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The Builder, Fabricator, and Visionary Behind the World’s Most Badass Trans Am
BY Sam Du //
July 13, 2023
Photography: Renz Dimaandal
  • Riley Stair is a builder, fabricator, and automotive visionary that has taken the aftermarket industry by storm with his talent and 1970 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am build.
  • Riley’s Trans Am claimed 1st place in the Hot Wheels Legends Tour in 2020 and was a mainstay in the 2021 Pit+Paddock SEMA display.
  • Stair has transformed a passion for building into RS Motorsport – a business dedicated to helping others achieve their car ultimate goals.
  • Stair’s iconic Trans Am is the subject of our latest poster series giveaway where a few fortunate followers can win a limited edition print of his car.

I met Riley Stair eight years ago. Back then, I wasn’t just a fan of his evil LS6-powered Datsun 260Z, but I was also digging his photography skills. He was a super kind and humble guy that had “the eye”, and he just seemed to be incredibly awesome at anything he put his mind to. Fast forward to 2018 and it was clear Riley had dropped the camera to focus on what he was most passionate about: creating badass race cars. Instead of that Datsun, he shocked the entire universe with his 1970 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. 

Riley’s Trans Am isn’t just popular in the car community, but it’s hall-of-fame material. Riley claimed 1st place in the Hot Wheels Legends Tour in 2020. Side note: I’ve been a judge for the Hot Wheels contest and it’s the toughest competition out there as every car competitor has to go up against the nation’s best hot rods, lowriders, trucks, imports, you name it. Riley winning the competition was no small feat, but if you’ve ever met him, you’ll know he’s not even all about that crap. He just wants to push his car harder on the track, which seems crazy to most people because of how immaculate his Trans Am looks. I was lucky enough to watch Riley first-hand at Global Time Attack at COTA earlier this year; he was flying! I’m proud of Riley as a friend and as a fan. I’m extremely honored that he was a part of our 2021 SEMA display, and looking forward to seeing what comes next as he puts more time and energy into his business RS Motorsport.


Let’s take a step back for those who don’t know who you are and answer the simple question of… Who is Riley Stair?!

I’m a pretty straightforward, what you see is what you get type of person. I am obsessed with cars. Cars always lurked below the surface of what has headlined the previous chapters of my life and started to stick through the surface somewhat with the Datsun back then. Through some life changes and reevaluation of my future, the obsession with building them to the best of my ability matured to take center stage of my life with the Trans Am pre-SEMA 2018. Now, the pursuit of building cars rules my thoughts and my physical efforts every day. I have a pretty obsessive personality and I need to aim that at something, and at this stage in my life, it is race cars and my business is built around building them. 

How’d you get into fabrication and building wild cars like your Datsun, BMW, and now Trans Am? How have your skills and interests evolved over the years? 

I got into cars via my dad. While he didn’t have crazy race cars or anything particularly “special”, all of the drivers he had always seemed rad to me and inevitably started to shape my eye for what I found cool. Getting into the fabrication, and building of the cars I’ve had in the past, was mostly formed by the desire to have things I couldn’t afford to have done for me. Like many of us, I think the desire to achieve an aesthetic drove my efforts initially, creating the aesthetic I like and then making it work well for whatever that car needed to do for me, since it was usually my daily driver I was modifying in the early days. Over the years my focus has evolved, and while I still find aesthetics important, there has been a role reversal, from making an aesthetic perform to now making a desired performance meet an aesthetic standard. While differentiation may seem slight, it is colossal in application. My goals have, and continue to, evolve. What started as just working toward my own personal automotive goals and goal posts, now evolved into helping my customers meet theirs. Even through the transition of goals, my ambition remains the same. I always want to do better and make it nicer, faster, lighter, etc.

The Trans Am was a passion project of yours, but it’s also become your biggest success and marketing tool. Now is it more like your track toy? How has the development of the Trans Am been over the years and what else is planned for it in the future?

The Trans Am is very important to me, it has taught me so much, not only from a vehicle dynamics and fabrication standpoint but it’s taught me a lot about myself. Among a few goals for the car, one of them was always to be a track car — a test bed for ideas — as well as a means to accrue knowledge about how certain aspects of a race car should, or shouldn’t be built. It has served as a jumping-off point for my business, all the while teaching me lessons, not only in design and engineering, but in perseverance and dedication. The development process has gone well all things considered. Being that I’ve had a very busy calendar of work to try and afford said development and testing, the Trans Am generally had to wait until after hours to get its attention. Nevertheless, each step it takes is a step forward, so I’m absolutely thrilled about that. As for what it will do in the future, I know it will see a lot of testing around the tracks here in California and some Global Time Attack events while I work towards building its successor. Once that is finished up, I’d like to restore the Trans Am, as I’m sure by that time it will need it; but you know, as silly as it sounds, that car seems to have a way of creating its own future, so we’ll just have to see where it takes me. 

Now we know more about Riley Stair, can you elaborate more on RS Motorsport? What is it that you are setting out to do? And as a business owner, I know you’ve experienced a fair share of challenges, even moving to LA at one point. What are some of the things you’ve learned in this industry?

RS Motorsport is my business and the culmination of the skills I have worked for over the years. I set out on this journey after finishing my car back in 2018. I knew that building cars was what I wanted to do, and finishing the Trans Am was my graduation toward that. I typically keep my goals quiet and personal, but for RS Motorsport, the goal is simple: to have a successful business, centered around building some of the best race cars out there. By “best” not only do I mean the fastest, but also aesthetically pleasing, and with an emphasis on the craftsmanship that comprises them. I am constantly learning and trying to grow towards that goal. There are many facets to “success” so I’m always narrowing in on what aspect will fill the void. I try and keep that goal and desire pure, as these days it’s easy to latch on to a societal success, which may not be right for me or my business. That is probably one of the things having a business in this industry has shown and taught me. There are many different veins of success in this industry, and it can be difficult to navigate which is right for you on a personal level as well as can pay the bills and provide the opportunities you want with your business! 

A lot of people that I’ve talked to about your Trans Am and your abilities are inspired by you. How about some advice to anyone out there who is looking to make a career in race car fabrication or looking to build a project car as incredible as yours?

I told myself a long time ago, if I want to be successful at something, I need to allow myself to be consumed by it. I’m sure that does not have to be the case for everyone, but for me and the way I am, I am consumed by these cars and this career.  If you commit yourself to it, and your motivation is pure, I think the rest will come; you will find a way. That is the premise I choose to believe.






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