Photography by Nathan Knight (Knight Photography) & Courtesy of Mike Flanagan
How Mike Flanagan blazed his way to MECA’s Best of Best of Show
After a 15-year break from car audio competition, Mike Flanagan decided to dive back in again in 2014, which resulted in a successful season and a second place finish at MECA World Finals. Being that close to number one obviously reignited his hunger for competition because during the downtime between the 2014 and 2015 seasons, Flanagan decided to revamp the system in his and his wife’s 2002 Chevy Trailblazer for contention in MECA’s Best of Best of Show (BOBOS) category. In 2017, Flanagan topped that category. Talk about a comeback!
Before the Blazer was a champ, the SUV lived life as a comfy daily driver for Flanagan and his wife, Lea Ann. Flanagan had been building competition-worthy systems since 1988, and eventually took his break from the scene in 1999, but Lea Ann decided that she wanted to show MECA what she could do in 2011, and had Linear Power build a system in the Chevy. For a year, she competed successfully, and then stopped once she got her taste. For Flanagan though, this would be the catalyst to begin his return to car audio competition.
“My wife is my inspiration,” Flanagan explains. “If it wasn't for her, I’d never have gotten back into this hobby. She is a Marine and she pushes me to be the best every day.”
From daily driver, to competent competitor, to BOBOS winner, the Trailblazer now packs seven amplifiers, six speakers across the dash, doors, and sail panel, two 15-inch subwoofers, four batteries, and a 10-channel signal processor, among a myriad of wiring, interlinks, and voltage regulation.
The tuning of the system was started by the late, great Chris Zenner, who unfortunately passed before seeing the Blazer win its title, but handed off the torch to the capable Steve Cook to finish the job. Add in the build support from Flanagan’s friends at Linear Power, and it was never a doubt that this SUV was a champ in the making. The resulting system from all this work is one that generates 3,962 watts on the subs at eight ohms.
All that aside, Flanagan says that the enclosure was the most challenging part of the build.
“Building an enclosure to do around 150 dB and still sound good for SQ judging is a lot harder than it may appear,” he chuckles. “I overcame this with determination and building about 10 different enclosures before i got the right one!”
Never being trailered to any event, with 400,000 miles about to tick over on the odometer, the Blazer isn’t stopping and neither is Flanagan. He has to make up for 15 years after all!
- Over 200 awards have been won by the Trailblazer between 2014 and 2017.
- The scores were so close during MECA World Finals, the SQL RTA Freq-Out contest determined the winner, which saw Flanagan win by a margin of only 1.5 percent.
- 948 white LEDs make up the backlighting in the Trailblazer.
- The voltmeter in the taillight is switched on by a magnetic reed switch on the side of the light housing, while the voltmeter in the dash is hidden by a Trailblazer logo panel.
- The Helix Director control panel is hidden away in the motorized sunglass holder.
- Subwoofer control is integrated into the cigarette lighter.
- The Trailblazer has been driven to all but four states in the lower 48 (Maine, Washington, Oregon, and California).
Mike Flanagan's MECA award-winning 2002 Chevrolet Trailblazer is featured in Tuning Essentials: Trucks, Volume 9. Click HERE to order.