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Bengals QB Joe Burrow, Lordstown Motors working to help Ohioans after years of misfortune

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow's foundation assists Ohio residents who are in danger of going hungry.

Photo courtesy of Lordstown Motors

Cleveland, Ohio has been through a lot. The city, on the shores of Lake Erie, was founded 20 years after the American Revolution, served as a crucial hub for the Underground Railroad, became a booming metropolis filled with immigrants from across Europe, and thrived post-World War II as Americans got to work.

Along with economic prosperity came the rise of Cleveland as one of the biggest cities in the U.S. As such, it became a perfect fit to be home to a new club. In 1945, the Cleveland Browns football team became a member of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), a rival to the National Football League (NFL). When the AAFC folded in 1949, the Browns, along with the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Colts, were added to the NFL team roster.

Coach Paul Brown Cleveland Browns 1955 Circa 1955, Portrait of American football coach Paul Brown holding a Lfootball while sitting on a table, 1950s. Brown coached the Cleveland Browns, which were named for him, and the Cincinnati Bengals. Photo by Getty Images

The blue-collar city of Cleveland showed up to watch the Browns, taking pride in the team much in the same way their rival Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers were embraced by their working class communities.

In 1961, New York City ad man Art Modell purchased the team. In 1995 he announced plans to move it to Baltimore. This did not go over well with the City of Cleveland nor the fan base. A November 12, 1995 article in the New York Times described the situation: "To the thousands of angry, depressed, bewildered, and determined Browns fans in this city irate about the planned move of their team to Baltimore next season, the owner Art Modell is now Walter O'Malley's peer in franchise-removal infamy."

O'Malley, a layer turned baseball executive, is best remembered for moving the Dodgers out of Brooklyn to Los Angeles and the New York Giants to San Francisco. In a roundabout way, he's also at least partially responsible for the rise of free agency.

A few years before Modell purchased the Browns, General Motors purchased a swath of farmland along the newly constructed Ohio Turnnpike. It was to be home to the Chevrolet brand with most every Chevy designed by the Detroit-based team to be built there except the Chevrolet Task Force and military vehicles. Construction got underway in 1964 and in 1966 the first Impala rolled off the line.

A strike in 1972 lasted 22 days and cost GM $150 million and resulted in many Chevys coming off the line with defective parts. Similar tactics were later used in other strikes earning the technique the nickname "Lordstown Syndrome".

John Kerry Youngstown Ohio 2004 U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) (L) shakes hands with steelworkers outside of the abandoned Youngstown Sheet and Tube Struthers Works factory February 24, 2004 in Youngstown, Ohio. Senator Kerry is touring areas of industrial decay and economic downturn in Youngstown. Photo by Getty Images

The collapse of the steel industry in the late 1970s and early 1980s was tough on the Mahoning Valley. In 1977, one of the area's top employers, Youngstown Sheet and Tube, abruptly closed its doors after 77 years in business and furloughed 5,000 workers.

Lordstown Assembly became the area's largest employer by the early 2000s, the same time that Modell was finally getting his wish and was able to begin a franchise anew. The Baltimore Ravens began playing in 1996 leaving the City of Cleveland without a team for three years until MBNA executive Al Lerner started the team back up, paying $530 million for the rights.

Inn 2006 as the economy contracted and the company began to see the full impact of decades of pension expenditure negotiations come to fruition, GM began scaling back operations. By 2008, they were in need of a bailout and cut two shifts of work at Lordstown. Over the next two years all of those workers were eventually invited to return to work. Just eight years later the plant was listed by GM in plans to go unallocated.

GM Lordstown Assembly Play 2018 An exterior view of the GM Lordstown Plant on November 26, 2018 in Lordstown, Ohio. GM said it would end production at five North American plants including Lordstown, and cut 15 percent of its salaried workforce. The GM Lordstown Plant assembles the Chevy Cruz. Photo by by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Like Lordstown, the Browns have struggled over the last decade to find the right formula for success. A few hours away from the home of the Browns, the City of Cincinnati and its Bengals have weathered the economic and football storm of the last century slightly better.

Though its history in the later half of the 20th Century is marked by a series of major natural and manmade disasters (Blizzard of '78, The Who concert disaster, Air Canada Flight 797 accident, and a tornado in 1993), Cincinnati has come out strong on the other side. the city supported a major push to modernize its sports facilities and roster of teams in the first two decades of the 21st Century with new stadiums built and fresh franchises established.

Ohio, from Toledo to Cincinnati to Columbus to Cleveland, and its residents have been busy during that time too, transitioning out of the traditional maunfacturing jobs that had a hold on the state and working to adapt to a rapidly evolving work

Despite the success of reaching Super Bowls in the 1980s, by the 90s and into the 2000s, the Cincinnati Bengals were not able to find positive results. They joined the unsuccessful cum extinct Browns in making Ohio the laughing stock of the NFL.

1988 Bengals Browns fight The referee breaks up a fight during a game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1988. The Browns won the game, 23-16. Photo by Getty Images

For much of the last decade, as the Browns have floundered, Cincinnati rose up quickly then fell just as fast. From 2010 to 2014 the organization made four consecutive playoff appearances but that success was short-lived. The following five seasons spiraled into win-loss column disaster culminating in the 2-14 season in 2019. Those 14 loses were Ohio's gain.

In April 2020, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow was selected by the Bengals as the top pick in the NFL Draft. Six months prior, Lordstown Motors, a new electric vehicle company, struck a deal with General Motors to purchase a part of the Lordstown Assembly site to serve as its headquarters and future production facility.

Now, Burrows and Lordstown Motors are teaming up to launch "Work for it", a new campaign designed to assist the Joe Burrow Hunger Relief Fund, which is dedicated to providing supplemental and emergency food aid to residents of Athens County, Ohio. The Fund supports the Athens County Food Pantry. The 2010 census documented that over 30 percent of Athens County residents lived below the poverty line - the highest of any county in Ohio.

Joe Burrow Lordstown Motors Endurance Burrow checks out the Lordstown Endurance pickup truck.Photo courtesy of Lordstown Motors

The partnership is a natural fit according to Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns. "Even before the first machines are turned on, there is a energy that flows throughout every corner of the factory," Burns said. "This isn't just hard work for hard work's sake ... This is work with a dream, a mission, and a goal in mind. An understanding that each of us is part of something bigger than ourselves. Joe Burrow embodies this mindset both on and off the field, and is the perfect representation for when you want something you work for it."

"I am proud to partner with a innovative company like Lordstown Motors," said Burrow. "Their team is putting in a tremendous amount of hard work to achieve some very lofty goals, and that certainly resonated with me and how I approach my job every day."

Lordstown Motors Endurance Joe Burrow Burrow recently spent time with the Lordstown Endurance.Photo courtesy of Lordstown Motors

The partnership represents an ongoing commitment by Lordstown Motors to work to revitalize the Mahoning Valley.

The Lordstown Endurance, the company's all-electric pickup truck is creeping toward production. The company recently launched its first ad campaign for the fleet vehicle and announced 40,000 model pre-orders.

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Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Sylvania Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on June 22, 2020 in Talladega, Alabama.

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The Vulcan Trophy is presented to the winner of each of NASCAR's top-tier Cup Series races - one in the spring, one in the autumn. Television broadcasts usually show the trophy a few times throughout the race, then when the champion is in the winner's circle in Victory Lane. It's worth taking a closer look at.

The trophy is more than two-and-a-half times taller than a bowling pin.

The Vulcan Trophy stands 38 inches tall(26 inches Vulcan, 13 inches base), but it's not the biggest of the NASCAR trophies. The Harley J. Earl Trophy, which is given the winner of the Daytona 500, is four feet tall and five feet wide.

It's also heavy, weighing in at 130 pounds.

Kyle Larson Las Vegas Speedway 2021

Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, celebrates with the checkered flag after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 07, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

The Vulcan Trophy weighs just about as much as NASCAR driver Kyle Larson, who is listed on Wikipedia as being 135 pounds.

The Vulcan on the trophy is holding three items with ties to mining history. 

Birmingham was founded in 19871 and is unique because its land contains coal, iron ore, and limestone - the raw materials for making iron and steel. This is the inspiration for the items the Vulcan is holding.

According to NASCAR, "His hammer and anvil that he used in his forge (shop where metal is heated and hammered into useful items) and the spear, which is a piece of his completed work that he held high and admired. For the winners of Saturday's doubleheader – the General Tire 200 for the ARCA Menards Series and the Ag-Pro 300 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series, they will receive the smaller Hammer & Anvil Trophy."

The trophy is a miniature version of a famous statue.

Vulcan Statue Birmingham

Elevated view of the Vulcan Statue, Birmingham, Alabama, 1970s. The statue portrays Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, and is the world's largest cast metal statue.

Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Just 45 minutes west of Talladega Superspeedway is the City of Birmingham, Alabama. At the Vulcan Park Museum there, atop Red Mountain, a 56-foot tall Vulcan statue is fastened to a 124-foot platform. It's the largest cast-iron statue in the world. Vulcan pays homage to the God of Fire in Ancient Roman mythology. It has stood overlooking the city since the 1930s.

The trophy is crafted by hand.

The trophy is handcrafted by artists from Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama. Sloss Furnaces was once the largest manufacturer of pig iron in the world now it's a National Historic Landmark.

To construct the trophy, sculptors start with an original wax pattern. A rubber mold is designed and molded in sand. Hot, melted iron is poured into the mold. After it cools, the iron pieces are removed from the sand mold.

Those pieces are then finished, a process that includes torches removing moisture from the iron. A was finish and clear coat is applied before a final brush up.

The Vulcan Trophy only goes back to 2016.

Team Penske driver Joey Logano was the inaugural recipient of the Vulcan Trophy after he won at the superspeedway in 2016. "I was pumped to be the first driver to win one," Logano said. "Trophies are one of the best parts of what we do, and some of them are just cooler and more special because of what they are. Talladega Superspeedway nailed it when they had the Vulcan Trophy made."

The speedway's history with the Vulcan goes back farther.

In 1969, one month after the running of the first NASCAR Cup Series race at the 2.66-mile speedway, the ARCA series took to the track in the Vulcan 500, a race named after the famous statue.

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The Lamborghini Huracan EVO RWD is a fresh addition to the supercar company's lineup.

Photo by Jordan Golson

There's something about a supercar that is deeply enthralling. This is particularly true when that supercar is a Lamborghini Huracán painted in an outrageous matte purple called Viola Mel.

There's much more to a supercar than the price, but let's get that out of the way up front: My test car stickers for an honestly-quite-reasonable $278,516 after it was fitted with $66,250 worth of optional extras and an eye-watering $3,695 destination charge.

Much like the Rolls-Royce Ghost previously reviewed last week, the question of whether its "worth it" is entirely up to the potential buyer. Specifically whether or not they a: want a Lamborghini Huracán EVO RWD; and b: have $278,516 to spend on a wildly impractical 610-horsepower sports car. If the answers to both are true, then yes, it's worth it.

The car's Viola Mel color attracts a lot of attention.Photo by Jordan Golson

But first, the basics: Getting in the Huracán isn't easy. And I don't just mean coming up with a house worth of cash to buy one — I mean literally climbing in. I had to teach a few people how to do it and it goes something like this: Open door; put one foot inside the footwell; set butt on the door sill; slide butt into seat; bring other foot into footwell; close door. To leave, reverse it.

It's not an elegant process and doing it in anything remotely approaching a dignified manner is tricky. But, if you do it right, your car will be painted in that Viola Mel color and folks won't be paying any attention to your haphazard attempts to not fall over when exiting the car because they'll be too busy falling in love with the paint. That's a $16,500 paint job by the way, courtesy of Lamborghini's Ad Personam customization program and words fail when trying to describe how good it looks in person.

It looks so magnificent that people think it's fake. I brought it to the weekly South OC Cars and Coffee event — ostensibly it's an impromptu car show for all manner of car enthusiasts, but an awful lot of Lambo drivers show up to show off. There were at least ten Huracáns in attendance, including a spyder in what a Porsche enthusiast would call Miami Blue — but none garnered as much attention as the Viola Mel.

Storage space is at a premium.Photo by Jordan Golson

This is what owning a supercar (or borrowing one for the weekend, in my case) is all about. Except the paint job was so outrageously unique that nearly everyone thought it was a really good wrap, or temporary vinyl covering. It costs a lot of money to have Lamborghini paint their car in such a way that it convinces people that you put a wrap on your car. And then you get to explain that no, it's not a wrap, it's paint and here let me show you this sticker under the hood that proves it's an original factory paint job. There aren't many cars that could get me going about the paint for hundreds of words, but here we are.

This was my second Huracán, and the first was wildly uncomfortable. A friend that I gave a ride to still talks about how awful it was, and that was five years ago. I wasn't sure if it was because of the car or because of the seats — but it was a little bit of both. That one had the most hardcore racing seats Lambo offers fitted to it, while this one has the mid-tier Sport Seat ($7,500). They're fairly comfortable, as sports car seats go, and are manually adjustable which is good for racing but I might skip them and get the "base" comfort seats instead unless you're going racing, in which case go for the uncomfortable race chairs.

Enough about the look; now on to that 610-horsepower V10. I'm not usually one to get emotional about the good old days, but there is something really special about a giant naturally aspirated engine that's going to be lost from the world soon due to new engine and fuel economy regulations, not to mention the advancement of technology.

The engine fires up with a ferocious bark that rattles the soul like a bolt of lightning and happily revs to terrifying heights with the slightest twitch of the throttle. The start button, hidden beneath an absurdly wonderful red missile-launcher-esque protective cover, might as well inject dopamine directly into your brain in such prodigious amounts as to make you forget about the pandemic, the fact that Trump isn't President or that he ever was (your choice), and that Tom Brady has seven Super Bowl rings and you don't.

And that's before you aim that Viola Mel nose at the nearest interstate on-ramp and punch it, Chewie.

Troubles forgotten. Smile affixed. Life ain't so bad.

At least until you have to slow down because you're well into triple digits and you haven't even merged onto the highway yet. Still. It's a good day.

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