Ten Questions With: Troy Trepanier of Rad Rides by Troy
Series Intro by Bret Voelkel:
We are very proud to debut a new series of articles called “Ten Questions With…”. Our first guest will be Troy Trepanier. I first met Troy Trepanier in 1988 at the Street Machine Nationals in DuQuoin, IL. He and his dad Jack stopped by the Auto Meter display where I worked at the time. They inquired about a choice parking spot for Troy’s first car build, a raspberry-colored 1966 Chevelle. Troy Trepanier was just 16 at the time, but he already had a bundle of talent and energy. 30 years later, I am proud to call Troy Trepanier a customer, the world’s finest car builder, and most importantly, a friend.
Look for RideTech’s weekly email every Thursday. While these “Ten Questions With…” articles may not be a weekly occurrence, we intend to feature this series on a regular basis, chatting with car builders, business owners, and other groundbreaking people in the hot rod industry!
RideTech: When you built your first cars, the 1966 Chevelle and “Pro Box”, the Sea Foam Green 1960 Impala, was it your goal to turn your hobby into a career?
Troy: I don’t know that it was, initially. I really wasn’t sure where it would lead. At the time, I was working for my dad during the day. I guess I was just having fun creating something of my own on the side. The other part of building those early cars for myself was getting to meet new people at the shows and talking about what we had built. One of my earliest connections in the industry was Bret Voelkel, who then was working for BDS (Blower Drive Service) or Auto Meter and now, of course, owns RideTech.
RideTech: At what point in your career did you know your shop was going to be successful?
Troy: I think the recognition my first few cars received had a large part to do with the transition into a successful business. My first several builds were for myself, not for customers. Two of those cars were chosen as Hot Rod Magazine car of the year. Pro Box in 1990 and Bumongous (named by the late great Gray Baskerville) in 1992. Having such great exposure early on, I gained the attention of individuals like George Poteet who then asked me to build the Sniper for him. I think professionally, that was the point that I thought, “I can make a living doing this, and possibly be successful doing it.”
RideTech: If you could build any car for yourself what would it be?
Troy: I haven’t had a hot rod of my own since the early 90’s. However, for quite a while I have wanted to build a 1955 Plymouth wagon. I envision it having a street-tuned version of the turbocharged four-cylinder engine that we used for a couple of years racing our first land speed car “Blowfish”. Also, paying attention to suspension, ride quality, and stance without so much attention to paint. (Possibly using a car with a nice patina and leaving it that way).
RideTech: What is your favorite activity outside of building cars?
Troy: Watching and coaching my three kids in their various sports. Between the three of them, they have participated in football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, track, baseball, and softball. Currently, I love watching my daughter play division 1 softball at Valparaiso University in Indiana.
RideTech: If you could work with anyone, past or present, who would it be?
Troy: Well, he wasn’t necessarily a car guy, but probably Howard Hughes. His drive and determination along with his business sense and ingenuity were unparalleled. Working with someone like that, I think would be an awesome learning experience for anyone who admires those qualities.
RideTech: If you had your own TV series, what would you call it?
Troy: I think the obvious choice would be “Rad Rides”. We have never focused on a particular type of car. We have done street rods, customs, street machines, race cars, and even a specialty all-terrain camera kart for the movie industry. “Rad Rides” seems like a title that is all-encompassing.
RideTech: Is there a particular piece of any car you have built over the years that is your favorite?
Troy: I am more of a mechanical guy, so from a fabrication and an overall enjoyment standpoint, I love designing and building chassis for our race cars. When I see the Blowfish chassis or the Mariani’s Streamliner chassis I think, those are impressive pieces, but more that they were fun to create with the guys in the shop. Aside from the chassis work, I love some of the machined parts we have done recently, specifically the wheels we have been making for our in-house builds. I think having the control to completely design, program and machine parts in-house has given us an opportunity tailor those pieces to the car and ending up with a great balance of form and function.
RideTech: If the world was coming to an end and you only had time to take one car for a drive, what would it be?
Troy: Blowfish. …our Bonneville record-holder Barracuda race car. … at 300+ mph!
RideTech: I know there are many, but what is your favorite quote from Jack?
Troy: Whenever anyone would ask Jack what was Rad Rides’ greatest asset around the shop, he would answer “His dad!”
RideTech: If Rad Rides didn’t become successful, did you have a different career in mind?
Troy: An astronaut. However, I think you need a pretty good education for that. I do have four years of college eligibility left though. Ha ha ha!
To learn more about Troy Trepanier and Rad Rides by Troy, click HERE.
Published with permission from RideTech