Throttlestop is more than just a facility that sells luxury automobiles. Founded by lifelong friends Jim Balestrieri and Tom Kostrivas, Throttlestop is the cumulation of decades of passion for cars, motorcycles, and racing. Both founders have an extensive history working in the automobile industry. As kids, Jim and Tom competed against each other racing “anything with wheels.” These beginnings led Jim to become a regular racing circuit competitor at Road America, a passion he has now passed down to his son. Meanwhile, Tom was hard at work managing his own luxury automobile leasing company in Milwaukee. Together, and with the addition of General Manager Nic Piekarski, the team came together to combine their passions into building Throttlestop in Elkhart Lake, WI.
DRIVEN by PASSION
Throttlestop was built to share our passion for automobiles with others by consigning and sourcing luxury cars, showcasing our museum of limited-edition motorcycles, and providing exemplary detailing and storage services to owners seeking to protect their prized vehicles.
Whether visitors are here to consign a luxury car, purchase a vehicle, view industry relics in our Motorcycle Museum, or simply explore and be a part of our culture, everyone is welcome at Throttlestop!
At Throttlestop, automobile enthusiasts will find themselves immersed in a showcase of incredibly rare luxury cars, and vintage motorcycles tended to by a team of dedicated and passionate automobile experts. Throttlestop’s visitors flock to Elkhart Lake, WI not only to view our facility’s rotating inventory of classic cars but to also visit Throttlestop’s unique Motorcycle Museum. Inside the motorcycle museum, visitors can get an up-close look at some of the rarest, most exotic motorcycles in the world. Visit Throttlestop, located just two miles outside of the world-famous Road America racetrack in Elkhart Lake, WI, and see exactly why we are Driven By Passion.
Why Buy From
We find the personal approach works best for our clients whether they are looking to purchase or sell a prized vehicle. Investors and collectors have sought the expertise of Throttlestop’s knowledgeable staff to source the rarest cars and motorcycles on the planet. We leverage an expansive personal and business network to locate luxury automobiles and deliver them to buyers who are as passionate about them as we are.
As a kid growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I was captivated by anything with wheels. I came of age during the 1950’s Elvis era, then the 1960’s “American Graffiti” period. I was mesmerized by the sight of the 132 louvers (yes, I counted them) in the hood of my older brother’s 1957 metal flake gold, 2-door Pontiac Catalina, complete with black and white Naugahyde interior—dice and all.
At age 9, I rode in the shotgun seat of a gold–on–gold 1963 Chevy Impala 425hp/409 4-speed with the 4:10’s. I vividly recall the smell of the burning rubber, the purr of the engine, and that fabulous reverb radio. During that glorious time, I reveled in slot car racing, plastic car model contests, and custom bicycle building complete with banana seats, wild paint jobs, and baseball cards rumbling against the spokes.
The Vietnam War signaled the dawn of a period of social unrest. Great music from the Doors, Byrds, and Hollies. Great cars like the Hemi Charger and 427/435 HP Corvettes. Great motorcycles like the Triumph 650 Bonneville, 750 Norton, Harley police trikes, Hondas such as the 50/90/160/305’s, and of course, the Honda Black Bomber 450 Twin.
As I grew up, my passion for cars and motorcycles only intensified. I restored a few Mercedes 190 SLs. I tried, unsuccessfully, to install a V-6 Buick engine in my 1959 VW. In 1987 I stuffed a very rare 540 cubic inch tall deck bow tie roller cam beast into my 1970 Chevelle—650 ft-lbs of torque!
There was that wide-body 1967 Corvette that Tom and I bought in Ash Flat, Arkansas. I removed the 427/400HP Tri-Power motor in favor of a high compression 496 with an 850 Holley double pumper and Doug Nash 5 speed. I had a “mishap” with that car when an underinflated front Goodyear Gatorback broke bead. The owner at the restoration shop was horrified that I had destroyed a perfectly nice 427/400 Tri-Power Convertible that still displayed the original gas tank sticker. He suggested I check out open lapping days at Road America. I owned a 1986 BMW M6 with excellent suspension, so I signed up with our local BMW club to drive Road America. At first I only “scratched this itch” once a year on a long weekend, but as time passed I became obsessed with each next build and track event. The problems in my life—trust me, there were many–seemed to fade away on those days at the race track. Today my greatest joy in life centers on club races and track events. I have lost count of the cars and cycles I have had the pleasure to own and drive. I think often about those I gave away—and would like to get back. Like that 1967 red/black, Shelby GT500. It had a 4-speed and a dealer-installed 427 side oiler with mid-rise dual quads. The buyer restored it from the ground up and still owns it. Maybe I’ll get it back someday.
Then there was that one-owner, Lucerne Blue 1970 Pontiac Trans Am Ram Air III, that sported a 4-speed and 26,000 original miles and paint that Tom found for me. I had that one for 20 years. I put in a Jim Butler 468 HO and then, thinking better of it, switched back to the original engine.
In 1995, I purchased a 1994 Red/Red Lingenfelter ZR1 that won the Road and Track zero to 150 mph to zero shootout. This car also featured one of my most notable mistakes. With the car sold but not yet delivered, I persuaded myself to enjoy just one more track day at Road America. As luck would have it, that 5 foot long overhead cam timing chain flew off the engine just before entering turn 1 at about 155 mph. That was a painful $40,000 lesson.
The Red Witch was a 1967 Red/Black Pro Touring Camaro, the first by Mark Stelow, the father of Pro Touring. He built the car to run the One Lap of America (a DNF). It was the Hot Rod Magazine Car of the Year in 1996 and offered a testbed of new tuner parts. An aluminum 532 CI with Trick Flow aluminum heads, fuel injection, ZF 6 speed, and ZR-1 rubber and rims, just to name a few. That car was nothing less than a work of art. I know this because I would often simply sit and stare at it.
Of course, there were also the motorcycles. Two, in particular, were game-changers for me. The first was a 1967 Honda CL77 Silver/Black 305 scrambler I bought in 1969. The second was a 1976 Honda Goldwing, which I owned until 1984 when I took a hiatus from all motorcycles. I had 40,000 miles of pure pleasure cruising around the country on that bike. I even put on off-road tires one Wisconsin winter, so I could drive it during the Iran hostage gas crisis of 1979-80.
The 1960s was a great time to grow up. Great music, great times, great friends, and great cars. I devoured every issue of Hot Rod Magazine, immersing myself in the specifications, and color options. I would dream about the day I could actually drive one of those unbelievable cars.
What amazed me the most was the speed of change every model year. The mechanical fuel injection on the 1963 fuelie split-window coupe, the front disk brakes on the GTO, the posi rear ends on the LS-6 Chevelle’s, and the increased horsepower on—well, on everything. Some day, I told myself, I would drive the fastest, most technologically advanced, and most beautiful cars in the world.
One of my great formative experiences was pumping gas at Helwig’s Service Station. In those days, someone actually would pump your gas, wash your windows, check your oil and take your cash—all while you sat in the comfort of your own car. What a terrific place to work for an impressionable kid from Milwaukee, in the era of Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. Pumping gas, I would eyeball those GTO’s, 7 Liter Fords, 409’s, Chevelle’s, Caddy coupes, 1963-5 Riviera’s some with duel quads, and the Harley’s that rumbled on the local streets. I spent time talking, listening, serving, and learning—most of all, learning. Learning everything I could about what those cars had to offer.
There were so many cars to learn about. There was a friend’s 1962 Red Corvair four-door. We rode with the windows open due to an exhaust leak that spewed carbon monoxide into the heater. There was the 1964 Pontiac baby blue two-door post 326 V-8 Tempest with a 4 speed. Did that sound good! And how about my folks’ 1969 Pontiac Green Firebird 400 with the Turbo hydro 400. I wish I had that car today. There was the metal flake green VW powered dune buggy that my uncle Andy owned—perfect for those cold Wisconsin winter nights. Last but not least, there was my 1973 Firebird Formula 350 Ram Air. That car was my gateway to the world of handling. To this day I don’t know how the Pontiac engineers created a car that handled like that one on such a primitive chassis.
Nic PiekarskiGeneral Manager
Like many others, my passion for all things motorized began at a very young age. My father Paul helped spark my love for automobiles. He still owns a second-generation Camaro—along with a C5 Z06—that we spent many days driving, wrenching, customizing, and showing back in the early 1980s. My fondest moments growing up were learning from him and experiencing his passion, not only for his cars but for the diversity of the market.
I was bitten by the two-wheeled bug around the age of 5, and with the help of my dad and grandpa, I was given a 1982 Kawasaki KD80E dirt bike…in a bushel basket. So, with the help again of my father, we rebuilt the bike together and I started on a journey that still makes my heart beat like it did the first time I heard the old “Kaw” come to life.
We started visiting Road America every year in 1989 and it has shaped my dreams since, the sights, the smells, the sounds…it’s my “quiet place”. Through the years, we also rebuilt a 1972 Honda Z50 that we found behind a barn as another father-son project. These hands-on experiences molded me into the person I am today.
At age 11, I moved up to a Suzuki RM250, WAY too much of a bike for my age, I had the opportunity to learn restraint, which helped me become a successful rider when I made the transition to Road Racing. I befriended a local motorcycle road racer whose name I ran across in a Road Racing World magazine. 1998 AMA Pro Thunder champion, Shawn Conrad, took me under his wing, showing me the ropes of being a mechanic at the track and also helping me hone my riding skills. As we traveled the country, I wrenched on his equipment and learned the in’s and out’s of the business. I was truly blessed with this opportunity.
I attended a motorcycle road racing school at 16 to obtain my competition license. With a borrowed bike, a fearless 16-year old attitude, and the drive…I HAD to do this. I purchased my first road race bike (2000 Yamaha R6) shortly thereafter from a pro team that was building new bikes for the coming year. I showed potential in speed, moving up through classes and doing very well in heavily attended races.
Long story short, my budget was burnt up and I was beaten and battered. I ran with CCS, Formula USA, and WERA in select events until 2005. I raced the 2000 Yamaha R6, 2001 Yamaha R1, 2002 Honda RC51, and lastly a 2005 Suzuki GSX-R750. I turned my attention back to cars where my passion began.
Over the years, I ran track days /HPDE events mainly at Road America, building a 1993 Mustang LX 5.0 (my high school car), then a 1995 Ford Mustang SN95 Cobra, then purchasing a Porsche 944 Turbo. I discovered a passion for all things Porsche, buying a 1966 Porsche 911 project and falling in love with the air-cooled market. A 1974 Porsche 911 Euro Coupe, 1975 Porsche 911s, 1973 Porsche 914s, and a 1985 Porsche 911 Carrera followed. My passion for these cars is nothing short of a fever, which I still have today.
I wanted to get back into competitive driving. I saw my first Spec Miata race and was hooked. These “chick cars” look like nothing short of a good time, with great competition, and huge fields. I was sold! I bought a used 1990 1.6 Spec Miata, spent a winter rebuilding it, and I was off for my SCCA License. Despite never having driven one, and hesitant about my decision, I fell in love after my first few laps.
It was time to build my own car. I felt confident I could produce a car that was as good as anyone else’s but without the excessive cost of a “pro built” car. I built this car with intention of racing it for many years to come. Hearing so many positive comments, I decided I should do more and build a name for myself in this market.
This is where the story snowballs. Jim, Tom, and I met, Jim became a great customer, and we developed not only a business relationship but also a friendship. I have built/prepped/refreshed more than 15 Miatas and loved every minute of it. I have made so many great friends in this circle, and have forged relationships I never could have imagined. I am a lucky man, to say the least!
Professionally, I bring 16 years of experience in the automotive and motorcycle industries. I spent two years with Ford in its technician apprenticeship program; three years as a Yamaha parts manager and service writer; eleven years as a sales representative in the salvage automotive parts business—and countless hours on side projects. I have the expertise to feel comfortable jumping into nearly any project and the experience to be successful on all ends of the business. Attention to detail, tenacity to learn and to do the job right, and treating everything as if it were my own are traits I learned from my dad thirty years ago. “If it’s worth doing, it's worth doing right”.
Andrew “Marv” MarvanAdvertising Photographer
Andrew “Marv” Marvan started detailing high-end automobiles while working his way through his Digital-Media Creation degree in 2017. Learning over years, the “ins and outs” of the car dealership and the facets it faces daily brings a strong sense of reliability to Marv. “Starting out working with cars and then really finding a passion being around them and showing them off has only pushed me to be more creative and to just be better”. The world of automotive dealer-based advertising and marketing is a fast-paced, take chances sector and he embraces that. “You’ve got to continue seeing the project from a higher perspective, try things you think based on your experiences will work, with having a backup in case it doesn’t.” Relying on his team around him, their various strengths, and envisioning a future for the business by building strong contacts and customer connections, Marv hopes to always push the limit on what can and cannot be done.
Joe BogenschildDetail Manager
Joe Bogenschild got into automotive detailing just as new technology and innovation really took off in the industry. Now with over six years of day in and day out experience working with high-end paint jobs and carbon fiber finishes, Joe is excited for what's next to come in the so quickly evolving automotive and motorcycle world. “The finishes these cars are getting are so smooth, so perfect, when something like that gets aged or abused, it takes so much more finesse to make it right.” Joe focuses on learning the “new” industry of automotive detailing, having never been able to get stuck in the old thinking of things. “I think it’s neat that I’m newer to this because I started when products and tools were already getting better when R&D was already done, I didn't have to switch my ways from old to new, I just started on the new”.
Ryan LuftMotorcycle Service Manager
Ryan got his start in the vintage motorcycle world just after high school. He started at a motorcycle salvage yard taking apart bikes and learning the ins and outs of the industry. Striving for more, he attended MMI in Phoenix receiving his certification from Honda and BMW. Just after graduation, Ryan started working for a professional AMA motorcycle race team. In 2014, he worked with the Kyle Wyman Racing XR1200 program before the team moved into the SuperSport 600 series and finally the Superbike series. Ryan also worked as a lead technician at a vintage motorcycle repair shop repairing and restoring a wide variety of Japanese and European motorcycles. Ryan says, "I never realized what a demand there was for these old motorcycles." In 2021 Ryan and the team at The Throttlestop decided to take on the vintage motorcycle repair world themselves. "I am really fortunate to be able to work on some of the world's coolest and oldest motorcycles."