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Tony Stewart has long been known as “Smoke” on the track - a nickname earned for his ability to smoke the competition and burn up a set of tires when celebrating a victor. Now that name is coming to life as a car - specifically a one-of-a-kind pony. Stewart has teamed with Smithfield and car builder RTR Vehicles and the man behind it, drifting champion Vaughn Gittin Jr., to build a one-of-a-kind 2018 Ford Mustang RTR Spec 3 that will be given away to one lucky fan. This 700-horsepower beast finds Ford’s 5.0-liter V-8 engine receiving 12 pounds of boost from Ford Performance’s new supercharger. In the end, Tony Stewart’s Smithfield Smoke Machine will have the sound and feel of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion Stewart-Haas Racing campaigns in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with driver Aric Almirola. 

Aside from the fact that it featured a bit in Disney•Pixar's Cars 3 last year, dirt track racing doesn't tend to get much attention on the big screen. I've written a bit about it before - the fact that I grew up with it, spending many nights at Santa Fe Speedway outside of Chicago, and traveling to countless ovals around the Midwest as a kid, my dad being a track announcer at the time. Now comes Shifting Gears - a little movie with family at its core, and one set against the backdrop of dirt track action. The logline: "It's WE BOUGHT A ZOO meets DAYS OF THUNDER on dirt!" Check out the trailer and details below...

Unlike most of what I consider to be the "B-list" holidays, St. Patrick's Day is one I don't mind, and one that doesn't get it's due. It's likely because of its unfortunate scheduling, falling between two of the bigger names on the B-list: Valentine's and Easter. It wasn't until a few years ago that I learned that St. Patrick's Day is even stripped of its name in some schools, with "Shamrock Day" of "Clover Day" taking over. All that said, for me this day means corned beef and mint, and when I'm an a hurry, that means The Fast-Food St. Patrick's Day™ is in full-effect. I get a Reuben sandwich from Arby's (they have the meats!) along with a Shamrock Shake from McDonald's. It's extra convenient locally, as the two typically-warring fast-food icons are located next to each other. The video below documents my 2018 pilgrimage, right down to the inexplicable 7-minute wait for my Shamrock Shake. Enjoy!

Six years ago, I celebrated one-year tobacco-free with a journal entry about my personal journey. Then, in 2013, I posted again, celebrating the two-year anniversary of coming clean (indeed, cigarettes are a drug), followed by another post in 2014 documenting year three, and how I couldn't get Philip Morris/Altria to leave me alone (they since have, but only after I threatened legal action). In 2015, I posted again, noting that little bits had changed, like Cracker Barrel restaurants playing into the hands of Big Tobacco (presumably) not knowing it, and the rise of the e-cig and vape crowd. This was followed by updates in 2016 & 2017, and today I am posting once again, as it's the seven-year anniversary of kicking the habit. As I've done previously, I am re-posting much of my original entry here on THE ROCK FATHER, along with a few alterations and timely updates. Philip Morris/Altria and R.J Reynolds: As I've warned before, with each passing year, the targets on the backs of your companies and leadership continue to grow...

March 14, 2011 is the day that I officially quit smoking. At some point on the night of March 13, I quietly took the last puff of the last cigarette in the last pack that I ever owned. Upon telling my wife that I was officially ''done,'' she took it upon herself to clean-up some of the ''smoker's mess'' that I'd created. The ashtrays of both cars were scoured. The sand-filled flowerpots that I'd strategically placed on my front porch and near my gardening shed were disposed of, along with a ton of stray butts that had made their way into the surrounding landscape over the winter months. The cleansing had begun.

With two little girls here at Rock Father™ HQ, my wife and I have purchased more than a few pairs of "kid-safe" headphones over the past few years, and frankly, most of them are garbage. From expensive ones that the kids find uncomfortable to the cool-looking, yet terrible-sounding licensed variety sold for cheap at retailers like Five Below, I've checked out a bunch and had never found any that I could really be excited about until now. At New York Toy Fair, I came across something unexpected while browsing the latest offerings from the crew over at Wicked Cool Toys. They've recently partnered with Halo Acoustic to help bring CozyPhones to a wider audience, and after bringing a couple of pairs back to Illinois, they're an immediate hit. CozyPhones are a 3-in-1 combo of headphones, sleep mask and a stylish headband.

It's never fun to do a reveal that doesn't genuinely show the goods, but sometimes things just aren't quite ready yet. At Toy Fair there's always a lot of in-development product that's "pending licensor approval," and for some companies that means showing it privately, but not allowing pictures to get out there. The folks at Jada Toys have some fantastic offerings on the way, serving up new toys for kids and collectors alike, but unfortunately most of them are not ready to be seen. From new additions to their growing Nano Metalfigs line to all-new collections like a diecast line for girls (complete with licenses like Nickelodeon's Sunny Day) and expansion of their long-running Fast & Furious and supercar/tuners assortments, I'll be sharing much more very soon. For right now, though - there's one line in particular that really hit the sweet spot for me, and one property that really pushed it over the top. Hollywood Rides + KNIGHT RIDER? I'm in! Check out the video below...

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