Q&A: In Front of the Lens with Kyle Loftis

The Revvolution Shift S3ctor Pikes Peak Airstrip Attack is known to bring competitors from coast to coast to compete for the fastest top speeds in the standing half mile. Among the 200-plus competitors who came out to race this past event, we were surprised to see one name on the list. That name was Kyle Loftis. For those who don’t know, Loftis is the Founder of 1320Video, one of the largest Automotive Media companies in the world, catering to millions of followers across multiple social media platforms. Loftis and the 1320Video Crew have been covering this event for the past few years, but this time Loftis decided to set down the camera and race his Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. We had the chance to sit down with Loftis and ask him about his experience and how it felt to be on the other side of the lens.

Kyle, give us a brief background on yourself and 1320Video.

I live and breathe the drag racing, street racing, and street car culture. It’s a niche racing world that I’ve found to be perfect for my “OCD shutterbug condition”. I think most readers of SRM know 1320Video, but a lot don’t know that we’re really just a family of friends that have a common passion of finding the coolest events, cars, and people in the street car world and sharing their stories with the world. Up until now, I haven’t really had much time or desire to race my cars at events, but with the birth of the “Unicorn C5” it’s changed that quite a bit. With a solid crew that I can trust to run everything without much guidance from me, I seized the opportunity to bring out my ZR1 to the Pikes Peak Airstrip Attack to enjoy the event from the other side of the lens!

We know that you spend a majority of your time behind the lens when you travel to events. How did it feel to be in front of the lens as one of the racers this time at the Revvolution Shift S3ctor Pikes Peak Airstrip Attack (PPAA)?

It was very weird at first…the moment I parked my car in our booth, Fred was in my face with a video camera, and it was that moment I fully understood what it was like being a driver in a race with a guy randomly showing up to ask about your car. I think all of our videographers should experience it at some point. It was a very unique, exciting experience, and it confirmed a lot of suspicions I had when I am filming at races.  I didn’t get nervous until after the interview, thinking about things I wish I would have said, or said differently, which is intentional on our part versus a scripted/thought-out video environment.

Was this the first official race you have competed in? If not, which other races have you competed in before?

I haven’t been a participant in an event before, only test and tunes to date and a few casual runs at my annual event, the Ice Cream Cruise back home in Nebraska. It was a very surreal experience and very relaxed, yet exciting considering the setting for the event. PPAA is the most beautiful shooting environment we visit, with the Rocky Mountains in the background and square miles of concrete surrounding us, making for an epic playground for street car racers!

What was the best mph that you ran during both days of competition? Were you pleased with how the ZR1 performed at elevation in the half mile?

I managed a 155.4 mph on Saturday in the heat of the day with a tail wind and 153.58 mph on Sunday with a headwind. I had no idea what to expect, but after 15 runs over the weekend it was interesting to see what worked best for improving mph and finessing my car into running as best it could. I had some issues with the transmission shifting into second and fifth gear, and it appeared my clutch or trans didn’t like a burnout (second-gear issues) or power shifted in the earlier gears (fifth gear wasn’t happy) so I kept trying different techniques to make it to the highest possible speed in a half mile.

What were some of your highlights from this year’s Pikes Peak Airstrip Attack?

My favorite part of the event was giving people rides and showing them what it was like going full throttle for a full half mile, especially while racing another car. I found a fan in the crowd while I was talking to the ETS guys that was wearing Cleetus’ new t-shirt he had released only three or four days earlier – I FaceTimed Garrett Mitchell (Cleetus McFarland) while we were talking and surprised him with talking to Garrett in the middle of our chat. Later I saw him walking around the parking lot and gave him a ride in the ZR1 to check out the pits in A/C, then asked if he wanted to go for a ride. It was the perfect Father’s Day surprise, especially since he was there with his son and father.

How does the Revvolution Shift S3ctor Pikes Peak Airstrip Attack compare to other events you attend throughout the year? What are your pros and cons?

It’s definitely the most beautiful spot we shoot. I love that it’s relaxed and fun. The new layout was great. The lack of competition is a little weird, but that’s typically how half-mile events are as I’m finding out. I had plenty of fun picking out grudge races for fun in the pits – I believe I won four and lost two during the weekend.

Some of the readers may not know the story behind the ZR1 and its hilarious license plate, which reads “SPNK BNK”. Tell us the story, and how did you manage to get that plate?!

For people who don’t know what “spank bank” stands for, I’ll let you decide if you want to look it up on Urban Dictionary. But I chose the plate because I felt the ZR1 was so sexy that it was worthy of being in someone’s spank bank. I told the DMV that I made a bunch of money investing and selling SPNK stock, and then used that money to invest in a ZR1 Corvette, so it was my “bank” for it. That did the trick!

We know that you have another Corvette in the works, the twin-turbo C5 Unicorn Corvette. What are your plans for the Unicorn C5 and the ZR1?

I don’t plan on doing much else with the ZR1. It runs great right now and has the perfect amount of power – I don’t think I’ll ever sell it.  The Unicorn is very close to being finished. I had planned on having it at PPAA, but some last-minute hurdles have slowed us down. We wanted everything to be 100-percent before racing it at a large event, or racing it period, so that day will come soon. The big showdown between Cleetus and I is August 6th at our event, so we’re both hurrying to get our cars prepared. The Unicorn is a Huron Speed twin-turbo 6468 Turbonetics-powered 370 Thompson Motorsports 6.0L engine with a 6-speed manual RPM Transmission Stage 6 built trans, all pieced together and tuned by Chad at The Shop Inc. in Lincoln, Nebraska, an hour from where I live.  The car will have just over 1,000-wheel horsepower when it’s done, and I plan to take it to as many events as I can when we have enough staff to cover the media end of things. I had no intentions to create a grudge battle with Garrett/Cleetus when I started the project, but it’s helped to motivate both of us and give our fans something to talk about. It’s been crazy so far!

Being that you have experienced almost every event across the US and a few in other countries, which one event is on your bucket list to attend? Which one event would you like to race in?   

Most of my bucket list items are visiting other countries to experience their car cultures and meet new people with the same passion. There’s plenty of other events in the US I still want to go to, like the DSM Shootout, Street Car Super Nationals, and Powercruise Brainerd, but they typically fall on the same weekend as events I already have commitments with or can’t seem to pry myself from attending.

I’m not super-competitive and I didn’t build the C5 with plans to be competitive, so I don’t have any bucket list races to compete in, but I plan to take it to several Street Car Takeovers to roll race and maybe do some quarter-mile passes for fun. I also love the new Pump Gas Invitational. I was hoping to take the C5 to that, but things didn’t pan out…hopefully next year!

Are you more of a roll racing, drag racing or street racing kind of guy? Which one do you prefer and why?

I prefer filming street racing, we’ll leave it at that.

Any final comments for our readers?

Pikes Peak Airstrip Attack is one of the most enjoyable events I’ve been to. The track surface is phenomenal; I’d find it hard to believe there’s a wider, longer, safer surface out there to get to know your car. The grooved concrete was perfect for traction with my car; not many “tracks” out there like it. I highly recommend coming out to PPAA if you want to get to know your car’s top half-mile speed. It takes a lot of the intimidation out of going over 150 mph!

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