Macario ‘Mack’ Torrez sits by the phone in his Pueblo home waiting to find out where he’ll be going next. From week to week, the in-demand Pueblo welder can only guess where the next gig is going to be. It could be Denver as easily as Des Moines. But lately, his mind is not as focused on what’s ahead as much as it is what just happened.
“I’m heartbroken, just very heartbroken,” said Torrez. On May 5th, a fire turned his garage and everything in it, including a prized 1969 Impala, into ash and twisted metal. The car, bought off the showroom floor by his parents, had been in his family since it was new. Over the years, its age had shown that was enough for Torrez to restore it to what he called “mint condition.”
“I had 35 years of collectables” in the garage, he said. The Impala was a particular point of pride for Torrez who had shown it as far away as California. In fact, he recently returned from California where he had taken it for a custom upholstery job. “The guy just did a great job on it.”
When he wasn’t on the road as a welder, Torrez could be found in his garage. “I had so much equipment in there,” he said, casually drifting into a check list he’s repeated endlessly since the fire. “Engines, brakes, tranny, tools, fabrication,” he says before returning to the conversation. “I just had so much equipment,” said the lifetime lowrider. “I accumulated it all over 35 years.”
To hear Torrez list the various cars, car parts and contents of the garage is akin to hearing someone talk about children, who it should be said, he also waxes lovingly over. The ’69 Impala lost in the blaze, he adds, belonged to his daughter. After restoring it, he gifted it to her. Cinco de Mayo was the last time she drove it, he said.
Torrez has had a love affair with car, engines, interiors and exteriors for as long as he can remember. His father instilled the passion and he’s done the same with his three children. “All my kids were raised at car shows and all have the love and passion for cars that I have. It’s like an addiction.” His wife of thirty years, Denise, is also along for the ride. In fact, their first date was spent at a car show.
Torrez tells a story only a fellow car guy can understand. He said that when he’s having trouble falling asleep, his mind will often drift off to something about cars. The self-taught artist whose medium is metal and sits on four wheels says “I can get a vision of something in my head and design it. I’ll get out of bed and put the idea on paper and put it into action.”
If there’s a car show nearby, Torrez will find it. At every show he’ll look over the various exhibits with a critical eye but is careful never to be critical of what he sees. “I don’t critique anyone’s work or anybody’s cars,” said the 58-year-old Torrez. “We’re all artists and everybody has their own style.” Still, he says he’ll put his work up next to anyone’s.
Because the contents of the garage were not insured, a GoFundMe page has been set up for him. Within days of the fire, more than $12,000 had been raised. In the meanwhile, he said he’ll work to get over his loss and look ahead. But, he admits, it’s not easy. He pauses then admits, “I’ve cried. I try not to show a lot of emotion, but it chokes me up to see what I created, and it’s all gone in a matter of twenty minutes. But me and my family are safe.”
So far, arson investigators have not pinpointed the cause of the fire. Because he welds for a living, he’s confident that he didn’t accidentally leave a valve open or forget to turn something off. “No. I don’t think so. I’m pretty safe because of what I do for a living. I always play it safe.”
When the dust is settled, Torrez said he’ll rebuild as much as he can and maybe even start on his ‘holy grail.’ That would have to be “a 69 Impala,” he said. “It’ll be candy apple red.”