SWITZERLAND, THAILAND, A BABY AND RACECARS
When the crash of 2007 happened, I needed a reset... a break. Erin and I still didn't have children, and there was much more that I wanted to live out other than being a rich marketing guy. We took 2008 off and went back to Youth With A Mission, but this time to Switzerland. I needed to grow my "inside man", and really focus more on my relationships with Jesus and my wife than I had in the previous years. After three months there, we found ourselves with a team in Thailand rebuilding homes and a preschool for Burmese refugees who lost everything in the Tsunami of 2004. This was such a good time for me. I was starting to feel whole. The mad rush from happy but sheltered mountain boy to wealthy business owner had really knocked me back a bit. Before going to Switzerland, I had skills and I had favor, but I didn't know how to handle it all while still being "me".
We found out in Switzerland that we were having a baby. We found out in Thailand that he was to be a boy. I cannot express my joy... Upon returning to our home in the Historic District of Asheville, NC (which is such a beautiful city), Erin had about 3 more months of pregnancy to go through. Before the real estate/banking crash, I had bought a new Porsche 911S and modified it a LOT. I had gone to some track days at road courses throughout the south, and dropped it off at Synergy Racing in Alton, VA for a full tear down and rebuild into essentially a street legal (not really) race car.
When we got back to the States, instead of going back to work, I went to work at being a better driver. I got countless hours of one-on-one professional instruction and my skills as a driver were really increasing. Plus, my car was amazing. The build online had a couple MILLION followers. It was a big deal. On top of that I had also bought a 1972 Datsun 240Z (number 14 for me, but now I had the money to do it RIGHT) and dropped it off at a restoration shop to be fully taken down and made awesome. That build took years, but it eventually became known online as the nicest 240Z on the planet. It actually was just on the cover of the November 2011 issue of Modified Magazine.
In August 2008, I was invited by Excellence Magazine: The Magazine About Porsche, to ship my car to Northern California for a performance shootout against some of the nation's strongest modified Porsches. I shipped it and flew out to meet it in LA, then drove up the entire coast of California to the test site. What a drive that was, all on Pacific Coast Highway. My car and I won, and the ensuing 11 page article's first words were, "This hillbilly hauls ass!" I can't wait until my son is old enough to appreciate that... The editor of the magazine liked me, as well as my driving skills, and asked me to write one page called "Owner's Perspective". I did, and he really liked that too.
My son was born in September 2008: Elias Kindle (as in, "to light a fire") Cullop. Erin and I wanted to give him a name that spoke passion into him. Shortly thereafter, I got a call from the Porsche Magazine asking if I'd be interested in flying to Germany for the first exposure of the new Porsche Panamera to journalists worldwide. "Well YEAH!" As possibly the first American journalist (odd to say) to ever get to take a Panamera on a racetrack, I got to write quite a fun article. That one has now been followed up by a dozen or so more articles. I'm so honored.