NEW BUFFALO — U.S. 12 Speed and Custom celebrated its 10th year of business on Aug. 28 with the triumphant return of the Full Throttle Throwdown Car Show and its popular Pin-up Contest.
“We have probably 250 cars here, a great turnout,” said Rocky Troxell. “High-quality cars keep showing up and we’re plenty busy.”
Lindsey Troxell (Rocky’s wife) said her husband and Billy Dinges founded the shop (located at 19015 U.S. 12 in New Buffalo) in 2011.
“It was just the two of them, and this is our 10-year anniversary being open and our eighth car show that we’ve hosted. Because it’s our 10th year we decided to go a little bit bigger,” she said, adding that three bands played (North of Memphis, DJ Del Villarreal and South Shore Standard) and an after-party lasted into the evening.
There also was more room for both show cars and spectator parking since U.S. 12 Speed and Custom expanded its footprint by acquiring an adjacent former New Buffalo Township fire station property (Dinges said a shop to do detailing work is planned for that site) and the lot at the new Township Public Safety Building was opened for visitors to the Full Throttle Throwdown.
Dinges said it didn’t take long after opening U.S. 12 Speed and Custom a decade ago that they began to get busy and had to hire more employees.
Today there are 11 people working at the shop.
“We got lucky during COVID to pick up a couple new employees and it’s been working out really good,” Rocky Troxell noted.
U.S. 12 Speed and Custom also is busy creating special rides for its customers.
Rocky Troxell said they are probably booked for a year and a half out with existing project vehicles.
“We have cars that will be here for two years and we have cars that will be here for a week,” he noted
Finished and ongoing projects that visitors to the Aug. 28 show could check out inside the U.S. 12 Speed and Custom shop area included Dinges’ exquisitely detailed 1934 Lincoln pick-up show car that he said took five years to complete.
“It’s been done since 2019, we debuted it at Detroit Autorama,” Dinges said, adding that the machine has been taken to a few other car shows before COVID slowed things down.
Scott Kessler brought his 1968 Camaro drag car to the show and even revved the engine (it runs quarter miles in the 8.9-second range). The racer was one of the first builds done at U.S. 12 Speed and Custom.
“It’s a fun ride,” Kessler noted.
Crowned Miss Full Throttle Throwdown 2021 (on her 28th birthday) was “Miss Ruthie” (Karly Ament) of South Bend. A giant check for $1,000 was presented to her.
“I’m shocked. I didn’t think it was going to be me,” she said. “It was the guitar” (she posed with one during her time on stage with emcee Del Villarreal).
Second place in the pin-up pageant went to Miss Hemi-K (she received a gun-metal Swarovski crystal encrusted clutch w/crystal compact mirror); and Miss Kari Ann competed the top-three court (receiving a sterling silver & Swarovski pearl bracelet & crystal encrusted compact mirror).
The other top 12 finalists (who along with court members will appear with award-winning vehicles from the Car Show in the 2022 Miss Full Throttle calendar) are: Miss Lacy Lou; Miss Sweet Melissa; Miss Lyssa Retromancer; Miss Blueberry Kitten; Miss Conner Von Dutch; Miss McKenna; Miss Lillian Alyssum; Miss Indy 500; Miss Lola Linnea. Also participating in the Miss Pin-up Contest were: Miss Vixen Lacey LaMore; Miss Malibu Nikki; Miss DeDe; and Miss Jess Sayin’.
Winners of the hand-made trophies given out to owners of show cars chosen by staff members (“They’re just their favorite picks, everybody that works at the shop,” Rocky Troxell said) included: Austin Awald (an “absolutely slammed” 1966 Ford F-100); Scott Lagestee (1933 Ford Vickie); Dave Granger (1929 Ford 2-door); Adam Howard (1967 GTO); Mike Ward (2009 Harley Davidson Streetglide);Ernie Adams (1933 Ford 3-Window); Orville “Big O” Yerington (a 2007 dragster); Kajer (a 1951 3100 Chevy pick-up); Tim Ramsey (a 1959 Chevy Brookwood station wagon); Rob Gearing (1954 Chevy Bel Air); Mark Paniccia (1968 Dodge Charger); and Ron Mockler (1964 Nova).
Troxell said U.S. 12 Speed and Custom employees didn’t just judge the pin-up contestants and show cars, they also created and built the trophies – each of which had a sponsor including: Industrial Fabrication, Tree Core, Roger’s Wrecker Service, SHS Media Marketing, Espino Customs and Classics, Three Oaks Ford, Pike Funeral Home, David’s Deli, Lakeshore Recycling, New Buffalo Animal Hospital, Harbor Country Hydroponics, and RS Precision Machining.
The annual Full Throttle Pedal Pull races also took place, with Finley Duffner (ages 3-5) and Hudson Nelson (6-9) winning from a field totaling 15 racers. They also received special U.S. 12 Speed and Custom trophies.