Damien Patton creates his own debris field. Stories swirl around him of smoldering vehicles, broken bones and shredded ligaments, a girlfriend launched “like a missile” into the Mojave Desert from the back of a dirt bike. Patton enjoys these accounts. Maybe a little too much. So it was with a mix of adrenaline and dread on my first day at his Las Vegas offices that I followed him and Stacey Epstein, his brand-new chief marketing officer, out to his truck: a Ford F150 Raptor 4×4, black as David Hasselhoff’s Knight Rider rig, with a SuperCrew cab, a super-juiced engine, massive custom suspension, and special software running the whole operation. “I brought you both a helmet,” he said, reassuring no one, as he drove over the curb and onto the access road to the highway leading out of town.
Half an hour later, we were doing 95 down a rutted dirt road cut into the rolling foothills, sagebrush blurring by, slowing to 50 to power through blind curves, taking out the occasional small tree. Now and then, Epstein, who’s no delicate flower, let out a low warble of alarm. I sat locked in a kind of waking rigor mortis, the windows in my corner of the cab steaming up as I pressed myself into the leather. “Don’t look over the edge!” said Patton, cackling as he slammed around another bend. Don’t worry.
It turns out that Patton is a damn good driver. And he’s not as reckless as he may seem. His biography might come across as a random walk through some highly improbable places, but there is a logic behind his recklessness: He always wanted to build something big.
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