a Carquest / Advance Auto Parts store. Now my dad isn’t able to even walk or use his hands, but I still do everything that it takes to keep our vehicles on the road and safe. I am thankful for the opportunities Carquest and Advance have given me, and I truly love every day I am here. Love to all my fellow managers and employees.

From Jim Nelson — Patchogue, NY

Thirty-five years ago I worked in an auto-parts store that had a repair shop as part of the operation. The service manager quit, and I was asked to run the shop. I had no experience running a shop, but I had two mechanics who had previously owned and run shops. They taught me the ins and outs of running a shop as well as where and how all parts functioned on the vehicle. I learned more in those three years than I have in the last 30 years. I will be forever grateful to those two men.

I learned more in those three years than I have in the last 30 years.

From Mario Ortiz — Houston, TX

I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Youngest of eight children. I have four brothers and three sisters all with interests in cars, a few more so than the others. Growing up with fairly modest means, I remember going to the parts yards with my father, who was always working on something. Anxious to help however I could, I would constantly point or pick up parts at the local pick-a-part yard asking, “Is this what you need?” It amazed me how my father could look at what I picked up and in an instant reply, “No, that only fits a 1974 model.” I was bitten by the car bug at an early age and proudly carry the affliction as I have now been in the automotive parts and supplies industry for over 25 years. I love teaching a new generation of car enthusiasts about parts and how to best take care of their car, as it recalls so many fond memories of a father we dearly miss.

A warm thanks to our Team Members who contributed their wonderful stories. Do you have fond automotive memories you’re thankful for? Share your stories in the comments.

Calling All Road Warriors: National Motorcycle Ride Day

national motorcycle ride day

October 8th is National Motorcycle Ride Day, so we hit Facebook and asked about your favorite routes (and for some photos of your rides). Many of you agreed with one poster, who said, “My favorite road is wherever that front tire leads me!” Other suggestions included lesser-known local routes—including the ones that you lucky few take every day to work. But your favorite U.S. rides were the ones with mountain views, technical roads, or backwoods peace and quiet.

Here are your top five, plus suggestions for how to spend the second Saturday of October. You may not be able to tackle many of them in a day, but is that really a bad thing?

The Easy Rider Tour

national motorcycle ride day

Some of you referenced the 1969 classic road-trip film Easy Rider. Why not watch the movie (but maybe skip the ending) and then retrace a portion of the iconic 2,500-mile journey of Billy and Wyatt, played by Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda? The trip from Los Angeles to New Orleans encompasses five states and enough shorter rides to fill a lifetime. Or at least a couple of weeks. Depending on your location, you can take in the Martian-like landscape on the 161-mile Death Valley Run, loop around Monument Valley, cruise Route 66, or spend some time in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Along the way, you can pay homage to Billy and Wyatt at any number of recognizable locations from the movie. To get the full experience, trip on music from the soundtrack by artists like Steppenwolf, Jimi Hendrix, and the Byrds.

Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, Black Hills, South Dakota

national motorcycle ride day

Named one of the most outstanding byways in America, the Peter Norbeck Scenic byway is 70 miles of scenic tunnels, hairpin turns, and pigtail bridges. Favorite sections like the Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road will take you through some of the prettiest country west of the Missouri River. Smell the ponderosa pines, gape at two-billion-year-old monoliths and spires, and view Mount Rushmore from inside a rock tunnel roadway.

Million Dollar Highway, Colorado

national motorcycle ride day

People can’t agree on whether the Million Dollar Highway got its name from nearby gold and silver deposits or from how much it cost to build. But visitors will be excused for thinking the name comes from its million-dollar views. A portion of the San Juan Skyway, the Million Dollar Highway is where U.S. 550 stretches from Ouray to Silverton. The road reaches an elevation of over 11,000 feet at the summit of Red Mountain Pass, with plenty of hairpins and switchbacks along the way. What the Million Dollar Highway lacks, however, are guardrails, so take advantage of the many scenic turnouts.

Tail of the Dragon, Moonshiner 28, Cherohala Skyway, Great Smoky Mountains

national motorcycle ride day

The Smokies boast arguably some of the most treasured roadways for motorcyclists in the country. Bucket-list-worthy U.S. 129 at Deals Gap, N.C., also known as the Tail of the Dragon, offers 318 challenging curves in 11 miles. Want more? Extend your trip another 103 miles with the Moonshiner 28. Named for the bootleggers who once used it, N.C. 28 boasts abundant twisties and wide sweepers, mountain views, iconic spots like Bridal Veil Falls, and plenty of moonshine history. All with less traffic than you’ll find on the Tail. Or you can loop over to the 41-mile Cherohala Skyway. Drive from Robbinsville, N.C., through the unspoiled Cherokee and Nantahala forests, over 5,400-foot Santeetlah Gap, and into Tellico Plains, Tenn.

Natchez Trace Parkway, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi

national motorcycle ride day

It’s easy to see why so many of you love the Natchez Trace Parkway, a road that stretches 444 miles, from Natchez, Miss., to Nashville, Tenn. The parkway roughly follows the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail, a footpath that’s been in use for centuries. Sixty miles of the trails are maintained and open to visitors today. Commercial vehicles are prohibited on the Trace, which means no dump trucks or tractor trailers and less road debris. It also means that the asphalt is smooth as a baby’s… well, you know. The parkway avoids the congestion of most major cities, so you can relax while you soak up the scenery and the history.

For even more great rides (including more northeastern roads and the popular Blue Ridge Parkway), check out our recent posts Skip the Beach: Our Top 5 Mountain Road Trips and The Appalachian Trail: Road Trip Version. Or read the hundreds of Facebook comments from our road trip thread.

Getting your bike road-worthy? Stop by our Motorcycle Maintenance Center for advice, parts and more.

How to Tailgate: The Cars and Gear for a Great Tailgate Party

how to tailgate

Pre-game tailgating is a ritual as revered as the sporting events themselves. Friends and family come together year after year to eat great food and cheer on their team. Some tailgaters have such elaborate setups, their guests don’t want to leave the parking lot when the game starts. So, what’s the secret to a mind-blowing tailgating experience?

Rec Rooms on Wheels

Great tailgating starts with the right ride. But which to bring? Larger vehicles like trucks and minivans have more cargo room but use essential parking lot space. Smaller vehicles may maneuver better through traffic, but once you fit in your gear friends may have to hitch their own rides to the game. Whichever way you go make use of any handy, tailgating-friendly features your vehicle has, like folding tables, reversible rear benches, built-in coolers, even game stations and live satellite TV or internet.

Or go all in and follow the lead of inventive fans who create dedicated tailgating vehicles from old vans, RVs, ambulances, and school buses. These mobile monuments to sports are often bedecked with flags, signage, and custom team paint jobs. It’s all in the name of team spirit, and it certainly makes them easier to find in a crowded parking lot!

Keep guests cool with shady tents and iced drinks. Once the sun sets, they’ll appreciate extra lap blankets and a portable space heater.

A Space to Call Home

how to tailgate

Just like choosing the right home, selecting a parking spot for your sports-mobile is about two things: good neighbors and “location, location, location.” Some tailgaters return to the same space game after game. Arriving six hours before the whistle blows is a small price to pay for snagging a primo parking spot. You don’t want to be too far from the bathrooms (or too close). You don’t want to park a mile from the stadium either. And score the extra point for a shady spot and a patch of grass when the weather’s still nice.

You can’t always choose your neighbors, but don’t be afraid to step across that painted white line. Once you connect with a fellow tailgater over a brat and a brewsky, you may find yourselves teaming up again and again. After all, dedicated tailgating partners means double the fun and potentially half the work. You handle meat and drinks; they bring sides and utensils. You have the cornhole set; they’re connoisseurs of Kan Jam. If your kids get along with their kids, hold onto them for life! Before long you’ll be on each other’s Christmas card lists.

Go the Extra Foot(long)

No discussion of tailgating would be complete without food, glorious food! Whether your crowd prefers burgers and chips or veggies and dip, bring lots of it. And keep things simple. You want to enjoy yourself too, not spend the whole time at the grill. Make ahead what you can. Be sure to keep everything the right temperature so food poisoning doesn’t ruin your guests’ experience. To make your life even easier, keep a clean tool box loaded with tailgating essentials in your trunk—salt, pepper, sugar, utensils, skewers. This is also your chance to create themed food—as in anything that resembles the other team’s mascot. Playing the Rams? Serve lamb kabobs. Hopefully, it won’t be the only victory you taste that day.

We’d love to hear your ideas for scoring a touchdown this sports season. What are your best tailgating tips? Leave us a comment below.

Tractor Pulling Through the Eyes of Announcer Miles Krieger

We think it might be time for you to get to know Miles Krieger. He’s a guy we’d all like to be friends with, and you might want to kick back with him too, after hearing about his dedication to tractor pulls.

Miles Krieger has tractor pulling in his blood. He grew up touring the circuit with his dad, Butch, a tractor-pull event announcer who still actively announces 40 shows a season. Miles is also an event announcer and often hosts event pre-shows. Krieger’s unique perspective, often shared on his website MilesBeyond300, provides tractor pull fans with a better understanding of the sport’s unique past, present, and future.

But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what Krieger has to say about the exciting sport.

Q: How did tractor pulling get started?

Pulling can be traced back to the truest form of horsepower. Farmers would get together and compete for bragging rights by hooking their teams of horses up to a flat board covered in rocks. Those same farmers later got together to show off their strength with a farm tractor. In the ’60s, organizations and rules began to take shape. The sport began to grow in popularity with events popping up all over the country.

By the ’80s, the sport went mainstream. Television networks were picking up coverage of the touring series. Corporate sponsorships began to come to the series and also to the competitors. Today farmers from across the country are representing brands and focusing on getting to the next event as they tour the country both for indoor and outdoor events.

Q: What goes into creating a winning tractor today?

Over the last decade, the sport has truly evolved in the pursuit of horsepower. The engineering and research/development going into the sport is unbelievable. Regardless of what level a competitor is pulling, the demand to be at the front of the class encourages everyone to go the extra mile in pursuit of power. The technology is increasing and adaption of the rules has allowed competitors to continue to push the limits.

Years of research goes into it. Pullers tweak and push the envelope on configuration in order to find a competitive advantage within the rules.

Horsepower is key, but it isn’t the only factor. A winning pull begins with preparation and maintenance. Competitors work prior to the pull to ensure their equipment is in top notch form. The pursuit of weight is also a very big consideration when developing a chassis. Some competitors are doing their own chassis work, while others rely on a chassis builder known for success in the respective class. Years of research goes into it. Pullers tweak and push the envelope on configuration in order to find a competitive advantage within the rules.

Q: What are the qualities of an elite tractor driver?

The best equipment in the sport doesn’t always win. Competitors who understand their equipment and drive for perfection will win more times than not. Reading a track, understanding the conditions at the event, and driving the vehicle to match the specific setup and conditions are just a few of the attributes a driver must have. Driving the vehicle to the setup is a lot easier said than done. A puller gets one chance to hit it on the head.

Q: Which weight class is the most entertaining to watch?

Wow, this is a very difficult question to answer! As an announcer, I love the Mini Modified class because of the excitement they bring to the show and the Big Modified class for the engineering that goes into getting four Hemis to sing in harmony down the track. The Pro Stock class is also recognized nationwide. If I were going to name one representative class to watch though, I would pick the Pro Stock class. The tractors are relatable for fans of the John Deere, International, Case, and Massey Ferguson brands.

Q: What makes tractor pulling different from other motorsports?

One of the most unique aspects of the sport of pulling is the idea of an open pit area. Fans can make their way directly into the pit area before or after the show. The superstars of the sport of pulling are accessible to the oldest and youngest fans in the crowd. Pullers will sign an autograph, put a young fan in the seat of their vehicle, and interact with the fan base until the early hours of the morning. Pulling is fan friendly and built around the idea of giving the fans a first-class experience for an affordable price.

Q: What do you see next for tractor pulling?

I think the sport has a tremendous future. There are a lot of brilliant people working in this sport. We are welcoming our third and fourth generation pullers to the sport now. The professionalism and knowledge possessed by pullers is unbelievable. Competitors are building names for themselves and planting roots for the long term in representing some great brands. We need other organizations to see the value of the sport. I’m confident the Return on Investment will be there in the long term. There are hidden gem tractor pulls all over the country.

Don’t miss the action!
These national circuit events draw the largest competitor entries and crowds. Be sure to check out your local-level tractor pulls too.

Midwest Winternationals — Gifford, Illinois (January)
National Farm Machinery Show — Louisville, Kentucky (February)
Wisconsin Dairyland Nationals — Tomah, Wisconsin (June)
Thunder in the Valley — Rock Valley, Iowa (July)
Hillsboro Charity Pull — Hillsboro, Wisconsin (August)
National Tractor Pulling Championships — Bowling Green, Ohio (August)
Lucas Oil Pro Pulling Nationals – Wheatland, Missouri (September)
Enderle Pull Off — Urbana, Ohio (September)

Demolition Derbies: For the Thrill (and the Skill) of It

demolition derby

Each year millions of us attend county fairs not for the deep-fried twinkies but for the vehicular mayhem–bumper-smashing, whiplash-making, ear-splitting, grit-in-your teeth, eyes-burning-from-the-fumes demolition derbies. It’s a tradition that’s been around since before Leave It to Beaver first aired on television. Some would argue it’s just as American, though louder and not nearly so black-and-white.

More Than Meets the Eye

No one would mistake demolition derbies for anything other than what they are. They’re gladiator-type events where drivers smash the heck out of their vehicles while fans scream approval from the stands. We cheer for drivers crazy enough to crash into each other on purpose and for the cars they built to go the distance.

And what cars! They are the spray-painted embodiment of the underdog. They’ve been stripped down and reworked to endure the worst retirement party imaginable. Their better days have gone the way of their rearview mirrors and windows, and most contenders spill their guts and radiator fluid in the arena before being towed to their final resting place. One heroic vehicle, however, coughs its way to victory.

demolition derby

What’s (Not) in a Derby Car?

Perhaps the most American part of demolition derbies are the cars themselves, literally. No Hondas and Mazdas here. Only full-sized, Detroit-built sedans and wagons from the ’60s and ’70s will do. And except for hobo-class races, which use compact cars, modern vehicles are out. Too much plastic and electronics. Classic American behemoths can inflict major damage on other competitors. Sometimes they’re even rebuilt to derby again!

Each derby vehicle is put through a reverse makeover before competing. Interior and exterior trim, plastic, lights, windows, and mirrors go first; drivers don’t want to be hit with flying debris during a collision. The gas tank is replaced with a smaller version and secured in a reinforced box behind the driver. Then the battery is relocated to the front passenger floor. The muffler, catalytic converter, and exhaust pipes are nixed. Doors are welded or chained shut. Sheet metal is used to reinforce the car’s frame, though too much can cause overheating. And a hole has to be cut into the hood to accommodate a fire hose for emergencies. Finally, with a little Mad-Maxian embellishment (think vertical chrome pipes, flags, and oversized teddy bears), the car is ready for the arena.

demolition derby

How to Win a Derby

It may seem like derby cars crash into one another with the same finesse as the kids in the bumper cars across the fairgrounds. But there are rules in a derby. Drivers must hit a ‘live car’ at least once every 60 seconds. Also, no head-on collisions; no driver-door hits, and absolutely no sandbagging. Consequences include disqualification and enduring the intense ire of both fans and other competitors.

There’s also offensive and defensive strategy involved. Offensively, drivers want to hit the front of another vehicle with their own rear bumper. That way, they can damage their competitor’s wheel wells or flatten the tires, immobilizing them. Even better, they can hit the engine bay and puncture the radiator or crack the block. They can also knock out contenders by forcing them up onto the ring’s concrete barriers. Or time their hits to coincide with another vehicle for maximum annihilation.

On the defensive side, drivers prefer to ride the outside of the ring counter-clockwise. Since driver-side door hits are illegal, this technique protects them from being broadsided. Experienced drivers are careful to avoid getting pinned into a corner by ‘dead’ cars. And like wildebeests on the Sahara, they team up when possible and keep moving to avoid looking like easy prey.

demolition derby

Who Wins?

After months of preparation, it can all be over in a single, 15-minute heat. The heartbroken (and just plain broken) are towed from the arena. The victor moves on to the next heat. At the end of the night, prizes are awarded. Mad Dog Money often goes to the most audacious drivers; people are paying for entertainment, after all. Grand prizes can approach $10,000, but it’s a pittance when you consider the hours and hard-earned money already invested. Most derby drivers, like their fans, are in it for more than the money. It’s about the thrill and the glory. No matter how short lived.

Some say that the days of demolition derbies are numbered. Those classic cars are harder to come by. So next time you drive by a rusting clunker in a field, double back. You could be looking at last year’s county fair derby champion. Or your chance to get in on the action while you still can.

Are you a demolition derby fan or competitor? Share your favorite derby moments with us by leaving a comment.

Our First Cars: Three Revs For High School Cars

Your first car is special. It’s your first time driving on the road alone; your first grownup date with your sweetheart; and really, your first true form of independence. It may not have been the newest or most luxurious, but your high school car represented something more than just a vehicle—it kindled the pioneer spirit that Model T drivers had when they were able to expand their world. Your first car allowed you to explore the long roads ahead of you.

Advance Auto Parts | Our First Cars

The Cars That Taught Us (Some) Responsibility

But let’s not get too sappy here. High school cars came with first speeding tickets, first flat tires, and first repair bills. It wasn’t until years later, though, that we could look back and truly appreciate our first rides. We learned how to drive on them, but more importantly, we learned responsibility from owning them. A new set of tires cost us a whole summer job’s pay. Not having washer fluid when we were stuck behind a muddy construction truck meant we started regularly checking the fluid reservoir. In hindsight, we probably all wish that we had treated our high school cars better, because they gave us more than we ever returned.

A member at our church had posted the car for sale, and I begged him to sell me the car, even though I didn’t have the money or a driver’s license.

So with junior and senior year starting this September for new drivers across the country, let’s leave our first cars with an overdue parting gift, and I’m sure many of you are in the same boat vehicle. Call it an ode to our first cars. Let’s share the best and the worst parts. To get the party started, a few of us at Advance have volunteered our high school car stories!

Ode to First Cars

Advance Auto Parts | Our First Cars

“My first car was a 1972 Plymouth SCAMP. I started saving for the car when I was 14, and bought the car shortly after getting my first real job right after I got my driver’s license at 16. A member at our church had posted the car for sale, and I begged him to sell me the car, even though I didn’t have the money or a driver’s license. He finally agreed and I gave him a token $50 deposit. It was a 2-door hardtop, Gloss Red with a 318hp eight-cylinder engine, with lots of rust and I still paid $900 for it. My friends nick-named it the ‘Red Rocket,’ but it was a rocket that I never knew how fast I was going in because I could never get the speedometer to work. Nevertheless, it served me well through my high school years and I didn’t get a single speeding ticket, although I got stopped four times. I just told the officer my speedometer cable broke, and they let me off with warnings.” -Greg M.

Advance Auto Parts | Our First Cars

“My first car was a 1991 Chevy Corsica. I got it in the fall of 1995 when I was a junior. I could often be seen driving around with three hubcaps because they were plastic and fell off a lot. It didn’t run the greatest, only had an AM/FM radio, and there were NO automatic features. But that’s ok, its unreliability helped me get my very first cell phone in case I broke down on my way home from college.” – Lorie P.

“I got my first car, a 1980 Chevy Camaro, when I was 17 with a loan from my dad. My mom actually found the car in our small town newspaper. We bought it from a widow who was selling her late husband’s car. Her husband was the original owner and had only put 36,000 miles on it. I actually got to take the car for a short test drive down the street. When my dad and I got home after looking at the car I remember rationalizing the price to him. The Camaro was my daily driver for the next 13 years.” – Byron N.

Advance Auto Parts | Our First Cars

“My first car was a 1988 Toyota Camry—a hand-me-down from my stepdad that had the automatic sliding seat belts that forced you into safety mode once you shut the door. Everything about this car was gray. Gray paint, gray upholstery, gray carpet. I named him Steely Dan and drove him back and forth from Virginia to Tennessee for college until he finally kicked the bucket my junior year.” – Sarah M.

“My first car I ever drove in high school was a 1986 CJ7 Jeep with a manual transmission. I was so excited and relentlessly begged my parents to buy it for me even though I had never driven a manual before. My parents didn’t think it was a good idea, but I insisted. After all, how hard is it to learn to drive a stick shift on an old Jeep? About a week after they bought me the Jeep, I was begging them to sell it. I quickly realized that I was too afraid to actually drive it on the road. I have been driving an automatic ever since.” – Whitney S.

Advance Auto Parts | Our First Cars

“My first car was one that I had no business driving as a teen in the Midwest: a green 1974 Alfa Romeo Spider. It was loud, occasionally started in winter with an oil pan electric heater, super fun in the spring and fall, sweaty in the summer. Some people never learn, like me, so now I have a blue ’74 Spider.” – Richard M.

“I had a white 1977 Malibu Classic that my dad gave me. I bought chrome hubcaps and had someone in town paint it red for me. Then I took it to the new car wash and the high pressure water peeled off huge strips of paint! I was near tears because I had saved all of the money from my summer job to get the car painted. I had to drive it around with big strips of white paint showing through for quite some time.” – Dave K.

“My first car was a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T, handed down to me from my father. It was a neat little car, all black with a five-speed manual transmission and a decent engine. I did my share of stupid stuff until I got older and wiser, like fishtailing wet turns using my e-brake, burning my clutch disc and tires by popping into first gear at 6,000 RPMs, and going 8,000 miles without an oil change on conventional (gulp…sorry, car!).” – Neil B.

Share Your High School Car Story

What was your first car? Were you parking a block from school so no one could see it or were you washing and waxing it every week? Share your stories and photos on our Facebook page or reply in the comments.

Car + Culture: The Story Behind Houston’s Food Trucks

Food truck culture has exploded in popularity in the past few years, with adventurous chefs trying their hand at every type of cuisine you could imagine, from sushi burritos to Turkish pizza. You’ll find the trucks circled up at local weekend events or parked outside your office just in time for the lunch rush. People now use them for food at weddings too! There’s good reason for the food truck’s popularity: the food is often delicious and cheap, and a restaurant with wheels is as convenient a meal as you can get.

Marco Novo owns Chef Units, a Houston-based business that makes the food trucks you know, love, and maybe even follow on Instagram. In our latest Car + Culture video, we see how his team takes your standard truck and turns it into a roving kitchen. Shout out to Houston locals, you might spot some food truck favorites in the video too.

2016 Patrick Long Pro-Am Kart Race: Making a Difference for All Children’s Hospital


For the fifth year in a row, professional drivers and weekend racers gathered the day after the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with one goal, to raise money for All Children’s Hospital, a pediatric hospital located in St. Petersburg, Florida that specializes in providing pediatric care for those with challenging medical problems.

On Sunday, March 20th, seven pro drivers joined a team of countless donors and volunteers on the Andersen RacePark track for a 1.5-hour endurance race, on go-karts. The event presents a rare opportunity for fans to team up with and meet some of their favorite professional drivers.

Will Reilly, event committee member, is an enthusiastic advocate of the Kart Race mission, stating, “After visiting All Children’s Hospital a few times for the planning meetings and seeing where the money was going; I knew it was going to be worth it to be part of this event.”

Race Day: A Well-Oiled Machine


Donations came in all forms, from cash to entry fees. A silent auction of donations from the pro drivers and collectibles contributed by local dealerships and race teams were combined with a live auction. Items up for bid ranged from peculiar to heart-warming: race shoes worn by pro drivers in historic Petit Le Mans races, the skinny front tires from the famed DeltaWing racing car, and framed paintings done by patients of All Children’s Hospital.

On the track, the competitive spirit was in full swing. Most of the teams started their pro drivers first while the karts were cool and running quickly. Then, in the blink of an eye, the driver changes began, in true endurance race fashion. The karts alternated amongst the teams as they cycled through the drivers. In turn, no advantages could be introduced. Each driver had to participate a fair amount, meaning amateur entrants and pros alike had to pull their own weight to secure a win.

A Thrilling Finish


The fifth year of racing brought seasoned drivers with experience and strategy to the race, along with plenty of memorable moments. There were some healthy jousts at the start. Patrick Long jumped in for a driver that couldn’t make it and Jordan Taylor (who started the race for his team) qualified first. He cycled back through the driver changes and helped his team keep first place for the win.

Andersen RacePark, Patrick Long, the volunteers, drivers and donors raised $60,000 to benefit All Children’s Hospital.

The Future Ahead

“Aside from the fun and excitement from the event, it’s really the kids that keep me coming back year after year,” said Reilly.

Reilly’s right. Besides creating a fun, adrenaline-satisfying atmosphere, the event created a positive impact on the families whom will benefit from the funds raised.

We’ve been before and will return again. This event shows what these great drivers and people are truly capable of – making a lasting impact on their community.

To make your own contribution to the charity, visit their site.

Advance Auto Parts awards $2 Million purse at inaugural Charity Pro-Am

Money raised benefited four charities


ROANOKE, Va. (September 21, 2012) – Advance Auto Parts (NYSE: AAP), a leading retailer of automotive aftermarket parts, accessories, batteries, and maintenance items, announced today that the Company and its vendor partners, raised $2 million for four charities at its recent inaugural charity Pro-Am tournament.  Proceeds from the Pro-Am benefited JDRF, the American Cancer Society, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Building Homes for Heroes.  Celebrity teams from the PGA Tour and entertainment industry golfed with vendor sponsors, with each team representing one of the charities and competing for a share of the $2 million purse.

The tournament results are as follows:

1st Place                      American Cancer Society                  $650,000

2nd Place (tie)          Boys and Girls Clubs of America        $475,000

2nd Place (tie)          Building Homes for Heroes                  $475,000

4th Place                     JDRF                                                        $400,000


“It’s been a humbling and inspirational experience to witness our vendors, Team Members and communities come together in support of these wonderful organizations,” said Darren Jackson, President and CEO.

Every year Advance Auto Parts serves millions of customers in thousands of stores across the United States, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands, while also supporting a variety of worthy causes locally, regionally and nationally.

“I am extremely proud of the impact our vendors have made and the commitment they have shown to supporting Advance’s charitable efforts,” said Charles Tyson, Senior Vice President, Merchandising and Marketing.

The American Cancer Society is a nationwide, community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem.

Building Homes for Heroes is committed to supporting those who have returned home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with severe wounds and disabilities, with a goal to build homes for families in dire need.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of America promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence.

JDRF is the leading global organization focused on type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, driven by passionate, grassroots volunteers connected to children, adolescents and adults with this disease. JDRF is now the largest charitable supporter of T1D research.

About Advance Auto Parts

Headquartered in Roanoke, Va., Advance Auto Parts, Inc., a leading automotive aftermarket retailer of parts, accessories, batteries, and maintenance items in the United States, serves both the do-it-yourself and professional installer markets. As of July 14, 2012, the Company operated 3,692 stores in 39 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Additional information about the Company, employment opportunities, customer services, and online shopping for parts, accessories and other offerings can be found on the Company’s website at