He did 10 years as a professional drag racer on the local circuit, building and modifying street rods, competing in custom car shows.
Much of his interest in design engineering was formed during this period.
The garage behind Mark Sampson’s Southern California home is a Batcave for vintage tube amp lovers.
Dark, dusty storage areas are crammed with ancient tan-colored Vox AC-10 “TV” models from the late ’50s, Super Beatles with chrome stands, original mint-condition Vox sales and promotion banners.
“It showed the four of them standing on a stage complete with Rickenbacker guitars and Vox amps.” As he labored in the street rod shop by day, Sampson played in rock bands by night.
Another influence was his father, a TV repairman and tinkerer who handed down the know-how to read a circuit and a voltage meter and, most importantly, a curiosity about how electronic things worked. “I can remember a very detailed plywood collage I made when I was 12,” he remembers.He was still custom painting cars and worked a trade for the Vox amps by painting guitar bodies for Knute.