When people refer to New York City, they say it has a million stories…in being around car people my whole life I would say that we had a million stories as well. When I received a submission TAPE, yes, on VHS tape, I knew I would either see a poorly made submission or it would gold, I am happy to say it was the later. Richard’s story is unlike any other that I have ever heard… Richard had to grow up faster than most kids since his Father had left him, his younger Brother and Mother when he was just 8 years old. Like many other people in this difficult situation Richard somehow found the strength to become the man of the family at this young age taking on a lot more responsibilities that a man twice his age. Through focus and resilience, the 8 year old grew up to be a honest and hard-working young man. Just a few weeks before sending off his submission to Fine Tuned, Richard had encountered probably the strangest chance meeting of his life. Richard had been driving a 1994 Honda Civic that was on its last legs, the car was a mess but it got him from Point A to Point B, and that’s all that mattered to him. At home Richard had a girlfriend with a 3 year-old Daughter from a previous relationship; the girlfriend was going through custody battle and needed to pay legal fees to retain custody. Not thinking of himself, Richard decided to sell his Civic to get what little money he could to help with the legal fees. Putting the happiness of his girlfriend and her Daughter first, Richard went to the 99 cent store to buy a sign to sell his car, as he waited in line something told Richard him that the man standing behind him was his long lost Father. I know this sounds like some “movie of the week” but I swear that this story is true. Richard awkwardly turned around and struck up a conversation with this man, and within a few moments both men realized that they were indeed, Father and Son. At that point Richard knew that that had to be an men on many different levels. Although he didn’t want to sell the car, Richard put it up for sale at the same time he made a last ditch effort and submitted his tape to Fine Tuned. Just days before he got offers to sell the car for practically nothing, I received his VHS tape and knew he had to be on the show. The 8-day emotional build was extremely taxing on Richard as well as for our entire build team that knew in their hearts that we were building something more than just a fast and cool car. This hit especially home for our co-Host Lucky Jay who had never met his real Father, who had been killed just weeks before their scheduled reunion. The unveiling of Richard’s car was an emotional one for everyone involved culmiting with Richard introducing his little Brother to his Father for this first time on camera.
Steven initially emailed Fine Tuned, letting us know how much he loved his 2005 Nissan 350Z along with a laundry list of modifications that he wished he could make to his car. I emailed him back letting him know that I had received many submissions like his and that I wanted him to submit a video that explained to me why his situation was different than the rest of the guys and girls out there. A week later after I received his DVD submission, I knew that Steven was the perfect candidate to become FINE TUNED. On the DVD, Steven explained that he woke up every day at 5am to work (2) jobs back-to-back while taking a full course load at San Diego State University in order to pursue his goal of being a fighter pilot for the Marines one day. How many 21 year-olds can we say that about these days? All Steven could talk about was how he wanted to serve his country and how he wanted to honor his father for teaching him and raising him to be such a dedicated and hard worker. He explained how he was an Eagle Scout when he was younger (only 1% of all scouts become an Eagle Scout) and where he had already received an accreditation from both West Point. That was all we needed to hear, Steven was the perfect Golden Boy, and embodied everything we felt young people should be in this modern age of slackers! Once we surprised him at his parents house the day after Thanksgiving, Steven proved to be everything I saw on that DVD he submitted. He was polite, courteous and knew everything about cars! To this day, there isn’t a week that goes by where I don’t get a call from Steven telling me about some cool car he saw on the road or about the newest gadget or after-market part that was just released.