Rease Cannon is a real person.
He's a mechanic, with a garage down the street from our office.
He works alone – and he’s busy.
Vintage Jeeps and minivans occupy the same lot.
He treats them all the same.
Rease made this collection real. We’re familiar with his digs. His coveted Monte Carlo was on full display. His stories fueled the shoot.
“My dad did diesel,” he says standing with his arms crossed. Rease grew up in Greenville, and moved to Philadelphia when he was 16. “He did tractor trailers. Big. He taught me some stuff when I was a kid in South Carolina.”
He scans his garage for something to scoop up. We think it looks fine. But mechanics are maniacal about their mess. The good ones anyway.
He walks us through his training years. Auto shop in high school. Then three years at the Automotive Training Center for a background in Diesel Tech and Fuel Injection. “After I finished I had two options: Penske in Plymouth Meeting or Kaiser’s Goodyear,” he says, cleaning his hands with a yellow towel. “Penske was the diesel job I wanted but they paid $6 an hour. Kaiser’s said they’d give me $16.50.”
That was the end of the diesel dream; Money changes everything.
In the cool shade of his garage, Rease slips on the O.E. Gas Shirt. “I like this,” he says. His usual work get-up is like a jumpsuit, the ones we’re used to seeing a mechanic wear. Loose. No nonsense. Nameplate above the chest pocket.
“I could wear this to work in here but also to the casino.” We take that as a compliment. Validation.
We’re looking at that Monte Carlo when he tells us about grudge racing. We look at him like he pulled a ghost from the trunk.
He doesn't hide. “I’ll tow my ‘81 Corvette down south a few times a year. That car takes only the best. Top notch stuff. I load it up with Nitrous Oxide, too.” We’d never heard a real person talk about Nitrous. We thought it was fake. Something fictional from Fast 3: Tokyo Drift.
“I’ll find guys on Facebook talking a big game. I found this one dude with a truck who said he’d whoop anybody.” His eyes light up. His voice gets a little louder when he talks to us about these off the track deals.
It’s two cars tearing down a quarter mile. On the other end: payment. Some races happen in heats over the course of the day. Bracket style. Takes hours. You have to run it, win, let the car cool down, fuel up, wait an hour, go again.
“I want to know what you got – and fast.”
He puts his two hands side by side, then one behind the other, like the cars would be. “This guy said he’d gap me.” In car talk a gap is a length of the car. A definitive win.
“So we put some money on that.”
We said did you win?
“His machine was way faster. Seemed like a good bet – ‘cause he should’ve gapped me.”
We asked him what happened. Was it the weather? The track? The nitrous?
It was quicker than that.
“The guy underestimated me,” he says, pumped up by some oh yeah? and twice as much f&ck you. “He didn’t take me seriously or something. He thought it’d be easy.” Rease cracks a smile now and then but this one feels different. This is how he wins - and he knows it.
What exists between the man and his machine is sublime. The force applied from foot to pedal only means so much. There’s something inside that space that drives itself.
“I run it hard. I know what I can do.”
Original Equipment has always been about the underdog. People and places overlooked and passed over.
We don’t say anything to the people who think less of us.
When we meet them, we beat them.
They’re grudges we’re happy to keep.