5 Stages of Consciousness | The Pre SEMA

5 Stages of Consciousness | The Pre SEMA

Nov 11, 2017
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Another SEMA has gone by and I can say without a question that this years’ was one of the most stressful, crazy and rewarding shows that I have ever attended. So why was this stressful? Normally you submit your request for passes, book your flight, get your room and that is it right? Well not this year.


Let me go back a little. The opportunity came up for Matt from ICB Motorsport to possibly display a car at the Mackin/Rays booth. Matt asked Phil Robles about getting his car ready and he was game. In his never ending quest for more speed, Phil decided more power and more aero was needed.


Some of that aero had been designed and developed from scratch and well, you run into a lot of bumps because you literally have nothing to go by. With SEMA approaching fast, he decided to go to plan B or C and put some of those items on the back burner.


The days and weeks crept up rather quickly. At one point I felt like I was on everybody’s case, calling or texting to ensure this was done or that was ordered. I am sure that Phil, Paul and Matt hated me during those days but honestly it was too easy to get distracted and we did not have the luxury to afford any delays.


SEMA 2017 - projectonethirty
We got word that the Civic had to be at the Las Vegas Convention Center Saturday at 11:00 a.m. Phil got the car back sometime Thursday morning and it was an ‘all hands on deck’ kind of deal. Let’s get this shit done. Paul was wiring inside, Phil and Jesse were installing a new radiator and fan, Brad from ASR was finishing the end plates for the wing and Thursday ran deep into the middle of the night.


Friday was supposed to be an easy day…easy. Not. After work, I stopped by to pick up some vinyl to get the last pieces on the car and when I showed up to Phil’s, well they still had a lot to be done. For some reason, everything was just not going smoothly, things were not lining up or turning on, you know – the last minute surprises. By then I realized that we were going to start driving in the middle of the night to make the drop-off deadline. I left to go home and take a quick nap after midnight.


Couple hours later I was back at Phil’s house and it was time to leave. The car was inside the trailer, so we left. We double checked the items that we knew we needed there for prep. As soon as we get on, I noticed Phil mumbling and perhaps using some profanity. Wasn’t sure what was going on, when he told me that the lights on the trailer were not coming on. It was 3:00 a.m. and we did not have time to fix this. Somehow the lights worked when he hit the brakes and when the hazards were on. Fugg it! Let’s run with the hazards.


With tired bodies and tired minds, we left Tempe and pushed on with god knows what we had left in the tank. The highway was empty and between our conversations, the clicking of the hazards filled the cabin for 183 miles. After a quick pit stop for breakfast, we continued the push, and we both cheered when the sun came up and the lights were no longer needed. I swear I can still hear the clicking sound inside my head.


We got to the Convention Center with about 60 minutes to spare and they wouldn’t let us unload until our assigned time. We decided to go to a Sears parking lot, and swap the rear wheels. I run to Auto Sears and gave them a quick heads-up of what we were going to do. As Phil removed one of the wheel chocks, he noticed a small crack in the splitter. I am not sure how it happened but it was a small gap for the chock to be in there and the car must’ve moved a little and took off a small part of the front splitter. I could tell Phil was not happy and it felt as if someone just threw a cold bucket of water at me. No way, we came this far only to be defeated by a stupid chock. I grabbed the pieces and told him to press on swapping the wheels and we would figure something out. As this was taking place, the mechanics came out and started admiring Phil’s Civic.


In record speed the car was back in the trailer and we decided to go and get some items to fix it, including paint and it was time to head back to the Convention Center. Unloading the car brought more stress, as we had to move the car out and drive the truck/trailer at the same time. Since it was 2 of us, we were going to be separated. I have been to SEMA many times but I haven’t had any experience with bringing a car in so I had no idea of the process.


By now, I was seriously done. I was running thin from everything that had taken place in the last few weeks. If you were to ask me: “Hey would you like to build a car for SEMA?” My response would have been very simple. HELL NO!


I asked Phil to do what made him more at ease and we would go from there. I guess he felt more comfortable with me driving the Civic. Next thing I knew, he was telling me how to engage neutral and reverse in the sequential gearbox.


The day was warming up and I was getting instructions from different staff members of where to go and what to do. I felt like I was getting instructions every minute. I was hoping that Phil would come back and drive his car. A guy in a Corvette got out of his car and walked to the passenger window and said:


- Hey man nice car, I love your front lip.
-Thank you, it is not my car I am just driving it in for my friend. (“Yes don’t come to this side and see the damaged splitter.”)


I could hear other people talking about Phil’s car and somehow the feeling I had was slowly changing. Enthusiasts from different camps were coming together and appreciating a great build. Regardless of what you drive and what you like. Hell, this is what it is all about, I forgot about that for a minute. Let’s GO.


An old guy in a golf cart came and barked some orders and moved some cars while the Corvette, a Mustang, a Supra behind me and I took off. Going inside the halls of the Convention Center was wild. Workers were still setting up and there were a lot of obstacles around us Our group of four were driving very slowly and I kept one eye on the temps to make sure the car wasn’t overheating. I quickly realized how Phil’s Civic just hates going slow. Temps were going up, the diff sounds crazy when you make super slow turns. I am sure people were wondering what the hell was wrong with the car.


Somehow we got to the main hallway outside the Central Hall and quickly turned the car off. Calvin with his RHD Supra was dealing with overheating and we both shared just how stressful it was bringing the cars in. You would think it is an easy thing right? Not really.


After we got lined up, we started working on the car. There was some cleaning to do (well actually a lot of cleaning) and most importantly, we needed to repair that front splitter. Somehow we discretely worked on it and to be honest, it was as if nothing ever happened. Move along, nothing to see here.


On Sunday we did the finishing touches, we cleaned and detailed the car so good that I sort of felt a little dirty and wrong inside. I mean shit, I don’t even do this to my car. LOL. Honestly the Civic looked as if it had never seen any track time before. I can see how some people would wonder whether this was the case.


During Saturday and Sunday, people setting up kept stopping by and talking to Phil about his car, asking questions and taking photos. An old security guy came over and asked what we were doing to the car. He said: “It is perfect! People keep coming and taking photos of only this car. Leave it alone.” This was beginning to feel like everything we had done and gone through was worth it.


SEMA 2017 - projectonethirty
Paul set camp for the night inside the Civic doing some wire duties.


SEMA 2017 - projectonethirty
Composite, wiring, cooling, and homework all in one photo.


SEMA 2017 - projectonethirty
SEMA 2017 - projectonethirty
Saturday was all about cleaning.


SEMA 2017 - projectonethirty
New wheels for the show in the form of Volk TE37 SL 17×9.5 +12


SEMA 2017 - projectonethirty
Phil going in deep.


SEMA 2017 - projectonethirty
SEMA 2017 - projectonethirty
SEMA 2017 - projectonethirty
It is odd to see Phil’s car almost naked, and by this I mean with no decals. The car looked sleeker and meaner like this. I really like this look.


SEMA 2017 - projectonethirty
Carbon fiber end plates from ASR, small details that possibly not everyone saw, but sure makes a difference.


Sunday, my eyes were still burning from being up for almost 48 hours. However, we knew that our day was much lighter. We just had to make some adjustments to the suspension and some detailing.


Honestly, I don’t know how we were able to pull this off. What was driving everybody to get this done? It was an incredible job by a great group of friends that had the same vision. Get that Civic there. A big thanks to Paul, CJ, Brad, Jesse, Matt, and Simon (even though he was there at the end half drunk).


And just like that, our first 2 days at SEMA were over and this was even before the show started. We flew back Sunday evening and I was happy that the plane’s beacon light didn’t have hazard-lights sounds . Though I am sure both Phil and I looked like zombies.


Stay tuned for more.

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