The mint 400 began as an advertising ploy to help better public perception of The Mint Hotel in Las Vegas in 1968. Initially it only accommodated two contestants in separate dune buggies that raced through 970 km of desert, from Las Vegas to Lake Tahoe, California. It carried on annually to varying degrees of reception until it’s cancellation in 1988 for fear of the negative effects on Los Vegas’ more conservative punters.

However after a 20 year break the race returned in 2008 due to increased independent sponsorship and now included motorbikes and any 4 wheel vehicles that could deal with the harsh terrain. The event continued steadily increasing in popularity as sponsorship deals reached trillions and the style of driving became more aggressive to cater for the fan’s growing thirst for blood. As the legality of the driver’s practices diminished so did the management of the event and it moved into the very capable hands of organised crime.

By 2199 the Mafia, government and local law enforcement of Las Vegas had become one in the same; the ruling power of the land was blood money. With new management came new rules – the courageous participants were vehemently encouraged to win by absolutely any means necessary. The deathly elimination of competition was actively encouraged and adored by sadistic fans. Racers rarely lasted more than two of these treacherous races as the grand prize money became well worth putting their lives on the line for. Meanwhile In the rest of the world vehicle manufacture had dwindled to a halt as fossil fuels had long since depleted and nuclear energy was a luxury purely for the super rich. The only option was to drive whichever vintage vehicles the driver’s could lay their hands on and modify them with ever more ingenious methods. All manor of deadly weaponry was attached to the cars, motorbikes, buggies and hybrid vehicles to ensure drivers had the best chance of a bloody success.

In 2112 Virgo Fidellis was the first driver to taste Victory more than twice and continued to win every year until his long overdue demise in 2118. As his extraordinary success continued his sponsorship deals grew and as did the technology and weaponry at his disposal. Fidellis’ public opinion dramatically dropped after he famously used military connections to call in an airstrike obliterating all the other drivers. After over 100 years of limitless carnage his actions lead to the introduction of the one and only rule of the Mint 400 – no airstrikes – which made him hugely unpopular. Fidellis had become extremely powerful and unspeakably rich which made the powers that be tremendously uncomfortable.

This bonnet was prized from the Fidellis’ 1992 Porsche 928 that was famously back ended by an anonymous contender apparently planted by the mafia on a kamikaze mission to assassinate the delusionally arrogant Fidelis and bring a welcome end to his truly unique winning streak.

Hand engraved car bonnett (text/ story unfinished).

The initial idea was to continue my experimentation with modifying collectable items with imagery closer to my cultural upbringing. The Porsche bonnet however was a little different to the other pieces I’d used so far. The bonnet was meant to represent the Porsche and the ideas of luxury around it. I wanted to compare the kind of anti establishment ideas of the zine that the illustration was lifted from with the capitalist persona a Porsche projects. I wanted to compare the historic process of engraving with this kind of throwaway exercise book illustration. I sketched the image quickly on to the bonnet with plenty of mistakes with the intention of smoothing them out. However as I started working on it I made them all permanent with the engraving tool. It made for a much more interesting image again comparing the long winded act of engraving with the really quick sketch. The thing took a couple of weeks to complete and throughout the long process the idea or the concept behind it became secondary; I wasn’t comfortable with the comment of the piece being on something the thing represented rather than what it was. Just felt like I was lying, I was happy with making a cool looking thing using a process I hadn’t used before and for the time being that was enough. However when I began thinking about adding stories to the pieces this seemed worthy of a tall tale to accompany it. The kind of ‘gladiatory’ death sport is an extremely common theme within in Sci-fi and with the rise of MMA fighting in modern times seems like a relevant thing to talk about. I’ve always found it so bizarre to see friends of mine enjoying the sight of people trying their hardest to seriously injure one another. It seems like devolution to me.

Unfortunately due to the exhausting amount of time I spent in the studio over the last week I was unable to finish the story. It lacks any explanation of how the image related to the main character which is pretty major oversight.