Joey Logano - 'rat rod'
Quote: Every young man needs a hot rod.
Some choose the exotic, like a hopped-up tuner car. Others go classic, like a vintage Z-28 or Mustang. Joey Logano went them one better: a 1937 GMC pickup truck that he refers to as the "rat rod."
Driver of the No.20 Toyota and newly-crowned Raybestos Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series brought his hot rod to Charlotte Motor Speedway. He actually drove it to the speedway from his home, ready for a day of show-and-tell as well as a Toyota commercial shoot.
The car doesn't have a dominant color... it's sort of dark metal, with different hues as the panels change. The tires are pure '50s hot-rod culture, with thick whitewalls and no fenders anywhere.
Perhaps it's best to let Logano describe his rat rod.
"It's a 1937 GMC pickup truck that I found here at the speedway during the Goodguys Hot Rod Show," he said, gazing at his ride. "A guy from Virginia built it. He's chopped it, lowered it, extended the cab, put a Packard front end on it. I like it. I think it's cool, and a lot different from what you see down the street all the time."
That is for sure and for certain, but Logano revels in being different.
"It's kind of me, you know? A little different," beamed Logano. "This is just kind of what I like. You never see two rat rods that are the same. This is the style that I like. I like the nice hot rods too, but you gotta have a little bit of everything. It's fun, it gets me around. It doesn't have a whole bunch of motor, but it looks cool and that's kind of the key."
Chopped, lowered and with a Packard front end, it is certainly a throwback. The extended cab was a huge selling point for the 6-foot-2 driver from Connecticut.
"Inside, it has a lot of room and that's key for me, because I'm kind of tall," Logano laughed. "That's what sold me on it. It's got two shifters so you can split up the gears, a regular four-speed and another two-speed. You can split them up, go from first to high, second back to low, like a big truck. There's not much insulation when it's cold, so it's kind of chilly."
Since the temperature hovered in the high 30s on show-and-tell day, it was a cool ride down to the track.
When you think of hot rods, you naturally think of bright metallic paint, chrome everywhere and lots of pop. Logano said the car is as complete as it's going to be.
"It's done," he said with a grin. "People come up to me all the time and ask, 'you gonna paint it?' I say, 'no, no, that's it, no more.' Half the people love it and half the people say, 'well, you gotta paint it and make it nice.' It's a certain taste."
It's one that he seems to be passionate about, certainly.
"I like the radical, chopped, lowered hot rods," Logano said. "I think they're cool, and the numbers-matching, old special original cars are nice, but you almost feel bad to drive it. This, I'm not scared to drive it. There's not much maintenance you have to do on this, either, just oil down the body so it doesn't rust away."
The 327-cubic-inch engine is a standard crate engine, which is fine, according to Logano. The bottom end of the engine is out in the weather, and the air intake -- an English model that looks remarkably like an artillery shell -- also helps the side-mounted hood stay latched. It must be removed before the hood goes up.
This is a machine built not for speed, but for relative comfort and ease of operation.
"[It's] not that fast," Logano said. "I'm not sure I want to go that fast in it. It gets a little shaky on the freeway. It'll cruise down the highway at 65 or 70, no problem. It's a good cruiser, but I don't know how far I'd take it. I don't think I'd take it three hours away, but it hasn't failed me yet, so that's key."
Yes, it does have a stereo system in it, Logano said. "Well, of cooouurrrse," he said, laughing.
Logano's love of cars comes naturally.
"My whole life, I've been into cars," the 19-year-old driver mused. "My father has had old cars, hot rods, things like that, and that's something I've just taken away from it. I've always gone to car shows with my father, and it's cool that we can share the same hobby."
Given the life of a Cup Series driver -- appearances, testing, traveling, etc. -- there's not much time for Logano to indulge his hobby, but he manages.
"I look at the magazines and stuff all the time and I go to the hot rod shows when I can," he said. "You can build one, but that's always a project that takes forever. It is neat how many people have the same passion."
Asked what was next on his hot-rod agenda, Logano shook his head and laughed again.
"I change my mind a lot," he said. "I really like the old Volkswagen vans now. I want to get one and lower it and get it really cool. I think it would be fun to get all your buds in it and go up to the mountains or to the beach or something. Pile six or seven people in it and go. You have to wait and find the right thing. When you see it, you know it."
When he sees it, you can probably bet that he'll roll up to The Home Depot in it one day, because it won't be a showpiece, but a rat rod of a different -- multiple! -- color.