Leo has had a passion and love for cars since he can remember. As a kid while others played with G.I. Joes he played with Hot Wheels and Micro Machines and as soon as he obtained his first car, he started taking it to the local street races. It was a feud between Ford and Chevy/Pontiac, his cousin being a Firebird owner; you can guess which side he was on. After high school his continued education took him north of Miami to Ft. Lauderdale, he had blown the Pontiac’s engine with excessive nitrous use and purchased an ’88 Honda CRX to get himself around. This car unknowingly would ignite his love for the import scene.
In early ’96 he became acquainted with Stephen Thompson of Pacific Performance. He purchased a ’93 Honda delSol and along with Stephen’s Honda expertise an engine swap and turbo tuning opened the door for a long future and friendship.
His passion quickly snowballing into an addiction and by 1998 they had built the first delSol on the East Coast to break the 12 second quarter mile barrier with consecutive 12 second passes at Moroso Motorspeedway. By 1999 the delSol had been photographed for TMR and Super Street Magazine.
As his passion continued to grow he began working behind the scenes along side some of the industries pioneers. Under the direction of Craig Lieberman, he worked as an Event Coordinator and Car Show Judge for the NIRA. He also worked side by side with Ivan Garneff as an Event Promoter and Car Show Judge for Street Trendz. In 2000, Super Street Magazine asked him to help coordinate and lead the Nopi Nationals Super Street Tour’s South Leg. His delSol served as lead car from Miami to Atlanta and he assisted with registration, setup and coordination at each of the tour’s scheduled stops.
By late 2001 he was looking to expand his horizons and began chasing a trail of orange cones. Participating in SCCA sanctioned autocross events and soon replacing the delSol with an ’01 Honda S2000. Once again turning to Stephen at Pacific Performance to help him build a track grip monster. This build took some teamwork as the S2000 was very new in the tuning scene and not many tuners knew much about Honda’s F20C power plant. Together with the right selection of parts and the right tuning, the S2000 placed first in the 2002 Daytona Tuner Bash Dyno Challenge. Shortly after Pacific Performance began sponsoring the car, Stephan asked Leo to help as the Marketing Coordinator for Pacific’s latest venture, a sales shop lead by Store Manager Darin Hutchison. Under Darin’s guidance he coordinated several Shop Day BBQs, Dyno Days & the original Auto Tengoku of 2003.
It was during this time that he founded jdmStyles. jdmStyles was a tuning crew that held its own against some of South Florida’s dynasties like aLL sTaR and jdmAllstars, and even some of the West Coast’s dynasties like art’n motion. Within no time jdmStyles became a recognized name in the import scene. Their reputation proceding them, Leo was approached by Miguel Diaz to be the site administrator and forum moderator for JDMUniverse.com.
With Leo’s shelf collecting race and show trophies, it wasn’t long before C16 magazine approached him for a feature as well as a nation wide Ractive ad campaign featuring his S2000. A feature on SpeedShops.net and interview for the XPNUGEN DVD series followed there after. Looking for another challenge, he would trade the ’01 Honda S2000 for an ’04 S2000 which would be purpose built for Road Course Time Attack racing.
Before its debut at the 2004 Hot Import Nights Miami event, he had already added Shining Monkey, Valvoline Oil, and Dunlop Tires the list of sponsors. However with various features and sponsorship deals in the works, Leo stepped away from the scene to face obstacles much greater than the apex of any road course.
The death of his father along with other family related needs was pulling his attention and time far from the import scene. He left behind what was a decade of friendships, memories, blood and sweat. Fast forward the timeline four years and Leo is back! Returning to the gmae to continue doing what he enjoys most, being behind the scenes. He began by blogging for TunedTech.ca as well as through a twitter account (twitter.com/stateofstance). TunedTech site owner Bryan Nyugen asked him to be a forum leader and site moderator. Leo was also developing State of STANCE on the side; Stateofstance.com being his personal endeavor but still not enough for him. Along with High Roller Ventures, VelocityShop, TunedTech, Simply Clean and various forum and community organizers; Leo is bringing Florida State of STANCE. Allowing other automotive tuning enthusiasts that share his passion a place to unite as a community.
Welcome back Leo. If the previous 14 years have anything to say its that I’m excited to see what you do in the next 14 years!