Hello to all of our loyal readers of Tuned In Weekly and our ECS Blog, it’s Craig here, your friendly writer and BMW nerd. After writing this blog for five years, starting the Tuned In weekly series, and running the ECS social media accounts, I am sad to announce that this is my final contribution here. Regrettably, this is the very last article I will write for ECS as, by the time you’re reading this, I will have cleaned out my desk and likely will be heading northeast for my next adventure in Vermont. After five years worth of memories, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and countless new friends, I am willing to admit that this is a part of my life I will always miss. The ability to write for an audience of car enthusiasts, to feature so many excellent builds and wonderful owners, and to help educate new enthusiasts with the knowledge and experience we have here at ECS, have truly been blessings. All the comments I read after each new article goes live, all the times where I’ve seen people’s excitement over their car appearing in our blog, and all the fun April fool’s press releases are things I will certainly never forget even as I change course in pursuit of a new career. So, in honor of my goodbye to you all as my loyal readers for the past five years, I thought we’d re-explore some of my favorite stories from my time here at ECS.
European Experience 2018
One of the first shows I was able to cover as the ECS Tuning official writer was down in Georgia for EUEX 2018. I joined up with some old friends in Nashville on the way and bombed down to Savannah after a nearly 20-hour drive in my E30. There at the show, I convened with the rest of our crew from ECS. This was one of the first shows we officially participated in, and stands as the show that made me fall in love with what I did for work over the last few years. I met some of my best friends to this day there and we were able to produce an excellent recap video from this event that is worth the watch. Read the full EUEX 2018 article coverage here on our blog.
Pittsburgh Vintage GP 2018
My first vintage racing experience and first BMW CCA O’Fest, the Pitt Vintage in the summer of 2018 was a truly spectacular event to cover. It was like a time capsule opened in the park and transported everyone to 1970. Millions of dollars in vintage BMWs, wheel-to-wheel action on the only street course in America, and screaming small displacement engines made this one extremely cool event, even with the brutal heat in the July sun. Kick back and check out some vintage BMW racing action in our event coverage of the Pitt Vintage GP here.
A not-so-insignificant benefit of my position here were several opportunities to dive into big projects with my E30 in the company’s R&D facility or with help from vendor partners. When I first started at ECS, I had recently thinned my herd of aging BMWs down to the M52-swapped vert that I previously daily drove in Nashville. It was in fairly good shape, swapped, and mostly mechanically refreshed at the time, but much of the work had been rushed (by me) since I couldn’t have it off the road for long stretches of time. Here, I had purchased another car to daily drive, which let me sink into a bunch of half-assed work and finish it properly with the E30. Namely, completely rebuilding the drivetrain, fitting a 3.73 LSD I refreshed with a friend, and restoring the top and interior stick out in my mind. These projects let me document some difficult jobs that have helped countless other E30 owners complete these DIYs at home, so these articles, which I feel have done the most good for the community, I hold closely. You can check out some of the E30 stories over the years here.
My hometown show, Riverside, has been a staple in my show season schedule since its first iteration, years before I even started here at ECS. Riverside always carries this curse for me that I think of as the ‘cost of entry’ since normally I don’t have to spend any more than gas and food for this trip (thanks for keeping my bedroom open for me, Mom and Dad!) The curse is that, without fail, something on my E30 catastrophically breaks on the trip to or from Riverside. My first year there, I blew the M20 in my vert and that caused me to swap it with the M52. The second year, I smashed the M52’s oil pan on the drive home. 2017, I caught a rock with my radiator expansion tank and had to source a radiator from a junkyard in Kentucky while I repaired it in a Zaxby’s parking lot. 2018, I hit a chunk of pavement and ripped the cat back off my E30. In 2019, probably my favorite year, it rained so hard on the way down that my convertible top canvas became completely soaked, drenching me, my dog, and the electrical system of the E30 enough to melt all the wires inside the dash. I had to finish that drive with no dash lights, wipers, horn, radiator fan, or blower motor until I was able to rip out the dash the morning before the show and repair all the wiring. Now that was an exciting drive down. All the Riverside coverage over the years is naturally here on the blog for you to read, which I suggest you do.
Euro District 2020
If you’ve read this far, you can likely tell I’m quite the BMW fan. However, I’ve since sold my E30 and jumped into a VAG product, thanks in part to Euro District and the people who have influenced me since then. Euro District 2020 was my first primarily Volkswagen show and it was something that completely changed my mind about the whole hobby. Volkswagen enthusiasts are the most dedicated, knowledgeable, welcoming, and detail-oriented people I’ve ever met and they certainly left an impression on me. Euro District during the pandemic made this event somewhat hectic and extremely fun, as a bunch of last-minute changes had us all running around frantically trying to figure out how to hold the show together. It ended up being so fun, that now the Euro District show happens in October and right at the hotel there in Jeffersonville, which makes the entire weekend feel like the show never stops. It’s an incredible experience and hosted by some people who have since become incredibly close friends that I can say with confidence are the reason I love VWs now. You can read my full coverage here on our blog.
Wrapping up (for good)
So, with that, I hope to see many of you in the future at shows and events across the country. I’m likely going to remain active in some parts of the community, though my next few years will require all of my attention dedicated to the pursuit of my new career. You can follow me and my vintage car/motorcycle adventures at @das_vader on Instagram as I head to the mountains of Vermont. It’s been wonderful writing for all of you over these last few years, I hope it’s been as entertaining and insightful for you as it has for me. See you on the road, folks.
Craig Daugherty – ECS Writer / Social Media Strategist 2017-2022