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Levi Green- 2023 Hall of Fame Inductee

March 14, 2024

In Levi’s Junior year of high school, he knew what he wanted to do with his life, and with his career after seeing an ad for “Hot Rod University” in an issue of Street Rodder Magazine.

After graduating high school in 2000, he began his journey to Laramie, Wyoming to become a “Techer.”

Prior to enrolling at WyoTech, he had very limited experience with metal working or working on hot rods. He grew up on a 440-acre farm in rural Missouri and tinkered with his 1958 Apache truck which was gifted to him by his uncle.

Levi and his dad had plans to work on the old truck and learn to do the metal work on their own, but his skills were not up to par for the task. Though they both had plans and visions for building this truck, they were not on the same page.

His dad wanted to restore it, and he wanted to hot rod it! Needless to say, the old truck followed him out to Laramie where he was able to use it as a class project to hone in on his skills. He was able to do a front frame stub conversion from Trans Am and a custom C-notch in the rear, as well as widen the rear fenders and a few other small body mods.

At the end of the course, the old truck was looking much cooler and closer to what he had envisioned from the start, and WyoTech was just the beginning.

Now that he had some actual training experience under his belt he was determined to get a job working for one of the top shops of that time. He sent 50 resumes to shops all over the country including, Boyd Coddington, Chip Foose, Posies, Pinkees, Ida Automotive, Tucci engineering, Wood N Carr, and Rad Rides by Troy, just to name a few. All of which replied, “No thanks, but good luck.” He ended up getting a job working for a small collision shop in Merriam, KS which also did some hot rod work in the back. This is where he was first exposed to a “real job.”

This shop was gracious enough to deal with his lack of experience while teaching him even more along the way. One of the first “hot rod” projects he got his hands on was a 1959 VW Truck. He did all the rust repair, body work, primer, and even the green and purple paint job. The only thing he didn’t do was the wet sanding and buffing.

There was a custom bike paint shop just down the alley where he would spend his lunch breaks, hoping for the chance to do even more with paint. He wanted to know the whole process from start to finish. The guys at the bike shop helped with some custom paint tips, clear coating, and yes, wet sanding and buffing. He got a part-time “night” job working for V8 rod shop in Blue Springs, MO.

Tony Vargus was the owner and seemed excited to have a young kid with some talent.

He was the first guy to turn him loose and let him be creative. He helped Levi get a job at Carriage Works in Grandview, MO where he excelled at TIG welding billet grilles.

The KC World of Wheels car show was in town and Tony had a couple of cars on display he helped with. He also brought with him every picture he had taken of his work (this was before smart phones when you still had to develop film and carry an album around).

He was also armed with every TIG sample weld coupon in his coat pockets (probably no metal detectors either).

Rad Rides by Troy was the feature builder at this event with the car they built called “Chicayne.” It’s a 1962 Chevy Biscayne with twin turbos, and is to this day one, of the nicest cars ever built. He approached Moose, Troy’s right-hand man, about the opportunity to come work at their shop in Manteno, IL. He was familiar with their high-quality builds, seeing them in Hot Rod magazine and many others. The centerfolds of Troy’s cars are what made up the wallpaper in his room back home. He ended up getting a job working at Rad Rides by Troy in Manteno, IL in the spring of 2003. He worked for Rad Rides for 8.5 years and learned a ton becoming an expert at his metal shaping craft. He learned the importance of details, precision, deadlines, and being the best….

When we asked Levi what advice he would give to people entering the trades, here is what he had to say:

When you get turned down for an opportunity, there is a better one around the corner.

Don’t wait on everyone around you to approve of what you know you need to do. Chase after what God has put you on this earth to be great at.

Don’t expect to be a rock star overnight. Be diligent, take one step at a time. It took me 20 years to get where I am today.

Don’t give up, keep getting better, and move forward no matter what! Success isn’t easy. You will face adversity. Find a way to embrace the suck and stay positive!