La Fiestas

Every year, my mom’s home town La Cañada throws a big ‘ol party that lasts for 4 days straight – most nights until 3-4am, and the last night at 6am Monday morning.

Family. Tio Chave, Abuelo, Abuela, My mum, Sophia, me, Jessica

My mother was born in La Cañada, My grandfather was born there, his grandfather was born and raised there… it goes as far as my great-great-great grandparents to this little town in Mexico.

A little background on my family and my grandfather’s story.

My abuelo grew up modestly. A bit better off than most in his town for their time as he got to sleep on wood boards rather than the typical mat that most others had to resort to. All of the roofs at the time were all made from a tough straw material that also worked as fencing. Meat was only available once a week. No plumbing for sewage, not much work either.
Life wasn’t all that great for my grandparents at the time…

Humble beginnings.

Due to his town’s lack of work and fairly rough conditions, they were given preference for the Bracero’s Program in the 60’s. He came across the border to work months at a time picking fruit, working the fields, etc. The program eventually ended, and citizenship was not provided… But the work was still up here in the states. Him now having a family to feed, he kept crossing the border to work.

Eventually he was able to gain a legal status to work and stay in the states and then brought the family up to California.

My abuelo lead a fulfilling life. He worked hard, provided for his family, lived that “American Dream”.


Grange was a month ago now and its gone almost as fast as it came. 

The only “proof” that I was on track.

If you’ve kept up with my IG stories, you know that I had some hiccups during my pilgrimage to Grange.  All in all I got about 8 laps in…  Which isn’t much, but honestly it was probably the best 8 laps I’ve had in about 5 years driving my car.

Weekend spent most of my time like this.

The last time Lola has been to Grange, she did not perform well at all. Her old rack was all over the place… errr, rather stayed one place and I was all over the place. The old steering rack was an old powersteering unit that I had plugged up. And after some 8 years of old fluid in the gears (that had probably dried out), she was giving me a real hard time sliding around that trip. So I knew I’d be back with a proper setup, and here I was.

Gary’s car is a great example of how a clean corolla is to look like

So this trip with the new setup had its own challenges, all of which were easily address-able.  Just my execution at the end of the day was not up to par and left me stranded quite a bit as you see above. 

But hey, I’m a corolla dude through and through.  There’s a reason why “ROLLA LIFE” is such a thing.  These cars can be testy on their owners when the execution sucks.  And I did get hit hard this time around.  Only saving grace for me was the few laps I got in not caring about my waterpump and motor did Lola really perform and gave me a taste of what I’m missing out on.  That and how amazing towing is.

What bit me in the ass was leaving late (a bit too much partying the night before lol), getting caught in ridiculous traffic, and then my waterpump deciding to play stupid games.

I still can’t believe this actually happened……..

It was either, continue destroying the water pump at this point… or not. The water pump was already toast, so “fuck it” I decided.

The water pump did indeed hold up for those 8 glorious laps.

And thank god I towed. No way was I making this trip out of Fremont otherwise.

I’ll be back.


Hola blog. This past weekend some of the norcal corolla boyz went down to socal to play at grange.

It was a weekend of mixed feelings. There were good times, there were bad times, and there were trying times. But overall it was a great time.

Lola The Corolla

Lola 2007 – ∞

This post is to Lola, my beloved Corolla.

Many of you know how much this hunk of metal has meant to me.  For those not in the know, she’s been a solid constant in my life the past near 12 years now.  Well, mostly a not so much a solid constant, but she’s been something that’s always been around (half that time being broken).  She’s been solid source of what has made me, me.  Broken motors, sideways off tracks, banging redlines, more broken stuff, all that.

Lola’s current status: Mostly broken

(thx to

We’re getting pretty close to getting her back on the road.

2007 – 2009ish

I was pretty green then.

This was probably the funnest and most stressful stage of owning Lola.

It felt like everything that you’d expect a 20+ year old car to break/wear out, went bad that first year.  And with my limited experience…  I’ll just say I’m grateful for my high school autoshop teacher and his ability to put up with my shortcomings (example: I swapped out my headgasket 4 different times due to messing up on a step every single time where I had to redo it all).  Then the motor blew ~6 months later*.

With my  limited income for being a high school kid working weekends, and having a high-maintenance gf at the same time, my mods were…  “creative”.

My DIY strut bar.

First motor swap.

This one worked out pretty decently.  Lasted a good 8ish months.

2010 – …2014? …  

After getting the hang of Lola just breaking things all the time, I started driving a bit more seriously.  And I started feeling more and more like a cool guy.  

The better I got, the lower I went!

Maybe a little too low?

1561561.pngThis was supposed to be temporary

Alexey started taking photography seriously around this time.  He’s come a long ways since!



During this time I was full gung-ho about drifting and making those small changes to the setup to getting my car drive the way I like it.  Lots of testing, driving, breaking more things, more driving.

I had built my own motor with a good buddy back ~2011.  New pistons, better crank, etc. Put it all together myself and was able to get it running!  Then it went bad after a little over a year of driving.  This was motor #3 now gone bad.  Lol.

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There was a pattern that started showing, the last two motors that blew were due to the pistons developing holes near the ring-landings.  And after asking around, it began to look like I had been using the incorrect piston rings with the AE92 high-compression pistons.  There were different sizes for the two different years, and I’m guessing my motors never had the right rings, which lead to my pre-mature ring piston failure (they developed holes through them lol).

Atleast that is the excuse I’m going with, and I’m sticking with it.

Motor #4, another used motor came and went in similar fashion.  It was some used high-compression ae92 block with bluetop head.  That one lasted a good part of a year.

Motor #5 was supposed to be a 7AGE that a friend passed on to me, which never worked out.  It was knocking when I received it, but it pulled HARD.  And had been knocking for well over a year.  And I was convinced it was something simple (which I was convinced I fixed after putting it in, got it running, still knocked, fixed what I thought was the knocking noise, put it back, still knocked, did this another 2 times).  But I gave up after it kept knocking and that’s when my car really began to just sit.

Life at this time was a bit rocky, so Lola had sat for a good while.  For the better.


After an extended period of sitting, I sourced ~another~ used motor.  Cheap, came from a running MR2.  I gave it a refresh, (new seals, newer components, etc.) and ran it for the All Corolla Matsuri over at Grange.   It was pretty awesome, it’s like Coachella, but for corolla dude.  Who knew you could convince corolla dudes to go out in the middle of the desert (literally 30 mins past Barstow) to drive around a go-kart track in their corollas?


Motor #6 went out with a bang on Skyline Rd.

Good times.


And this is where I’m at now.

Tony805  put a motor together for me.  It’s a bit of a weird build.  Stock bluetop, but it has the 40mm crank, and had the rods expanded to fit the 42mm block.  It should be fun times soon enough.

The one unexpected outcome I got from all of this playing with cars this far has been sharing my passion with other folks who also share the same passion.  We all like these dinky little Toyotas (some maybe a little too much). 
People that like to put themselves through the same punishment over a little 80’s econobox are good on my books.

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Image may contain: 5 people, including Lance Carmichael and Marc De Asis, shoes, tree, car and outdoor

All in all, I love my corolla.

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There’s a lot to say, but at the same time not much to say…

Paris is probably the one city outside of the Bay Area I could see myself being in for a while (if given the chance).

I spent most of my time jumping on Metro trains and skating around ducking into random shops/galleries that caught my eye.

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The hostel I stayed at had some pretty cool folks working the check-in/bar.  Interestingly all of their favorite spots around Paris were all parks where they could hide from tourists (I don’t blame them).

Such a romantic city for me and my bae

I did the typical tourist traps:

Even though nobody had Americano on the menu, they all knew what I was ordering.




Royal with cheese. and beeeer.

Pho was pleasently amazing

Just when I thought I was cool. This dude shows up.



Paris was cool.  So much to see, and so much character in every corner.  The locals felt like New Yorkers – they carried themselves in a similar manner that everyone seems like they’re busy doing something — got places to be.  But pleasant after ‘breaking’ that wall.

Two and a half days was definitely not enough to explore.  I was kicking myself not joining one of those tours around the Louvre.  From peaking into some of the tours, the stories were less about the actual pieces, but moreso the importance of why they’re there and have been preserved for all these years.  It was pretty neat.


And with that I’ll leave this post with my favorite thing I saw in Paris.

I half-assed wish I knew more about this piece in particular.  But I loved the imagery this piece showed.

Back to Barcelona I go.