Soon as he answered the phone, Adam Hodson should have known he was in trouble.
“You having a good day?” his wife, Abby, asked. Hodson and his buddies were in California on a business trip.
“Well, it's morning time here,” he answered.
“But it's a good day, isn't it?” she countered.
“Abby, what are you getting at?”
“Just having your anniversary present put up in the garage right now.”
“Anniversary present? It's our anniversary?” he finally answered, sealing his fate.
After that, Hodson and the Mid America Kustoms team knew they absolutely had to win MAVTV's “Horsepower Wars” $10K Drag Shootout. The series was taped in August at the Barona Dragstrip in Lakeside, California, but the local competitors had to keep the secret until the final episode aired Dec. 2. They easily won the Season 3 title, at least partially, getting Hodson out of the doghouse with his wife of 17 years.
“I still haven't made it up to her yet,” Hodson said. “She puts up with a lot of crap from me because I'm not very good at being appreciative. That was the first time I ever forgot it. Everything out there was 100% focused on the show.”
But at least life is interesting, which in this past year counts for a lot.
The MAK team won $10,000 and the title to the 1984 Chevrolet S-10 short-bed truck they completely rebuilt over a 10-day period. To start the festivities, each of four teams was assigned, to be kind, a heap, working off a $10,000 budget.
“The S-10 didn't have a motor or a transmission, so the first day, where most of the teams spent time taking their motors out, we were able to clean the truck up and tear it apart the first day, so we were a day ahead there,” Hodson said. “Everybody just worked at a different pace than the other teams. They worked like they had 10 days to build their car, and we worked hard every day. Everybody worked really well together.”
The local team included Hodson, 40, and his MAK co-owner, Nick Taylor, 26, Matt Donovan, 51, Wesley Butler, 25, Mick Bodagon, 61, and Tod Gunder, 49. After they became friends in 2012 at an Indianapolis track, Taylor started the business in 2018 using Hodson's garage. Now they work together out of a 9326 Decatur Rd. garage.
The squad's camaraderie and familiarity working together gave them a head start on the other three teams, who could never catch up.
Taylor was the driver and lead fabricator, Donovan worked on fabrication and suspension, Butler on fabrication, building the turbo kit and cage work, Bodagon on the chassis and fabrication and Gunder was the jack of all trades, backing up everyone.
“We all knew what we wanted to do when we started,” Taylor said. “We know that without everybody doing their job, it doesn't matter how good you are. It all comes full circle. Everybody tackled their job and did exactly what they needed to do.”
Four sponsors helped with the travel, housing and other expenses, such as buying tools.
“If we had not won in 'Horsepower,' we would have had to go take a loan,” Taylor said. “It was all or nothing. While we were out there, we went through two fuel pumps, and those are $500 a pop.”
And then they blew the other three teams away. Once he got behind the wheel, Taylor was never challenged.
Instead of getting rich on the prize money, the publicity is helping their main business of building race cars. The truck is also becoming a showpiece they will travel across the country over the next few months and all over the Midwest this summer to race.
At the end of next summer the team will head out again to defend the title, starting over with a new heap needing a total rebuild. This time, Hodson is sure to remember something for his wife or he'll need another miracle rebuild back home.