Kenny Shreves, Race Car Builder at Werkstatt Charlottesville


Fire in the hole: Sometimes when he’s welding, stuff ends up burning. “It happens more often than you would think,” says Shreves.

Typical workday?

We’re always behind. We begin in the morning, and depending on where we are with the stage of the build, we start fabricating right away. On the weeks that we have a deadline, the days are really long, from 8am to 10pm, for a week. 
This week, the main tools we’re using are simple hand files, a band saw and a welder.
Describe your hands.
They’re mashed up. Every one of my fingers has been broken multiple times. And they’re twisted from building for so long. 
How did you learn your craft?
When I was probably 13 or 14, my brothers and I got into racing bikes. It was the only thing to do, other than getting in trouble. Then we ended up fixing bikes. And then when I was 16 or 17, I bought a VW Scirocco, and that was the beginning of the end. Since then, I was hooked. I’ve been building racecars ever since.
Tell us about a time you’ve made a mistake.
Sometimes when we weld on stuff, it catches on fire. It happens more often than you would think.
Hand care?
Lotion. We weld a lot, and end up having to wash our hands a fair bit. And Aleve or Ibuprofen.
I’m mainly right handed, but I’ve had to train my left hand to do certain things to accommodate the car. I still can’t write with my left hand, but there are a lot of things I can do on a car with my left hand that I can’t do with my right.
How do you keep safe?
Safety glasses and dusk masks are absolutes. I’ve had steel cut out of my eyes five times. Stainless is the worst, because it’s not magnetic, and they literally have to cut it out. And gloves. When we’re building a roll cage, we go through a new pair of gloves every day.