Tag Archives: #mustang

Motor Girls – Female Car Enthusiasts

Blue vs. Pink

It starts from the moment you’re born. Boys get blue and girls get pink. Boys get G.I. Joe and Hot Wheels, and girls get Barbie and Easy Bake ovens. Boys learn to work with their hands while girls learn to nurture. Recent generations have started to burr the lines on gender specific childhoods, but it will be awhile before a child is free to play with whatever their heart’s desire without judgement.

This unwritten rule of what a child should be playing with grows up into adulthood and it’s a contributor to why the car is seen as a male dominate hobby. Few girls grow up having grease under their finger nails and holding a flashlight while their dad works on the family car. Even when they do, the color of their equipment will usually only come in pink.

When a Dream Becomes a Reality

I never understood men who feel threatened by women who love cars and can wrench or drive better than them. As a car-guy, shouldn’t it be a fantasy to meet a girl that isn’t annoyed at the thought of going to a car show with you? To meet a girl that will bring her own tool box to help you work on your race car. A girl can make you weak in the knees just by saying the phrase “An inline six with triple Weber carburetors”. It’s supposed to be a dream to meet someone you can fall in love and share a hobby with. So why do some men exclude women? Why do some men see women in the hobby as just a pretty face to look good next to their car?

The Woman Who Helped Create Our Obsession

If it wasn’t for women in the automotive world the car could have been delayed by several years, possibly decades.

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Photo courtesy of History.com

In 1888, Bertha Benz became the first person in history to complete a long distance trip in one of the earliest examples of an automobile. Bertha Benz was the wife of Karl Benz, and their patent horse-less carriage is considered to be one of the first examples of the automobile. Although Karl Benz was a genius inventor, he struggled in the marketing department. The Benz family was also feeling the heat from another competing German engineer who was tinkering on his own automobile just a few miles away, Gottlieb Daimler.

Bertha Benz believed in her husband’s invention and decided to prove it to everyone by using it to travel 65 miles to her mother’s house. Benz’s car was a three wheeled, single-cylinder, 2.5 horsepower buggy that could sit one in the front and two in the back. Bertha left with her 2 sons on the world’s first ever road trip. The story of her journey is an article in itself, and the publicity created from her trip saved their company from going bankrupt.

hith-bertha-benz-E Car Replica
Photo Courtesy of History.com

The trial by fire road-test also led to Karl going back to the drawing board to work out all the bugs that Bertha faced on the 120 mile around trip, which lead to the introduction of the world’s first gear system. All you bros out there who love dumping the clutch on their V-tech’s owe their burnt clutches to Bertha Benz.

A woman saved the invention we would later revolve our lives around. She proved to people that the horse-less carriage was safe and easy to use. Her efforts got people on board with the idea of the automobile.

Modern Motor-Girls

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a number of female car enthusiasts in my life and have admired them all for being as car-obsessed as me, if not more. They are the reason why I tend to stay away from using the term “car-guy” in my articles, because I know it’s not a one gender hobby.

I am not accusing all car-guys of discriminating against women enthusiasts, I’m saying that this type of thing does happen. There are car-guys out there who share my opinion just like there will properly be some who will read this and completely disagree.

As one female Gear-head said:

“You don’t steer with your boobs or shift with your penis, so why should it matter?”

– Kat Hagen

Biased Media Outlets

I constantly see the term “car-guy” being used to describe enthusiasts in popular automotive websites and even TV shows – media outlets that should know better than to ignore part of it’s target audience.

Car Throttle is guilty of constantly ignoring female car enthusiasts in their articles and media. They love carpet bombing the word “car-guy” all over their videos and articles. Even in videos where they compare non-car enthusiasts to Gear-heads they will still say, “Non-Car Guys”. Scan through the comment feeds of their content and you will find comments like, “car girls too.”

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There are some articles and videos about car-girls but they are either written by guys or deal with the same repetitive topics. “The troubles of being a Car-girl”, “How to turn my girlfriend into a car-girl”, “Non-car girls vs. Car-girls”. Stuff we have seen at one time or another for years, nothing new.

Some Car Throttle loyalists will want to say that I am full of it. But, if you are a member of the site try searching for “car-girl”. All you will see are photos of attractive girls posing with cars, memes about how a girlfriend can drive a wedge between a car-guy and his race car, or memes about how rare and glorious meeting a car-girl can be.

Last year, I briefly wrote scripts for a Texas based TV show called, “The Car Guy Show”. I always had trouble with the name of the show because it implied that only men watched it, even though one of the main hosts is a woman – who is also a professional race car driver. Anyone with a fraction of knowledge in marketing will tell you that it’s an incorrect name for a television show trying to go national.

Don’t Pick Sides, Choose Common Sense

One of my female friends told me that in order to be a woman in this hobby you have to have tough skin and be able to take a certain amount of discrimination. That is not right. Our hobby is so massive because of its diversity.

There are so many nicknames for people who love cars: Motor-head, gear-head, lead-foot, petrol-head, rev-head, car-nut, car-freak, etc. So why has “car-guy” become the go-to name in our hobby? It’s time for all of us to start seeing car-girls as more than just objects to pose with our cars, or fantasies. Don’t be threaten that a girl knows more than you about cars, be glad that you can learn from her, and maybe fall in love in the process. Every Dom needs a Letty, and our hobby has enough room for two lanes.

For the record I am not a feminist, because I do not believe in picking one extreme over another. Everything has to be categorized to a point where you are forced to pick a team and join in on the debate instead of just using your own common sense to distinguish right from wrong.

1972 Buick Riviera GS – Golden Brown

A story told from the car’s perspective:

A Premium Machine

It was another day at the Buick dealership. Another day of being shown off by Buick salesmen in their patterned suits, squeaky loafers, and slicked back hair as they paraded people, who had no business in a car like myself, around me. People getting inside me with their dirty shoes, messing with my buttons, and asking for test drives. Hearing them try to haggle over my sticker price always annoyed me. I’m a premium machine, a Gran Sport! I don’t want you if you cannot afford me. This day, however, was different because he walked in…

The first moment I saw him I knew he was different. Wearing a silver suit that shined like chrome, diamond pinky ring, and carrying big wads of cash in his black leather coat. He paid for me in cash! I can still remember the expression of disbelief on the salesmen’s face when he saw all that bread being laid out on the table. “Wrap her up, I’m taking her home today!” my new owner exclaimed with a cocky grin as he pointed to me. I had never seen a man so confident and aware of his motives. He knew what he liked, and had the money to obtain it, and what he liked was me.

He wasn’t the tallest man, but you would think he was seven feet tall by the way he carried himself. Always dressed in the finest suits and sporting different tinted color glasses each day. He had at least four different pair of sunglasses displayed on my dash. I always made sure to drive as smooth as possible as to not disturb them from their place. I could feel the rim of his gold rings when he grabbed the steering wheel. He must have been a very important man because he never bothered to lock my doors wherever we went. As if he knew no one would dare try to rip me off.

I was painted gold with a white vinyl top and brown leather interior; I was such a stunning machine back then. Didn’t take long for my owner to start spoiling me by buying me a set of white wall tires and chrome wheels to make me look more distinguish against those snobby Eldorados and Continentals. He always drove well-mannered and never abused me, always making sure I was warmed up before setting off. On occasion he would put his foot down to remind himself that I was much more than just a pretty face. My big 455 heart would suck up air and turn gasoline into torque as I ran up to 110 mph, hovering over any imperfections on the road. He was the coolest cat I had ever met, and other people seemed to share my opinion.

Custom Work

One day I remember being taken to a warehouse to see a mechanic dressed in street clothes. The man took a blowtorch to my trunk and made a hidden compartment in me. It didn’t hurt, but I felt strange having a hole cut in me for no reason.

From then on, my owner, who was often referred to as “The Jockey” by people who greeted him, would take me all over town for work. I never expected to be used as a hauler, but we went to the docks and he loaded a big brick shaped package into my trunk. We drove home and by the end of the night he had dozens of little golden brown bags that he placed in the trunk’s hidden compartment.

That’s when we would go to work – cruising into the darkest parts of the city. A side of town full of degenerates and vagabonds, no place for a Grand Sport like me. I hated rolling on filth covered streets and having low class women sit on my hood while my owner was inside a nightclub, working. Sometimes he would park me in a cold dark alley so he could check whatever it was that was hidden in my trunk.

Hitting the Streets

Going to work was always a nightmare of being surrounded by the scum of humanity. Once, a drunkard used my wheel as a urinal before losing his balance and falling over onto my rear fender. I felt his weight of soiled regret on my body work and wanted to shake him off like a horse brushing off flies with its tail.

Degenerates were always hounding my owner and would lean on my doors whenever they begged him for something. “I’m jonesing man, just need a taste to get me through the week!” One vagabond said to my owner. I didn’t understand what he wanted or why he seemed so desperate. He couldn’t stop twitching and looked as if he was about to have a nervous breakdown.

The nights were rough but the days were worth it. My owner loved taking me on scenic routes and dined at the finest restaurants where I felt more at home in the valet parking lot being hand washed by the staff. The sun would dance off my gold paint wherever we went and I loved hearing my voice sing as my 455 heart hummed with the smoothness of a knife slicing through butter. Those were the days I truly enjoyed being with my owner.

I felt like the good times were going to roll on forever, but suddenly it came to horrifying halt.

Night of No Return

It was a particularly dark night as the moon hid amongst the stars. I was sitting in the cold alley waiting for my owner to take us home. Suddenly, I head a noise in the shadows near the dumpster that was next to me. I saw two figures lurking, trying to hide themselves as best as they could. Then I heard the sound of my owner’s boots hitting the pavement as he made his way towards me from the rear. The two figures began to move out of the shadows and I saw that one of them had a switchblade in his hand.

I couldn’t see what happened because they were behind me, but I heard one of the men threaten my owner with the knife in exchange for the money he had. I didn’t hear my owner speak, all I heard was the commotion of shoes scrapping along the asphalt followed by the sound of a gun be fired! A sickening noise of air being forced out of a person’s lungs was next, followed by the weight of a body being dropped on my trunk lid.

Something warm began to spill on my paint and drip off my bumper. A pair of running footsteps was the last thing I heard before everything went silent. Minutes felt like hours as police sirens echoed in the distance. I had an idea of what the weight on my trunk was but was too scared to even imagine it. The weight on my trunk started to shift slowly as I heard the sound of his last breath before feeling the full weight relax on me. I knew what it was, but I did not want to bare it.

When the police arrived I heard them say that he had tried to pull a gun but was overpowered and stabbed repeatedly. My owner had been killed trying to defend himself and had bled out lying on my trunk. I was devastated that he was gone. I loved him…

I was towed to the impound yard where I have remained ever since. My paint has long been burnt off by the sun and I am no longer the stunning machine I was in 1972. Rats have turned me into a motel and I sit with the guilt of not being able to warn my owner. I doubt I’ll ever have another owner again because of how ugly I look.

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All I can do now is park in silence with memories of coastal runs and turtle wax massages. The memory of my owner will live on in the bags of golden brown hidden in my trunk.

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.

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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Torque Flexing

Some say this act it is the mating call of the idiot, others say it is a gross example of showing off, but most just think it’s cool. The act of spinning a car’s tires until they start pouring smoke and filling the surrounding area with the smell of heated rubber, the infamous burnout. If you’re a fan of cars then you have seen or performed this stunt before during your driving career. Whether you did it to warm up your tires at the drag strip, showing off at a car meet, or goofing off because you were planning on buying new tires anyway, doing burnouts is part of the automotive culture…but who invented it?

We all love seeing a car produce clouds and leaving a behind a Goodyear finger print on the asphalt, but who was the first to come up with the idea? Who was the one who came up with the idea of using the clutch, brake, and gas to keep a car stationary while spinning its tires? This question was keeping me up at night so I decided to ask the internet and found… nothing. All I found was that the start of drag racing in the late 40’s which could have been the origins of the smoking tire, which would make since seeing as how the original purpose for performing a burnout is to warm up the rubber so it sticks to the asphalt creating more traction for the car. I could not, however, find a name or date as to the first one ever done. Then I thought Motorsport could be another lead as to who was behind the smoking tire. Now it seems almost blasphemy to not do a burnout or donuts once you have crossed the finished line with the checkered flag waving you down as you win first place. But that again left me with a dead end at the 1950’s with no name, just a NASCAR victory tradition.

We all know the practical purpose for performing a burnout, but we rarely question the reason why we think they are so cool. A lot of us force ourselves into thinking the smell of burning rubber is good, kind like the line from the movie Apocalypse Now, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning, it smells like… victory.” In reality the smell of burning tires is awful, but we force ourselves to breathe though our mouths so we can enjoy the spectacle before us of a car showcasing its ability to convert fuel and air into smoke and exhaust notes. I often hear people, mostly women, say stuff like, “Why do you guys do that, it’s so pointless”, or, “Aren’t you just damaging your car?” Yes, performing burnouts that are longer than 5 seconds means putting your car at a higher risk of damaging major components, but there are psychological factors taken place in the mind of Gearhead before, during, and after conducting a burnout.

For example, take an average Gearhead who is not a master mechanic, has a car that is considered his pride and joy, and has a subscription to at least one car magazine, let’s call him Otto. Now let’s say Otto is at a gathering of Gearheads like a car show, car meet, or the local auto parts store. Already the mind is more excited than a puppy greeting its owner coming home from work at the idea of being surrounded by people who speak, “car”, and will understand phrases like, “I blew a tranny”, and not get judgmental looks of confusion. Two outcomes usually happen when a Gearhead is around other Gearheads, either he/she will get into a heated dispute with a fellow car-nut over which two particular car brands or cars are better, note they do not have own these cars to argue about them, or they will get a basic instinct to show off their car. Let’s say it’s the end of the day and the cars are starting to leave, and Otto is on his way out of the parking lot and there is a line of people with video cameras filming all the cool cars leave the lot. Otto knows he’s got a nice car with at least 380 ft.lb of torque at his disposal. Instinctively he will scan for police cars nearby as he selects a low gear. Left foot on the brake and leaning on the gas as the car lurches forward with an engine grunt as people start to hear the first cold layer of rubber being sanded off Otto’s set of Firestones. The tires heat up all that is heard is the sound of exhaust system burping out RPM’s as the car turns into a cloud maker with the crowd cheering on.

At this point, Otto’s ego is at a 1980’s action movie hero level of badass and keeps the power on for a few more seconds before letting off the gas. He leaves his asphalt signature while making the dramatic exit that has plagued so many other poor Gearheads with hilarious results that have filled the internet. Reality starts to set in as Otto calms down and settles in for the drive home, and he backtracks all that as happened just now. The final state of mind most Gearheads face after a burnout is, guilt. Otto starts to worry that he probably cut the life of is rear tires by about 40% and that his fuel level took a hit with all that high revving. Otto tries to say sorry to his car by driving very carefully and obeying the speed limit all the way home. Not all of us will react the same way Otto does, but we have all been in at least one of these three states of mind at one point or another.

The burnout is one of those Gearhead mystics that we all take for granted as always been around and enjoyed, but we rarely question. It is a tradition, a crowd pleaser, a strategy, and in some cases, an annoyance. Until the day comes that cars turn into hovering, self-driving, machines that take us to work at hyper speed, we shall continue flexing the torque of our cars because it is cool.

Wrecked Diaries

The last time I visited a junkyard I was 17 and in search for parts for my 1997 GMC truck that I was slowly rebuilding after spraying it all over a highway in a bad car accident. The truck was totaled but I was too stubborn to junk it, so here I was looking for parts to get my first car back on the road. As I walked through the acres of wrecks, I kept hearing the sound of silence. There are few places in this world that can make you uncomfortable because of their unique blend of quiet. Silence has a sound, it’s the sound of your mind running wild. You can hear it at graveyards, deserts, complete darkness, any abandoned building, and junkyards. Places so quiet your mind cannot help but fill in the silence with day dreams, fears, suspicions, memories, or even music. It’s why most of us get the sensation that something is going to jump out at us when we have a quiet dark room behind our backs as we walk towards a light switch. My mind was jamming out to the sound of silence by creating back stories for every wreck I saw on the lot. Every junked car has a story, a wrecked diary.

In my search for a hood and right fender for my truck I came across a set of twin Ford Mustangs. I say twin because they were both silver 2005 models parked side by side. They were identical in every way except for how they ended up here. The one of the left looked like a shark had taken a bite and eaten half of its frontend, upon closing inspection I noticed it was not missing just compressed inwards towards the driver side like a crumbled soda can. I looked inside the interior to see exploded airbags and dark spots on the driver seat which I suspected was dried blood. What really got to me was that the windshield had a human size hole on the passenger side of the car. Drunk driver came to mind, or a driver that simply ran out of talent while carrying a passenger that ran out of luck. The second Mustang on the right looked like had taken the highway to hell since it was just a burnt marshmallow of a car. The only reason I knew it was silver was because the bumpers still showed its original silver paint instead of the orange rust coated bare metal of the rest of the car. No interior in the car, just leftover relics of leather, plastic, and metal. Cold chills ran over me wondering if the owners of these cars met with similar fates.

Another four wheeled tombstone I saw was a blue and yellow 2002 Crown Victoria. The paint scheme made it look like it once worked as a taxi cab, then I saw the small badge on the trunk lid that read Police Interceptor. A real work horse. A car that spent its whole life serving the community chasing bad guys and then shuffling tourists around town until it was finally retired at the age of half a million miles to rot on a lot. I felt sorry for this car, like a horse being worked to death and then sold off to be turned into glue and dog food. This car did its job well and was rewarded with cobwebs and a life sentence until Mother Nature claims it and swallows it back into the earth. I was on my own when I was looking for parts so the only noise was the wind rustling through the metallic corpuses of abandoned combustors as my boots crushed sand and pieces of glass through the yard.

One unusual car was this 80s Cadillac hearse that was sitting on flat tires next to a stripped out school bus that was used as a storage container for used transmissions. You could cut the irony with a knife on this old hearse, you probably need a one to cut away the decades of cobwebs and dust on this car. Kept thinking it be pretty spooky seeing this thing speeding down the highway in this condition with the grim reaper behind the wheel, shooting flames out the back. A car built to be the last ride, eventually took its final ride. As the old saying goes, the dead travel fast.

A minivan with its roof caved in sat as knee high grass slowly grew around it. As I walked past it I noticed the side door was missing and the only thing I could see was a much neglected stuffed animal, the kind a small child would play with. My heart wanted to sink when I saw the toy, because that probably meant a small child was in this van and the van looked like it had cartwheeled its way down an Interstate. All the windows had been shattered and the van’s body had gone from a box to a freeform shape due to the accident.

When I finally found a truck that I could get parts off from, I came across a bright yellow front fender that belong to a 2010 Camaro. I couldn’t believe that someone had already wiped out a brand new Camaro. I figured it was probably somebody around my age who, “borrowed”, it from his father or a spoiled kid with a trust fund who didn’t know how to counter steer. I never saw the rest of the car, just that one lonely fender sitting on a rack full of different car parts.

Eventually I did find what I was looking for, paid for my parts, and made my way back to the city. The whole drive I could not help but think that my truck almost ended up in that place. Just another wreck with stories that’ll never get told, and memories left to be forgotten. I look at my truck now, looking better than ever, and sometimes think back to the day of the accident. I’m grateful that neither one of us ended up on a lot to rot. Tough to imagine what some other 17 year old kid would have thought of my wrecked truck if they ran into it at a junkyard. Thankfully, it’s a lot easier to know what he thinks when he sees it cruising down the street. Be careful out on the road everyone!