Stoplight To Stoplight In Brandon Annuzzi’s 1969 Chevelle

Ah, the street race. Long before the Fast and Furious franchise blew upon the scene and became an unstoppable force of crappy blockbuster movies, there were excellent car flicks like Two-Lane Blacktop and American Graffiti. Hell, even the first F&F movie is a classic that celebrates the age-old tradition of stoplight-to-stoplight drags and doing so for cold hard cash.

That’s all to say, however you feel about the illegal art of street racing, it’s been a thing for a long time. Like, way before drag strips were built across America. And before people were pitting their cars against one another, they were racing horses, and before that, on foot…The point is, people are always going to be competitive, and the thrill of speed is far too intoxicating for a person with the means to ignore – especially when they find themselves behind the wheel of something with real, raw power.

Photos by Megan May.

Some Assembly Required

Enter 31-year-old Brandon Annuzzi and his 1969 Chevelle. Brandon is a facilities manager in California’s Bay Area by day, but by night he’s a hot rodder’s hot rodder. We came upon Brandon’s killer Chevelle while scrolling our Instagram feed and we just had to know more.

Of course, we dove into the background of his Chevelle by first asking how and where he acquired his awesome ride. Brandon tells us, “In October of 2005, I found it in a local Craigslist ad and bought the car completely disassembled from a guy in Antioch, CA. In fact, I had to bring the car home in a 26-foot U-haul box truck with some help from friends to load and unload everything.” Now that’s committed!

Speaking of commitment, one doesn’t simply purchase a car that’s in pieces if they aren’t absolutely obsessed. We asked Brandon to explain the reason for such a purchase. Brandon states, “As far back as I can remember (probably around the time I started talking), I always wanted a Chevelle. When I finally had the opportunity to buy one, I didn’t want one that was already complete and built, I wanted a project so I could fulfill one of my childhood dreams which was building a Chevelle with my dad. This car was about as project-car as you could get. So when the opportunity presented itself, we didn’t hesitate to pick it up.”

As mere tykes, the SM team too were crazed car kids – collecting every Hot Wheel and Matchbox car we could get our hands on, so we get it. But we sensed there was something more to the story. Brandon expounds on how he got into cars in the first place. “The short story starts and ends with my dad. But if you really want to know, one of my first toys as a kid was a mini-bike. My dad pulled it out of a dumpster at work. I loved tearing its 3.5hp Briggs & Stratton motor apart and putting it all back together. It’s really where I first got my passion for wrenching at a young age. That love eventually transferred over to cars.”

Brandon continues, “My father was a mechanic by trade and did a lot of side work on the weekends, doing general repair work and building hotrods. Being joined at the hip with him throughout my childhood, I had a lot of opportunities to learn and wrench with him. By the time I was 12 years old, I was doing V8 conversions on six-cylinder Novas and dropping big-blocks in Chevelle’s. Some of my fondest memories from my childhood are wrenching with my dad on the weekend. He introduced me to it and the rest is history, I was hooked.”


One of the things we really like about Brandon’s Chevelle is its raw street racer style – from the homemade bug catcher scoop to the lack of a front bumper and slick and skinny wheel and tire combo, it harkens back to a time when guys were really out here racing these things and not just trailering them to car shows. So, it begs the question, how did Brandon first get into racing?

To which he replies, “Just hot rodding really. We build and upgrade our cars to be faster. What’s the purpose of having a fast car if you’re not stretching its legs and racing the other fast cars in town?” A question we often ask ourselves on the rare occasion we line up with something nasty at a stoplight.

Brandon goes on, “As I mentioned, I was introduced and got into the automotive world at a young age because of my dad, but racing evolved for me over the years. It started with local street racing where I met some of my best friends. I started helping them out with their projects, which led to me helping build some really fast cars that raced both locally and out of state. We’ve had some really fast street race cars come out of my area. It’s a part of our culture.”

Burnouts, Buddies, and Beer

As with any great car, there are stories. So, before we got into the particulars of Brandon’s build, we asked him to share one of his favorite memories with his car with us and our audience. Brandon quickly launched into a good one – “My buddy and I had a race lined up. He was coming to town with his Plymouth Belvedere. It had a big-inch Indy-headed Mopar. The car was FAST and light for what it was. Knowing it was going to be a close race, I spent the nights leading up to it pulling the front bumper off (it never went back on), pulling the back seat out, and doing anything else I could do to shed some weight and gain a little edge.”

“Come race night, a small group of us cruised out to the secluded country road. Once we got out there, we flipped for lane choice and agreed to a 30-pack wager. We were just hanging out there in the sticks, nothing but laughs, the sound of crickets, and two cars about to go heads-up under the moonlight. I remember thinking, this is what I live for, this is where my happy place is.”

“We lined up and did our burnouts. Just as I noticed my car was getting a little hot, I wasn’t paying attention, and he completely stoned me on the light! Immediately, he has a two-car lead and pulls to three car lengths. Once I grabbed second gear, I started to close the gap and as soon as I clicked into high gear, my car started freight training. He heard me coming as I tried to play catch-up and we both had our foot on the floor! We weren’t paying attention and went way past the quarter-mile mark! He cracked my ass, but it was the best loss I’ve ever taken.”

“After the race, he jumped in my car and we cruised back to the local liquor store so I could pay my debt. Everyone that was there helped put a dent in the 30-pack as we shared racing stories and laughs, it was a night to remember!”

These are the kind of stories we love hearing – friends coming together to share a common passion. We won’t comment on the legalities of what people should and shouldn’t do or where because we’re not the law. All we know is, that we get excited after hearing stories like Brandon’s because we’re just as passionate about our rides.

Okay, story time is over. Let’s get down to business and talk about what Brandon has done to his wicked Chevelle.

Making Fast Friends

We wrapped with Brandon by asking him what he likes most about his Chevelle.

He replied, “I like the people I’ve met because of my car. Some of my best friends are only in my life because of some connection to my car. The memories that have developed over the years are as priceless as the car itself. It has made a huge impact on my life.”