Explore Phoenix-Scottsdale

My Valley of the Sun: Jay Rogers of Local Motors

Jay Rogers on why he loves the Phoenix area and why his company Local Motors builds the Rally Fighter street-legal rally car in the Valley of the Sun

A Rally Fighter positively roars among rush-hour traffic. The aggressive, off-road-eager vehicle is street-legal, highly customizable, and built in-part by each purchaser at Local Motors’ “micro-factory” in the Chandler area. One of the lead brains behind these tricked-out rally cars is Local Motors' CEO and co-founder John “Jay” Rogers. Rogers and his family call Phoenix home, and the Rally Fighter itself is positively inspired by Phoenix and its surrounding desert. Where caught up with Rogers to talk about rally cars, Local Motors and his recommendations for what to do when you’re in the Phoenix area. 

In what other cities did you consider establishing the first Local Motors micro-factory, and what clinched it for ours?

We are going to put micro-factories in 100 global cities over the next 10 years. We chose Phoenix first because at the time our community had designed a premium, authentic off-road coupe and we were looking for a desert town ready to host such an awesome product and such an entrepreneurial team. We looked all over the American Southwest and Phoenix was a clear winner. It’s all here: engineers, fabricators, schools, vehicle companies from testing to tractors to aerospace, and lots of desert.

What are Local Motors’ most ambitious and interesting goals for 2014?

We will make the first direct, digital-manufactured car that the world has ever seen and build it right in front of people’s eyes, from an idea on a piece of paper to driving away in a single session.

What might the most tricked-out Rally Fighter built to-date fetch if it crossed the block at one of the Scottsdale-area auto auctions in January?

A supercharged, Baja-ready race edition of the Rally Fighter running 35-inch Kevlar-reinforced tires with a generation 3 front end should fetch $225,000 on the auction block given the basic value of the materials and components. This vehicle would sport 20 inches-plus of wheel travel in front and rear, 650 brake horsepower, a top speed of “way too fast,” Recaro seats, Simpson restraints, Lowrance GPS, a six-speed transmission with electronic paddle shifting, race radios, external-bypass twin tower King shocks, a personalized race wrap, 20,000 lumens of LEDs, an independent transmission cooler, full trunk, bead lock wheels, and an entire truck load of neck-snapping awesomeness. I think that Barrett-Jackson or Russo & Steele could handle this product with the right introduction. But perhaps RM would be an even better fit for the exclusivity. Whoever led it, they would need to highlight the one-of-a-kind aspect of the fact that this vehicle was designed and developed for production in Phoenix!

Local Motors micro-factory
A Rally Fighter in mid-build at Local Motors’ micro-factory in the Chandler area (©Local Motors)

What restaurants do you recommend to clients who are in town to build their own Rally Fighters?

Tarbell’s has world class quality food, wine, and premier service. They have a dossier on each customer to give you a repeat experience that surpasses. True Food offers a clean, fresh meal with excellent cocktails to pair. Joe's Farm Grill is a super lunch place in Agritopia with milkshakes to defy the thickest of straws—and they have some of the coolest bathroom decor in the business. La Grande Orange for the prosciutto and avocado pizza—this takes New York pizza to task. St. Francis for homemade bread, soft smooth eggs, and because kids eat free at Sunday brunch. Lon's at the Hermosa for the beautiful ambiance on a desert night and some Pig's Nose scotch. Lux for a hot mocha. Vovomeena for cold shot coffee sampler. Beignets and bacon from French Grocery. FnB for amazing shishito peppers. I am still looking for the best doughnuts in town!

Patio at Lon's
Patio at Lon’s at The Hermosa (©Lon's)

What do you know about your “new” neighbors in the I-10 automotive corridor, at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park (the former Firebird Raceway)?

They are doing big things to accelerate the park into a world class facility. From the track to the boats to the drags and lastly to the short course for dirt racing—they have a great set of offerings. Expect to see us do much much more together.

Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park
Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park hosts the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series. (©Phil Edwardson)

How and where does your family celebrate good report cards or other “everyday” successes?

For the boys (we have four of them), Mojo Yogurt for the toppings or Churn for some of the best homemade ice cream this side of Cincinnati. For my wife and me, an hour at the spa at the Royal Palms.

Get there:

Follow Jay Rogers’ perfect one-day Phoenix-area itinerary for your next visit.