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Saturday, 30 July 2005 00:31

Paul Rodriguez, Jr.

Written by Edgard Zuniga

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It is the stuff of childhood dreams. You know, the ones flittering about the mind of every young skateboarder. One day, maybe—just maybe—all those afternoons spent suffering skinned knees and elbows will mean more than just good times. Paul Rodriguez, Jr. is living those dreams, and he is proof that those skinned knees and elbows can lead to bigger things. How about $50,000? At the 2004 X-Games, Paul Jr., who just turned 20 on New Year’s Eve, won gold in the jam format, exhibiting the type of smooth performance that top pro skaters Kerry Getz and Mike Carroll had foreseen since his pro debut in September of 2002. And it all began much the same way it does for most young skaters. “I had skateboards all my life but actually began skating seriously when I was 11,” Paul Jr. said. “I bought myself a skateboard with Christmas money.”

In the beginning it was strictly recreational. Paul Jr., nicknamed “P-Rod,” would go to skate shops with his friends, where they would watch skating videos all day long and later on “try to do what all the pros were doing.”

As P-Rod’s skills improved, one of his friends took notice and began filming his skating sessions. “My friend Nigel sent my video out to a lot of people and I started getting calls,” he said. “I owe him a lot.” Since then P-Rod has made quite a name for himself, proving quite the success story. He has graced the cover of several skateboarding magazines, been featured in videos and made a cameo appearance on The Grind (Warner Bros., 2003). In addition, there are the signature skate decks for Plan B Skateboards, signature shoes with Nike, and a sponsorship with Boost Mobile.

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However, it was in 2003 that P-Rod caught serious attention, winning a bronze medal at the X-Games. “I felt psyched when I got the bronze,” he said. “I was dumb-happy; skating with all my favorite skaters. Then, to come back the next year and win gold—it was unreal. It was unexpected.”

Even before his success at the X-Games, P-Rod had his fans. Some, just as extreme as the sport he enjoys. “I was in Holland and we were doing a skate demo for Nike and this kid came up to me and asked me to sign his leg, telling me he wanted to get it tattooed. Later on, he sent an email to this Website for which I used to write with the picture of this tattoo. It was crazy,” P-Rod laughed. “I couldn’t believe that dudes my age were psyched for me like that.”

One thing that P-Rod was psyched about was his friend’s G-Wagen—a serious set of wheels. If a 2002 Mercedes G-Wagen does not whet your appetite for urban prowling, how about some 22” HRE 545R rims paired with some Toyo Proxes S/T tires to tear up the asphalt? It certainly caught P-Rod’s attention. “I had my eye on the car for a while,” he said. “My friend had it but was looking to get a new car. So I got it off him. The cool part was that it was already decked out; my friend already had the rims on it. It’s one of my favorite G-Wagens that I’ve ever seen. I felt the car looked real hard and I wanted it. Truthfully, if I would have bought it new, it would have taken me a long time to do the research and get everything together for it.”

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Counting with a strong military heritage, the G-Wagen was the product of a 1979 project between Mercedes-Benz and two other companies, Steyr and Puch of Austria. The Gelandewagen (which loosely translated means “tough terrain vehicle”) has always been hand-built in Austria. It has a reputation for being able to get through most anything, no matter how treacherous or steep the terrain—the German automaker claims that it will climb an 80-percent grade and remain stable on a 54-percent lateral slope. Although it was only available to Europeans in the beginning, through the so-called “gray market” of the 1980s, Americans with deep pockets were soon enjoying the rugged thrills of the early G-wagens.

Under the hood of the 2002 G-Wagen lies a 5.0-liter, 3-valve-per-cylinder V-8 that pumps out 296 bhp at 5600 rpm and 336 lb.-ft. of torque from 2700 to 4250 rpm. It comes mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting capabilities. Inside, the G-Wagen comes standard with enough leather to satisfy the most demanding executive or those with fine taste. Power windows and locks, heated power seats, a Harman Kardon audio system, a navigation system and Mercedes-Benz’s Tele Aid system (which offers emergency and theft-tracking services) round out just some of the features of this sexy beast.

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P-Rod’s friend went the extra step and fitted the G-Wagen with finely polished, black 22” HRE 545R rims that will turn heads no matter what your taste. HRE, which is highly regarded for its fine craftsmanship, employs aluminum components and aerospace-grade materials to the manufacturing of custom three-piece wheels for vehicles of all types. Since each set of wheels is built around one’s specifications, the result is something that reflects one’s eclectic and aesthetic taste.

A stout creature, P-Rod’s G-Wagen was also equipped with stout Toyo Proxes S/T high-performance radials. Offering excellent handling and confident all-season performance, they prove to be a smooth, unwavering ride.

Putting the whole package together was Pacific Coast Motoring, which prides itself for the development of a particular style of customizing known as “Automotive Entertainment Technology.” PCM is acknowledged by peers and customers for its handling of complex requests for customization that range from the installation of flush-mounted video games in car seats to unique speaker enclosures, among other things.

P-Rod loves his G-Wagen, which looks so sinister in jet black with its tinted windows and the black HREs that one would half expect Bruce Wayne behind the wheel. “The first day that I got it, that was the most memorable time,” P-Rod said. “Taking my friends cruising: ‘Let’s go guys.’”

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In addition to the G-Wagen, P-Rod owns a 2002 Mercedes-Benz CLK that he fitted with 19” Zenetti rims. However, he mostly drives the G-Wagen and his girlfriend drives the CLK.

Despite all his success and financial gain, the one thing that stands out most about P-Rod is his sincerity and genuine demeanor. This is something that he attributed to his father, actor/comedian Paul Rodriguez, whom he called his best friend. “He’s definitely a huge impact on my life,” he said. “He set my mentality as far as how to handle success and offers me financial advice.” Also, whenever possible the two get together and go out for sushi, a craving they both share.

Aside from skateboarding, P-Rod spends his time reading, with his girlfriend, playing with his pets, or going out with his friends. Although he tries to devote as much time possible with his family and friends, P-Rod is already focused on his next project. Starting in June, he will participate in a tour with Mountain Dew where once a month he will compete with skaters from around the country. With his two X-Games medals and numerous accolades, it seems that P-Rod is on the verge of a dynasty. However, for now, life is all about cruising in his beloved G-Wagen and hitting the batting cages with his friends.

Definitely, these are more than just childhood dreams.

 

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