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For the Love of the Razor

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Among the many things that were born around the millennium, the Razor scooter changed the world for kids. Go back some fourteen, fifteen years ago to a time when teens and pre-teens got around on simple, two-wheeled aluminum machines that made bikes look lame and drew some competition for the skateboard. 

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Hooniverse Asks Bonus: What’s the Most Absurd Thing You’ve Done to Improve Fuel Economy?

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I recently went on a few hour-long drives with one of my great friends behind the wheel. Mark’s early 2000s Ford Focus, off the lot was a bit of a fuel-sipper, but that didn’t stop him from hyper-milling even more. With a quick flick motion of the windshield wiper stalk, he goofily locked the car’s  windshield wipers in the up position while on the highway. “Dude isn’t it hard to see with the wipers stuck in front of your face?” I laughingly asked, he turned to me and responded “Better gas mileage, less drag.” Oh lordy.

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2014 Milwaukee World of Wheels!

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Wisconsin; the land of cheese, ridiculous winters, the Green Bay Packers and custard galore. It’s also a hot location and booming hub for all things motoring enthusiast culture. It’s home to legendary race tracks like the Slinger Speedway, Road America and the oldest operating motor speedway in the world: the Milwaukee Mile. Harley-Davidson was born here, so were historic brands like Nash, Rambler, Excalibur, Oshkosh Truck, Kissel and farming equipment manufacturer, Case. The annual World of Wheels classic and custom car show brings out some of the most radical vehicles throughout the badger state.

Autorama’s World of Wheels classic and custom car show arrives at the Wisconsin State Fair Grounds each February, offering the public a chance to feast their eyes on an incredible array of rides and bikes. Looking for some inspiration for a project? Aching to get out of the cold and feel the explosive warmth given off by this showcase of pure automotive art ? You can do that here and you’re bound to find something that just makes you smile. I could write page after page filled with accounts of each sweet car, truck and motorcycle at this show- but I’ll focus on some of the unique highlights. 

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Don’t (insert latest popular app here) and Drive.

Robby DeGraff February 13, 2014 All Things Hoon

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Despite countless public service announcements, goofy television spots from local police departments and DOTs and pledges; people are still glued to their phones when behind the wheel. But people aren’t just texting any more; they’re apping-while-driving. Cheesy term, yes I know.

It baffles me how many Snapchats I receive from friends of mine that were taken as they were operating a multiple thousand-pound vehicle through rush-hour traffic. While Snapchatting is fun and offers a more interactive and creative way of communicating with our favorite people, it’s nowhere near a safe or quick alternative to shooting off a text while driving. Snapchat videos at up to ten seconds long while you’re flying down the highway at 100mph in your Lexus doesn’t impress me. It just makes you look like a selfless, dangerous idiot. Put your phone down.

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Are LED lights and spindle grilles the new fins?

Robby DeGraff February 5, 2014 All Things Hoon

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To put it bluntly, I think new cars look like crap. Apart from a select few contenders like the Mazda6, any Aston Martin, the gorgeous Lincoln MKZ [You may be alone there -KK] and Lexus’s almighty LFA supercar; just about everything else looks… boring. Let the comments section explode.

How much more generic can we get with styling these days? Have you flipped through the pages of a new car buyers guide or driven past dealer lots lately? Staring at row after row of plain-Jane looking automobiles just bores me. It’s almost as if it’s more exciting to go refrigerator shopping. Sure manufacturers, gaudy up your car with tacky trim levels that add big wheels, bits of chrome everywhere and special chintzy badges all over, but it still won’t excite me.

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Dealing with the Winter Blues

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The battery tender is on, Stabil running through the fuel system and your insurance has dropped a considerable amount. The realities of winter storage  may make you happy; or it can really put a damper on all your hobby excitement. That last time you drive your car or start up the engine before throwing over a cover, locking the doors and saying adios to your wheeled comrade isn’t an easy thing to do.

Brief stints of warmer temperatures and dry splotches of concrete tempt you. But deep down inside you’ll probably wait five or six months until spring time. So what do you do to handle that lack of gearheading? Maybe it’s clogging up your internet browser’s cache with page after page of potential project cars found on Craigslist. Maybe you’re building up your dexterity as you flock to the forums seeking feedback on ideas for the next summertime mod. For some it could be moving up in the rankings in your favorite racing video game. Others may settle for just taking a break from the “carmmunity” and hobby for a season. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. 

What are your strategies to cope with the “Fun-car-withdrawl,” winter blues?

Mark Your Calendars: the 2014 Cheese Freeze TSD Competition Rally

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There will be snow, there will be back roads and it will be dark. Mark your calendars for the first annual, Cheese Freeze time-speed-distance road rally put on by Wisconsin non-profit, Cheese Wheel Inc. Benefiting the  ALS Association and the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, this one-day rally is set to take place the first weekend of February.

Bring out your ride and join in on the fun!f you’ve never done a time-speed-distance rally, this is your chance. If you’ve already had the joy of participating in an adrenaline-filled TSD rally, try out this snow-filled night time event.

What is a TSD rally?Regularity rallying, also known as TSD rallying (Time Speed Distance), is a form of motor sport  usually conducted on public roads but sometimes including off-road and track sections. The object of these rallies is to maintain precise times and precise average speeds on various segments of a predefined route. Each team usually consists of an amateur driver and navigator. Teams usually start a regularity rally at fixed intervals creating a field that is spread along the route.” Thanks Wikipedia. 

Where is it? The launch location will be in/around the Wisconsin Dells area (possibly in nearby Reedsburg or Baraboo). There will be three to four timed states throughout some of the best driving roads in scenic, rural West/Southwestern Wisconsin.

When is it? Saturday, February 1, 2014. First car off the line at 2pm and the rally wraps up at 10pm. Yes this will be a night-time driving event.

How much does it cost? Is it expensive? Nope! $50 total ($25 per car registration + a $25 donation to the two benefitting charities)

Can I bring a navigator or co-driver? Absolutely! Recruit your best friend, sibling, significant other or even just go solo for more of a challenge!

What kind of vehicles are welcome? Anything with wheels and an engine! It could be a Ural motorcycle, a rear-wheel-drive sports car, your daily driver or an off-road, snow-slayer 4×4 beast.

How do I sign up? Find the event on Facebook, register by email at cheesewheelinc@gmail.com or learn more on their website.

I’ll see you there!

Our Cars: The Saabaru

Robby DeGraff December 10, 2013 All Things Hoon

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“This is a Saab, with a Subaru engine in it?” a confused Valvoline lube tech asked me when I pulled into the bay for an oil change. Usually I tend to avoid these places for that exact reason but single digit temperatures changed my mind about doing a DIY job. I then went on to explain, like I find myself doing almost on a daily basis what a Saab 9-2x is. I don’t mind though, because over the past year or so I’ve owned this swagger wagon, Ive been nothing but impressed by it.

When my cherished eighteen year-old Saturn finally decided to defeat me in a battle of constant hourly upkeep, I went car shopping. I scoured across dealer lots for months and spent countless hours online researching a catalogue of potential players. I had my eyes on a 2003 Mazda6 with a five-speed manual that proved the old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” when every single check engine light came on while exiting the highway during my test drive. Parked it and never looked back. Walking past row after row of cars, a black 2005 Saab 9-2x caught my eyes. I refreshed my memory on what this unique vehicle was and hopped behind the wheel. Two hours later I drove it home with a smile on my face. 

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A Hooniverse Thanksgiving Turkey: “Help Me!” Cried the Plymouth Prowler

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I really don’t want to call this the biggest let down in sports car history…but then again I probably do. While you’re all garbling down warm turkey, delicious stuffing and oomphs of pumpkin pie; take a moment to reflect back on the best-looking car from the pre- and post- millenium. The Plymouth Prowler is gorgeous, there’s no arguing in that. Nothing from the 1990s and early 2000s screamed “hot rod” like the Prowler. If you didn’t crank your head every time one passed by, get your eyes checked. Massive back wheels, visible steering and suspension components up front, dual exhaust and a stubby sharp nose flanked by two Angry-bird like headlamps. A tall hood and bold rear fender flares set it off even more. I’d also argue that the interior looked retro too and miles ahead of other Chrysler interiors during the time. I was seven years old when this car was introduced, and I was hooked. It looked terrifyingly fast and fun. The word we’re focusing on folks though, is “looked.”

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Guilty 1990′s Obsessions

Robby DeGraff November 21, 2013 All Things Hoon

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The 1990s were an interesting batch of years for the automotive industry, it was also the decade I happened to start my car obsession in. From airbags galore, cars breaking past the hailed 200mph mark and the invasion of minivans, we all have our likes and dislikes of four-wheeled vehicles from the era of Biggie Smalls, Rugrats and Furbies – oh, those horrendously terrifying little robotic animal pets. 

Three-door “sport” SUVs were cool, wrap-around headlight bars were “classy” and dent-less plastic body panels were “in”. These were times before iPod integration, back-up cameras, or plug-in hybrids. Permanently installed car phones replaced today’s growing nuisance of texting-while-driving. I remember at my house we had a post-it note near our telephone with numbers for the “Camry” and “Van.” Just remember to take those fixed phone antennas off your back window before going through a brush car wash. Oh the 1990s.  Gas was cheap and the average price of a new car was around $15,000 give or take a few. In my bedroom as a kid were posters of a Ferrari F40, Chevrolet Camaro and a Porsche 911 to name a few. You know, those overpriced, crazy 90s computer graphic background posters you’d find at your elementary or middle school’s yearly book fair? I loved cars from the 1990s.

Here are just a few of my favorite picks and why:

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