I’ve always said that following your passions will lead you to interesting places! As my luck would have it, following my passion for automobiles has led me to the stage at the 2021 LA Auto Show as the recipient of the Hispanic Motor Press Foundation Scholarship Award!
The Hispanic Motor Press Foundation Scholarship is a scholarship dedicated to supporting young Hispanics pursuing a career in journalism focusing on the vehicle and transportation industries, with emphasis on the technology of the motor vehicle.
I applied to this scholarship because even though I’m not technically studying journalism, I am a transportation design student who does automotive journalism on the side as a hobby. This blog is the perfect example of that! Well, I’m happy to say that I was picked as the winner and I was presented with the award on stage at the LA Auto Show!
Of course, this wasn’t the only highlight of my day. This was the first time I had ever been to the LA Auto Show! So naturally my shutterbug instincts took over and I was snapping away at every interesting display or concept car I crossed while hunting down designers and other industry insiders to talk and network with!
So, please enjoy these photos from the 2021 LA Auto Show! Also I wanted to give a very special thanks to the following individuals!:
…RV loaded, trailer empty, and bodies caffeinated for the road ahead. Previously, we were partying with friends at the new Supercars and Salsa event we helped start. Now, we were on our way to Oregon for the promise of a Westfield Lotus Eleven; clad in black and red-lipped. After months of searching, a close friend of mine was realizing a dream; bringing home a vintage Lotus race car and completing a collection. This was not the first time a car like this found its way to us. On the other hand, this time was special because of the car we would be getting.
The car was a Westfield Lotus XI (Eleven); a car that could easily pass for the real thing at first glance. Westfield had built these replicas in the early ’80s as a kit, along with their version of the Lotus Seven. Using parts from an MG Sprite or Midget, the builder can recreate the magic of racing in the late ’50s. Furthermore, Westfield was also notable for the legal battle with Lotus regarding the rights to building the Seven and Eleven; a battle which resulted in Westfield ending production of their Eleven and Seven kits in the late ’80s. Today, a “pre-litigation” Westfield Lotus is a sought-after substitute for the real thing. This particular example was special, as it was the dream car of a man who would end up racing and caring for the car for 34 years. This man’s name is Don Erickson.
From Michigan to Alabama
We met Don on the street a short walk away from his house. He must have seen the RV/Trailer combo and the road-weary party walking around in slight confusion. Don was a tall, lanky gentleman with piercing blue eyes and a strong handshake. He led us up to the hill toward his house, where I noticed his mailbox painted a sporting red color. When I looked into the open garage, I could see the rear of a ’50s race car.
Our group made our way into the garage, and while everyone was gawking at this low-slung amalgamation of fiberglass and steel, I asked him to tell me the story of the car. He told me to wait a moment and went back into his house to retrieve something. I was sitting in the passenger seat of the Eleven playing with the toggle switches when he returned with a magazine. As soon as I saw the cover, I gasped. I was holding an issue of Road & Track with a white Lotus Eleven, dated March 1957.
Don told me when he was a teenager, he saw this issue of Road & Track and immediately fell in love with the Lotus Eleven. He promised himself that he would one day own that car. At last, his chance came almost 30 years later when he was looking through the classifieds of a kit car magazine and saw a listing for a red Westfield XI in Michigan. Immediately, he flew to Michigan and bought the car. Now, he had to figure out how to get the car back home to Alabama. What he told me next was nothing short of equal parts amazing and comedic. He jumped into his car with its 6-gallon tank, and drove the entire way back to Alabama only stopping when he needed gas, or to bail rainwater out of the cockpit!
“In hindsight…”, he told me, “…that was stupid. But, I was young then.”
Red to Black
In the 34 years Don owned the car, he had painted the car from it’s original bright red, to the svelte gloss black it is today. He left the original red color around the mouth of the car for the “lipstick” the factory Team Lotus Elevens were known for. He also modified the pedal box so that he could fit his tall frame into the driver’s seat and drive the car, but kept the original ’50s-style racing lap belts. The car had stickers from the many different events Don participated in, tastefully added to the interior and exterior of the car. The most prominent decal was the Sports Car Club of America roundel just past the front wheels, with its colors matching the colors of the car. Also present were various plaques and stickers celebrating past events in the ’80s and ’90s, including some awards. Don’s Eleven clearly had history.