Founder of The Tuning School, Bob has been in the industry for over 20 years. Before then, he retuned his own career choice from computer programming, to programming high-tech performance cars. Now, working alongside the love-of-his-life and wife Mandy, he's devoted to our haven for rock-star car lovers and enthusiasts. His mission: to spread the "secret" that is tuning. Bob has contributed to the growth of this industry all over the state, the continent, as well as internationally!
Read the transcript of our interview with Bob Morreale below.
I grew up in Englewood, Florida. We called it "Wrinklewood" because it was a sleepy place for older folks to retire and young people to get into trouble. Having grown up in such a small town, it helped me focus on hobbies that would become my focus for life. I learned the art and science of working on cars early, and loved fishing often. That's all there really is to do in Englewood anyway, we didn't even have a movie theater.
- When and why did you start your career in the tuning industry?
I've been in the industry tuning since 1997. I began with the Buick Grand National crowd and worked outward from there into the LS engines, when they started getting popular. I've done a lot of cylinder head airflow development and some camshaft design as well, but tuning was always my passion. It mixed my love of computers (I was programming back in 2nd grade) with performance cars, which I always loved.
- So, instead of becoming an instructor in computer programming, you became a tuning instructor, instead.
I decided the industry needed people who were willing to share real tuning knowledge. Back then, nobody would teach you anything because those few who knew anything kept it to themselves. Money was their motivator to keep great knowledge a secret, but I believed people should and could do a better job if they could do it themselves, so I founded The Tuning School. I'm proud of the growth we've achieved, and our team is full of Rock Stars exclusively. That's how I prefer it, and it's better for the customers that way too.
- I know that starting a company in the field you love, and one that has affected others in such a way, is already a huge story. Do you have any other exciting experiences while working that is a special memory to you?
I was once involved in a high speed chase at 2 AM through a country (I'll leave it unnamed) in the Middle East, and I'm not a police officer, nor do I work for the CIA. Let that sink in for a while. After teaching class one evening, I was street tuning a ~1,000 HP Toyota Supra single turbo, because the local dyno we were using wasn't load bearing, and we couldn't get the boost and load right. While street tuning in the desert (think long straight roads, with nobody on them late at night) I passed a Land Rover with 4 officers inside, just sitting idle off the side of the road with the A/C on. I knew they were hesitant to chase and being over 110 degrees (F) outside, I bet they wouldn't want to get out of the car. So, having passed them in the middle of a long pull at full throttle (over 120+ MPH), I just kept on going, pedal down. Little did I know, they were actually "interested" in chasing me, lights and sirens going, but I was already fully throttle and just kept it there; which is not me normally. So, after a while they did catch up...when the Supra stalled as I slowed on approach to a roundabout (they don't have street lights in the desert). With the Supra refusing to restart, and those police lights and sirens growing closer and closer, I began to think about how stupid this was. When they finally caught up to me, with the car still refusing to restart and the little hairs on the back of my neck standing straight up, the officer pulled alongside and rolled down his window. Angrily, he asked what I was doing. I told him I was performing diagnostic work. He angrily yelled out "Bullsh*t, you are tuning!" To which I agreed- I mean, I did have the laptop open and all, and at that moment I decided to accept my fate that I probably would never make it back home. I'll probably end up on that show "Locked up Abroad." However, salvation came just moments later when the officers appearance suddenly and unexpectedly changed to a huge smile, as he said "Great, can you tune my GTR?" If you didn't believe in God before - you will after that encounter!
- Wow, how thrilling! So, of all the cars that you've driven at that speed, which one would you keep, or create if there's no suchlike.
I've had my share of performance cars, from the Grand National to Corvettes and Mustangs; Turbos, Superchargers, Naturally Aspirated too. I always was attached to my GM's. However, the Germans got it right when they built the BMW M5 (2005-2010): a 5.0L V10 Super Sedan that in full factory trim goes 205+ MPH Naturally Aspirated with 507 HP and an 8,350 RPM limiter. There's nothing like the sound of that V10 at full blast and 8000+ RPM. I found one that I loved, but didn't buy it (a black 2010 model) last year while on Hot Rod Power Tour in a small town in the middle of nowhere. I test drove it - loved it, but didn't bring it home. I was kicking myself for passing on it, but when I turned 40 a few months later I was surprised to find out that my (awesome) wife Mandy had secretly bought it and surprised me with it after my birthday dinner with friends. Yes, she's a keeper (and the car too)!