When I first heard the news I wanted to press the rewind button and make sure I didn’t hear it correctly. It’s one of those moments that hit you, and gets you thinking why? How? What? No Way! That’s exactly how I felt. But as the days passed it was unfortunately a reality that I and many had to accept. A man and a friend I only had the opportunity to know for a short time. Since most of my friends and our mutual friends in the industry have either known Saul for a long time or have currently worked with him on an upcoming project. I, on the other hand met him back in 2011 when he brought this odd dope looking CRX to the IDRC Finals in Fontana. From there I was formerly introduced from a friend and as time surpassed we ran into each other, greeted one another and spoke briefly. Never once did he talk about his accomplishments or berate about his knowledge and self-taught talent through the years, since I never knew who he was. I didn’t think much of it, but of course during the 2012 season and forward I started to learn more about what Saul did for many cars and drivers. Not just in the Drag Racing World, but Time Attack, Drifting and even Off-Road. His company “Mission Critical” which served the industry with high quality head services was known through the Motorsports network. Once I started seeing the same “Mission Critical Performance” stickers on almost every prominent Race Car on the track, I realized how great his work was.
Fast forward to 2013 he asked me to shoot his wedding in Vegas. He told me he’s going to marry the Woman of his dreams and he was so happy. I honestly thought it would just be another wedding. Same traditional agenda and same everything. But I was wrong, Saul made it genuine, his words, his manner and everything during that moment was real. No cover ups or showing off, he was literally in love with his soon to be Wife. In return, he made that experience for all of us a memorable one, especially me, adding to my peace of mind knowing that finding your true love can still happen in today’s fast paced world.
Saul was an honorable man who worked with his love for cars, racing and the lifestyle that went with it. But he didn’t show it, to him it was about being himself and creating what he could, using his unique talent in everything he had his hands on. He didn’t need the recognition, the loud speeches to point him out, or the flashy stature one would have if they knew their talents. He was about Life, he wanted to create a brand that was his greatest work and be able to share it with everyone.
The Funny thing was I thought he was all Honda and that’s it, hence the fact that he never spoke about his other love and work. That all changed as I got to know him better, and paying a visit to his shop the first time around. I remember trying to find this place, going down this wide industrial road, then far down I see this Black Nissan S14 flying towards me from the opposite side. Trying to locate his shop I didn’t pay that much attention since whoever it was, I thought was a complete moron. Lol. But after taking a closer look, it was a Drift looking Car that had my friend Saul in the driver’s seat. We pull up at the shop the same time and he had his headphones on, he smiled and we talked. Long story short, I noticed some half built AE86’s laying around the shop, including some that were almost done. At first I thought they where customer cars, but they were his. He gave me a tour of the shop and even showed me this badass fully tubed CRX that looked ready to slaughter. A white street EG was on the lift and his Black CRX of course that was undergoing some changes tucked in the corner. But the Red CRX really blew my mind, he mentioned a little about what he wanted to do with it, but he also said it’s going to take some time. Then, as a AE86 lover myself, I had to ask what’s up with these 86’s? That’s when the AE86 convo started and he told me it’s one of his all time favorite cars. That’s Saul, always having an answer, and a legitimate one to surprise you with his knowledge. Either way my thought of him being just a Honda guy, was dead wrong.
Well, life happened and as busy as we all get time passed and before you know it, I picked up another 86, but a coupe this time. Making it my second one, the 3rd week I got it, I called Saul as if I had $20k ready to drop. Lol. Of course I didn’t have jack shit, but hearing what he had to say when I mentioned using the F20C or K24 vs. the 2RZ was a peace of mind. Unfortunately, that was the last time I spoke to him, and I kinda wished I got to know the guy more and do things differently. But as fate would have it, Saul had a Huge life that was busier than most, humble in all aspects of his work, always the guy to give his ear and would love to brainstorm ideas with you if it was crazy enough for him. His life was lived fully and was doing work non-stop for the future of his family and his ambitions. Saul’s mission was surely a blessed one, and being able to share his talent with the world from his time spent here is an accomplished one in my eyes. He will be forever missed, but not forgotten as leaves a legacy within all of us who were honored to be a part of his life. Saul Salceda Forever. – Rommel Estrada
Friend or not, please visit and help anyway you can. Even if it’s just a dollar. “Saul Salceda Memorial Fund”