Article And Photos By: Chris Callen
Originally Published In The July 2016 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
When we were in town for The Hand Built Show, we had a chance to visit another wellknown Austin facility that we’d been dying to write about for years. It’s a little spot on Chapman Lane that does great big customs under the banner of the Austin Speed Shop. Nowadays Texas is fast becoming the custom culture capitol of the universe. So many great talents from both the car and motorcycle industries have set up shop there that, when you get a chance, it seems a waste not to come up with any reason to visit the Lone Star State. As we walked into the Speed Shop facility, we immediately knew we had been missing a big part of what this town has to offer. First off I should explain that they were in the middle of the Lone Star Round Up after party so to say the joint was jumpin’ would be well short of the scene being played out there. It was a full on rock-n-roll party with hot rods and bikes everywhere you turned. Each was a better example than the one before. Even by the time we hit the front door I was fast exhausting my peepers. We met one of the founders of Austin Speed Shop, John Joyo, near the front of the insanity. He was nice enough to take us to the upstairs office and introduced us to another partner, Cory Moore. Cory’s office is a shrine to some of my favorite names from the music world; Gibby Haynes and the Butthole Surfers, Reverend Horton Heat and Stevie Ray Vaughn, just to name a few.
I could hardly wait to find out what all these personal images and signed gold records hanging on the wall had to do with his history. Turns out that Cory has had and continues to have a very successful career in the music business under the name of “The Luther Wolf Agency.” He has been an artist manager and tour manager for some of the big acts that I’ve mentioned and others like, Jimmie Vaughan, Billy F. Gibbon, The Butthole Surfers. He still manages Stevie Ray’s estate and is himself an accomplished drummer. This gave us a great connection right off the bat because I’m a music nerd too. But what I really dug was how much this cat is into the custom culture and the art that surrounds it. They are totally unpretentious; take this small story as an example. We went into Cory’s office and he immediately said hey, this is my friend Boyd Elder. Boyd was a cartoon character of a man, a funny older man with a straw hat who lived in Valentine Texas. Now, his personality seemed to be that of a “Who cares” artist type and when he was introduced he was never given a list of credits, just as Cory’s buddy. We sat and listened to the two of them tell the kind of stories that you’d expect from musicians and artists who have shared time. Our sides hurt at times from the hilarity but as we left that night we were holding onto the curiosity of who this man Boyd was. He just didn’t seem like a man without purpose. We did the new age thing and Googled him and found out that we had just shared time with the man who painted all of the Eagles album covers, including the most famous Eagle skull with the war paint. Throughout the night there were appearances of cats like Chris Layton, the drummer of Stevie’s Band Double Trouble, but no one made a big deal about any of these cats, they were just hanging out at the shop. Kind of refreshing in this Instagramselfie saturated world to have guys that are just regular people, digging what they do.
John Joyoprayitno, better known as “John Joyo” by most is also part owner of Austin Speed Shop and he sat down with us to give us some history, John was born and raised in Austin and is a musician and entrepreneur at heart. Back in high school he sang and played guitar in bands but quit that in favor of running business until about a year and a half ago. One of those was a bicycle shop John owned since he was about 23 years old. That shop had become a pretty big deal by the time he met Dan Peterson, a customer of his in the bicycle world. The two men didn’t even know that the other was into cars until one day they showed up looking to purchase of the same car. It was an amazing moment when they realized they shared that common bond and they started going to car meets and swaps like The Passo Robles Show. After many conversations they began to realize they both knew all these people who were really talented but who still struggled while working out of their garages. The idea came to them that they could open a shop that would give all these guys a place to do their work; at the same time, they could support these talented artists.
Dr. Dan already knew Cory and he took the idea to him. Cory got the concept right off the bat and was in. The three men each put in $10,000 and they launched Austin Speed Shop. Cory found a location on South Lamar and for the first 9 years that existed as the original spot until the boom of Austin pushed them out. They moved to 3507 Chapman Lane about two years ago and while they missed the first shop that was much closer to down town Austin, the new facility was more conducive to creating exactly what they needed. With more space and being more centrally located to other industrial resources, they took it as a blessing in disguise. There was a hot rod scene in Austin at the time but there was no real legitimate business doing the kind of work they had in mind. There was a great underground, but nothing bringing it all together. Additionally, since music and cars go together like bread and butter, they realized they had a built in tap that poured pure culture and great vibes. John ran the Speed Shop for several years while attending to a few of his other business that also take up a considerable amount of his time. In the beginning he was at the Speed Shop seven days for most of his waking hours trying to get it together. What they didn’t realize back then was that the boom in Austin in both the custom world and that of the straights was right around the corner and would make Austin Speed Shop a household name. Within the first year they had begun to get national magazine articles and a damn impressive client list. The once small dream of having a shop like this was fast turning into a reality. A big reason people got to know them so fast was the Hokey Ass Message Board or the H.A.M.B. as it’s known. In the beginning they started posting pictures of projects and quickly found fans of Austin’s new shop.
These days John’s role has changed to focusing on bigger picture business development with his partners and he also helps with the creative parts of the build. John loves the tradition and all the doodads that come together to make each of these cars so special. They have a great staff today that kills it so this leaves him to do the part of the business he feels he excels at: the creative. For Cory, he still finds himself deeply committed to the music industry but what he digs is making the connections. They’ve had some great relationships with companies like Fender Guitars, Alpine Stars, Pirelli, Red Bull, Nike, and Biltwell. a lot of who comes to the Austin Speed Shop facility to hold a meeting or event in a laid back, creativity inspiring environment. Cory makes sure that they know that there’s an open door policy for them to do that. Finding the right guys is key in an operation like this. A year ago they changed their philosophy on hiring and decided to put attitude over aptitude. Cory said that the Hot Rod scene is a lot like managing musicians, different type of art but still kind of the same. While they’ve had some amazing people work there over the years, they have shied away from bringing in big names to the Speed Shop anymore. It often came down to the fact that some guys that came into the Speed Shop had had their own shop or their own name behind them and tended to want to do things their own way. The Speed Shop had a built in culture and a way of doing things that didn’t always match how they ran their businesses. They actually got to the point that there was just too much tension in the shop. They decided that to violate the reasons they started this shop: to have fun and support good people, just didn’t make sense. They started to focus on people that were malleable and wanted to learn more.
Don’t get me wrong, their people are steeped in the arts, they just may not have the big names. For example, there is, Mike who has more experience with modern speed, or Eric who is well versed in traditional hot rod ways and Evan, who was an instructor at a metal shaping institute. They make up an allround great talent pool and the result is a staff who all really care about the business and bring everything they have to it. They work their asses off and none are beyond learning something new. Walking through the shop I was like a kid in a candy store. There was a ‘65 T-Bird, Flathead Engines sitting on stands, a Knucklehead in the corner, ’35 VLD that’s one of John’s bikes and wicked cool tools everywhere. There were projects sitting mid build with clean stitching and killer lines. There’s chopped tops and a level of craftsmanship that is beyond professional. Every wall from the retail shop to Cory’s office is lined with culture-based art. Cory Moore is working on a new event that combines all of the things he has had a passion for consistently throughout his entire life. It’s still under wraps so we can’t go into too much detail yet, but we can say that this new project is going to be epic and one that must not be missed. Stay tuned for Derwood: Music and Machine. We will have the details here as soon as they are available. We can’t tell the guys at Austin Speed Shop how much we appreciated the visit. And for all the readers, as more news comes out, we’ll be keeping you posted on Derwood: Music and Machine. For now, keep an eye on www.austinspeedshop.com