Santa Fe man’s car makes it to Semi-Finals in Hot Wheels competition

New Mexico News

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexican man’s hand-made car has gotten a lot of attention recently. Saturday morning, it went up against nine other cars in the Hot Wheels Legends Tour Finale, where Jay Leno was one of the judges.


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Retired engineer Paul Kalenian says it took him about seven months to build his aluminum, 2020 racer named Lulu in his Santa Fe garage. Saturday morning, Lulu was presented to a panel of seven judges in Jay Leno’s Garage, for the Hot Wheels Legends Tour Finale. The winner of the competition is inducted into the Hot Wheels Garage of Legends, and the car is immortalized as a Hot Wheels toy car.

Kalenian says it’s about more than that. “I hope Lulu will be inspirational to young kids who collect these,” Kalenian said. He never expected his car would make it this far into the competition, but he was excited Jay Leno would see all of his hard work.

“I used to think, ‘boy, it would be nice to finish her up, put her in a trailer, bring her to Leno’s garage, pull into the driveway, beep the horn and say, ‘Hey Jay, it’s me, Paul. Come on out and see my car,”” Kalenian said.

Even though Kalenian wasn’t able to be at the finale in person, Leno was extremely impressed by his car, even saying it’s the submission he’d most want to drive.

Kalenian, however, didn’t win the contest. The winner was a Volvo built in the United Kingdom.

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