You have probably heard it said, "It's about the journey." It doesn't matter if it's being said in regards to family, work, or our hobbies, as the intent is to make sure that we all enjoy life's every step. And that brings us to making sure we never miss a beat when enjoying our street rods.
For starters, somewhere in my literal wanderings I came across the following quote and it reminded me of the way I want to be remembered. Now, I plan on being around for a great many more street rod nationals but this is the philosophy by which I would like to live.
"My life was not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, 'WOW, what a Ride!'" (The late-Jim Ewing of Super Bell Axle Company fame would be a prime example of having lived like this during his life.)
By now you have probably noticed this month's photo. It was taken at the 2004 NHRA Winternationals, an event I have patronized for decades, yes decades! As a teenage rodder I would begin each year with a passage to rodding mecca--Pomona, California. The Winternationals set the stage for what was to come in my life... Though I had my 15 minutes of fame by competing extensively during the '60s and early '70s, I always wondered what it would be like to drive a really fast hot rod--something like the seat-of-the-pants wild ride that goes with today's Pro Stocker.
Before you go crazy thinking that I had the opportunity of a lifetime, making a heart throbbing, retina-detaching quarter-mile pass, I didn't. However, I did get to nestle in behind the steering wheel while comfortably squeezing the shifter. My momentary flirt with nirvana came at the behest of Barry Grant of Demon carburetor fame as he allowed me to "wedge" my girth into his newest Pro Stock hot rod. As I sat in the seat with steering wheel in hand, grasping the pistol grip shifter, and "tickling" the throttle, all those years of dreaming about what it'd be like to drive a real race car came back to me. Remember, this hot rod develops 1,100 hp from 500 ci squeezed through a 10,000-rpm redline. This is a hot rod for the strong of heart and for those with lightening-quick eye-to-hand coordination. Once this muscular hot rod leaves the line only 8ths of a single second flash by before it catches second gear, then a mere 9ths before it grabs third, and then fourth and fifth. In 6.7 seconds it can cover a quarter-mile at 205 mph. Now that's a hot rod. I must say that the sound of power generated from the 500-inch big-block was addicting. (If Barry only knew how close I came to "planting" my foot "deep" into the throttle to really hear and feel what 1,100 hp is all about...) Well, my dream may still be a dream but I came closer to it than I ever thought I would.
Now you say, "What does a drag race car have to do with a street rod?" Well, when you're done driving your street rod, which will hopefully be many, many years from now, you'll never want to say, "I wish." Don't ever let yourself feel that you didn't drive your car at every opportunity. I will be the first to say, "I understand about investments of large sums of greenbacks and the desire to protect one's investment." But why then do we invest so much into these cars that we become fearful of driving them because of what could happen? Again, it is solely the choice of the car owner, but wouldn't a street rod be more fun if you drove it hard and often?
I have many times been accused of driving my cars hard and not taking great care of them. Mechanically, though, my cars are safe and sound. However, should you find yourself at a rod run with me, just look around, as you can usually tell my car in a parking lot since it's the one that needs washing. For some reason I am more concerned about spending my remaining time driving or in other ways enjoying my hot rod.