View Full Version : Behind the Wheel with Geon McKenzie Powered by Optima Batteries

07-02-2015, 10:43 AM
By Brandy Phillips
Photos By Brandy Phillips & Karl McKenzie
July 2, 2015

What happens when you have a child who craves the need for adrenaline at a young age? According to Karl McKenzie,
you find them an outlet. That’s just what he did for his son, Geon McKenzie.

Geon’s passion for extreme sports started at a very early age. His father got him into go-karting when he was just five-
years-old. Karl used what he had available to build Geon a chassis from scratch. “I used some old parts from a buddies
kart and bought a spec motor for the five-year-old to eight-year-old class. We got to the first race only to find out his
kart didn’t weigh enough with him in it to make the class. We borrowed weights and filled his pockets with rocks and sand
and made weight.” (Karl McKenzie)


Geon took a break from racing go-karts after two years, but returned again in 2013 racing dirt karts. For those who know
Geon, then you know he is a very talented driver. Some of Geon’s skill could be accredited to racing at an early age, but
Geon was a natural. Racing in an open class, Geon and his KT100 dominated the pack. Eventually a weight requirement
was added to the open class forcing Geon to add weight to both his kart and his pockets once again. Karl commented: “it
was funny watching him get in the kart to race, but that didn’t slow him down either.”


Geon didn’t stop at go-karts. His need for adrenaline continued into other extreme sports such as BMX, motocross
and skateboarding, to name a few.


At the age of fifteen (and a half) Geon became the proud owner of a 1973 Chevy Camaro. It was a runner, but definitely
needed some work. Geon and his dad put a lot of time into the car; Geon learning quite a bit about his car before even
getting his license.


From the original car to it’s current state, it is obvious the amount of work that has gone into Geon’s Camaro. The car
can now be recognized for it’s primer color, cowl hood and HATED sticker across the window. So what is HATED and why
is it on Geon’s car?


We went straight to the source, Keaten Schuster, to help explain HATED, Geon’s association with the name and how it all

HATED is a group started by three guys, Keaten Schuster, Christopher Lima, and Shawn Thompson who were all second
generation hot rodders. Though their vehicles may not look appealing, they focus on performance and improving their
skills as racers. They take pride in doing all the work on their cars themselves while staying within their limited budgets.
They are also known for doing exceptionally well at autocross events; typically placing within the top ten of their class if
not taking the win. They are not HATED because they are mean or rude, they are HATED because everyone wonders how
they get their cars to do what they do.


How did Geon join these three founders to represent not only a group, but also an image?

When Geon was in need of a new exhaust, he crossed paths with Keaten Schuster at the Sunnyoaks Muffler/ Comerson’s
Toy Shop. After taking a look at Geon’s car, Keaten knew it was a perfect fit for their group. Keaten recalls, “fitting the
glove perfectly that day, I asked Geon if he would like to join our group.” Since then, HATED has become more like family,
cruising together, racing together and hanging out during their spare time. Though Geon will be leaving in the fall, HATED
will always be part of his family, supporting Geon as he paves his future.


We asked Geon why he stuck with the Pro-Touring community after engaging in so many different sports. He commented
that it’s “not only the presence at multiple events, but the involvement and support in the racing community as a whole”
that keeps him coming back. Karl added that Geon’s first event would have been his first and last if it wasn’t for the
company of Suzy Bauter, Rodney Prouty and Keith Smith who were parked next to Geon in the autocross pits.


Geon has participated in several events over the past couple years including a handful of Goodguys Pleasanton and Del
Mar events, SCCA, American Autocross, Optima’s Search for the Ultimate Street Car Fontana in 2014, and Optima’s
Search for the Ultimate Street Car Thunderhill 2015.


Since Geon has participated in OUSCS, we wanted to know his take on the series and why he continues to participate at
Optima events. “The amount of track time to be had at these events in unbeatable, not to mention the variety of
competition. There’s also the Design and Engineering to reward the build itself, as well as seat time on some of America’s
most famous tracks and well crafted autocross courses to test drivers. Everyone is so welcoming here; quick to make you
feel a part of their family. There’s a very friendly bond of racers at these events. Everyone is willing to lend a helping hand
and valuable advice to anyone participating.” (Geon McKenzie)


Geon’s goal is to compete in at least one Optima’s Search for the Ultimate Street Car event a year with the hope of
working his way to become a better driver, earn more points and become more competitive.


In honor of those that Geon would like to thank who have helped him in this sport, first and foremost is Geon’s father.
The bond between this father and son is extremely close. Not only do we want to compliment Geon for his dedication
and participation to the pro-touring community, but we want to acknowledge Karl for doing an amazing job raising such
an awesome kid.


Geon also wanted to thank HATED. For those that have never heard of this group, they are an amazing group of young
adults. I have been fortunate enough to meet many of them and see their dedication to our sport while also reminding
others what pro-touring is all about; having fun and making new friends.


As for Geon’s future, he will be shipping out to join the Air Force September 29th, 2015. After passing his Pass Test,
of which only eight of twenty-five applicants passed, he was also “coined,” finishing in the top two. Geon has signed
a four-year contract with the Air Force with a job offer to be a Combat Control Team after placing top two on his test.
Recently quitting his job, Geon hopes to make a career out of the Air Force and is now dedicating all of his time to
training before leaving in September.

When looking back at Geon’s participation in the pro-touring community, we asked around if there were any final
comments, memories or kind farewells for Geon.


“Rodney and I were the first to meet a shy and soft spoken Geon and his gregarious Dad at Pleasanton Goodguys. We
wanted Geon to come back so we gave him every bit of encouragement and assistance we could, including advice to buy
new tires. Low and behold Geon kept coming back and making more and more friends and bringing more and more
young people to the sport. To see pictures of him laughing and giving a ride to Al Unser Jr. was heartwarming to say the
least. Now seeing Karl focused on building his car in order to continue participating in Goodguys and other Bay Area
events during Geon's absence is a testament to what a great group of autocrossers are in California. I will also never
forget when we talked Karl (and Geon) into going to Del Mar because it was such a fun event. Geon was working for
Walmart at the time and was so committed that they drove down really late on Thursday and had to leave early Sunday
so that Geon could literally get out of the truck, take a shower and go to work at Walmart on Sunday. Needless to say
the job at Walmart didn't last much longer because they were jerks about Geon needing racing weekends off.”
(Suzy Bauter)


“I can't say anything better than what's already here. I met Geon a couple of years ago at a local autocross. He really
was shy and hesitant to come up and ask for advice. Once I broke through that force field, Geon was a bud for life and
I'd do anything for that kid. He's going to be an asset to our military and I wish him huge successes. His Camaro will be
kept for him (I hope) and when he returns on leave or at the end of his tour, we'll pick up just where we left off.”
(Mary Pozzi)


“My experience with Geon and Karl sound much like Suzy and Mary's. I have shared some great times with both. Geon
is so respectful and such a great kid. I'll miss having him at the events and hope he can return to it after his tour. I’m
still not sure about those hater friends of his though. Just kidding!” (Greg Thurmond)


“Early on I met Gen...I always try to look for guys who can use a little help... maybe with lines or just a boost on how
cool there car is. It always helps build their confidence and mostly assures that the have a friend at the track no matter
what. I watched "G" race and he had great lines. He got it, so I looked over his car with him and I said a better tire
would be his best bet. He had some 500 treadwear rocks on the car, but he drove well and couldn't stop smiling ear to
ear every time he was done. We talked all weekend, Geon and his pop Karl. We became friends on Facebook and I was
able to watch him grow his segment of the sport by bringing friends of his car club along to see what racing really was.
Now there are many guys from his "hated" car club at many events and they also keep getting better. It’s a simple pay
it forward deal. When I started I had some support in the sport and it’s what I try to give back. Geon and his pop are
two of those I miss not racing with on the west coast anymore, but they keep me updated by texts regularly about builds,
motorcycles and racing. I still feel like I’m there somewhat and I can still see him smiling with his head in that tilt after
runs; it’s pretty cool.” (Rodney Prouty)


“We first met Geon and Karl at Del Mar and thought ‘can you be 12 and drive Autocross?’ It was fun to watch him
drive, get better, and come out of his shell. We enjoyed talking to Karl and seeing his big smile and hearty laugh
as he watched his son drive. They certainly encapsulate the spirit of Autocross racing. We wish Geon well on his
next life adventure.” (Karyn Eytchison)


As one can see, Geon has made an enormous impact on those around him. Having the opportunity to watch him grow,
not only from a child to a young adult, but as an enthusiast to a full-blown competitor, has been an amazing opportunity.


Geon has spent only three years as part of our pro-touring community, but he’s had a lifetime of experience behind the
wheel. We are glad to have him as a participant, a mentor and a friend. We want to wish him the best of luck with his
future plans. Whoever has been lucky enough to work with Geon can attest that he is an amazing young man with a
heart of gold and a passion to master anything he takes on. Good Luck Geon and thank you for impacting our small sport
on a large level.


1973 Chevrolet Camaro LT
Owner: Geon McKenzie
Engine: 388 Stroker motor

Engine Details: Holley street avenger carb, Edelbrock victor Jr. aluminum heads, Daugherty hydraulic racing cam,
Headman headers, Spectre air-filter, Edelbrock performer RPM intake, HEI ignition/MSD

Horsepower / Torque: Classified Information (top secret)

Transmission Brand: 700R4 automatic

Exhaust: Magnaflow Turbos

Differential: 10 bolt, 3.73 posi

Brakes: stock front brakes, Cadillac rear disc conversion

Wheels: American-Racing torque thrust M, 17x8 inch

Tires: Bridgestone Potenza RE-11A, 255/40/17

Body/Paint: UNDER CONSTRUCTION & primer

Interior: ALSO UNDER CONSTRUCTION (big plans in store from Santana interiors)

Gauges: Autometer, Summit racing

Seats: Generic bucket seats

Harnesses / Roll Bar / Cage: Corbeau 4 point harnesses

Any other modifications/ things you would like us to know: Built not bought




07-02-2015, 11:38 AM

07-02-2015, 02:47 PM
Makes me a little misty! Thanks Brandy!

struck by Lightning
07-06-2015, 07:46 AM
Geon and Karl are good people. I will miss seeing Geon at the GG events and wish him well as he serves our country in the Air Force.

07-06-2015, 08:23 AM
Thank you all for the kind words.
This is going to be an interesting adventure for both of us. I couldn't be more proud of my Son!

07-07-2015, 09:13 AM
I know Geon and his father...we first met in Del Mar where we were parked side by side...me in the yellow thunderbird and them with their Camaro. They talked us into getting a GoPro...Geon was an expert with that thing. We have since crossed paths a few times and it is always a pleasure being around them. I have a son and a daughter in the military and I salute Geon's decision to join the Air Force...I know how much dedication that takes.
Stay in touch Geon. If you are on the East coast give me a shout and maybe we can attend an event together.

07-10-2015, 06:53 AM
good story, nice car!

08-01-2015, 08:15 AM
Hey Keith, we were hoping to see you at Del Mar earlier this year.
I hope all is well. If we can plan Geon's leaves correctly we can make a few events next year (in theory).