Hot Wheels Comes to Life
I am often asked how my BMW 2002 became a Hot Wheels with the Eibach livery. Well, it all started with a photo of my rocker panel while in the paddock at Willow Springs raceway for a VARA racing event in early 2019.
Prior to the race weekend, I was invited by a coworker, Long Tran, to join him on a tour of the Eibach Headquarters in Corona Ca. Thank you, Long!
It was no ordinary tour. The CEO, Julian Gill, walked us around the facility and was kind enough to answer all my neophyte questions. I was blown away with the amount of R&D and attention to detail. After the tour, we all went to lunch at a local Thai restaurant where I got to learn more about Eibach and Julian.
Fast forward to March 22nd at Willow Springs, I was walking around my BMW 2002 race car and was reminded that I have the Eibach logo on my rocker panel as a result of mimicking the Warsteiner livery found on the world champion BMW M3’s from the 1980’s. I quickly snapped a photo of the decal and emailed it to Julian. He responded with “great photo” and that was it until August of 2019, which is when he called me and asked in a cryptic manner if I would be open to having my race car in their booth at SEMA in November. Of course I said yes, but I had to keep it confidential.
I had attended SEMA a couple years prior and was like a kid in a candy store. But now my car was about to be one of the candies. It was only later that he and Mark Krumme (Head of Marketing), would let me know that there was another secret that I had to keep – that Eibach was working with Hot Wheels to design a BMW 2002 for the event.
Eibach doesn’t cut corners, not on the track, not on product development and not in the way they develop digital content. Mark and his colleague Vittorio Santiago came to the race shop in Long Beach to film Ken Blasko and me. They even sent photographers to film an upcoming race at Willow Springs in September (All that content can be found in short film in the video section of our website).
(The last of the Warsteiner livery)
Finally, the big day was here. I flew from Orange County to Las Vegas on November 5th for the show. It would be the first time I got see my race car with the livery in person. Hot Wheels added it to the Door Slammers series that includes a Datsun 510, Alfa GTA, Porsche 911, and the Ford Escort. They brought a few hundred models of my car to hand out to anyone who was willing to wait in a long line. As a kid I played with hot wheels, but it wasn’t until SEMA, that I learned about the company and the passionate fans who collect them.
(Hanging out in the Eibach Booth at SEMA)
(Hot wheels lined up for the give-a-way at SEMA)
The relationship with Jimmy Liu at Hot Wheels and Mark Krumme at Eibach has only continued to grow. They regularly attend my races and car shows where the race car is featured. With Jimmy’s assistance, I added the Mattel logo to the trunk lid, Hot Wheels logo to the windshield banner and a decal honoring Mattel’s 75th anniversary to the tin top.
When I was a kid, my mom would often tell me: “Son (actually Mijo) tell me with whom you are with and I will tell you what you are.” Those words have more meaning today. Especially, when I am surrounded with guys like Mark, Jimmy, Vittorio and Ken.