One man's reality is another man's dream. And so it is with street rods. Recently I spent four days in Phoenix, Arizona, as part of my reality check. In the midst of winter, any winter, Phoenix isn't a bad place to be.
For starters, the Barrett-Jackson Auction is without question my dream world, which is and forever will be nothing more than that--my dream. Then there's my commitment to the Meguiar's Car Hobbyist of the Year Selection Committee. This is the reality that I am most comfortable in and with. Both are fun and I must admit, "It's a job that someone has to do so it might as well be me!" Without question the auction is meant for those with really, really deep pockets. The committee is geared toward acknowledging a collection of men and women who have selflessly contributed to our hobby so that all of us can benefit.
The 2005 Meguiar's Car Hobbyist...
The 2005 Meguiar's Car Hobbyist of the Year Selection Committee: (front row, left to right) Ritchie Clyne (The Auto Collections at the Imperial Palace); Robert Ross (Robb Report); Tara Baukus Mello (Edmunds.com/Streetscene); Keith Martin, committee chairman, editor and publisher of Sports Car Market Magazine and a contributing commentator for the SPEED Channel; Pete Chapouris (So-Cal Speed Shop), (second row left to right) Michael Dobrin (DriveMedia), Bob Stevens (Cars & Parts), John Dianna (SuperRod/American Rodder), (third row left to right) Phil Patton (The New York Times/Esquire/Vibe), Brock Yates (Car & Driver), Matt Stone (Motor Trend), Tom Gale (retired Exec. VP/DaimlerChrysler), Brian Brennan (STREET RODDER), (top row left to right) BJ Birtwell (DaimlerChrysler), Winston Goodfellow (Sports Car International), Dick DeLoach (Lowrider Magazine), Rich Ceppos (AutoWeek).
Don't get me wrong, each event has its place. No matter how much any one of us may moan and groan about the "gold chain" crowd playing in our sandbox, the fact is each and every one of us would love to have their purchasing power. On the other hand it is a very good feeling to deliberate over a handful of individuals who have a lifetime of contribution to our hobby and now it's their turn to receive a modicum of recognition. Effort that will not be lost in time but for at least one brief moment the rest of us will stop and say, "Thank you." And I might add a heartfelt thank you.
Before going any further I must say a few words about the auction. There are a number of entertaining, well run, and mightily successful car auctions around the country and throughout the year. But allow me to focus on one: the winter Barrett-Jackson Auction held each year typically in February. Right away you can see why at this time of the year Phoenix might be a good place to be, although this was the year to wear your nor'easter gear and swimming goggles. But I digress.
I should take a moment to thank Barry Meguiar and his staff at Meguiar's (Irvine, California) as they ante-up the resources and countless hours to bring together a handful of journalists and industry personalities to make this committee possible. Barry's love for the car hobby is well documented and so it's appreciated as he withdraws to a "hands off" approach to the committee, allowing us to do the job at hand. After much deliberation the 2005 Meguiar's Car Hobbyist of the Year Selection Committee whittled a handful of deserving individuals down to one: William H. Smith.
Now, there may be any number of street rodders who do not know of or about William H. Smith. But you should. On the other hand if you love swap meets and have resurrected one or more parts for your current or past ride then you undoubtedly have heard of the Hershey Swap Meet. (Last month's STREET RODDER covered "Hershey," as it is affectionately referred.) Did I mention that Smith is the driving force behind Hershey?
Here's a little more on the "other" Bill Smith of street rodding. He's the executive director of Antique Automobile Club of America and under his 17 years of leadership the AACA has become the largest collector car club in the world with over 60,000 members and 400 regional clubs. (To place that into perspective, did you realize that the National Street Rod Association has a membership of approximately 57,000 members, while the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association is at 60,000 members?)
One of Smith's lifelong goals was to have a museum dedicated to the efforts of the AACA and in 2003 his dreams were realized, as he is now the executive director of the AACA Museum. A little closer to home for those involved with the industry of street rodding is the Automotive Restoration Marketing Organization (ARMO), which was co-founded by Smith and he serves as the co-chair of the American Automobile Centennial Committee. He's also this editor's peer in publishing as his byline has appeared in both Old Cars Weekly and Hemmings. Possibly most important is his position as a spokesman and lobbyist on behalf of our hobby. (It doesn't matter if you love street rods or restored cars; all of us are at some point in time in the same boat pulling the same oars in the same direction.)
Let me finish by giving my co-committee members a "pat" on the back for a job well done but let me also take this moment to give a heartfelt "thanks" to William H. Smith, you deserved the recognition at this year's Meguiar's big bash at the Kodak Theatre--and then some! SRM
(Editor's note: For more information on W.H. Smith turn to this month's "Street Corner"--for the rest of the story.)