Tag Archives: #oldschool

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.

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.

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.

The Final FInish Line

           Motorsport can be a deadly sport, as any fan or driver will tell you. The following is a tribute to those Drivers who went beyond the limits of man and machine in the name of victory.

 I wake up feeling like I had just experienced a nightmare, panting and sweaty, and then I notice that I am laying on asphalt with my race suit and helmet still on. I try standing up but I feel very weak and stumble to get on my feet. It dawns on me that I don’t know where I am or how I ended up standing in the middle of a road. A two-lane blacktop in the middle of some kind of desert, least that’s what it looks like, only the temperature isn’t warm and the sky is an orgy of purples, pinks, and orange coloring. I feel my helmet and can feel that my visor has been broken off on half of its face and scratches riddled the rest of it. My race suit is scorched like it had been in a fire. I look around for signs of life, but all I see is dark sand and a string of telephone poles that seems to go on forever along the left side of the road. A burning sensation travels through my body when I turn to the right to see my Formula 1 car laying in the sand, upside down and completely engulfed in flames. I fall to my knees in shock as I see the car explode. A human like figure in the cockpit burns in the inferno motionless – I was dead.

Faint memories of what had happened begin to imagine themselves in my head. I remember the car getting loose on the straight away, something in the suspension had collapsed. I remember counter steering as the car turned violently to the left, straight into the barrier separating the pits from the track. The sound of metal and carbon fiber crumbling was the last thing I remembered before waking up here. This feeling is strange, knowing you are no longer alive yet not feeling any since of depression or sadness. Instead, it has been replaced with a relaxing sense of numbness. I don’t know what is going to happen next.

A familiar sound causes me to turn around to see what I hope it will be. The sound of a push-rod V8 rumbling through the still air approaches me. It’s a white 1970 Dodge Challenger cruising towards me and stops just inches away from of my feet. The white paint seems to glow instead of shine and the interior is solid white as well, even the instrument panels and pistol-grip shifter. It sings to me at it pours more gasoline into its six pack intake and opens its driver side door for me to get in. I can feel music waves flowing though my head as I step into the white vinyl interior, pretty sure it’s an instrumental of Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. Closing the door sets the car off in motion as it  travels down the two-lane blacktop on to what feels like nowhere. Confusion, paranoia, and anxiety crowd for my attention as they fight it out in the pit of my stomach. The car is taking me somewhere, I don’t know where, as the pistol-grip shifter moves on its own when it shifts from second into third gear with smoothness of a bolt-action rifle.

Time seems to have no relevance here because I sense that we have been traveling for a while but I have forgotten how to estimate time, just feels like I’m a treadmill. Time takes a backseat as I see figures in the rear-view mirror. They get closer as the Challenger speeds up with an effortless grunt from its 440 engine. Echoes of man made machines begin to fill the desert air as I see a light in the horizon begin to shine which illuminates the approaching shadows in the rearview mirror.

The first shadow came to light as the Challenger sped up to 100 miles an hour, staying as steady as a locomotive, and takes form in the shape of a 1955 Mercedes 300 SLR wearing the number #20 with the driver name of P. Levegh. I tried to see into the car to get a look at the driver as it got along side of me on the left, but the windows are completely blacked out like a pair of aviator sunglasses. Dressed on the front fender were the words, 24 of LeMans 1955. The Mercedes drives off, crossing over to the right lane and vanishes before the Challenger catches up to it. I grab the steering wheel tightly as I see a second shadow speeding up towards me in the side view mirror.

1970 Can-Am race car took the shape of this shadow, showcasing the driver name B. McLaren on its side and Goodwood Circuit 1970 just beneath it. Sporting a bright yellow paint job and a #5, it brought me memories of racer X from the cartoon series Speed Racer as it races off into the distance before also vanishing into thin air – the Challenger soldiers on mile after mile. The yellow lines on the road begin to glow as the Challenger positions itself in the middle of the road. The light on the horizon keeps getting brighter as the purples, pinks, and orange colors in the sky slowly begin to transform into greens and blues, and I start to notice stars in the sky.

My astronomical observations are interrupted by two more shadows coming behind the Challenger. I glance in the rear-view mirror just in time to catch the sight of a rear wing from a Formula 1 race car, branded in Marlboro red sponsorship and a bright yellow helmet in the cockpit. Before I can get a closer look I am greeted by an ear full of American V8 noise coming from a NASCAR stock car pulling up next to me on the right. Painted black with a big #3 on its door and the driver name Dale Earnhardt written on its roof line and the words Daytona 500 2001 on its front fender. I knew who this was but it too had blacked out windows and all I could do was watch as it downshifted and roared away into the air. Almost at the same time, the F1 car crept up on my left side. I could see the driver, but his visor was blacked out, so I couldn’t see his face, but I didn’t have to read the driver name A. Senna to know it was him. Imola 1994 was dressed across the nose of his car. The driver looked like a statue until his head turned and I could see myself in the dark reflection, he motioned with his hand and pointed to the light at the end of the horizon. As I turned to see what he was pointing at, the race car drove away, shooting flames out the back as it shifted gears. The echo of its engine ran with the wind long after the car vanished.

The scenery turns pitch black as the Challenger drives up the light which is at the edge of a cliff. The Challenger stops just before entering the light and opens the door, I think it’s asking me to get out. As I stepped out of the car I notice that on either side of the light, which looks like someone cut a garage door sized hole in space, are the cosmos of the universe. Stars and colors fill the background as I watch in amazement. Behind me is absolute darkness, only things I have in front of me is the light and the galaxy behind it. The light hums like a transformer gathering electricity. The Challenger’s paint begins to glow the same level as the light as it bellows one last torque symphony before driving into the light.

I have reached the ultimate dead end, the last finish line. As I walk up closer to the light, nervous butterflies feel like they have steel tipped wings as they bump the lining of my stomach and my hands begin to sweat inside my racing gloves. Before I enter the light I hear the sound of engines running, running at their limit. Revving, redlining, full throttle, and within a split second everything feels okay. I feel at ease as I step into the light, to join my brothers.

              “It takes a special kind of person to want to put their life at risk in the name of a sport. This short story is a tribute to those who are no longer with us, but went out chasing their never ending need for speed. I pray they have all reached the light at the end of the road and found peace. The urge to race is not a skill, it is a destine rite of passage that only few are gifted with the burden of. All I can say is RIP, Race In Peace.”

  • -Jesus R. Garcia

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.

Blue Collar Hobby, White Collar Prices

Barrett Jackson just finished its first auction event of the year a few days ago in Scottsdale, Arizona. I always enjoy watching the live coverage of all those high dollar motors rolling across the auction block to be bid on by a sea of AARP members. Although I own a few cars myself, any Gearhead will tell you that there will always be that, “one more”, car that we just gotta have in our garage. I have a list of, “must own”, cars in my head and it seems to get longer every few months. The problem is that young Gearheads today are in a race against time when it comes to being able to purchase their vintage dream cars and I believe that the TV and greed are to blame.

There has seem to be a big demand for automotive based television in recent years. Gearheads now have their own channel, Velocity, which only shows programs about restoring cars, selling cars, finding cars, or all of the above. I remember when the only car shows on the air were Over Haulin, American Hotrod, Gears, and whatever NASCAR coverage ESPN was giving, now I can’t keep track how many other copycat shows are flooding the networks. I always find it funny how the shows tend to give cliffhangers to keep the viewer interested enough to wait through the commercials by dramatizing something like: the car being late for paint, parts not coming in on time, or the new engine not firing up on the first try. Yet when the show comes back after the commercials, everything has worked itself out and the car is finished under the most unrealistic time frames. Any body shop owner will tell you that finishing a ground up project that involves body work, paint, and assembly in one week, two weeks is technically possible…if the their employees don’t mind working overtime for free. I am surprised none of these programs have shown a car that has been put together without any brakes by accident because the mechanics have been working nonstop all week and have made mistakes due to exhaustion.

The problem with these shows is that Gearheads are not the only ones watching it, and now any John Doe with a 4-door Nova thinks he can get top dollar for his junker. It makes it a little more difficult to negotiate a price for someone who doesn’t have a trust fund or a millionaire best friend. I was at a used car lot that had a few classic cars, one of which was a 1986 Buick Grand National. The car looked great but I was told it needed work since it had been in storage for years, but only had around 35k miles. I was interested until I heard the price, $27,000! That is outrageous for a Grand National, let alone one that needs work. It was the same story with a 1965 Mustang parked next to it, looked mint but had hidden rust spots and the engine needed tuning, $28,000. I think we can all agree that there are few things more frustrating than a person who doesn’t know much about classic cars trying to get Barrett Jackson prices for a car that is simply not worth it.

The classic car market itself is starting to get too inflated in my opinion. When Ferraris start costing more than the economies of small countries then you know things are getting out of hand. I am sorry but no car is worth over 30 million dollars, I do not care of Enzo Ferrari’s ashes are hidden in the glove box along with the location of Jimmy Hoffa. Once a car’s worth starts reaching seven or eight figures at auctions it is no longer a car, it is now an investment like buying shares at a stock market. Buying the car, waiting a few years and then selling it again for a profit. I say investment because anyone that throws down 10, 20, 30 million on one car isn’t exactly going to take it for a drive down to a local car meet. No, that car will be in an air conditioned warehouse and only see daylight when it is carried on to a trailer to be transported to the next auction house.

If prices keep climbing at this rate, I will not be able to afford anything by the time my own children start asking me to buy them a project car to restore or even buy for my own collection. I understand that cars are worth so much because their rare or desired, but there needs to be a realistic price to back it up. Classic muscle cars, for example, used to be about high performance at blue collar price. A 17 year old kid working part time could go into a dealership, and with a little help on the down payment from mom and dad, could roll out in a base 1968 Plymouth Road Runner with a hot 383 V8 bolted to a torque flite 727 automatic. Classic cars live from passion and a desire to keep the history alive, it should not be turned into a business and ruined like the art or music industry. I am honestly worried about how outrageous the classic car market will be when I am an AARP member. All I can hope for is that the classic car market follows the housing market and crashes, so Joe Six Pack can afford to buy a 440 Six Pack.