Can there be a silver lining after writing off a prized vintage racecar in competition? Can a wrecked car stay with you forever, without taking up too much space?
On an overcast, late June weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sportscar course, Studio 47—an Ohio-based restoration, repair and race prep shop— lined up their Ferrari 360 Challenge car with similar GT-type cars for a 10-lap club race. It had rained overnight and the pavement was slightly damp. The group’s ten entrants followed the pace car onto the track and made a warm-up lap of the storied Lexington circuit. As Studio 47 driver Craig Reed approached the final corner of the pace lap, the green flag began to wave.
The pack of snarling Corvettes, Porsches, a GT1 Capri and a GT1 Olds Cutlass roared towards the first corner under the flagger’s stand. Then, without warning, it happened…the Porsche RSR next to Reed got loose as the pack accelerated for the start, and shot across the bow of the Lime Green Ferrari, pushing him into the pit wall…hard. Both drivers were unhurt, but their race was over before it began, and they fortunately walked away. Reed and Studio 47 partner, Trina Allison, surveyed the damage once the flatbed truck returned the car to their paddock—a complete write off—body, suspension, glass—not worth repairing. Painful.
Just two weeks before, a catastrophic drivetrain failure as Trina Allison raced in an SVRA event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway sidelined another of Studio 47’s competition cars—a race-prepped Porsche 968 in beautiful Martini Livery. This was more than Allison wanted to deal with. She decided to sell the Porsche, as is, and part out the remainder of the Ferrari.
Sad story… right? Not necessarily, as this tale has a truly “silver lining.”
Enter Christi Schimpke, purveyor of wrecked exotic cars, or rather the discarded sheet metal from exotic cars “up-cycled” into unique, attractive jewelry that has graced celebrities on the red carpet. It’s cleverly called…what else? “CRASH”
Schimpke, under the guise of her Mina Bea (named for her grandmother) jewelry company, has been creating pretty and unique bracelets, necklaces, bangles and earrings, generally sold at craft and jewelry shows, as well as online. Her studio is situated within the confines of her husband, Dan’s, Beverly Hills-based body shop, Beverly Coachcraft. Because of the locale and Dan’s skills, the shop does mostly high-end cars including Maserati, Mercedes, Jaguar, Porsche, amongst others. Many are celebrity owned—but for the purpose of anonymity—are never revealed. Like everyone driving in LA traffic, these beautiful cars are not immune to the occasional fender bender.
One day it occurred to Christi, that most of this bent sheet metal was either being discarded or picked up by recyclers at the shop. The light bulb that went off in her head has become a three-year-old “exotic car-to-cool jewelry” brand, CRASH. Only using sheet metal from minor accidents, Schimpke developed a process to cut and bend the metal into unique jewelry, while maintaining the integrity of the paint and clear coats. “It’s like enamel. It’s beautiful,” said Schimpke of the newfound materials.
CRASH Jewelry quickly became a fan favorite at the select historic racing events, where it was displayed. “We were so impressed with Christi’s creativity and the uniqueness of her automotive jewelry, that we included it at some of our display booths at the races,” said Vintage Racecar Publisher, Casey Annis. “It proved to be wildly popular both for men and women. The ladies are drawn to it, because it is such elegant and interesting jewelry and the guy’s want to buy it for them because it’s a real piece of a Ferrari or a Porsche! It seems to have appeal to everyone.”
One of Schimpke’s favorite, recent “up-cyclings” was sheet metal from a Lamborghini fender bender. “The color is called ‘Arancio Argos,’ which is like a metallic burnt orange. The pieces were stunning—and the paint quality was amazing!”
Quite by chance, Studio 47 sold the Porsche 968 to Tom Stahler, Director of Sales and Marketing at Vintage Racecar. During the negotiations for the car, the topic of the Ferrari Challenge car came up. Stahler, who is also friends with Schimpke, expressed interest in the damaged sheet metal from the racecar as interesting donor material for Schimpke’s jewelry. Trina Allison loved the idea and excitedly sent the entire front fender panel inside the Porsche when shipped.
Like all the exotic body panels she’s used before, parts of the Ferrari Challenge car have become part of Schimpke’s jewelry, in particular as the foundation for her “Ferrari Challenge Collection.” Each piece, like all CRASH jewelry, is bespoke and completely unique. As the materials donor, Allison was excited to be the first recipient of a bangle, featuring the Ferrari’s lime green exterior, accentuated by the car’s striping. Despite the tragic loss of a beautiful racecar, the silver lining in this story is that Studio 47’s Ferrari will now live on…at least on the wrists of a handful of very lucky enthusiasts.