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RACING: Automotive artwork created in Carson City

Roger Diez
For the Nevada Appeal

Racing is not the only form of automotive enjoyment for participants and onlookers. The automobile as an art form is epitomized in museums like the National Auto Museum in Reno and by area car shows like Hot August Nights, the Silver Dollar Car Classic, and the Carson Kruzers’ Run What Cha Brung show. I’m sure that many of you, like me, have marveled at the hot rods and custom cars on display at these events, and at the number of cruises that abound during the summer months. But did you ever wonder how those fanciful body modifications and awesome paint jobs came about?

Well, I found one of the sources for this automotive artwork right here in Carson City, out on Highway 50 East. The business is called No Coast Customs and the owner and artist-in-residence is a young man who goes by the name of Grease. He was reluctant to disclose the origin of the name, but was much more forthcoming about the work he does. No Coast Customs specializes in bodywork, paint, airbrushing, pinstriping, and graphics. In addition to their custom work, they also are a licensed body shop doing insurance repairs.

Grease told me that he has been able to weather the recession pretty well due to his work being about half custom jobs and half insurance repairs. He also expressed surprise that he has been able to get as much custom work has he has during the current economic downturn. The custom work is about half-and-half cars and motorcycles. He does paint for all brands of motorcycles, but gets mostly Harley-Davidsons. In addition to custom cars and hot rods, he also has done some race cars, both drag cars and circle track cars, including all the paint work for local stock car racer Bobby Hodges. Leafing through a portfolio of cars and bikes that have come out of the shop, I was impressed by both the quality and the imaginative nature of the work. I asked Grease about his artistic training, and he told me that he had no formal schooling in art, but has been drawing all his life. He has also applied his expertise to items other than cars and motorcycles, mostly for friends and family. The portfolio also contains pictures of guitars, helmets, trailers, surfboards and snowboards, even toolboxes and a mailbox, all decorated with pinstriping, flames, and unusual artwork.

Grease started working in a body shop as a teenager, and developed his expertise through hands-on on the job training. He opened No Coast Customs nine years ago, and picked the name to contrast with the East Coast/West Coast designations of famous custom car shops. He currently has one other employee, but is a very hands-on business owner, doing much of the bodywork and painting himself. Although he usually doesn’t do drive train or suspension work, he showed me a current project – a 1954 Chevy a chopped top and air suspension that can raise and lower the vehicle. It is currently in primer, but I will have to go back this spring to see the finished product. Maybe it will even be on display at one or more of the local car shows or cruises this summer.

If you’re in need of collision repair or are finishing a project car that needs eye-popping paint, flames, or pinstriping, check out No Coast Customs at 5520 Highway 50 East, just west of Deer Run Road. Tell Grease I sent you.

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Here’s an addendum to last week’s Christmas gift guide. J.R. Williams sent me an email recommending Wally Pankratz’s pavement midget racing school at Orange Show Speedway and Cory Kruseman’s midget/sprint car school in Ventura, Calif. To those I will add my own recommendation of the Skip Barber Racing School at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca. I raced at Laguna back in the old days, and I can tell you that it’s worth the price of admission just to go down the Corkscrew at speed. They have a number of program options, and are offering a special 20 percent off deal until Dec. 30.