Yes folks, you read that right. It was just a couple of girls (myself along with Alice Chase from The Thrill of the Chases) out for an afternoon joy ride in San Antonio Texas in a brand new Kia Niro crossover hybrid vehicle. Mike Torpey, the designer of the Kia Niro happened to be traveling along the same route, but an introduction had not yet been made. By this time, we’d already been driving for several hours, still had almost a full tank, and plenty of adventure still left in us. All of a sudden, we spot an innocent, unsuspecting Mike Torpey in the background, gleefully enjoying some Korean BBQ and chasing it with some Texas iced tea. Alice and I knew what we had to do…
Ok. That last part didn’t happen quite like that. We had some permission…at least enough to avoid a police car chase. Nonetheless, this poor man still had not a clue about what was about to happen!
We proceeded to drive down the highway, Mike Torpey in tow. To be honest, we didn’t really have a plan in mind, just to give the Niro a good spin and maybe steal some intel from the guy who knows the car best. But the great thing about life is that sometimes, the coolest things happen when you least expect them.
So, as we’re driving, Alice pulls off of the road and attempts to follow signs to the San Antonio Raceway. Who would’ve thought we’d get to do any more there than take a few cool pics in a pretty sexy car around the raceway? Like, really, who would’ve thought we’d actually get to drive that baby full speed on a drag strip?!!! Don’t believe me, just watch:
In addition to us “forcing” an innocent man to actually race the vehicle he designed, we did also subject him a small line of questioning. Here are some cool facts we learned about Mike Torpey and his experience designing the Kia Niro:
- Mike has always been a car kid. In fact, his first actually drawing was a car. We need to find his mom to track down that drawing! Maybe we won’t kidnap her though.
- Mike attended school at the Detroit Center for Design AND was at the top of his class!
- He joined the Kia team during a recruitment drive. He ultimately chose the company because he found that Kia was invested in making a design a powerful part of their strategy, keeps reinventing itself, values it’s designers and care about what ppl think of the cars.
- He officially started designing the Niro in 2012, but has imagined it for years before that.
- He describes the Kia Niro design as “a spiritual automotive equivalent of a hybrid mash up of a tiger and a shark.”
- If Mike wasn’t designing cars for a living, he’d like to be a writer, specifically writing children’s books. Funny, if I were not a writer, I wouldn’t mind getting to design an awesome car like the Niro myself. 🙂