The automobile has shaped the way we conduct our lives. Think back to a time when horses provided the power and speed to get across town, or when it took days to reach a destination not too far away by today’s standards, and you realize it wasn’t that long ago. It has been said motor racing was invented the moment the second automobile was built, and the sport has provided the world with a spectacle of technology and talent and some truly unforgettable memories for more than a century.
After the automobile transformed our lives and culture, garages began to evolve from their humble origins as barns and carriage houses. Not only were they becoming more than just a place to house a means of transportation, but also space for people to fully engage in the car hobby. And like any other human endeavor, the escalation began not long after that.
We will hear from six distinct individuals, who not only race in NASA, but who also have some great garages, spaces in which they work on, play with and maintain their cars. Some of the garages not only have enough square footage to house their car collections, but also to entertain and to provide lodging for guests. To each of these NASA racers, their garage has become nearly sacred, a place where they tinker and toil in preparation for their next race.
Name: Elliott Fisher
NASA Region: Great Lakes/Midwest
Racing Class: AI, AIX
Year/Make/Model racecar: ‘05 Ford Mustang GTR, ‘12 Ford Mustang Boss 302
Years in NASA: 11
Elliott Fisher is a consultant from Coto de Caza, Calif., who built a garage bigger and perhaps more elegant than some people’s homes. His 2,600-square-foot garage has vaulted ceilings more than 40 feet high, which makes it seem even larger. It gets hot where he lives, so Fisher has cooling, and heating for the winter months. Not only is the immense space a neat feature, but he also has storage lifts to create even more space. What’s more, the architecture and craftsmanship that went into the space is unique in itself. It even houses all the accessories of a modern service garage.
For Fisher, the garage is his “getaway spot” and he is out there almost every day. Not only is having this space a big help in maintaining his cars, but it also has helped immensely in his preparedness at the track. In giving advice to others looking to build something similar or maybe just dreaming of something like it, Fisher says, “Get your checkbook out. But seriously … probably just don’t skimp on anything … put everything you want and need into it and do it right the first time.”
Having a second home in Ohio is a plus because Fisher is able to keep some of his cars there and rotate them when necessary. Out of his entire collection he has two favorites: his Porsche 911 GMG World Challenge twin turbo, which makes 660 horsepower, and his 1987 Chevrolet IROC Z-28 with 12,000 original miles, T-tops and the optional 5.7-liter engine.
Fisher’s car collection includes racecars such as his ’05 Ford Mustang GTR, ’12 Ford Mustang Boss 302S, and a ’98 Legends Race Car. He also owns some other Ford pony cars he doesn’t race. For instance, he owns a ’67 Ford Mustang GT-A, a ’90 Ford Mustang GT convertible with 19,000 miles, an ’88 Ford Mustang GT convertible with 16,000 miles, and an ’83 Ford Mustang GLX 5.0 convertible with 14,000 miles. He also owns other brands, including a ’90 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo with 8,000 miles, a ’71 Buick GS 350 convertible, a ’79 Pontiac Trans Am 6.6 anniversary edition with 5,000 original miles, an ’08 Dodge Challenger 6.1 Hemi SRT-8, a ’96 Porsche 993 Carrera 4S, an ’07 Ferrari F430 Spider, an F350 Outlaw off-road custom pickup and several motorcycles.
The reason he loves cars is simple. “Just the sound and the feel of a really fast car… it’s always been exciting to me. That feeling never gets old. My father always had hot cars when I was growing up, too. I remember begging him to let me drive them around the block before I even had a license. He would always reluctantly cave in under my relentless nagging. I have four sons of my own and they do the same damn thing to me. Funny how that works.”
A NASA Great Lakes/Midwest member since 2001, Fisher races two cars: ’05 Ford Mustang GTR-AIX and the ’12 Ford Mustang BOSS 302 S-AI.
Name: Mark Nunnally
Occupation: Media producer
NASA Region: Southeast
Racing Class: TTA, PTA
Year/Make/Model racecar: ’01 Corvette Z06
Years in NASA: 4
Mark Nunnally is a media producer who loves cars. A resident of Pendergrass, Ga., Nunnally has a 1,000-square-foot garage fully equipped with two bays and 12-foot ceilings that accommodate the lift. Not only does it provide lots of room to work, but it also is a basement garage so during a tornado it’s the place to be. Nunnally says one of the neatest features of the garage is that the, “Kids can walk right onto the roof from the driveway! The way our lot is sloped, the garage roof is even with the driveway.”
The garage is cooled with a 25,000 BTU air conditioner. Nunnally spends an average of 20 hours a week in his garage.
“It’s a great, isolated place to work on the racecar, work on other racer’s cars, and to store all my racing junk,” he says. Not only does he use it as a place to work on his cars, Nunnally also uses it for a video studio and for parties and get-together’s for other NASA racers.”
In terms of Nunnally’s preparedness for the track, his garage has helped with that tremendously. “Most people laugh at me at the Road Atlanta paddock, because I never bring tools. I just drive home, 4 miles from the track and work on it right there!” Nunnally has been racing with NASA Southeast for four years. He races a 2001 Corvette Z06 in PTA and TTA. Other cars he has in his garage are usually one or two Corvettes, because he does preparation work for several other PTA/TTA members, an LS6-powered 1999 Miata and an ex-World Challenge LS3 powered Panoz.
For someone looking to build something similar, Nunnally advises, “Plan ahead of time how you plan to use it and work backward. Also spend a lot of time looking at other shops. Build it as big as you can. You will find that you need double or triple the space you really think you do.”
Nunnally’s loves cars because, “I’m a nerd,” he says. “I watch F1 because I want to see what team has come up with the newest high-tech performance widget. I love cars for technology, and I love the technical part of racing.”
Home Away from Home
Name: Ed McGuire
Occupation: Software developer
NASA Region: Southeast
Racing Class: AI, AIX
Year/Make/Model racecar: ’08 Mustang FR500S, ’89 Mustang
Years in NASA: 8
Ed McGuire has been racing with NASA for eight years now. A senior software developer, McGuire lives in Charlotte, N.C., and has a fairly large garage. Although the garage is not on his property, the rented space measures 6,000 square feet and is heated and cooled. Not only is the space large, but he is even able to store his trailer and rent out unused space to help with the overhead. McGuire is also able to walk around the corner for anything hardware related, since his shop is located under a local hardware store.
McGuire spends nights and most weekends in his shop. In having this garage, McGuire’s preparedness for the track has improved. The lift is convenient and it keeps him from having to work lying on his back. McGuire’s advice for those looking to have a garage similar to his is, “Spend the money for good equipment, but don’t feel like you have to have the best.”
In this garage, McGuire has a pretty nice array of cars, such as an ’08 Mustang FR500S racecar, ’11 Mustang racecar for a customer, ‘99 Mustang Cobra project racecar, ‘68 Mustang fastback street car, a Corvette racecar clone and an ’89 Mustang he races in AIX. As you might have gathered, McGuire is a Ford guy, specifically Mustangs, but, “When it comes to cars and the appreciation of them, I like them all—the make doesn’t matter to me.”
McGuire’s garage is set up the way it is because, “I want to be able to do all the work on my own instead of taking my car to someone else. Part of my obsession with racing is not only the driving part of it, but I also want to test my mechanical skills to see how successful I am at building a racecar that can compete and be reliable.”
McGuire’s reason for loving cars is like most other NASA racers. His dad, who was mechanically inclined, taught McGuire a lot. Being exposed to it all growing up has stuck with him. McGuire used to take his streetcars on cruises and to car shows, but now he is, “deep into racing” in AI and AIX, so NASA Southeast is his regular hang out.
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place
Name: Paul Redante
Occupation: Machine shop owner
NASA Region: Northeast
Racing Class: SM
Year/Make/Model racecar: ’90 Miata
Years in NASA: 2
Paul Redante of Ivyland, Pa., built his garage to be able to work on his cars and hang out. Redante owns his own machine shop so working on his cars is second nature. This 800-square-foot garage is heated by a propane tank in the winter. Some of the best features of Redante’s garage are the lift, good lighting and custom cabinets. The space provides a good place to work on his cars and has really improved his preparedness at the track. Redante gives his advice to someone looking to build something similar as, “Plan out exactly what you want and build around that.” He highly recommends using T5 lighting. Redante also has a special order to his garage: a lift, workbench, and cabinets (all in one bay), the second bay is for parking the second track car and the end is used for small item storage.
Redante currently owns a 1990 Spec Miata, Griggs Racing Mustang GR40, an Audi A5 he drives daily and his wife’s Mini Cooper. Redante’s favorite car of all time is the ’69 Camaro RS/SS. When he got his first car it was a ’69 Camaro, but not an RS/SS. Growing up, Redante was always a car guy, so owning a bunch of cars was almost a given. “Before I had a license, I had a car,” he says. Redante believes that part of the joy of having these cars is not just driving them, but also tinkering with them. His motto is, “Every house should have one two-car garage per bedroom.”
Amen to that.
Redante mentions the hard sacrifices life brings, with having to get rid of cars because of the kids etc., but he got into road racing and it has really been something he enjoys. A fairly new member, Redante is in his second year of racing his Spec Miata with NASA Northeast.
Brick and Mortar
Name: Paul Prideaux
NASA Region: Mid-Atlantic
Racing Class: SU
Year/Make/Model racecar: ‘07 Ferrari F430
Years in NASA: 4
Paul Prideaux needed a garage because, well, he didn’t have one. Out of Richmond, Va., Prideaux now has a 800-square-foot garage space, equipped with a lift and guest quarters upstairs. “I was always a car hobbyist, so I needed the space. There was no garage at our house before this was built. So I went from zero to this.”
To avoid a cave-like atmosphere, Prideaux installed windows in the garage. Eight 150-watt lights and eight florescent tubes plus five windows bring in lots of natural light. In Prideaux’s part of the country, heated floors are a must. A radiant floor-heating system was installed, which runs back and forth under the concrete floor. He also has a wall air-conditioning unit for hotter days. Prideaux also mentions the lift as something essential to a great garage setup, and that putting as much as possible on wheels is helpful.
When giving advice to others looking to do something similar, Prideaux advises searching the Web, getting on forums and asking lots of questions.
Prideaux is often out in his garage five or six days a week. He says it is a “great place to get lost.” In terms of track preparedness, Prideaux says that it has definitely helped, adding, “By me doing the work myself, I really understand that machine. I feel more confident on the track when I’m driving at the limits of safety. I know that that bolt is tight, or if I hear a noise I notice it before I even come off the track.”
Currently, Prideaux has these fun cars in his garage: 2007 Ferrari F430 Challenge car and a replica Shelby Cobra, which he and his daughter just finished after two and a half years of building. Educated as a mechanical engineer, these hobbies come naturally to Prideaux.
Prideaux’s NASA region is Mid-Atlantic and he races in the Super Unlimited (SU1 or SU2) class. Although Prideaux has only been racing with NASA for four years, it seems that he is on his way to a long career building and prepping his own cars.
Name: Jeff England
Occupation: Program manager, radioactive material packaging
NASA Region: Southeast
Racing Class: TTS, ST2, CMC and PTB
Year/Make/Model racecar: ’88 Mustang,’99 Corvettes, ‘02 Corvette, ’83 Toyota Supra, ’88 Porsche 944
Years in NASA: 8
Jeff England, out of Grovetown, Ga., has a great space for his cars. His 2,816-square-foot garage houses two lifts, and he finds himself out there about four times a week. Room to work is one benefit of England’s garage, but according to him, it also, “Keeps my marriage strong.”
The order in which England’s garage is set up is: a two-post lift bay, a four-post lift bay, and a general pull-in bay with another bay just for bench work. Although the garage is not yet heated or cooled, the biggest plus is space, England explains. He says it has “absolutely” improved his preparedness for the track.
He’s got 19 florescent lights and is able to stay out of the elements when working on his cars. And for those looking to build something similar, England recommends, “Looking at a lot of options,” and he says GarageJournal.com is one of them. He also recommends, “Doubling the size you think you need.”
Since England’s garage is an active shop, what he has in it varies, but it can hold eight or nine cars at a time. England has always been into cars, since an early age and even has more than 14 cars and trucks right now. But when it comes to why he loves cars, he says, “I have no idea. If someone could figure out why, my wife would love to break me of the habit.”
England has raced with NASA Southeast for the past eight years in TTS, ST2, CMC and PTB classes. He also is the NASA Southeast TT director. He races several cars, including an ’88 Mustang, two ’99 Corvettes, a 2002 Corvette, an ’83 Toyota Supra and an ’88 Porsche 944. Besides his racecars, England also owns a Chevelle SS, 2005 Pontiac GTO, an ’85 Toyota Supra and a 2012 Chevrolet Cruze Eco.