Wheel Peeling with Crawford and Jones

The Billabong “Peel Wheel Tour” rumbled up the coast of California leaving twisted burnouts and heaps of smoldering rubber from San Diego to San Francisco. The brainchild of Andrew Crawford and Billabong team manager Enich Harris—the “Peel Wheel Tour” was a grass roots shop tour aimed at stoking key retailers, and hyping up Billabong’s snow program. The ingredients: Crawford and his gloss blue ’79 Z28 (and a few spare sets of rubber), Kevin Jones riding shotgun, hot dogs, sport sodas and boom box wailing Sabbath and AC/DC. The highlight of each stop was the thundering, unbridled burnout Crawford unloaded on nervous pedestrians and shocked shop rats. Clouds of smoke flowed up from the pavement, shrouding the car, shop, strip mall—you name it—all in a thick blue haze. The kids went nuts! The tires burned to the steel belts and Crawford never let off the gas.

I hopped in for the Orange County leg of the tour and manned the boom box while Crawford chugged through tanks of gas and set off alarms in parked cars all over the county. The boys were signing posters, and Jones worked the barbecue; behind us, Enich rolled in the Support Vehicle, icing down sodas, doing police lookout, and extinguishing flash fires that were left in our wake. Kurt Wastell rolled up at one of the shops in his own speed racer, and hung out for the finale. In one long, hot day on the road, we saw one set of tires laid to waste, and the consumption of a hundred hot dogs and road sodas. It was a no-holds-barred display of raw horsepower, and good old fashioned musclecar mayhem. I split, and headed home smelling like burnt rubber and gasoline, beat up, with ringing ears and AC/DC’s Have A Drink On Me playing in my head.

Kurt Wastell, Andrew Crawford and the pit girls. Photo: Muzzey

Crawford and the crew continued their charge north, with a final destination of Mt. Hood—hitting all the Billabong dealers in between. Technical difficulty waylaid the Peel Wheelers, and they cancelled the tour just shy of San Fran. Crawford called with the details and a fitting end to the story: At the last shop, mid burnout, second gear, the camshaft snapped, twisting the engine in on itself, and blowing the entire thing out. The fire department had to come and clean up the engine oil that was all over the street. One would expect Crawford to be bummed on the outcome, but oh no, not the Camaro kid. In an energetic, excited tone Crawford explained that he already has a new, bigger, badder-ass engine ready to drop into the car. So the Peel Wheel Tour will ride again, stay tuned and check out the video.