Born James D. Falschlehner, October 23, 1970, California, USA. Ironically, Gary Gabelich became the fastest man on the planet the very same day Jimmy came into the world—by setting the land speed record at 622.407 MPH.
Here’s how the rest breaks down:
Jimmy grew up in the suburbs of Orange County, California, among a family that was heavily influenced by all things mechanical and engine-driven. Namely, his dad Denny, mom Lynn and brothers Jon and Ned Falschlehner comprise the core. Denny was a hot rodder, drag racer, off-road bike racer and also did some time with boats. The brothers didn’t fall far from the tree when it came to having interest and ability to build and ride their own creations. The endless miles of fields and orange groves across the street from the family home allowed the boys to safely test the motorcycles and other vehicles—all while evading one certain law enforcement officer affectionately referred to as “Strawberry.”
The ‘70s and early-‘80s were a time of transition to the now over-protective and “P.C.” world we know today. It was a good time; you could go hunting out in the groves with your buddies after school. Guns, go-karts, motorcycles; those were the key ingredients that would take hold of the young man soon to be known as Jimmy Shine.
Jimmy spent the next two years and two days building a 327 c.i. Chevy-powered gasser for the street, complete with a 2” x 3” square-tube chassis, narrowed 9” Ford rearend, 4-link suspension and Turbo 400 transmission. Total investment: just over $6,000 U.S. non-refundable dollars. His machine came alive on April 29, 1987. Finally, behind the wheel of his own creation, he laid a hot pass down Bryan Ave. at speed. One fateful drive and the future for this young man seemed certain.
Shine first cut his teeth in the auto industry as an aspiring hot rodder during the ‘80s. Cars were still reasonably priced and there were plenty of accomplished guys who were inclined to share their knowledge. Jimmy was lucky to have his dad to help get him started. An experienced welder and fabricator, Denny had enough tools in the garage to get the job done. . . and maybe cut off a finger or two. April 27, 1985: the day it all started for Shine. He had saved a bit of money after years of local odd jobs, such as the stereotypical mowing of lawns, etc. at 14-years-old. For the ever-low-down price of $950 + $25 trailer rental, he found himself to be the proud owner of an all-steel ‘40 Willys pickup truck.
The years after high school found Jimmy knocking around and honing his skills working in various hot rod and bike shops. It was an introduction to the world of television as well in the early-‘90s. Those years saw him grow into a young man. At the ripe age of 21, Shine became a father to a beautiful baby girl named Morgan—she was brought home from the hospital in a 1953 Hudson Super Wasp (once owned by actor Steve McQueen). However, the responsibilities that came with a young family didn’t slow down the quest for an ever-evolving automotive lifestyle. His automotive arsenal dating back to his school days included a chopped ‘31 Ford coupe, a ‘47 Indian Scout, a chopped ‘48 English Ford Anglia, a ‘55 Chevy pickup, a ‘61 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, a Watson-styled ‘56 Mercury Monterey (driven to Louisiana and back), an ‘81 H-D stroker rigid Shovelhead and a 1952 Chevy lowrider pickup.
Not all things in life work out the way one might’ve planned; honestly, the “green grass and gravy days” got a little thin for Jimmy in the ‘90s. He found himself living alone and seeing his daughter every other weekend. Not the best case scenario. An upside was living on the beach in San Clemente, skateboarding down Del Mar and walking to his favorite surf spots. Shine was driving concrete trucks and tractors for a living at this time—again anything mechanical with big power kept him happy. However, an unexpected phone call from an old friend would turn the tables again. It seems Pete Chapouris (of Pete & Jake’s fame) was looking for a few young and enthusiastic fabricators to fill a positions in his shop. An interview appointment was made, a conversation was had, ideas were bounced and a decision was made: Jimmy landed a job at SO-CAL Speed Shop! That was June ‘97 and the learning curve was winding up to full force.
Jimmy’s early days at SO-CAL found him working alongside very talented craftsmen like Bill “Birdman” Stewart, Jim “Jake” Jacobs, John Carambia, Timmy Beard, Mick Jenkins, Roy Schmidt, Ryan Reed, Aaron Broughton, Bryan Fuller and Shane Weckerly among others. Introductions to the Kennedy brothers, Cole Foster and other hooligans made for a comfortable fit. Some of the first projects included the renowned McGee ‘32 Ford roadster, Duffy Livingston’s “THISEPA” ‘27 track roadster, Bob Garibay’s ‘32 5-window coupe, Dan Kruse’s custom H-D, Gene Olson’s chopped ‘51 Merc convertible, Chuck DeHeras’s ‘40 Ford coupe (stuffed with a Hilborn-injected Hemi Chrysler) and Ed Ducazau’s ‘29 Ford roadster.
The time was right to start Jimmy’s land speed racing career by getting involved with the S.C.T.A. By joining the “Rod Riders” club and teaming up with a few members, he began racing a production-class BSA motorcycle out on El Mirage Dry Lake. Enjoying some success and having a good time as well, Shine was approached by friend Tony Thacker regarding a roadster that was for sale. Would he have any interest in another racing venture? You bet! While Tony became the “wallet,” he acted as the “wrench” as well as the “shoe.” After purchasing the street-driven ‘29 Ford roadster, —complete with a ‘legal’ rollcage and SCTA certification—the pair were off to run numbers on the dirt. After five good years of campaigning and chasing records, the ‘Thacker and Shine’ team established a new land speed record at 206.454 in D/BSTR on August 15, 2006 on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Jimmy was inducted into the Bonneville 200 MPH Club on the salt by no other than legendary drag racer/Bonneville racer, Art Chrisman.
Yet another twist was looming on the horizon for Shine in the form of reality TV. After a couple of specials for the Discovery Channel, a new series centered around Jimmy called “HARDSHINE” was being offered. The green light to begin filming was finally given by Discovery with a couple of years in development in the bag. Nine episodes and some heart-aches, -breaks and -makes, it was on air and doing well. Other shows were soon to follow, such as “WEAPONIZER’S” and two seasons of “CAR WARRIORS” (featuring George Barris and Mad Mike among a few). More shows are slated to come, like the first episode of a yet-to-be-titled series that features old pal Billy F. Gibbons from the rock band ZZ Top.
As of summer, 2015, major news for Falschlehner is currently in its infancy—but growing at a steady pace. Let’s back up. Not content to sit idly by, Jimmy and his wife Nikki have always looked to move forward. Well, opportunities were plenty after selling his famed ‘34 Ford truck at the renowned Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, for an impressive $215,000. As fate would have it, they decided to take the earnings and invest in an Orange, California-based facility catering specifically to their ideas: the ‘Jimmy Shine Work Shop’. While the following might sound odd, one of the primary driving forces behind the venture came from none other than SO-CAL’s Chapouris. Having been a hired gun for 18+ years—great times with many valuable lessons learned, to say the least—an unexpected byproduct was the true friendship and respect that developed between Jimmy and Pete. By constantly looking toward the future and wanting growth for his chosen profession, Shine’s mentor became a key player in the duo’s ultimate game plan. Thus, the establishment of this designated ‘Work Shop’ could carry forward their combined goal of growth and respect for the entire industry. Indeed, a legacy had been laid down by those that preceded. With Pete’s symbolic passing of the torch, so-to-speak, the name forever carries with it a piece of the iconic SO-CAL Speed Shop lineage dating back to 1946 by founder and friend Alex Xydias. The challenge to carry on the proud tradition of his heroes has now been rightfully accepted by Shine.