It’s not every day that an auto enthusiast is able to break a world driving record, and turn his love of cars into a business model with a booming social media following. However, five years ago, Ed Bolian did just that.
The 33 year-old car lover is known as the current record holder of the New York to Los Angeles “Cannonball Run” transcontinental record. It was back in October of 2013 that the Georgia native piled into a 2004 Mercedes Benz with two other men, pulling out of a Manhattan parking garage with one goal in mind: To beat a cross-country driving record that had stood since 2007.
It seemed the perfect challenge for someone who’d spent much of his life virtually obsessed with cars. “As I learned more and more about the history of Cannonball, I saw how all the things that seemed broken or different about me might actually be an advantage,” Bolian said.
About 28 hours and 50 minutes later, car pulled into the Portofino Hotel and Marina in Redondo Beach – having successfully beaten the previous record by hours. With that feat, Bolian became the reigning king of the so-called “Cannonball Run,” in which a driver barrels from New York to Los Angeles at maximum speeds.
“My wife had been pushing me to have a kid for about 18 months prior to the drive, but we agreed to wait until that was dealt with. The next month we were pregnant,” Bolian joked to CNBC.
The Cannonball ride was first invented in the 1970s by Brock Yates, an editor with Car and Driver Magazine. The race’s previous record holder made the journey in just under 32 hours, which Bolian and his crew managed to beat by at least 4 hours.
Bolian went on to become CEO and co-founder of VINwiki, an app that allows users to share information and stories about cars they love. The company was founded in February 2016 by Bolian, Peter Saddington, Dave Black and support passenger Dan Huang (the latter two accompanied Bolian on his record-breaking trip).
In its first year, VINwiki grew to 5000 users, using social media—including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube — to boost its profile and users. To date, VINwiki has over 100,000 active users, complemented by a wildly successful YouTube channel.
In 2017, Bolian created a YouTube feature called “Car Stories,” a video series that had an original target of generating around 2000 views per video. Bolian’s goal was to create a platform for car lovers to share their experiences – and the idea found a hugely receptive audience. Fast forward to this year, and “Car Stories” has over 500,000 subscribers and hundreds of videos that have racked up nearly 2 million views a piece.
Though the YouTube channel overshadows the VINwiki application user count, “Car Stories” lovers helped grow VINwiki user base to 115,000. Some 35 percent of video viewers subscribe to the YouTube channel, and about 20 percent of those end up downloading VINwiki’s
Still, none of it was what Bolian even expected when he “accidentally” delved into YouTube.
“You never know how the life of an early stage startup will evolve,” he told CNBC.
“The YouTube channel has been the best content marketing opportunity we could have dreamt of but is also a monster of a project that is beyond a full time job for me personally,” he said. “It gets more attention than the app and that is fine because it continues to work well in directing traffic and evangelizing the concept we are trying to champion to the world in an entertaining way.
9-year-old genius to graduate university
(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.
Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.
Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.
He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.
His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.
“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.
Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.
While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.
But Lydia has her own theory.
“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.
The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.
“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.
“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”
Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.
“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”
Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”
His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.
“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.
“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”
While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.
“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”
Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.
However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.
In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.
Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.
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Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem
Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.
The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.
Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.
🚨WANTED for ASSAULT: on 11/6 at approx 3:43 PM in front of 128 West 112th St in Manhattan, a 32 yr old male was walking with his 8 yr old son when a white BMW jumped the curb & hit the father & son. The driver then got out and slashed the father. Call @NYPDTips with any info. pic.twitter.com/cwd79rcM4c
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) November 15, 2019
Father and son were both knocked through a gate.
The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.
One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.
McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.
McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.
Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.
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