LAS VEGAS — At this crazy trade show in a make-believe city, it’s hard to tell there’s a war going on.
The first reminders I found were in the thump-thumping hall dedicated to car stereos and other automotive electronics.
Cutting through the noise was the sound of fighter jets that seemed to be flying through the hall itself, but it turned out to be a demonstration of a bank of speakers mounted on a ski boat — just the thing for people who want that Lake Washington Blue Angels experience all year long. It was so intense people were ducking to get out of the way and plugging their ears.
Then there was the hot-rodded Infiniti G35 built by Nicholas Ashby, a 26-year-old National Guard gunner and demolition expert from San Diego. He spent a year at Fort Lewis in 2004 before heading to Iraq, where his group was with the 81st Armored Brigade.
To commemorate three buddies killed during his tour, he came home and built the car, dubbed “Fallen Heroes,” starting about a year ago, complete with larger-than-life size portraits of them on the hood and doors. It’s since been a hit in the custom auto world, appearing on magazines and even showing up at an event in Seattle last fall.
Ashby said he bought the car with money he earned in Iraq, and sponsors contributed to the custom work that he estimates would cost $250,000 to replicate. Highlights include Lamborghini-style gullwing doors and a supercharger.
He only trailers the vehicle — he gets around in a lifted Ford F-150 pickup — and he plans to auction the G35 and donate the proceeds to veterans causes.
Ashby’s thinking about building two more commemorative cars with Army and California Highway Patrol themes.
“A lot more people are starting to get into theme cars,” he said.
Here’s a photo: