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· Premium Member
10,285 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)

February Members of the Month are the gentlemen who brought you the FJ Cruiser Forum grill badges.
They are Pete/Slither, Steve/ScubaSteve, and Vince/Volhoo.

Muddygrrl: What are your future plans for the FJ?

PETE: SAS, I’ve already tossed the idea out there I just need to find I fab guy with the knowledge to work on my rig and the cash to pull it off right!

STEVE: My future plans for the FJ include a lift, rims and tires . . . once my boy is a little older I plan on taking him on a family “wheeling” vacation.

VINCE: An auxiliary gas tank, rear differential protection, dual batteries, in dash nav, sand boards/ladders, front/rear camera, CO2 tank and heavier springs in back.

Pete & Family



Muddygrrl: What will your FJ look like years from now?

PETE: Probably like Sols (Sbechtold) minus the tube doors.

STEVE: I’ve been bitten hard by the mod bug, so it will have a lift, rims and BFG’s. At some point I’d like to add an aftermarket rack- perhaps Gobi. Once its no longer my primary means of transportation, I’m probably going to “pinstripe” it by use of tree branches.

VINCE: Hopefully very similar but with more character (mileage, scratches, memories).

Muddygrrl: What will you look back on and remember most?

PETE: How much I screwed up the first 34 year of my life and came back fighting. The FJ was one of the first rewards of getting myself on track!

STEVE: Certainly the Forum Badge Project and the fun I have had seeing it happen. I have had so many people PM me and thank me for helping make this happen, it’s truly incredible.

VINCE: How this community comes together for knowledge, support and adventure.

Muddygrrl: What has the forum done for you and what can the forum learn from you?

PETE: The forum has led to my involvement with the FJNortheasters first as a member and then a leader. Learn from me? Make sure when you order 400 grill badges that you first inspect each one before it goes out!

STEVE: The forum has taught me so much about the FJ Cruiser. It’s like it’s a community for people that share the same interest. I have learned mods that work and mods that don’t. I have learned a lot about off-roading; seems as though there are people on this forum that know more about the FJ Cruiser than the people that built them or sell them. I try to offer advice relating to police related topics and I hope people can take the advice from a police officer and apply it to their specific concerns.

VINCE: The forum has given me advice, friendship and confidence. I’m not sure what the forum can learn from me.

Pete out enjoying friends and his FJ Cruiser

Steve poses with his very own grill badge


Muddygrrl: What is the most unusual thing about you?

PETE: One of my ears sits higher than the other and my eyes are fired up from getting hit with a beer bottle in a brawl! That would have been in the first 34 years I spoke of previously!

STEVE: Wow . . . that’s a tough one. There are so many! I’m a true animal lover. My wife and I have two dogs, three cats and a rabbit. It’s kinda like having a farm in our small house in the middle of the city.

VINCE: That I had never been off roading before I bought the FJ.

MuddyGrrl: What was the best day of your life?

PETE: Without a doubt the births of my two children Austen(14) and Amanda(11). Meeting my fiancé Kris follows. She’s the one that helped get me straightened out!

STEVE: Without a doubt, it was June 26th, 2008. The day my baby boy as born!

VINCE: When I graduated from the Art Center College of Design (Pasadena, California).

MuddyGrrl: Where or what is your most desired adventure/excursion?

PETE: As with anyone else, getting out to Ouray for the Summit. I’m sure the pictures don’t do it justice and I love the raw wilderness like there is out in Colorado.

STEVE: I’m still new to this FJ Cruiser passion / slight addiction, so I’m still looking forward to my first Trail Teams event. I’m waiting for the 09 Schedule and keeping my fingers crossed. Beyond that, I’ve got my sights set on the Summit . . . just have to wait until my boy gets a little older.

VINCE: I would love to do the Australian Outback.

MuddyGrrl What is your favorite trail/trip?

PETE: We’re very limited in CT. We wheel Rausch 4-5 times a year. It’s a great park with a little of everything.

STEVE: Sad to say but I’m still a mall crawler. LOL. That’s only until I get some real tires on it though. I’ve got my sights set on McCaslin Mountain Off road park here in Wisconsin, so I’m hoping to make that trip this summer/fall.

VINCE: I guess it would be the Mojave Road (East to West).

MuddyGrrl What is your favorite modification to date?

PETE: My Donahoe(ICON) suspension was the best by far. I have not experienced a single problem in over two years. The billet UCA’s were really sticky in the beginning but as soon as they wore in we were good to go!

STEVE: Toss up- favorite practical modification would be the PIAA 520’s and Taco Switch. Favorite “fun” mod would certainly go to the Forum Badge simply because it was something I was able to be a part of to make the forum a better place.

VINCE: The Star on my door.

MuddyGrrl: What mod would you not do again?

PETE: Polished wheels! Trying to keep up with them is a job in itself. After the New England winter it’s a 4 hour ordeal to get them back.

STEVE: My Predator Style step bars. Living in the north, they have already started to rust due to the salty roads. The snow builds up on them so I find myself at my destination getting out of my truck in the winter and walking around the entire truck kicking snow off them . . . I think its made me a little obsessive compulsive. lol

VINCE: I should have gone with an in-dash nave system instead of the hand held unit I am currently using.

MuddyGrrl:How do you expect your mods to benefit you?

PETE They have already. They definitely have made an already trail ready vehicle into a vehicle capable of things I never would have thought I could/would do. I’ve gone over some stuff I never would have thought about.

STEVE: My first off road excursion (if you want to call it that) left me high centered on a small snow bank . . . my recovery gear consisted of only 1 glove and an ice scrapper. I vowed to keep it on the road until I get a lift and tires on it. Once those are on, it will be a whole new game. . . I plan on getting it off road a lot more.

VINCE: I expect them to take me where I want to go (within reason) and return me home safely.

MuddyGrrl: What does your FJ do for you? How has it affected your life?

PETE: My FJ has given me an outlet. I can always tinker with something or something to it. It keeps me busy. As far as affecting my life. It’s brought my kids a little closer to me. They love the off roading trips and all of the great folks we’ve met. I’ve become very active in the FJ community by taking over the FJNortheasters and helping out with the grill badges here. I like the feeling you get when your putting a smile on someone else’s face!

STEVE: First and foremost, at the present time, its my primary means of transportation. I like having “special vehicles”. By special, I mean something that has a following, more than just going from point A to point B. I enjoy spending time looking at different mods and being able to plan out what my truck will look like in the future. It has affected my life like no other vehicle . . . I was rarely on the computer until I bought my FJ, now I find myself checking out the forum several times per day just to see what new topics come up.

VINCE: It has given me more confidence and has brought my family closer together.

MuddyGrrl: What other recreation do you enjoy?

PETE: I like Waterfowl hunting and fishing both fresh and saltwater. My first avatar on here was a picture of me with a 6-1/2 foot Hammerhead shark in Ft Lauderdale. It now hangs over my bed on the wall!

STEVE: About 40 miles north of me are over a hundred miles of ATV trails; my wife and I spend a lot of time in the summer and fall ATV’ing. I also spend a lot of time at the local root beer stand on cruise nights talking with other Corvette owners.

VINCE: Parties with friends and family.

MuddyGrrl: Who are you in real life?

PETE: Pretty much the same guy you experience on here minus the tool apron and sawdust. A successful self employed contractor with a love for the outdoors and my family.

STEVE: I am a police officer in a community of about 50,000 people between the Mississippi River and a scenic bluff. I work second shift and spend most of my mornings hanging out with my boy Harrison. I take my dogs to the local county park nearly every morning for exercise, and spend my weekends and evenings after work with my wife, Jeanne. I’ll do just about anything to make people laugh, after all laughter is the best medicine.

VINCE: A commercial artist.

MuddyGrrl: Why did you buy your FJ?

PETE: My son and I were going to a NASCAR race in May of 2006. As we drove by the Toyota dealership on the Dupont HWY in Dover, Delaware there was a Voodoo FJ in the front. At that point I hadn’t seen one. I said to Austen “I’m getting one of those!” 3 months later on August 2, 2006 I took delivery of it. Probably just on sheer looks and that was before I found out what I could do to it.

STEVE: I had a Toyota Tacoma Prerunner that I bought from my brother. It was a great vehicle, but driving around with two 80lb black labs and a baby in a car seat was not exactly practical, considering they were all in the cab. I saw an FJ Cruiser at the local dealership while on patrol and had to have it. Then when I started researching the FJ, I realized the wonderful following it had and the unlimited number of potential modifications, I knew it was the vehicle for me.

VINCE: For the adventure it promised.

· Premium Member
10,285 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
MuddyGrrl: What is your favorite music? What CD’s are in your player right now?

PETE: I listen to a little of everything. I like Country and Rock. We’ve got Johnny Cash to Drowning Pool!

STEVE: I enjoy just about all types of music, from Country to 80’s hair bands. Right now, I have a couple of Guns and Roses CD’s in the player, of course a John Mellencamp greatest hits, AC/DC’s latest, and Motley Crew’s latest. I tend to get on a certain music kick and I’ll listen to that for a month straight, then move on . . . right now its hard rock, next month I might want nothing but country.

VINCE: I have a very eclectic musical appetite, my current favorite CD’s list includes (artists): Duffy, Kings of Leon, Kathleen Edwards, Emiliana Torinni, Beck, David Byrne and Brian Eno, The Virgins, The Peth, Cold War Kids, Tilly & the Wall, and The Velvet Underground.

MuddyGrrl: What is your favorite food?

PETE: I’m a sucker for a great rib eye and a baked potato!

STEVE: What’s not to love about a perfectly grilled steak?

VINCE: Sashimi/Sushi (If I still lived in Tokyo I would not weigh in at 250).

MuddyGrrl: Did you have a previous vehicle that was as fun as your FJ?

PETE: Never

STEVE: It’s a toss up between the FJ and my 79 Corvette. When you drive the Vette, everyone gives you the thumbs up and it seems to strike up a lot more conversation. As far as fun to drive though, I would have to say the FJ simply because it has all the creature comforts that we are all so use to nowadays, like fuel injection, and air conditioning (that actually cools the interior).

VINCE: I used to think my Harley was the greatest toy ever (1994 FLSTN) but now I’m selling it.

Pete striking a pose with his FJ

MuddyGrrl: How & why do you participate on the Forum?

PETE: I try to stay active by helping others with my findings while working on the FJ. I’ve also had a great time hosting the badge buy. As with anything you’re going to have a few not so happy members but 99% of them were supportive and grateful. Knowing I’ve done my small part for the forum and again putting a smile on someone else’s face makes it all worth while.

STEVE: I check in on the forum several times a day, for only a few minutes at a time just to see what the “new talk” is. I participate as a way of learning more about my truck and to meet new people.

VINCE: I try and play an active roll in the forum with limited advice and encouragement, and offer my design skills at times. As for why, I do it because I truly love how this vehicle has made a positive change in my life.

MuddyGrrl: The reason I chose this group to be highlighted for February is because you all were instrumental in bringing the concept of the FJ Cruiser forum grille badge to fruition. Now that many members have received their badges, do you foresee another project such as this for the future?

PETE: Sure I’d be up for another challenge! Don’t know what you guys can throw at us next but I’m game. If I can help make it happen I will! With approval from the Mods and Admins of course!

STEVE: There are a lot of creative people on this forum. I hope at least a few of them are inspired by the success of this project enough that they will offer their ideas for possible future forum projects.

VINCE: Sure, but I’m hoping we will keep this same design for at least another year or so and build some awareness in this “brand” before it is changed. I would like to see another chance for people to get one, and maybe even put together T-shirts (hoodies), Hats and Stickers as well.

MuddyGrrl: You all live in different states so coordinating this had to have its challenges. Have you learned anything about this that you might be able to apply in your own life, whether work or personal?

PETE: First, it would have taken a year without the internet. As far as challenges, it wasn’t really all that hard to pull off. That is with the exception of the great design debate and voting part. The only part I regret is that I couldn’t shake Vince, Steve, or Bill’s/Dragon’s hand when we were done.
Not sure if we will ever meet in person but they’re all outstanding guys! I don’t think I’ve learned anything just fortified the belief that if you want to get something done you’ve got to grab the bull by the horns and get it done, no matter what bumps may come along.

STEVE: There are a lot of creative people on this forum. I hope at least a few of them are inspired by the success of this project enough that they will offer their ideas for possible future forum projects.

I’ve always got some crazy ideas floating around in the back of my head, I just need to wait for the right time to present them. I like simple projects, something that everyone can afford, and everyone can install to make their truck just a little nicer.

The extent of my involvement in the badges was the initial thread offering the idea, simply to see if I was the only person on the forum that thought it was a good idea, or if others would like a forum badge. Once it was decided to move forward with the project, my only involvement was to keep the project on track to ensure we stuck with the original idea and do so in a timely manner.

It's too easy to get side-tracked when getting opinions from potentially 20,000 people, so I knew in order to make this happen, we had to keep people interested and keep them involved. All of the designers were great; we did not give them a lot of time, so they worked very hard to come up with a great selection for us to poll. Meanwhile, Pete (Slither) was working hard behind the scenes meeting with the vendor and working on the small details.
As for future projects . . . I’m going to focus on modding my truck for a while, perhaps throwing an idea out here and there and see if it takes off like the badges.

VINCE: Delivering creative content online is routine for me, but working with Pete was a pleasure (he did all the hard work and deserves a lot of credit). What I learned was to work with someone who is as dedicated and energetic as Pete.

MuddyGrrl: Each of you contributes so much to FJ Cruiser Forums in your own…unique way. When you log onto the forum, what is the first thing you go to?

PETE: I always head straight for the active topics to see what new and exciting events are occurring. Sometime I go right to the tech category I need to get myself out of a jam!

STEVE: I check out the general section first . . . it always seems to have some interesting threads making their way to the top every few minutes; then, of course, I race down to the items for sale (usually to find that Slither (Pete) has already beat me to the deal.) Because of my involvement in the badges, I have managed to read every post in every thread involving them.

VINCE: I go right to the Active Topics.

MrsScubaSteve and their newest addition

MuddyGrrl: Do your significant others ‘understand’ why you spend so much time on our forum? Explain.

PETE: Since I took over the FJNortheasters forum it’s easier. I’ve actually managed to get her involved over there. We’ve got some mods coming up for her Voodoo that she’s unaware of. Yup that was going to be left stock…. NOT! Believe me I still get the “Are you ever going to get off that friggin’ computer?” on occasion.

STEVE: In one word, No! My wife thinks I’m crazy. I’ve explained the whole “badge thing,” but she just doesn’t get it. To her, a vehicle is a means of transportation to get from here to there, that’s it.
The one thing I’ve got going on my side though is she can’t set that baby boy down anyway so she doesn’t get on my case about the time I spend on the forum.
I love her to death, but she just doesn’t get the fascination for Corvettes, FJ Cruisers or the forum.

VINCE: Yes, my Wife Claudia is also an excellent driver and has taken my rig to Moab on her own as well. Although she does not participate herself on the forum, she is always asking me about what is going on.

MuddyGrrl: I, (we) state your name….

PETE: I, Peter C. Braatz, do uphold the duties bestowed upon me as “Badgeministrator” of the FJ Cruiser Forum and here from this day forward promise to order, package, and ship all forum members’ badges with swiftness and without delay. To be pelted with PM’s from disgruntle badge recipients about missing mounting posts and unthreaded mounting studs and deal with those folks with a smile on my face and a bee in my underbritches.
For I am a servant to those in need, my fellow forum members, without whom this all would not have been worth my time and effort. FJCruiser Forums, we are one!

STEVE: I (Scuba) Steve Pataska am a Police Officer and community caretaker for my small Midwest City in Western Wisconsin. I promise to uphold the Law Enforcement Oath of Honor. I enjoy making people laugh, even if it’s at my own expense. I am a loyal husband and father, and responsible pet owner. I vow to utilize my FJ Cruiser for its intended purpose, to explore the roads less traveled.

VINCE: Vince Paterson Vince Peterson, having known better, and without any excuses, am as common as dirt, big as life, busy as a bee, and slow as molasses.

· Premium Member
2,879 Posts
First thanks Mo! And second when did I become "Slimer?" Awesome job. Thanks to my compadres Vince, Steve, and Bill! Good Job Men.:cheers:

· Premium Member
10,285 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
First thanks Mo! And second when did I become "Slimer?" Awesome job. Thanks to my compadres Vince, Steve, and Bill! Good Job Men.:cheers:
I'm SO sorry! I've been under a lot of stress with the move. Apparently I've got some dust in my eyes. ;)


· Kajun Kim
6,501 Posts
Congrats Guys and THANK YOU for all your hard work to give us our Forum Badges!!!!!

· Registered
5,277 Posts
Congratulations to each of you three. We all appreciate the time and energy you guys put in so we could all have a badge to show off.

I am fully planning on a big hearty handshake of thanks to Pete when we meet up at Rausch. And thanks for welcoming me into the Northeasters bunch..... Rausch is gunna be a ball.

· Premium Member
2,760 Posts
Congrats Guys! A well deserved recognition for your efforts.

· fka fatbrat40
2,669 Posts
Congrats to all three of you an honor well deserved :cheers:
Thanks again for all your efforts with the forum badge:clap:
Thanks to Slither for your efforts as well :bigthumb:

· Premium Member
19,414 Posts
Great interview :).

· Premium Member
10,285 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Congrats to all three of you an honor well deserved :cheers:
Thanks again for all your efforts with the forum badge:clap:
Thanks to Slither for your efforts as well :bigthumb:
Ok, please tell me I'm gonna live this one down....;)


· Premium Member
3,899 Posts
Cheers - :cheers:


· Registered
919 Posts
THANKS AGAIN GUYS!!! And thanks again Pete for those bubble mailers, Our badges will be shipped out on the 23rd. :clap:
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