“I went into Simon’s kitchen one day and I saw he had these trophies,” he says with a puzzled tone. “They looked horrible—I was like, ‘That looks like Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons!’”
That’s Andy Hutchko recalling the first time he saw his friend’s homespun creation: an award made up of spark plugs and a distributor cap. Hutchko, who defines himself as a craftsman, is the man behind the unconventional trophies found at Southern Roots Smokehouse Rockabillaque Festival.
Now in its sixth year, the North Charleston, South Carolina festival celebrates traditional tattoos, pin-up style, beards and mustaches, and of course, hot rods. Think Bettie Page meets Sailor Jerry, meets hillbilly meets hipster. One of the main events of Rockabilaque is, by no surprise, the Car and Bike Show. Vehicles are divided into five categories: Rat Rod, Hot Rod, Vintage Truck, Muscle/Street Rod, and Classic Car, with a first and second place trophy awarded in each of them, in addition to Best in Show.
Simon Cantlon, who hosts the event—you guessed it, the same friend with the wacky workmanship in his kitchen—came to the decision that Andy would be a better man for the job of making these trophies.
From wrenches to hub caps, each of his trophies are completely unique. “That’s a vintage piece of Americana right there,” he exclaims, pointing out the oil can featured front and center of one of them. “Everyone always asks, ‘Oh, where’d you get this stuff?’—well, I guess not everyone has 1940s Dodge Pickup air horns and 1954 hubcaps in their yard—but I’m that guy.
“I build cars and motorcycles as well, so all the materials for the trophies were things I just had laying around,” he explains. “I can’t really bring myself to throw stuff away. I have a habit of seeing things for what they can be other than what they are, so that (worked to my advantage in this case).”
Between the ten pieces he was asked to make (plus the two extra he actually made by mistake), Hutchko says he put in a full 40 hours on the project. “Before I knew it, I was charring old oak pieces out for the bases and pin-striping each one individually,” he explains.
It’s not difficult to see where Hutchko draws his inspiration. “Because of how I grew up and where I grew up, that was it—skateboarding and hot rods, tattoos and motorcycles,” he says. “(It’s all about) custom culture. Basically, that’s how everything comes out today, from my paintings to my welding.”
According to Hutchko, he doesn’t currently plan to develop a business for his awards; however, he would like to continue producing for events like Rockabilique. “It involves just about everything that I like to do: wood working, welding, pin-striping—you name it.
“Ultimately, I like old, rusty stuff,” he laughs, “so of course, I’d like to do more of these trophies.”