WWE Summerslam held its press conference after the show and we were able to go there to attend it.
The 90s-style icon makes a comeback! With a performance by Jadakiss and DJ Funk Flex and creative directive launch by former NFL Giants star, Carl Banks.
It’s almost a foreign concept nowadays: a company offering free bonuses beyond the scope of a purchase. Ford decided to go completely against the grain in a very pro-consumer move: giving every purchaser of a new Ford Bronco SUV the opportunity to take one from their private fleet into the wilderness, and learn the ins, outs, and nitty gritty about their new machine in an adventurous crash-course (with no crashes, hopefully!) before they begin going wild with their own vehicle. This exciting prospect was already available in three locations: New Hampshire, Utah, and Texas, and the opening of their Las Vegas location would mark the fourth.
This new ranch is different in one fundamental aspect, however; it is the only one specifically built for the new Ford Bronco Raptor trim level, which is the bigger, badder, and even more Bronco brother. In an incredible fairytale moment, I was given the amazing opportunity to fly out to Vegas and experience the Bronco Raptor first-hand, in its natural habitat.
After flying out to Las Vegas, I was given the first opportunity to interact with individuals from Ford. In a dinner arranged within my hotel itself, I got the chance to speak to individuals who were spearheading the program and others who were alongside me, invited to experience the program, over food and drinks. I spoke to Dawn McKenzie, Ford Truck Communications Manager, as she outlined what was in store for us the next day. “You guys are absolutely going to love it,” she gushed. “I can’t wait until you try out the training course. The jumps and drift areas are absolutely bonkers…”
“Jumps?!” I gasped. The scope of this course had been completely unknown to me, and I, probably the only invitee there that had never driven an off-road vehicle, started making peace with the fact that this would be absolutely beyond anything I had ever done before.
Entering the Park
The morning of the event itself, I woke up at 5:30 AM to make my 6:30 AM hotel checkout on time. The group was already waiting in the lobby, looking red-eyed but talking excitedly. We boarded three shuttles that would transport us to the Mt. Potosi region, where Ford had set up its camp. After a 45 minute scenic drive through deserts and mountains, we arrived at the ranch. A large wooden gate loomed out from over the hill, donning the word “BRONCO”, in a very Jurassic Park-esque moment.
Our shuttle passed through, and began a steep climb to the top of a hill that had a small modern cabin nestled between two rocky cliffs. An actual Bronco was situated in the front, positioned above several rocks with its suspension stretched to make it seem endlessly frozen in an action shot, and the cabin itself had more Bronco and Raptor logos. It was all very well built, with a modern-rustic style to the cabin that looked like it had all of the modern facilities, but also simultaneously that we were a step further away from the rest of the world (in a desolate theme park for trucks). It was all very invigorating.
I entered the cabin, and was treated to the check-in/waiver process, a nice breakfast, and other small gifts and goodies. Before I could tackle breakfast (I was absolutely starving at this point), I received my helmet and got assigned a locker. The helmet would be used for the more intense lap runs, in which head protection would be absolutely vital. After I stuffed all my things into the locker, I picked up my complimentary thermos water bottle and Bronco stickers, and sat down for a nice breakfast burrito and coffee. Meanwhile, we got a quick rundown of the program, the vehicle, and the wonderful employees that made this all possible.
Outside, we received an overview of the Bronco, and how the Raptor variant compares to the base model. Essentially, every aspect of the Bronco was finely tuned to make any off-road terrain seem much more conquerable.
Ford started with a “go-anywhere” mindset with the vehicle, which meant they specifically developed it to take any obstacle head-on, should the driver desire it so. The suspension, front and rear bumpers, and chassis of the vehicle are all formulated to be extremely forgiving; able to take a hit anywhere while protecting its passengers. Enormous springs ensure a stabilized ride on any type of ground, and the ability to disconnect the front stabilizer bar meant even extremely large obstacles could be driven over. There is also a focus on the ride customization, with two main selectors: first, the G.O.A.T. mode selector, which stands for Goes Over Any Type of Terrain, allows the user to select what kind of terrain they would be driving over, with options including off-road, baja, sport, and rock crawl.
There are also Hero switches, which allow more minute-by-minute control for specific aspects of the car, such as the ability to lock the front or rear differential when necessary. All of these options, along with the Raptor’s four-seat capacity, means that a family can choose any destination, and head straight there, as the crow flies.
With precursory talks out of the way, we all headed to the fleet of Broncos. Each person would be driving their own, and I selected a flaming orange one because that’s just the kind of person I am. Each vehicle was equipped with a walkie-talkie, and we split up into groups of four vehicles. One of the vehicles in each group was piloted by an employee from the ranch, and they would be leading the pack and communicating to the others through the walkie. After some further safety checks, we hit the road.
Hitting the Trail
My group of four vehicles entered the trail heading straight into the Nevada wilderness. It was a bit jarring at first, since we were driving over rough terrain that contained all manner of rocks, trenches, and boulders, but the vehicles excellent suspensions took on the brunt of the movement. I knew that if I was driving there in my car, my neck would have already snapped. We slowly followed the Bronco in front of us through the land, over hills and into pits, and got a feel for the Bronco’s handling and the way it could take on virtually any obstacle.
There were several times when I thought, “No way I can clear that rock”, but the vehicle took it on like a champ. It truly felt dauntless.
Our leader explained to us the Bronco Buddy system, in which we could keep track of all of the people in our squad and not leave anyone behind. Whenever we reached an intersection, it was our job to wait there until we were sure the vehicle behind us had seen which turn we had made, and in that way, each vehicle would be accounted for. Our lead also had frequent breaks in which he asked for the status of each driver on the walkie, and would only proceed once he got the thumbs up from each driver. It was a very safety-first system, and it really spoke to how well thought-out everything was. We were having fun, but it was not at the expense of our wellbeing.
We finally reached the site of the ORX Training Courses, and got into position. Ford had enlisted the help of several professional off-roaders, from trainers to actual racers that offloaded for a living, to help us first timers get accommodated and ready to take on the courses. The first was a small rocky run that had twisting turns and rough straights. I sat as a passenger first, while my driver explained to me her thought process for each turn and straight she tackled. She first switched the G.O.A.T. mode dial from off-road to baja, and then stepped on the pedal. It was absolutely exhilarating watching not only take the course with speed, but also anticipate each turn, make minute adjustments to steering, braking, and speed, and be able to explain all of it before it even happened.
Seeing her do it with such ease made me more confident in my ability, but it was futile; sitting behind the wheel was absolutely different than watching from the side, and I couldn’t have gone more than a quarter of the speed that she went. My steering slipped several times, and images of my hurtling off the course and over a cliff flashed through my mind, but she helped me keep my composure from the passenger seat, and kept giving clear directions even when I made the wrong turn. It definitely was a great learning experience.
The Man and his Dirt
For the second course, I would be running a course that was wider, more varied in elevation, and had more obstacles. Here I saw the legendary jump that was mentioned earlier, as well as a sand pit and a winding sloped gulch area. Once again, my driver accompaniment drove masterfully, performing the jump with ease, turning the wheel quickly from side to side to prevent the tires from getting stuck in the silt, and drifted the vehicle around the slope, with the back end sliding out, before gaining traction once more and pressing for speed. When it was my turn, I was a little embarrassed with my lack of skill, but my driver laughed it off and said I was doing no worse than any of the other drivers he had witnessed that day.
After the courses and a quick bathroom break, we headed back on the off-road trail, making our way back to the ranch. Our lead driver communicated less on the walkie this time, as we had already gained enough exposure to the trail the first time, and only spoke to us to excitedly point out some wild burros that he spotted roaming the plains.
A Moment of Reflection
Back at the ranch, we received a lunch, and some final words from the team. As I listened, I couldn’t help but put myself in the shoes of someone who would be sitting in my very seat in the future, when the ranch is finally open to the public. The fact that an individual would be here after having just purchased a new Bronco, and would be about to find out exactly what their new vehicle could do, was enthralling. Ford is one of the best auto manufacturers when it comes to community engagement and programs, and the Off-Roadeo is a testament to that. While not serving any immediate monetary benefit, Ford gains the goodwill from their customers, bolsters their name, and creates life-long partnerships that will only benefit them in the long run. Heck, even I want a Bronco now. Someone who has already purchased one will only further solidify their choice in choosing Ford for anything that will touch both road and dirt.
The Bronco Off-Roadeo will be open to the public very soon, and I encourage any new Bronco owner in the area to book this wonderful opportunity very soon.
Exclusive: Monica Ahanonu Talks Partnership with Johnnie Walker to Create Design for Gotham FC & Angel City FC [Interview]
SIFF 2023 EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Blake Leeper, Einar Thorsteinsson, Anton Einarsson, Brian Leong and Jóhann Stefansson
I was able to interview UFC Middleweight star Joe Pyfer and Chandler Henry, director of “Journey to the UFC”. Pyfer trained for fighting through adversity after being in a violent relationship with his father and didn’t put the winning mindset down.
When Pyfer was asked how he got started in MMA he explained, “My dad was a boxer, had a boxing background, grew up Kent, Philadelphia, and then he was learning through a guy named Steven Hague, who used to own the fight factory back in the day, and as he was learning, I kind of got pushed in that direction and started learning jiu jitsu as he was learning it. And, yeah, it transpired from about four and a half years old.
And ever since it’s been something I’ve always done and developed a passion for and a love for, and that’s what got me started on this path”.
When talking about woking in the MMA and the struggles of doing what is necessary, Pyfer was vocal in saying, “Working in MMA, I mean, look, you got to look at it as a whole. It’s constantly finding the new motivation, what your drive is, what your why is, what your goal is, what you’re striving for. So being able to constantly stay motivated for those goals and constantly reaffirming yourself and giving yourself these positive reinforcements to understand that you’re going to get there one day, no matter how far fetched it may seem or how crazy it may seem to somebody else in your outside circle or even inside your post circle. I would just say it’s finding that consistent motivation. To have discipline every day over and over and over again, because the next fight is always the biggest fight, and if it’s not, you’re probably not as motivated. So I would just say constantly finding what your why is”.
In the next five to ten years Pyfer explained that he would hope to be retired if he wanted that to be his goal.
When speaking with film director Chandler Henry, he explained that he began his career by doing card tricks on YouTube. He met Joe back in High School and the two eventually made good content together.
One day, Joe took Chandler to a gym and there was light pouring out of the ceiling and Joe and his trainer were working out and Henry recorded and edited the footage and was able to progress with better camera equipment, knowledge and opportunities.
When people see his documentary, Henry said that it would be impossible for people to watch this film and not be extremely motivated by this film. It is not meant to be a sad film. It is, rather, a triumphant film.
Henry was excited to do more sports documentaries and working with Joe and following his career and asked young filmmakers to take opportunities without worrying about the money.
Joe Pyfer is also involved with Disruptive Sports Group, who he credits for taking care of their athletes and letting him focus on his fights.
Moreover, Chandler Henry’s sports documentary film premiered on May 4th, 2023 at Dream Live in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(See video for rest of interview)
Running has never been more chic
Sony’s ‘Big George Foreman’ Movie Interviews With Actor Khris Davis, And Director George Tillman Jr!
Director George Tillman Jr magically brings alive the full-of-life decades of the talented and iconic, George Foreman, which he writes on Instagram, “was a beast,” to create!
OFF GRID TO HOST WEEKEND ACTIVATION DURING FORMULA 1 MIAMI RACE WEEKEND WITH SLS SOUTH BEACH AND HYDE BEACH AND OFFICIAL ALFA ROMEO CLOSING NIGHT PARTY
Off Grid, an all new hospitality concept by event producer Peter Klein who is known for activating over F1 weekends, will debut during Miami’s upcoming Grand Prix as an exclusive programming lineup with luxury hotel and nightlife partners SLS South Beach and Hyde Beach Miami. SLS South Beach will transform into a race weekend hub, set to dominate programming with the Off Grid series of events and headlining DJ performances May 5th-7th, 2023. Exclusive OFF GRID parties at SLS South Beach over the three days to be headlined by Richard Orlinksi, Ruckus, DJ Cruz, and James Hype, with the Alfa Romeo Official Closing Night Party.
The weekend will kick off on Friday with the MAXIM Race Weekend party featuring a performance by Ruckus, with DJ Cruz kicking off the night, then continuing to daytime and evening parties all weekend long. Orlinski will headline Saturday evening with a TBA additional headliner, and James Hype presenting Hype Beach Saturday daytime. Daytime events will include a daily F1 Viewing Party and Sunday night will close out with the official Alfa Romeo party on Sunday.
“Off Grid focused on a unique 24/7 approach to hospitality before and during the race to entertain and cater to every guests’ needs. With our partnership at SLS South Beach, the race weekend will offer a level of hospitality beyond the track and Off Grid“ – Off Grid Founder & Creator, Peter Klein
A full schedule of events including daytime viewing parties and evening celebratory parties will be focused at globally renowned hotel and nightlife entities SLS South Beach and Hyde Beach Miami, under the Ennismore umbrella.
Exclusive VIP weekend packages which can also be paired with premiere racing suite access, are privy to guests, with exclusive access offered to the nightlife events at SLS South Beach. The full schedule of parties at Hyde Beach all weekend long will keep the energy top level. https://www.tixr.com/promoters/PK
SLS South Beach hotel stay packages are offered for 2, 3, or 4 nights WWW.SLSSOUTHBEACH.COM, for a full indulgence weekend complete with all the stops, the aforementioned event lineup, plus police escorting to the track, and premiere suite tickets with an elevated Formula One experience. The police escort is an incremental, premiere offering that guests staying at SLS can layer into their weekend itinerary.
The exclusive parties at Hyde Beach are layered with globally sought after talent such as a special DJ performance by world renowned Contemporary French Artist and Sculptor Orlinski Saturday night, with Saturday day, “Hype Beach” headlined by James Hype. Race weekend activations debut on Friday, May 5th with the Maxim Race Week Party, headlined by Ruckus, also featuring DJ Cruz. Sunday will feature a Race Day viewing party and Miami Race Week Closing Party, with performers to be announced. Also on Friday May 5th, Hyde Beach will host a Cinco de Mayo daytime event as a Race Week kick off.
The daytime event Sunday will offer an extravagant cuisine add-on, The Winner’s Circle Burger, in limited quantity for $101.00. The Winner’s Circle Burger features a charcoal brioche bun, wagyu beef, truffle aioli, moister cheese, pork belly, topped with pickled red onion pickles, frisee, and topped with 24k gold. The perfect winning bite.
Adds Klein, “Off Grid aims to leave no element unturned to create the most ultra premium experience. SLS, as our premiere hospitality partner, offers the highest level of VIP nightlife and day life in Miami, so we are thrilled to join forces during Miami F1 weekend.”
SLS South Beach + Off Grid Schedule of Events:
Friday Daytime | 12pm – Sundown
Cinco De Mayo Race Week Kick Off
Friday Evening | 10pm – Late
The Maxim Race Week Party Featuring Ruckus and DJ Cruz
Saturday Daytime | 12pm – Sundown
James Hype presents HYPE BEACH
Saturday Evening | 10pm – Late
Orlinski Hosted by Sutton Barcelona
Sunday Daytime | 12pm – Sundown
The Miami Race Week Watch Party
Poolside featuring The Winner’s Circle Burger
Sunday Evening | 10pm – Late
Miami Race Week Closing Party with Alfa Romeo
Following Miami, OFF GRID led by Peter Klein will activate with parties, events and viewing suites during Spanish Grand Prix, Monaco Grand Prix, Canadian Grand Prix, Austin Grand Prix, Mexico Grand Prix and Las Vegas Grand Prix.
SLS South Beach presents a revolutionary model of seaside luxury where decadence goes hand in hand with elegance and style. Trendsetting designer Philippe Starck has conjured a world of radical chic that nods to the hedonistic excesses of the 18th century French aristocracy, fusing Old World savoir-faire with high-end contemporary comfort. Boasting the Tower Penthouse and Villa Penthouse designed by Kravitz Design, restaurants by chefs José Andrés and Katsuya Uechi, and an extravagant beach club that could only be Hyde, SLS South Beach has become the go-to destination for a new generation of discriminating pleasure. Hyde’s first daylife oceanfront location at SLS South Beach features artful mixology and Katsuya cuisine inspired by the local community, keeping its celebrated style and energy going all day in the heart of South Beach at SLS South Beach. Follow @slssouthbeach @hydebeachmiami on social media.
Inquiries for all SLS parties, events, tables, tickets and racing suite viewing: OffGrid@theinfluence.com
Pickleball became popular in the leisure and travel business industries. People in various age groups found the sport accessible. Due to vast interest, the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) and Holland America Line began a groundbreaking partnership.
PPA named Holland as their official cruise line. The ships’ pickleball courts received renovations. For the first time, Holland offered free beginner pickleball lessons and video tutorials. Guests purchased branded pickleball kits in the ships’ retail ships. The new sports initiative aligned with the travel company’s values.
Holland sought to unite guests through travel. Sports had similar functions of teamwork and inclusivity. Vice President of Marketing Kacey Cole identified pickleball as a fast-growing sport in the U.S. Ship guests bonded over their shared enjoyment of the sport. “The ever-changing scenery makes for a perfect backdrop,” said Cole.
The cruise ships contained state-of-the-art pickleball courts. These areas featured stunning top-deck sights. In February 2023, the spaces received renovations. Now, they have PPA partner tour logos. The new courts will debut fleetwide. The Rotterman ship’s courts amazed participants. Guests received free in-person and remote game tutorials.
Shipboard instructors taught complementary pickleball lessons. Attendees made hourly reservations to learn about the sport’s basic rules. From 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, a maximum of eight players could play. On sea days, the instructors offered two additional general classes. The cruise line featured square paddles, balls, and nets. Participants learned about ‘dink’ shots and where the ‘kitchen’ takes place.
The pickleball match started with a serve. Players stood behind the baseline and hit the ball diagonally across the court. Participants always serve the ball below the waist and hip. The paddle’s tip cannot go above the athlete’s wrist. If the ball landed by the sideline, centerline, or borderline, the serve became valid. If it landed past the non-volley line, it fell short. “I want you to try the equipment,” said an instructor. Beyond the game, PPA and Holland shared a deeper connection.
In 1965 in Washington State, athletes invented pickleball. Holland’s headquarters are only a short ferry ride away. PPA promoted Holland in other endeavors. Commissioner and CEO of the PPA Tour Connor Pardoe said, “Holland will bring engaging, 360-degree collaborations between its cruise line and the sport we all love.”
Land-based PPA tournaments featured Holland on branded merchandise and promotional items. Seattle Metro Pickleball Association and an International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association Instructor Theresa Haynie said, “With this wonderful partnership, cruisers and players have one more adventure to experience and take home with them.”