Ride along as Krisko chats with Lonnie Ford & Todd "Radar" Hendrex about their life in the custom truck scene and their insanely successful show, Lone Star Throwdown. You know, that little tiny show in Conroe, TX known as LST. The guys also dabble in The West Coast Influence which is a MUST HAVE for ALL mini truckers! Here we go............
CTM: For those that don’t know each of you, tell us all a little about who you are and what you bring to the automotive world.
Lonnie: I’m just a guy that loves anything with wheels that’s custom. Been around cars, trucks and bikes my whole life and currently I’m part owner in the Lone Star Throwdown show in Conroe, TX.
Radar: I'm the other half of Lone Star Throwdown and also created the film ‘The West Coast Influence’.
CTM: Ok, so I have to ask, what was it that first got you hooked on custom vehicles? Was it a particular person or vehicle?
Lonnie: As a child I always loved fast cars and collected anything that had to do with them. Years later as I’m waiting at the bus stop a lowered Nissan truck with some Superlite wheels rolls by. As he passes he tilts his bed at us. I was hooked ever since! To this day I still talk to this guy (Robert Clark) so I guess you could say that he is the reason I have a passion for this stuff.
Radar: I was always into cars as a young kid. I had Hot Wheels and all kinds of car and truck toys. As I got older I remember my sister buying me a subscription to Hot Rod Magazine and I read each one cover to cover, over and over again. I also got into VW's for a while until a friend down the street from me got a MiniTruckin Magazine and it was all downhill from there! I remember seeing a lot of minitrucks in my area driving around with my parents and I knew I always wanted one. To get a little more involved I found out where the club Trendsetter Minis hung out. It seemed that they had the nicest stuff around and they were in my area, so I went to their meeting and got hooked.
CTM: Alright, let’s do a little throwback! What was your first custom vehicle like?
Lonnie: My very first vehicle was an ‘83 Datsun 720 King Cab short bed that was lowered with a hydraulic tilt bed. I had two wooden house speaker boxes in the king cab for music. It had painted stock wheels with chrome beauty rings and center caps.
Radar: I had a lowered ‘71 VW Beetle with some replica Rivieras.
CTM: The automotive industry no longer makes minis, only midsize and fullsize trucks. How do you think that will impact the custom scene? Aren’t minitrucks a big part of it all?
Lonnie: I don’t think it will impact the scene much at all because people will buy what’s available regardless if they make smaller trucks (minis) or not. I do think though that more minis will come out as a result of it. Minis are a big part of what older guys like me have been into but even our interests change over time. When I was in high school everyone had a mini but I look at my kid’s high school today and they all have full size trucks. I still love minis and even want to build one for my son one day.
Radar: I think two things will happen. One, the older mini trucks will become more sought after and in turn will make the values go up. The little Mazda or Toyota you used to pass on your way to work every morning, because it had a lot of dents or was rough looking, will look better and better to you because you can't find anything else like it. Not to mention a lot of them are going to Mexico and South America which will lead to an overall shortage. I think they will eventually be like classic cars, becoming rarer as time passes.Two, I think that minitruckers will always adapt to whatever the manufacturers put out. That's why you will see full size Chevys, classic cars, SUV's and even newer cars slammed to the ground. They will get their fix one way or another and will do so with anything they can get their hands on.
CTM: So, what are you working on right now? Have anything cool in the garage you’re building?
Lonnie: I have a 1975 Ford F100 that I’m working on now (Project SHLONGBED). It started life as a long bed but we cut it down in between a short and long bed to give it a different look. Full frame, 440 small block Ford, big lip 24X15 billet wheels being built by Mark Fehrle @ Slaughter House.
Radar: I'm trying to finish the suspension on my 2000 4 Runner as we speak.
CTM: If money was not an option, what is the one vehicle you would have and what would be done to it?
Lonnie: Finish my 1975 Ford, ha-ha!
Radar: I'd love to have a crew cab Tacoma, full frame with a Supra motor and rear end.
CTM: The terms scene, lifestyle and hobby are all used to describe what we do. Which is it to you?
Lonnie: This is all each person’s opinion. To me it’s all of them. I live for this stuff!
Radar: I think it's a hobby and a lifestyle. It's what we think about when we're working and we will spend a lot of time and money working on our vehicles and traveling with them on weekends.
CTM: Ok, let’s get down to business. Tell our readers a little about Lone Star Throwdown. Where did it all begin and what is it like behind the scenes?
Lonnie: This is a good one! This show was actually started years ago. We had always talked about putting a show together but never really knew where to start. Radar and I had been all over the United States to so many shows and wanted to be a part of that one day. We talked to so many of our friends and others we knew that had put together events like this but still didn’t know what to do or where to start. Radar and I knew nothing, and I mean nothing, but the one thing we did know is, if we stayed true to the people that would support us, we could do it. I was scared the first year we started because I didn’t know what to expect. I was worried no one would show up or we would do something wrong and people would hate us. But man was I wrong! The first year was more than I ever expected. It was the best feeling ever to look back and see how many people had supported us. This isn’t a business for us even though we have to run it like one. It’s a passion that we have for this scene/lifestyle/hobby and I think people truly see that.
Radar: Lonnie and I have talked about doing a show for years but we never took the time to say “let's do it”. Lonnie eventually talked me into it and away we went. As far as behind the scenes, it's crazy! We got to the park this year on a Wednesday to get everything set up and we didn't leave until Monday afternoon. For 2016 we're going to have to get there on Tuesday morning to get everything done in a timely manner.
CTM: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned so far?
Lonnie: This one is easy! “It’s a lot of work!” We work all year long for one weekend and that, to me, makes it hard. We have one shot at it each year and Mother Nature doesn’t care how hard you’ve worked. Rain or shine, the show must go on.
Radar: I think we learned how to put the right people in place that can do the job you need done. Our wives are a big part of the show that weekend. My wife runs registration and Lonnie's wife handles the spectator entrance. We also hired Jarrod Dunahoo to handle the vendors and Jason ‘Pugz’ Walker to help him day of. Judging is handled by Steve Green and his crew. Without all of these people helping us we couldn't handle a show of this size.
CTM: LST has been growing like crazy! Care to share your secret?
Lonnie: Not sure if this is it or not but we have always believed that if you stay true to the people that support you that they will always show support in return.
Radar: Man, I'm not sure what the secret is either. I think it’s because the show is early in the year and people are ready to bring out what they've been working on all winter and to see friends.
CTM: Can you fill us in on what’s in store for LST in the years to come?
Lonnie: A good show that’s for sure!
Radar: We have some tricks up our sleeves!
CTM: I was hoping for a little inside scoop but I guess we will all have to wait and see! Ok, so aside from LST, do you have a favorite show?
Lonnie: I have many shows that I feel are my favorite but Last Resort has always been a good time and it’s put on by great people. Stuart Daigle has done a great job with this show and I haven’t missed one yet!
Radar: I really enjoy Last Resort. I think Stuart brings in a lot of quality vehicles and the after party is a good time as well!
CTM: Last Resort is one on my list to attend as well. We actually have some show coverage coming soon to CTM. There’s been a little buzz brewing on the internet and I’ve heard something about a minitruck film. Do you know anything about that?
Lonnie: That’s my boy Todd “Radar” Hendrex he can answer this one.
Radar: A little! I came up with the idea for the film a couple of years ago and have been working with the guys from Weekend Celebrities (Crime Pays Video) to have them film and edit this thing. It's basically a film about how minitrucks got started and the people that were pivotal in making it what it is today. We cover everything from fabricators to magazine editors and all of the people in between.
CTM: I saw the trailer for the film you guys posted and immediately ordered a copy! I know this is touched on some in the film but can you tell us how you think the show scene has changed over the years and where you think it’s headed?
Lonnie: There are more shows now than ever before. One of the hardest things to do nowadays is picking which one you will hit up next. Not sure where it’s headed but I know we will always be in attendance every chance we get.
Radar: I think more people are getting involved with it more and more every year. It seems shows are getting stronger and stronger as the years go one. Hopefully it stays this way and people can get inspired by what everyone else is doing.
CTM: It’s great to hear things like that. There was so much talk for a while about how the scene was dying but it seems the exact opposite is happening. It’s been really hard to keep up with the amount of shows lately. My calendar is definitely full! Ok, so enough business talk, let’s play a game. First, tell us how many black shirts you think you have in your closet.
Lonnie: All of them….. Ha-ha! I’m fat so you know I’m always going to wear a black shirt…
Radar: Almost all of them.
CTM: Now, go to your closet and actually count them. How many do you REALLY have?
Lonnie: Too many to count! I would have to let my wife Christel answer this one.
Radar: No, seriously, almost ALL of them. Can you people print me some cool white shirts for once? My fat butt burns up in the Summer wearing black!
CTM: I’m sure we can talk some of these show promoters into making some white shirts for a change. Maybe there will be some at LST next year! I’m an avid social media user like most of our readers and I see you both on different sites quite a bit. Your online presence is a big part of what you guys do. Which outlets do you use and what are the good/bad about each?
Radar: I think Lonnie is better suited for this question!
Lonnie: Nothing but good in social media. I do all the social media for the show and I love it. It’s a big part in keeping up with so many people these days and keeping people in the know. You can post something and it hits several thousands in seconds! What’s not to like about it? Instagram is my favorite but I also do Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Vine, Pinterest and YouTube.
CTM: Speaking of social media, there are so many pictures that flood the internet every day. What’s the worst trend you’ve seen with vehicles lately?
Lonnie: Not sure if I really have a worst trend because I think it is all about having opinions. I may not like it but I can appreciate the effort in doing something custom. I can’t hate on someone wanting to do something that they like to their vehicle.
Radar: LED light bars. People it’s day light out and we don't need them on. They blind our staff when you come into line to register. Oh, and train horns.
CTM: It seems everyone has to have big lip billets and a body drop nowadays. How do you feel about the current trends?
Lonnie: Hey I’m one of them, ha-ha! But all kidding aside I think it’s getting harder to keep up with the trends because it’s not cheap anymore. You have to pay to play.
Radar: I like the look! Trends are what keep things fresh and moving forward.
CTM: So what do you think the next trends will be? Will old school be cool again? (Wheels, graphics, tweed, etc.) Or will it be something completely different?
Lonnie: We will really just have to wait and see what’s next. I think minis will start to come out more and I’m not even going to lie I’m kind of excited if it happens!
Radar: I think the “old school mini truck” trend is pretty cool. It's like hot rod guys keeping the nostalgia with their cars. I think that the old mini trucks are going to come out of hiding, be freshened up a bit and brought out to shows. Between that and the new builds, it keeps things exciting for sure.
CTM: A lot of the younger guys may not know this but custom vans used to be the hottest thing around. There has to be a ton of old vans around that could be snatched up for cheap! What would you say about bringing ‘vanning’ back?
Lonnie: I’ve always liked the Astro vans!
Radar: That's where mini trucks got its start from. We cover this a little in film.
CTM: Let’s talk a little about clubs. Who do you roll with and what can you share about your experience with them?
Lonnie: Negative Camber almost 20 years and it’s all about the people you meet along the way.
Radar: I've been in Negative Camber 20 years this July and it's been one of the greatest things I've ever been a part of. It's great to be able to call someone up 1500 miles away to have them look at a vehicle for you that you're interested in buying, or even lending a hand lifting a bed off of your frame one weekend. It's been amazing to travel to shows all over the US and see guys you only see a few times a year, but once you get together it feels like you just saw them last week. I wouldn't trade the friendship with those 300+ guys for anything.
CTM: We all know that we must keep our version of customizing alive by passing it along to younger generations. How do we get them more involved in what we do?
Lonnie: Radar and I have talked about this before. We would love to get more kids involved in what we do. When I was in high school everyone was into doing something to their vehicles but it seems like kids these days aren’t into as much. We are currently looking at ways we can get the kids involved more at either shows or other events where we can help introduce them to an ever growing scene.
Radar: I think if we are helpful to them and help them along, we can keep it going. If we're rude and don't answer questions then they will be less likely to take an interest in it.
CTM: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Do you think you will still be customizing vehicles?
Lonnie: I hope so! I hope at that point Radar and I are both still doing LST and working on our next projects.
Radar: Without a doubt. Hopefully in 10 years I'll have a bigger garage and more trucks than I do now!
CTM: What’s the best advice you can give to those guys just getting into the scene?
Lonnie: Don’t just take advice from just one person. Get the whole experience by going out and meeting people. Those are the things that I look back on and what I love the most about all of this. It’s all about the people that I have met along the way.
Radar: Don't let anyone tell you how to build your vehicle. Do it for yourself and not for others.
CTM: Ok fellas, it’s time to wrap this up! I have so many more questions for each of you but Kent would only give me so many pages for our interview! We appreciate your support of Common Treads Magazine and want thank you for taking the time to share a little about yourselves. You have both been an inspiration to me personally and I appreciate all of the things you do and truly living the scene you love. So here you go, this is your chance to say whatever you want! Have any last words?
Lonnie: We would like to thank everyone for their support and hope that one day you will come up to either one of us and shake our hands and have a drink because memories is all we have.
Radar: First off Krisko, thanks for the help with LST registration every year! Lonnie and I appreciate it. I'd like to personally thank everyone for supporting LST and making it what it is. The vehicles you all bring, the photos you all post up on social media building your vehicles (#LSTcrunch), on the way to the show and during the show amaze Lonnie and I! It's been a blast watching everyone get behind us and like the direction we've taken the show. This is what keeps us going! So a HUGE thanks to everyone that has supported it from the vendors and sponsors and everyone that shows and spectates! We are looking forward to doing this for many years to come!
We'd like to thank Lonnie and Radar for taking the time to sit down and chat with us here at CTM! Thanks goes out to Krisko for heading up the interview and spending many hours typing and editing everything up so we could share these guys' story to the masses! If you'd like to grab a printed copy of the magazine with this interview, click here!