2015 New Beginnings, Same old Afterburner.

Whew, we made it guys. Another year in the books. We are all a year older, and a year wiser. Forgive me for getting a little ahead of myself, but I’d say that 2015 was the best year of my life thus far. Now, even though I am only 22 years into my life, and there is plenty more for me to live and experience. This one is going to be a hard one to top.

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That’s even considering 10 months of it was without being unable to drive my precious BMW. Yeah, my most prized possession wasn’t even at the forefront of my thoughts and actions this year. Even though it consumed most of my off time away from the daily grind of work and blog/team activities.

Very early in the year, a decision was made. We were going to get rid of our  main project car (our 1990 Audi 90 20v Quattro Rally Car), because we couldn’t get the funds and the parts to build the car the way we wanted to. So a refocus and reorganization was in order. It was decided that we on the crew were going to go our separate ways and focus on our own cars and our own goals.

Along with the change in direction with the team, a name and re branding was in order. Because we weren’t just going to focus on racing, or covering racing events alone, we had to change our image. Done away was the old team name (though still near and dear to us) and in its place came AFTERBURNER. A play on the old team name (JET), we thought it would fit better as a general name for the car crew, and the blog as racing is only one of the things we would be covering in the coming years.

We determined that the best course of action would be to focus on covering the people, cars, and events that we go to throughout the year. While still focusing on progressing our own vehicular projects. So, our first event after the winter thaw in April was Water by the Bridge. This being the first event of the year, we were eager to sink our teeth into what the new car season had in store, and boy were we impressed.

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Being an event tailored towards European cars, we kind of knew what to expect when we were on our way to Louisville, Kentucky on the first weekend of April. We had a great time, cruising down and exploring the show and the surrounding city with some very good friends. It’s definitely on our list of events to head back to next year if we get the chance. You can read about it (here). This event started off a very busy season for us here at Afterburner. We traveled, shot, and wrote much more than we expected to at the beginning of the year.

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Later that month, after experiencing the car first hand on the trip to WBTB, we decided to do our first car feature. Our good friend Spencer graciously posed his 1984 Volkswagen Jetta at a couple of locations in our immediate area here in Fort Wayne, Indiana, so that we could give it the attention we felt it deserved. Not to be overshadowed though, the only other car feature of the year came in October, and that took the form of Brian Ballinger’s 2004 Subaru WRX rally car.

Speaking of rally. We still did some of that this year too. We shared driving responsibilities with our friend Cody Allison in this Fox Body Mustang for an Indiana Rallycross event in April, and in October at the Dirty Wayners Rallycross. Cody and I also took the trip to good ol’ Attica, Indiana for the Day/Night event that Indiana Rallycross also put on. We spent that weekend helping out the IRC staff run the event as well as shooting the event for the blog.  Photographing and going to rally events is always a blast. Even though we won’t be able to go to as many of these events in the future, we will still travel wherever we have to go get into the action when we have the free time.

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Another big thing that happened this year is we had  people writing on the blog other than me for the first time in this website’s existence. Brenden, Brad, and Nick each tried their hand at writing about their experiences over the past year, and Adam contributed through taking photos. I really like the variety that their, thoughts, emotions, and different styles bring to the blog. Plus, the experiences I’ve shared with them over the past year are some that I will never forget. I am very privileged to call these amazing individuals my friends and teammates. The anticipation to go on more adventures with them is overwhelming. I simply cannot thank them enough for all that they’ve done over the past year.

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From visits to museums, vintage races, car meets, shows, bike races, auctions, drag races, drift events, and rallycrosses. You name it, chances are we did it this year. We really branched out as a team, a blog, and a brand. We stepped out of our comfort zone, and grabbed adventure by the hand. We weren’t afraid to do anything this year. We walked into the face of adversity and came out for the better. I feel, personally, that I’ve come to love the car community more as a whole this past year. I’ve come to understand and appreciate all walks of car culture in our area. Our goal is to put the Mid-West more towards the forefront of modern automotive culture.

I want people to see it as we see it. Experience what we live through. I want people to see that the middle of the United States isn’t just an empty space where nothing important happens besides the Indy 500. I want the populous to see that we have something to offer for the car culture’s world stage, and that we can not only hold our own, but forge new paths for our community to grow and prosper.

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With our new lineup of stickers, Brad’s blog about the things we do outside of cars, called Useless Downforce (link here), and our Youtube Vlogs and videos, we hope to keep expanding our reach and pushing our boundaries further and further. I will be forever thankful for the experiences that I had this past year, but I am even more excited for what’s to come. We will work harder, travel farther, build more, and progress farther than we ever have before.  Thank you so much for your support, and we’ll see you in 2016!

-Derek.

 

 

 

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