Tag Archives: #hotrod

The Roast of America’s Pony Car

A Dysfunctional Family of Gearheads

The automotive community is one of many personalities. It’s composed of subcultures expressing their own opinion on how a vehicle should take you from A to B. There are those who prefer to go sideways, others who want to only go fast in a straight line, while others prefer to travel as the crow flies. This spectrum of opinion means that our community can behave like a sarcastic dysfunctional family that may not always get along, but knows deep down that we’re all we got.

The Mustang – Terror of the Meets

Over the last month, there has been a trending series of internet memes devoted to the Ford Mustang’s recent inability to leave a car meet without attempted vehicular manslaughter. It seems that when you put a live axle in a sports car, and toss the keys to an inexperienced driver, all-hell breaks loose faster than the Mustang’s rear-end. The internet has grown its inventory of videos showing Mustang owners wanting to leave a car show/event/meet in style by smoking their tires – only to lose control and crash into a crowd of spectators, or other cars.

People have gotten hurt in these accidents, not something to laugh about, but what the community does find funny is that it’s always a Ford Mustang kicking its ass around and sending its panicked driver into a world of legal trouble. Memes targeting Mustangs have been popping up everywhere like a McRib comeback ad.

Ford Mustangs are like the Kardashians. There are those who worship the ground they roll on, while others spit at the sight of a Coyote engine. While everyone else who is indifferent can’t escape seeing them everywhere they look. So the fact that it’s gotten so much heat is a statement that no car is safe from the wrath of meme creators.

Dark Ponies

Some memes are funny, but the joke has a dark tone. The joke is that Mustangs want to behave like Stephen King’s Christine and attack people. Non-car people love to associate our hobby with unwanted deaths and injuries. It’s been that way since the late 1940’s and hasn’t stopped since. Poking fun at Mustangs wanting to hurt people may look bad to those who aren’t in on the joke.

A New Vehicular Stereotype?

Following high school tradition, the Mustang roast will cool off by the start of the summer, unless another one accidentally plows into a crowd. However, I feel that the damage these reckless drivers have caused will haunt their favorite Ford’s image for a long time to come. The Mustang’s new reputation for acting like a Tasmanian devil may stick like an unwanted nickname. It may join the list of other stereotypical jokes that come with ownership of certain cars. For example…

  • If you drive a Prius, you are driving the car equivalent of a vegan.
  • If you drive an Audi, BMW, or Mercedes Benz, you must be a D-bag who is incapable of using turn signals.
  • If you’re a Corvette owner you must be suffering from a mid-life crisis.
  • All Mazda Miata’s owners are “hair-dressers”.
  • If you drive any truck that requires a step-ladder to climb in, then you are driving something big to compensate for something… small.

We all know these are just jokes at the owner’s expense, but the joke has become part of the car’s image. How many of you have thought about buying any of these vehicles but hesitated for a moment because you wondered what people would think? One shouldn’t care what others think as long as you are happy with your car, but the split-second hesitation means that these jokes can have a negative impact. Plus, any moron thinking there a stand-up comedian will see you as an easy target and that’s just annoying. “Oh you drive a Mustang? Don’t hit me bro. Ha..ha..ha.”

Not Worth It

Remember that the reward of leaving a car event in a trail of tire smoke is not worth the risk in damages. The art of driving may become endangered in the not to distant future, so we cannot give the people who don’t understand our hobby an excuse to take it away. Drive safe, and don’t fall for stereotypes.

Cars & Coffee– A Melting Pot of Subcultures

Under My Nose

I have been seeing articles and photos of Cars & Coffee events for years, and only recently discovered that one was being held six miles from where I live.

I got up that morning, still feeling the vibrations from the tequila shots I enjoyed just a few hours earlier, and made my way to the event. In my mind, I saw Cars and Coffee events as a way for older car enthusiasts to gather with their weekend toys without having to worry about young kids in slammed Subaru’s doing donuts in the parking lot.

Clean Slate for a First Impression

When I arrived, I parked my Mazda in the very back, because I was not there to partake but to merely observe. Plus, I did not have a time to wash the Mazda and I felt guilty about it.

My father taught me long ago that it is always better to listen before speaking. To gather information before making a decision or forming an opinion. I threw away my thoughts of old men and their Porsches holding Starbucks cups and walked to the car show area with a blank slate.

I noticed that all walks of life were at this event. Families, young gear heads, old gear heads, and people who were just enjoying their weekend looking at machines. One thing that I never liked with car shows is that they love putting Hondas with Hondas, Mopars with Mopars, etc. Seeing the same car over and over again with slight differences in color or wheels is boring. A car show is an event where everyone shares a common interest, cars, so why segregate them as if they were gang colors? This cars and coffee event had some Camaros set up in a line, but other than that it was parking lot of variety. It was nice being able to admire a different machine as I made my way through the lot.

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Listen & Observe

Although I may have a cynical opinion on people sometimes, I am always fascinated by them. I walked along taking photos of cars with my ears open, hoping to catch sound bits of people’s conversations. I heard the stereotypical conversations being hosted around cars. Two guys trying to one up each other on who knew more about a blue second gen Camaro. A bored girlfriend waiting with a bored expression on her face while her, I’m assuming, boyfriend talked to the owner of a Nissan GTR. Young teens with learner’s permits in their wallets geeking out over a Green Hellcat Challenger with paper plates. Young people with expensive cameras and drones, taking photos for their own automotive blogs.

I was still feeling dazed from the events of the night before, so I stayed quiet and unnoticed.

The Drag Pack

I was admiring a beater looking El Camino with the words NITRO EXPRESS written across it when I noticed a crowd gathering over a tow truck. A local speed shop was unloading two examples of their craftsmanship. A set of 1970 Dodge Challengers, each modified way beyond factory spec. The Drag pack were parked next to each other as people flocked to them to get a better look at these quarter mile stallions. The owners were bombarded with the same questions over and over again.

“What engine is it?” – It’s a Hemi.

“How fast does it go?” – It’s a 7 second car.

The owners gave off the impression that they were annoyed with the simple questions, but I know that any show off loves the attention they receive. Especially if it’s something they built. They were there to promote their business. A free marketing opportunity.

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Staring down the blower of one of the Challengers gave me the same expression Mad Max had the first time he laid eyes on his Falcon interceptor. That childish look of want as the imagination cycles through scenarios of burnt tires and high rev gear changes.

In-between Lanes

The automotive world is a melting pot where different subcultures come together over one basic common interest. You have tuners, muscle, import, low rider, 4×4, etc. I never fell into one specific subculture for some reason. I prefer classic muscle if I had to pick a favorite, but I am not going to dismiss a beautiful Alfa Romeo just because it doesn’t have a V8. I like the Cars and Coffee events because they are simple. No trophies to win, no best in show award, no forced advertising, and no hooning to spoil everyone’s fun. It is just a place to show off your car and talk with people who share your interest in the hobby. I plan on brining my own toys to this event in the future.

 

1970 Chevelle SS: Garage POW

The Story of a 1970 Chevelle SS, told by the car itself.

I don’t remember the day I was born, but I have a faint image of the moment they slapped these shiny SS badges on me. Sitting center stage on the showroom floor can give any car a massive ego. I sat there sporting my arrest me red paint, and black racing stripes, just day dreaming of the day I get to strut my stuff on the sunset strip. Then one day the call came in that I had been purchased over the phone, which made me a little sad. I always felt that whoever was going to buy me was going to walk into the dealership and stop dead in their tracks when they say me and all my muscle car glory. Then they would open the hood to stare at my 454 cubic inch heart, and the salesmen would utter my favorite phase, “most powerful muscle car on the market for 1970.”

I didn’t get to go out much after I was delivered to my new home. I mostly stayed covered up in the garage, I didn’t even know who my owner was. During my first week, as I was sleeping in the garage when I was awoken by lights coming on and felt the cover being brushed across my panels to expose one of my headlights – I could see a small boy looking at me. He must have been maybe ten years old, still wearing his PJ’s as he stared at his reflection on my chrome bumper. “When my big brother comes back from his tour we are going to have so much fun going fast. He said he would teach me how to drive a 4-speed with you.” The little boy said as he ran his little fingers across my flawless paint. I wondered if the boy’s big brother was my new owner, I couldn’t wait to meet him.

At least once a week the little boy, who I overheard his mother call Johnny once, came to visit me at night. Sometimes he would sit in the driver seat and pretend to steer or turn on the radio, and once he fell asleep in one of my bucket seats. On weekends, Johnny’s father would come in and turn the key to start me up. It was one of the few times I got to hear my own voice and every time Johnny would stop whatever he was doing to listen to me. His eyes would widen in sync with my throttle. Whenever the father juiced the gas pedal and my 454 gave out a roar, Johnny’s eyes widened in excitement.

Johnny must have been very persistent because one day his father took me out of the garage and drove us around the block a few times. I never seen Johnny so happy and I felt so proud to be the reason for his happiness. The father even ran me through the gears to show Johnny how fast I was and I felt my tires get hot and sticky for the first time. I felt like I could catch, eat, and spit out anything on the road that dared to go wheel to wheel with me at a street light. A memory to last a lifetime for Johnny and his father.

I was getting attached to my family, and I hadn’t even met my real owner yet. Even though I wasn’t on the road as often I liked I was still able to gaze out in the afternoons and weekends when the garage door was opened and Johnny lifted the cover so I could see out and he could stare at me while he played out in the yard. Life was good during these months.

It was winter when I saw Johnny’s mother go to the mail box and opened a letter that made her drop to her knees in tears. Johnny and his father came to her aid, but soon they too fell to the ground in uncontrollable tears. That night, Johnny came in to the garage and covered me up. “I’m sorry”, was the last thing he said before he shut off the light and left me alone in the dark.

Johnny stopped visiting me after that night. His father stopped opening the garage door and instead started to use me as a shelf to put his tools and boxes. Over time I felt the oil in my system begin to run down into the bottom of the pan, and my tires begin to lose air until I was sitting on my magnum 500 wheels. After a few years you couldn’t tell a car was sitting in the garage for I was completely covered in stuff. The depression was unbearable so I decided to just go to sleep.

I had no idea how much time had gone past when I was woken up by the sound of a commotion in the garage. I couldn’t see what the sound was but I started to feel weight being lifted off my hood. Someone was removing stuff looking for me! It took probably a whole afternoon of moving stuff around before the cover was removed and I could see day light once again. A young man stood before me wearing a black T-shirt with some kind of monsters drawn on it and had the word “KISS” written across it. He had long hair and smiled when he saw me. “Sorry it took me so long David…I’ll watch over it for you. I promise.” He said. It was Johnny! He was grown up now.

It took Johnny a few days to completely clear a path so I could be pushed out into the driveway. Out in the daylight I was treated to fresh gas, oil, battery, and a much needed detailing. Soon I was brought back to my younger years. Thankfully, being trapped in a garage for nearly a decade can retire the aging process.

The first time back on the road I couldn’t believe it, I thought I was going to wake up in darkness again. The other cars on the road looked a lot different from the last time I was out. Seeing cars with wild paint schemes and wearing huge fat tires with chrome side pipes. They looked wild! The gas tasted different as well, it had a very nasty aftertaste that I didn’t like at all but at least it kept me running. I was itching to stretch my wheels.

I soon got my chance when we stopped at a stoplight and a cousin Pontiac rolled up alongside me. Least I think it was a Pontiac, I wasn’t quite sure because it had an ugly gold bird painted on its hood and half of its roof was missing. My ego took a hit when I spotted a 455 Super Duty badge on its hood. “One cubic inch bigger than me, should I be nervous?” I thought to myself. Johnny gave the Pontiac’s driver the signal – the race was on.

I was amped up as I revved past 3,000 RPM wanting to launch into outer space. The light flashed green and I threw Johnny back in his seat as he tried to hang on to the shifter to change into second gear. Tunnel vision was setting in as I ran hard up to 60mph and I couldn’t see where the Pontiac was but I knew he wasn’t ahead of me. I didn’t want to stop and a gear change into fourth meant I was finally running flat out. I was doing what I was built to do all those years ago, go fast and look good doing it.

All these years of never knowing my real owner when all the while it was Johnny who was there, and even though he left me, he was the one who came back to rescue me. I was not left behind.

The Skeleton Driver

Headlights cut through the darkness of a lonely highway as you watch the yellow lines getting swept under the front of the car. You have an endless stretch of two lane blacktop all to yourself. The only noise passing through your ears is Johnny Cash’s somber voice as he sings about wishing he was stoned on a Sunday morning. The steady repetition can make it easy for someone to wander off into the depths of their subconscious while they let muscle memory take the wheel. Least that’s what was happening to me as I suddenly realized I couldn’t recall the last couple of miles I had driven. I was on my way home from the bar after yet another night out with Johnny Walker, and his wing-man Miller, as they helped me drown the demons that chased my soul every night.

I never considered myself a bad guy; even when a dirty, self-entitled, draft dodging hippy spat in my face as he called me a baby killer. No sir, I was not a bad guy, just a man put in a bad situation. Even with the start of a new year just a month away I felt that 1972 was only going to bring 365 days of liquid dinners and sleepless nights of regret. “I was following orders, I did nothing wrong.” I would tell myself to try and convince me that I was alright. Sitting behind the wheel of my ‘64 Chevy step-side, my body felt numb as the truck rolled along the dark road. My mind began to drift off again into the alcohol fueled anarchy of my imagination, and I could feel goosebumps beginning to form on my arms as ice cold sweat starting running down the back of my neck. My mind was going to take a trip, a trip back to Vietnam, 1970.

First thing I heard before I went back was the sound of my lieutenant yelling at us to clear a village of all hostiles. Feeling the weight of my gear on my back as I we marched into the village. We didn’t have to be stealth, the moonless night and pouring rain gave us plenty of cover to walk in unnoticed. Intelligence had told us that this village was a suspected supply dump for Charlie, and we were ordered to search and destroy. I had heard the stories of Charlie using civilians as suicide bombers to trap unsuspecting GI’s. Hiding a grenade in a baby stroller, or a woman hiding a bomb in her hat as she walked up to a platoon before detonating.

We wandered through the village, using the storm’s lighting strikes to see where we were going. It was the middle of monsoon season and there were times when I couldn’t remember what it felt like to be dry. Paranoia, exhaustion, fear, and impaired senses make for a deadly cocktail as most of the men, including myself, balanced our minds on a tight rope between sanity and suicide. I started to remember the vision of muzzle flashes as one man in our unit begin to open fire at a hut in the village. My ears going deaf and not being able to hear myself think; the high pitched ringing echoing in my head as I opened fire with my M16.

That was as far as my flashback went because I was suddenly thrown back into reality when the interior of my truck was filled with an orange glow from a set of headlights coming up behind me. “Turn off your high beams asshole”, I muttered to myself as I eased the truck to the shoulder to let the car behind me pass. The car wouldn’t pass me though, it just kept inching closer and closer to my rear bumper. Before I could decide on whether or not to brake check this dude I was greeted by a sudden shunt as the car’s front-end kissed the back of my Chevy truck, and then sped up to ram into me. Dropping the column shifter down into second gear, I forced the Chevy to give me every single rev the tired V8 had to give as I stood on the gas pedal.

I was pushing 90 as the Chevy bounded over every imperfection on the road. The car chasing me didn’t lose a beat as it stayed glued to my bumper, ramming into me as if it was hammering in a nail. Adrenaline was pulling me out of my drunken haze, trying to keep the truck from fishtailing as the hits started getting more and more violent. I could feel the truck wanting to let go as every shunt pushed the rear wheels faster than they were turning. Suddenly the car backed off, enough for me to get the truck stable. The orange light even began to dim as if the car was slowing down. The faint sigh of relief lasted only a few seconds before I was completely blinded by the orange light and thrown back in my seat by a metal crushing slam that managed to push the rear-end off the ground long enough to lose traction. Richard Petty couldn’t have done a much better job of preventing the truck from spinning out. All I could do was hang on as the truck began to spin circles down the road before smashing through a guardrail and slide down an embankment. I tired the brakes but the truck skidded on the grass before crashing nose first into a tree. Everything when black at the moment of impact as my face greeted the steering wheel.

Within the darkness, the memories started once again. I had been in the jungle for nearly 6 months and I knew I was never going to be the same again. The smell of death and decay was an invisible fog that never lifted, but instead fell over us like the thick humid air. Even my hands looked different when I stared at them, they were now the hands that had taken life away. I had six confirm kills to my name, and at least a dozen unknown. It had gotten to the point that I no longer saw Charlie as humans but rats that needed to be exterminated with napalm. My morals were slowly being erased by the horrors of war and I could feel the change happening but couldn’t stop it.

After we had cleared the area of Charlie, we had gathered all the supplies into a huge pile. Hundreds and thousands of pounds of ammo and guns being prepped to get blown sky high with explosives. The lieutenant ordered me to check the last hut for stragglers. “Clear it!” He barked. When I stormed into the hut all I find is a family of 6 small children, couldn’t have been more than ten or twelve years old with their eyes wide, stricken with terror. I spotted a couple of AK-47 rifles at their feet and a box of ammo behind one of the kids. “Davis! Clear that hut now!” yells the lieutenant, not knowing what I am staring at. I wanted to turn around and just pretend I didn’t see them, “walk away…” I thought. I lower my M16 and motioned my foot backwards to turn around. I was almost out, just a half second later and I would have been outside in the rain again, but I saw it. I saw a sudden movement out in the corner in my eye and my training took over. After the last full metal jacket casing had finished bouncing off the wooden floor, a lightning strike showed me what the sudden movement had been. It was my own shadow! My own paranoia had made me kill 6 children. I stood frozen in shock as I watched the collecting pool of blood crawl towards the tips of my boots as I felt the last moral in my soul being washed away by cold sweat.

The image of my shadow towering over the corpse of innocents shocked me back into conciseness. Drunken adrenaline kept the pain away but I could feel warm blood running down my face from a gash in my head. I put all my weight up against the door to force it to open as I stumbled out. Standing myself up to try and catch my breath, I looked around to readjust my eyes to see where I was, and what that orange light had been. Took only a moment for me to hear the sound of a souped up engine in the distance, a thumping clank of an engine with a hot camshaft singing through a pair of straight pipe exhaust. I heard the sound before I saw the source, but when I saw it I questioned whether or not I was still dreaming.

The orange light dimmed to show a ‘68 Cadillac hearse. The paint was animated as it bubbled and boiled as if it was under extreme heat. Suddenly the orange headlights turned off as a figure stepped out of the driver side door, and a neon green light beamed from within the interior of the hearse. “Who are you?” I shouted at the man sized figure. The figure stood there for a moment before walking down the embankment up to me. The red glow from my truck’s taillights were enough for me to see who it was and I froze with terror. The driver was dead! His suit was covered in mud and dirt as his skeleton hands adjusted his tie before looking up at me to revile his face. A skull with maggots and worms crawling inside his eye holes. My legs wouldn’t work, all I could do was tremble in fear as every instinct in my head was praying for me to run, but I couldn’t. The skull’s jaw moved as if it was going to say something, “Judgement”, was all it said before it launched itself at me. The last thing I saw before it all went dark was its mouth opening and running towards me in the blink of an eye.

When I opened my eyes all I could see was darkness, and when I tried to move I realized I was in a confined space…a coffin. I could still hear the engine running all around me, it was running at full throttle. “I’m not dead! You can’t do this! I am NOT DEAD!” I shouted into the dark. No answer. I couldn’t tell if it was tears or blood that was running down my cheeks but the panic was starting to set in as I begin to hit, kick, and scratch at the walls around me. Shouting for god and his mercy as my finger nails snapped off my flesh trying to claw away at the wooden box. Suddenly, I was jolted forward to the end of the coffin as the hearse slammed on its brakes to come to a stop. I silenced my screaming to wait and see what happened next.

I felt like a rag dog as the coffin was unloaded and dropped on what I hoped was solid ground. The coffin doors flew open and I was looking up at the night sky again. Not waiting to get trapped I jumped out of the coffin and looked around at where I was. I was still on the same road, the two lane blacktop I always used to get home. It wasn’t until I turned around that I saw emergency vehicles blocking off the road to attend to an accident of some kind. I felt a gust of wind push me forward to investigate what had happened. Paramedics and fire fighters seemed to run past me as if I didn’t exist, scrambling to attend to whoever it was that was injured.

Passing the blockade of police cars I saw three body bags on the ground side by side, one was noticeably shorter than the other two. Beyond that I saw the cause behind all this commotion, it was a head on collision between a station wagon, and a pickup truck…my pickup truck. The front-ends of both cars had vanished as they had both been pushed in like soda cans from the impact leaving nothing but bits of metal and glass scattered across the asphalt. I didn’t understand what was going on. I had just been driven off the road into a tree by a skeleton in a hearse and now here was my truck, completely demolished with three body bags as a result of it. I wanted to run away, run home and fall asleep so I could wake up from this hellish night terror. I wanted to wake up in a pool of my own sweat again just as the nights before, at least then I would take comfort in that this was all just a horrid dream. Why couldn’t I wake up!

I closed my eyes, “Wake up man! You need to wake up! For the love of God, wake the hell up!” I shouted. Then I heard one of the paramedics, he was shouting, “clear!” and I felt an extreme wave of heat fly across my chest. It was enough to knock me down to my knees. I turned to the ambulance to see a crowd had formed around the two paramedics. As I made my way to ambulance I could feel the strength leaving my body. I felt weak and was knocked down by another wave of extreme heat burning through my chest. I carried myself as my legs began to start feeling numb until I reached the crowd of firefighters and policemen who were surrounding the paramedics.

What I saw next threw me into shock. It was me! My legs were gone! They had been completely chopped off in the accident, my face was nearly unrecognizable, just a vague resemblance of bloody flesh. “It’s no good, I’m calling it, 12:01 am November 21, 1971.” Said the paramedic. “I’m dead…” I thought as the fully realization of my fate had become clear to me. That’s when I heard the sound of the engine again and saw the haunted hearse slowly creep up to meet me. The skeleton driver stepped out yet again and pointed at me. “Judgement”, it said in an oily voice that shook me to my core.

“Tragic, this family was traveling back from vacation.” I heard someone say but nobody was around. “How do you know?” said another voice. “I found these Disneyland Mickey Mouse ears on the side of the road, must have belonged to the little girl.” My eyes widen. The little girl, the smaller body bag. I had killed a family, and myself, in a drunk driving accident. I remembered now. Driving on the road, seeing everything go black as I tried to fight the urge to fall sleep just before I saw a set of headlights in the distance. So much innocence taken away by my hand and now it was time to answer for my mistakes. The skeleton driver opened the coffin for me to get in, but I refused to get back in that box. I turned to run away into the night. The driver stood like a statue as he pulled a handheld scythe from behind his back and then set off sprinting holding the scythe over his head.

The skeleton driver wiped the blood off his scythe before placing it carefully back in its engraved silver case. He placed the now loaded coffin in the back of his chariot of hellfire before adjusting his tie one last time and getting behind the wheel of his Cadillac. The orange headlights beamed as the engine cranked over, spitting fire out of the exhaust. The bubbling black paint boiling intensely as the hearse roared away down the two lane blacktop before vanishing into thin air leaving no trace of its presence. All that was left on the road after the accident was a set of military dog tags that had appeared to have been burned.

Happy Halloween Everybody – J.G.

Curse of a Speeder

To my friends and family, it is no secret that I like to drive fast occasionally. Some people say I have a problem, others say it is just a side effect of being young, but I see it as a way to forget about the annoyances of everyday life. Every day we are constantly bombarded by the media about horrific events happening around the world, flooded in a tsunami of ignorance on social media by people who are masters at spraying hate and fertilizer out of their mouths, and that’s just checking your phone in the morning. Life is hard, but it is simple, its people that make it complicated. In order to keep one’s sanity, one has to find a way to get away from it all – even if it is just for a few minutes each day.

I confess that I am a speeder, although I do not drive like a madman. Like most people with my, “problem”, I do enjoy painting asphalt with rubber, going sideways, and reaching top end speeds when the conditions are right. The problem with this relaxation technique is that police officers do not find it very amusing and love showing their disapproval in the form of traffic tickets. I could fill a glove box, and I have, with the number of citations, warnings, and court receipts I’ve collected over the years. I am here to talk about the struggle of being a driver with an exuberant driving style.

At this point, some of you might be thinking that I am just an obnoxious punk whose only problem is being too stubborn to slow down and letting his ego fool him into thinking he’s the next Richard Petty. Before you unleash your judgement upon me, please let me point out that I know I am not a professional driver and I know that I can be as stubborn and rebellious as a teenaged mule. However, I do need to point out that because I have a passion for driving and car control, I do feel that I am at least more qualified than the average driver. I’m certainly safer than someone who’s bad habits behind the wheel consist of applying makeup, checking their Twitter feed, or sending Snap Chat videos of them looking into a camera while their favorite song plays on the radio. Those are only a handful of bad habits that I witness on a daily bases when I’m traveling on the Interstates.

When I say I have a passion for driving I mean I love it! To me, driving is a skill that is fun and challenging. Most people can safely drive a car from A to B and not give it a second thought for the rest of the day, but I like knowing what a car can and can’t do as far as braking, steering, and acceleration. It is important to know how a car will behave during an emergency, so yeah sometimes I like to give a car’s ABS system a workout and drive it like I stole it. But, there is nothing more relaxing, in my opinion, than being behind the wheel of a car on a beautiful, low traffic, day with your favorite playlist humming through the stereo. You don’t need to drive fast in order to enjoy driving; sometimes a nice quiet drive is all you need to get your stress out.

The Curse of a Speeder is that once you’ve earned a reputation as a speeder some people will label you as being reckless or a, “Bad Driver”. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never wrecked, practice car control – to most people speed equals danger. The irony of it is that people who text and drive do not, for the most part, get the same stigma. Sure there are campaigns warning us of the dangerous of texting while driving, but we all think, “That won’t happen to me, because I’m careful”. Maybe you have a system of only answering a buzzing phone when you are at a stoplight, or maybe your eyes can part into two different directions like a chameleon. Whatever the system is, the response for someone who texts and drives is usually, “Oh? Haha, I do that to sometimes”. The usual response for someone who speeds is, “Oh. Be careful…”

This year alone I have received two speeding tickets, three months apart, in two different cities. What annoys me is that when the police officers spotted me on their radar, I wasn’t trying to speed I was simply driving. The first time I was caught speeding I was driving home and I knew I was getting on the interstate so muscle memory took over and I sped up before the on-ramp. The second time, I was traveling between cities. I was passing a convoy of five semi-trucks and I sped up because I hate when they bounce peddles and road dirt off my hood and windshield – that landed me speeding ticket number two. If I was doing triple digit speeds or doing donuts in a parking lot than yeah I would have gladly accepted my law breaking punishment, but speeding up a mile before an on-ramp or passing semi-trucks is not what I would consider, “reckless driving”.

Since I am still under 25 years old, taking online defensive driving courses in order to reduce, and dismiss, a traffic citation is an option I always take. The problem is that the course is six hours long, and hilariously outdated. The safely videos shown were filmed in 1994, so you hear instructors recommending you to purchase a vehicle with Anti-Lock Brakes and telling you how to use them. Safety features in cars, and traffic laws in general, have changed a lot in the last two decades, so the course is a joke. It is detention for drivers.

A better system would be a written Driver’s Ed exam that you need to pass in order for it to count as taking a defensive driving course. It wouldn’t take you more than half an hour and at least then a person is forced to review traffic laws before getting a ticket reduced or dismissed.

Auto makers build cars that practically beg us to break the law. The new Ford Focus RS has a Drift Mode button which allows you to slide the compact car around a corner easier. Dodge created the Hellcat Challenger and Charger, normal family sedans that can reach 200 mph. That is like a general store selling high proof whiskey in a dry county. Why make such powerful cars if the average driver has no place to fully enjoy their bang for the buck? Not everyone with a fast car has time to go to a drag strip, which are constantly being closed, or a race track, which don’t always offer track-days here in the U.S. The easier option is street racing and that is about as dangerous as it can get.

So what is a speeder to do? We are entering an era where cars are getting faster and traffic laws are getting stricter. It’s not like in the old days when you could in fact out run the police if your car was hot enough, the days before dash cams and speed cameras. It is a curse to have a need for speed these days, one that can affect your wallet as well as your health.

I think I can speak for most people who can relate to my story that we won’t change, driving is a passion and speed is a byproduct. There are always a few rotten apples that spoil it for all of us by not being able to control their cars or not knowing their own limitations, but we are not a danger to the public nor should not be seen as such. We just like to fully enjoy our cars as the engineers who designed them intended us to. If they built a car that can produce 707 horsepower, why shouldn’t we be allowed to experience every last galloping pony? So whether you are a speeder or see driving as a chore remember to keep your eyes on the road, and both hands on the wheel. Drive safe everyone.

Sold on Mecum

I have fond memories of watching Mecum Auto Auctions on television with my father on weekend afternoons; trying to guess the hammering price on what seemed like an endless line of dream cars coming through the auction block. I grew up hearing the adventures my father had when he used to flip cars during the late 80’s and early 90’s. Buying and selling used Cutlasses, Citations, Diplomats, and K cars at car auctions in order to keep food on the table and me in clean diapers. So when I read that Mecum was coming to Texas, I knew that I had to make a father and son trip over to Houston to attend. We didn’t go to buy a Hemi or Yenko tribute car, we just wanted to witness what we had seen on television for so many years. We were not disappointed.

Entering the area, we were greeted by a 1970 Chevelle SS 454 driving past us on its way to the auction block. All 450 horses prancing without a trip or a miss as it hummed slowly across the floor to get in line with the rest of the high dollar machines awaiting to see if they will be going to a new home. It wasn’t until I was walking on the red carpet, standing within touching distance of a 1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird, with 4-speed, that the magnitude of where I was started to hit me. I’ve been to plenty of car shows before, but this was the first one where every single car I was taking photos of had a for sale sign. It was almost overwhelming, makes you wish you had a clone so one can take photos while the other one simply admires and drools over the cars.

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Drinking a beer with my father as we listened and watched all our favorite cars was truly a Gearhead Hallmark moment, a good concept for an auto-themed greeting card. Listening to all these high dollar collector trailer queens start up, after probably months of being asleep in an air conditioned warehouse, and yawning in the form of puffing white smoke as they stretch their wheels. While others are pushed by volunteers or towed by golf carts to the center stage. A 1970 Hemi Daytona struggling to wake up as it almost stalls twice before getting on the auction block, carbs just need an adjustment. Or a 1969 convertible Chevy Camaro that nearly turns into a fog machine as it revs and shoots out a cloud of blue smoke before going back to sleep knowing it now has a new owner. One aspect I do not like about the collector car industry is that some people only see these cars as investments only. Keeping a car in storage, no matter how dry, well light, or clean it may be, can still hurt these machines if they are not moved or started up regularly. What’s the point of throwing down half a million on a Hemi if you don’t take it out on Sunday afternoons and show off a little?

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There were a few cars I really wanted to bid on at Mecum, like a Buick Grand National movie car that was driven by Vin Diesel in the Fast n Furious franchise. Not because I am a fan of the actor or movies, I just really like Grand Nationals. Since I was broke I sat with my father in the stands to watch the auction take place. You could feel the energy and excitement among the crowd. We all felt excited, and perhaps a tad bit jealous, of the bidders going wild every time the reserve went off on a car. Chanting, “RESERVE… IS… OFF!” like we were on a game show, because we are excited for the owner who is hopefully making a profit on his/her car while at the same time happy for the lucky buyer who will be taking it home. When you start seeing six or seven figures on the board for a car with no reserve, you can’t help but get a small rush from the people in a bidding war. “Sold, sold, sold, sold!” as the hammer drops, creating a new payday, a new owner, and probably a future pissed off wife or girlfriend.

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After hours of fun, and a few more beers, we were looking at the last cars on the floor that we hadn’t seen when I noticed someone that looked all too familiar. It was Mr. Rutledge Wood, some of you know him from NASCAR but I first heard of this man from his time on Top Gear US. I got to shake his hand and snap a quick photo with him, making him the first automotive celebrity I get the opportunity to meet. Mr. Wood has what I consider to be the dream, getting paid to work in the media and talk about cars for a living. I am pleased to say that Mr. Wood is a total gentlemen in taking a moment to talk to us and pose for pictures. Hopefully my career will cross paths with him again in the future.

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Overall, my father and I had a great time at Mecum Auto Auctions in Houston, Texas. We plan on coming here again, only this time we’ll make sure our pockets are stuffed full of cash so we can join in on the fun as registered bidders.

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Feeling Fast

Being a young Gearhead with a fleet of vintage cars (I did not mean for that to sound like I was showing-off) means that I sometimes get lectured by gearheads of an older generation on the dangers of driving fast or car control. All I can do is sit there and nod in agreement, because I am still at an age where if I respond with, “yes, I know already”, I will sound like a cocky young punk who will eventually learn the hard way. But, I’ve collected my fair share of city miles as gearhead when it comes to driving. I’ve totaled a car, crashed a car, been wrecked into, experienced a car that is out of control, break downs, left stranded on a dark highway, pushed a car home, dealt with police on multiple occasions, and even partaken in a casual streetlight drag race. So I’ve been around the block, and left the tire marks to prove it.

About a week ago, my uncle Mike got to test drive my 1969 Camaro. Unlike myself, he is from a generation when my Camaro was just another everyday daily driver, so I had no problem tossing him the keys to my time machine. The test drive was like a flashback to the 1970’s for him, back to his youth, and he drove my poor Camaro as such. Afterwards, he mentioned to me that I should probably sell my Camaro and invest in a muscle car I really wanted. Reading in between the lines made me realize what he was actually telling me. What he was really telling me was that this hot Camaro was too much car for me and that I should get rid of it before they use it as my coffin. I know he wasn’t saying I didn’t know how to drive, or insulting my ability, he is just looking out for my own safety. That being said, I was still a little annoyed, because I am not a teenager anymore. If I was 16 years old and had this Camaro I would completely understand, but I’m a month away from being a college graduate! That experience got my thinking of physical and emotional feeling of going fast. People that have only one class of vehicle, only trucks or only new cars, all their lives won’t understand when I say that 100 mph can feel a lot faster or a lot slower depending on what you are driving.

For example, when I am driving my mom’s brand new 2015 luxury sedan or my slightly used 2013 econobox down an interstate and I decide to push the needle past 100mph, I feel totally relaxed. Why? Because thanks to modern technology most new cars feel like their only doing 70mph when they are in fact traveling well over 100. Not to mention all the latest death-proof safety devices such as traction control and stability control that are designed to keep us between the ditches. So at 120mph, my little econobox has reached its limited top speed and I could drive it with one hand knowing that if the car were to suddenly get loose there is a good chance I’ll get up in a field, but with all four wheels still on the ground. Don’t get me wrong, I know this is not a safe speed, and I do not condone speeding on public roads, but I’m saying that modern cars can feel safe even at high speeds. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is a different story.

If I switch keys and get behind the wheel of my truck, which is limited to 101mph, the speed feels utterly different. Now I have no choice but to keep both hands on the wheel and become aware of any extra play in the steering wheel as the truck hops along the interstate, swaying over every imperfection on the tarmac. Eventually you get used to the sensation that the truck is floating, but not before you tighten your seatbelt and hope the suspension doesn’t travel so far up that the rushing air lifts the rear tires up. Because if they do lift, and lose traction, then you’re going to need a faster set of hangs, and a new pair of shorts, to counter steer your way to safety.

Finally, we get inside the Camaro, and to be completely honest I do not know what the top speed of that car is because I have never pushed it beyond 90mph. Reasons being because well… it scares the living crap out of me. As the Camaro angrily fights the law of physics to reach 90mph, the cold sweat on my palms weld my hands to the steering wheel as I basically hang on for dear life. At that point I am not driving, I am just aiming the car in the direction I wish to go and praying it wants to go that way too. All while knowing that if this car decides to misbehave, as old cars often do, that I will be crashing through the gates of heaven, upside down, in a 360 spin before I even have a chance to downshift. Feeling the vibrations at the wheel as the car brawls it way through the air, all the 1960’s technology shaking and rattling inside the interior makes the car feel like it’s about to break the sound barrier. Exciting, yes, but the sense of the grim reaper riding shotgun is right behind it.

I know most of you who will read this will know exactly what I am talking about and think that I am just a broken record, but not everyone has the luxury, or desire, to max out every car they come across. Regardless of what your views on speed are, whether you think it kills, is a drug, a cure for a bad day, or you just do because you enjoy it, speed feels different. Three different cars speeding at the same rate of time and distance will have totally different sensations and emotions. It’s one of the many occasions where a car can have a direct impact on your emotional state.