Burbank resident, Frank De Jesus, has been a car enthusiast since he was four years old and his uncle would visit with his 1969 Plymouth Road Runner muscle car. Now as a father to two teen boys, De Jesus has used his love of cars to bond his family together and create lasting memories with their custom Hot Wheels race track.
De Jesus grew up with his parents not having a vehicle and used public transportation most of the time. His father would buy Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars for him at the store and his uncle’s enthusiasm for cars ignited in his passion. “When my sons were born and were old enough, I passed on my collection to them,” said De Jesus. “If you ask them how long they’ve collected for, they will tell you, ‘Since we were able to hold one in our hand.’” Sebastian, 19, is in his second year at Glendale Community College, and Dorian, 15, is currently a student at John Burroughs High School.
In January 2012, De Jesus started a car enthusiast group in Burbank that meets every Friday to display Japanese classics and is known as the Old Japanese Car Meet (OJCM) where other car enthusiasts meet to display their vehicles and share stories. OJCM has spread to include meets through the US, Japan, Mexico, Central America, Australia, Israel, Canada, Iceland and Europe. De Jesus would notice how quickly the boys attention ran out at the meets and started bringing 1/64 scale cars for his kids to display on his real car. After checking out the Hot Wheels Super 6 Lane Track and seeing die cast collections from Smitty’s Speed Shop, the boys had the idea to “hack the track” and create their own display.
The diorama was harder to put together than they anticipated but De Jesus taught his sons how to use power tools and customize the Hot Wheels by taking them apart and cutting the body and chassis. They worked hard stripping, sanding, priming, painting, tinting, and even customizing the inside of the 1/64 scale cars. “This kept them off the screen time during the quarantine throughout 2020-21. There was no time for boredom as their creative side is constantly stimulated,” added De Jesus.
The HW race track is a custom built track made by De Jesus and his sons, Sebastian and Dorian, that fits 1/64 scale cars. It consists of folding tables painted to look like a parking lot car meet with the scale cars set up in the spaces and a six lane track. They loved it so much that they decided to bring the display to different car meets and shows to entertain families and make everyone feel like a kid again.
They have attended many public and private events in Burbank and surrounding areas and have even done grand openings, birthdays, retirements, and bachelor parties. Their kids birthday package includes the HW race track coming to the party and every child over four years old gets a new Hot Wheels car in a package. De Jesus also does in-person tutorials on customizing Hot Wheel cars for kids seven and up and has taught the hands-on use of tools through STEM at schools and youth programs.
The track makes regular appearances at Burbank’s Magnolia Park Night Out event in front of Karros Burbank, a used car lot. De Jesus and his sons set up the track and hold races for kids and their families through the event. Event guests are encouraged to choose a 1/64 scale car for the race and set it up on the track against other opponents. Sebastian and Dorian fit the part with full race suits and headpiece microphones to give the full pit crew feel. The cars slide down the ramps and pass through the finish line where the winning lane will light up letting them know who came in first place. The first person to win three races gets a little trophy and places their cars on a scaled podium made by the De Jesus family.
“The HW racetrack has just made our bond as a family much stronger,” said De Jesus. “I have enjoyed taking the track around the valley, from birthday parties to car events, bringing people together safely as a family. It feels good to know I am helping to promote good sportsmanship. Seeing people young and old get enthusiastic and having fun makes the Hot Wheels racing even more exciting,” adds son, Dorian.
The family goes by the motto “Live life 1/64 scale at a time,” which is a play on the Fast and Furious quote by Dom Toreto: “I live my life 1/4 mile at a time. The HW race track was asked to come and make an appearance at the Peterson Automotive Museum’s Japanese Cruse-In event in May of 2021 which was a huge deal for the family as it’s one of the best known automobile museums in the world. “It is safe to say that HW racetrack is not just for racing entertainment but emphasizing and promoting sportsmanship and creativity, mostly for ages 4 years and up,” said De Jesus.
You can reach the De Jesus family and inquire about their track for events by emailing email@example.com or through Instagram at @hwracetrack.