Counting Cars: Talking Bikes, Hawaii, and Bomber Eyewear with Shannon Aikau
Sparks flying, tools swinging, exhaust and gasoline in the air -- when it comes to car restoration, safety has to be key.
Shannon Aikau is no stranger to the workshop. From days spent helping his dad and grandfather work on cars and bikes to regular appearances on The History Channel's Counting Cars, his life and career have always revolved around -- well, wheels!
"One of the best feelings that you can ever have," Aikau says, "is taking something apart, down to the bare minimum, and building it back up, piece by piece to your liking. Once you turn that key for the first time, and you have a running machine -- it's that feeling that cannot be replaced. All of your hard work and dedication has paid off -- and what a sense of accomplishment!"
Born in Hawaii, Aikau moved to Las Vegas to pursue a career working on the cars and bikes he loves.
"Growing up on the island was a blast," he says of his childhood. "Something that I would not trade for anything. The land, the sea, the food, is rooted deep within who I am. I have to constantly be doing something, if it’s not tinkering in the garage, its going here or there and never sitting still. Moving to Vegas was a definite game change, and twenty years later, it’s safe to say I made the right decision. Hawaii will always be my home, but I feel if I didn’t go out and experience the world and new experiences, I would not have been happy. I would have always been wondering, 'Hey, what if?'"
After the move to Vegas, Aikau met Danny "the Count" Koker at a shop called Evil Twin, where he led the build for one of Koker's bikes. Eventually, Aikau signed on as Danny's bike shop manager and lead builder, taking charge of restorations and builds for Counting Cars, Koker's show on History.
"I never would have thought that a boy from the small island of Hawaii would be on a television show," he says. "I do not think of myself as a celebrity – I’m that kid from Pearl City that loved building in my garage, and playing football out on the field. When Counting Cars first premiered on television I thought, that’s cool. Then it wasn’t much long after people from countries all over the world began visiting the shop, and watching the show."
After twenty years in Vegas, and eight seasons of Counting Cars, Aikau has more restorations and builds under his belt than most people in his line of work.
"Each and every project is different," says Aikau. "No two are ever alike. You learn, take something different away from each restoration. That's the cool thing."
Aikau works hard to balance his career with his family life, spending time with his wife and kids.
"I would be lying if I said in no way is my family affected," he says. "Finding a balance between working full time, attending shows on the weekends, traveling for work, and family time is the most difficult aspect. But with most things, you have to make adjustments and learn as you go. Thankfully I’m blessed with a beautiful wife, and family. They are understanding and patient as they can be. I have two daughters," he adds. "13 and 9 years old. They, like me, love to ask questions and try to help in the garage."
When Aikau was growing up in Hawaii, he helped his father and grandfather work on cars and bikes. "It runs in the family," he says. "My grandpa and dad were building and working on cars and bikes their whole life. At the age of ten, I can remember my grandpa letting me take his '69 Dodge Charger to the corner store to get us ice cream. The owner of the store came out to say hello to my grandpa -- but to his surprise, grandpa was nowhere to be found. I will never forget the look on his face!"
Today, Aikau shares his love of cars with his daughters. "They are learning how much satisfaction can come from fixing something that is broken, to finally making it work," he says. "Or, turning nothing into something."
This mentality carries through into Aikau's work, where he uses Bomber's safety and sunglasses.
"The Boogie Bombs are definitely one of my favorites," he says. "I use the clear safety every day at work and normally the polarized while driving to cut down the glare. Hooking up with Bomber Eyewear has been awesome. While working I know my eyes are protected. Bomber Eyewear is a company I can trust for safety and quality. The frames and glasses fit comfortably. Bombers are not just for working in the shop, but riding, and everyday use especially at the beach."
So, why did Aikau pick Bomber over the competition?
"There are many eye glass companies out there," he says. "People have options, but Bomber is in a class of their own. They are affordable while providing all of the latest looks. Durability and Safety are probably the two most important aspects to consumers -- two things I do not have to think twice about with Bomber. Not to mention features like floating in water, and the polarized colored lenses.
"Bomber Eyewear isn’t just about looking cool," he adds. "It’s a name I know I can trust to comfortably protect my eyes, whether inside or out."
To learn more about Shannon's work at Count's Kustoms, visit their website at http://www.countskustoms.com/. To watch past episodes of Counting Cars, visit History's website at www.history.com/shows/counting-cars/.