I don’t post on here very much, mostly because my knowledge of cars pales in comparison to the average HAMB’er. While I am a founder of the Austin Speed Shop, my day job has some fairly demanding requirements on my time. Having started the shop with a great group of guys, we’ve seen a lot of versions and evolution, and I am proud of all that we have been able to accomplish and where we are as a family. The culmination of this satisfaction is the 32 roadster I am calling the Hill Country Flyer. A bit of background. Austin is built on a limestone terrace that holds about an inch of soil. When settlers first came to central Texas in the 1800’s, the land was virgin, the grasses tall, the oaks and pecans majestic. It seemed like a great place to graze cattle and grow cotton, until the early Texans realized that overgrazing and failure to leave pastures sallow, in conjunction with our cycles of rain and drought, soon left the land barren; the soil washed away in the Pedernales and the Blanco. Just west of this limestone plateau is the rocky hill country. The 98th meridian basically divides the terrace of Austin from the low mountains of the hill country. Coincidentally, it was also a boundary between rainy and arid climates, and the barrier between settled parts of Texas and wild Comanche territory, so called Comancheria. It was into this rugged and unforgiven setting that a few enterprising and naïve folks built a railroad over the limestone into the hill country. This railroad was and is The Hill Country Flyer. I have a podiatrist friend in Austin who is just as obsessed with trains as I am with cars. He bought the real Hill Country Flyer, and brought it back to life. The next time you are in the region, it is definitely worth the excursion. This roadster is an homage to the pioneering spirit represented by the Flyer. I always wanted a roadster, and it’s been a few years in the making. We borrowed parts from my other projects, and soon the car began to have such a life for me that I decided I wanted to take it as far as I could, given my limited budget. I wanted something sort of race-inspired yet elegant. People in my profession tend to be rather risk averse, so something powerful to meet the genre, elegant to meet my taste, and painted by my dear friend Gary Howard with a special mix that only he could pull off, became the goal. The Grand National Roadster Show is the ultimate indoor car show. Having been there numerous times, my mind began to process how and why the Flyer could actually make it there and represent the shop and all our associated artisan partners well. It was at this point that I engaged the ubiquitous and miraculously talented Eric Black to help develop a concept for the interior that would compliment the elegant salt-race theme. What a gift Eric is. It can’t be understated. This industry is elevated by his brain in ways that are indescribable, yet his hands stay as clean as mineJ. My good friend Phil Cato is killing it executing on the upholstery vision that Eric designed. The Hill Country Flyer will be representing the Austin Speed Shop in the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster Competition. There are obviously a lot of wonderful builders in that room, and the Award is a spectacular achievement. For me, I am thrilled to be in the mix, in the big room, and in the conversation. Kind of like the real Flyer, our roadster is the result of some enterprising and determined folks pressing forward on a shoestring, and it has the soul of places like Weir, Dripping Springs, and Austin in her. When you see it at the show, keep in mind all the special folks who have had a hand in her build: my partners Cory Moore and John Joyo for their friendship, inspiration and taste; Ryan Cochran who has always been there for us; Eric Anderson who grunted through every minute; Gary Howard for the paint and the subtle eye rolls regarding stylistic choices; Eric Black- he’s kinda talented; Phil Cato for pulling off in 3D what can only be imagined; Chris Hagerty- the wiremaster; Kail Withers who keeps the plates in the air and works his sleight of hand to keep it rolling; and artist of the universe Darren Wenzel for the show sign.