The three amigos, three wet...
The three amigos, three wet hot rodders, or three guys who didn't know well enough to come in out of the rain: editors Kevin Lee, Brian Brennan, and Ron Ceridono at the '05 NSRA Nats.
All of us at some time or another have been exposed to the saying, "It's the cost of doing business." Basically it means, if you want to play, you gotta pay, and that leads me to my current dilemma.
For starters, one of the perks of my job (vocation turned avocation) is the ability to take the time to drive to the NSRA Street Rod Nationals, or any one of a dozen other long-distance events, in my roadster about every two or three years. It isn't so much the event-although the Nats is special to me-it's the drive. Long drives across the country are incredibly therapeutic; a mental enema, you might say. (Well, maybe you wouldn't say that, but I just did. Was that too much information?) I have made the drive many times alone from Southern California but a few times with the likes of the late Jim Ewing of Super Bell, Pete Chapouris and Jim "Jake" Jacobs of then Pete & Jake's, Rod Palmer of Arizona Street Rods, Steve Coonan of The Rodder's Journal, Lil' John Buttera, fellow L.A. Roadsters club members (back in the day) Jack Stewart and Bob Barnes, and several times with Bobby Alloway. I have driven to Memphis (1971 and 1975), Tulsa (1973 and 1976), St. Paul (1974 and 1977), Columbus (1978), and Louisville (1998, 2004, 2005, and 2007), and wanted to drive this year, again with Steve Coonan, but that is where my dilemma began.
For those of you who have driven through a gas station lately, you most likely have noticed that the price of gasoline is escalating-weekly, and daily in several cases! One can only hope that this rising cost of gasoline will end or at least stabilize. Reality is that gas prices will always increase, and the price isn't going to go back down to $2 or even $3 per gallon. Odds are we are staring at $4 to $4.50 per gallon when gas prices drop after the summer. (As of this writing, gasoline is $4.60 per gallon in SoCal, and observers say it will hit $4.75 to $5 by the end of the summer, then drop. We can only hope.) But, what does all this mean to us and driving our street rods?
The price of gasoline has an immediate impact on our cars; you can see the dollars leaving your wallet every time you fire the ignition. But, what about those hidden costs, such as everything we purchase at the grocery or hardware store or any retail outlet? Everything, and I mean everything, is getting more expensive. That brings me to the crux of my situation.
Traveling on the open road, purchasing gas every 200 miles, spending each evening at a different hotel, eating daily meals, and stopping for the obligatory DQ Blizzard-you can see my travel budget is getting out of hand. It is 2,098 miles one way for me to drive from SoCal to the Nats in Louisville; quick math tells you it is 4,196 miles roundtrip and I have yet to drive in a straight line, since I always take a number of side roads to visit friends, shops, and the world's largest ball of twine. So, my actual mileage is probably closer to 5,000 miles roundtrip. What does that cost? Well, my roadster gets 19 miles per gallon at typical highway speeds-about 75 to 80 mph (where legal, of course). That breaks out to about 264 gallons, ringing up the register at $1,118.42 at $4.25 per gallon of gas. That's a far cry from my trip in 2005 that cost me about $500.
You are probably thinking, what's the big deal? It's only another $600-give or take a tank full. And, you would be correcto mundo (as the Fonz would say), but what about hotel rooms and food? It appears these costs have gone up exponentially, meaning the trip is going to be very, very expensive. So, this year I'm not driving, even though I would like to, but my greater fear is that I may never get the chance to drive cross-country again for the very simple reason: I can't afford it.
Am I alone, or are you beginning to feel the pressure of high gasoline prices, too? I understand I can cut back on Big Macs, M&M's, and venti mocha lattes-with soy in place of milk, skipping the whipped cream, and cutting the chocolate from two shots to one. I could give up eating lunch out at least once a week, and cut back on movie night and dining out, but that would make my life even more pathetic and boring than it already is!
Help me out. What can all of us do so we can continue to drive our cars and have fun visiting our favorite events? Is it as simple as tweaking my roadster's powerplant to achieve 24 mpg, or do I convert to electric power and travel for virtually nothing?