I am writing this on the eve of the 60th Grand National Roadster Show, and while I have an idea on what I will see, there are always surprises. However, I recognize there's more on people's minds than just cars as the month ends and a new era begins.
For starters, as the torch was passed in 1961 with the inauguration of the first president born in the 20th century, so shall the torch now be passed in 2009. Our nation's capital didn't see any military troops (outside pomp and ceremony), no anarchy, no blackouts, and no public persecutions. Although I am pretty sure there were some backroom dealings, all in all it's what makes us the best alternative in the world for life, liberty, and the pursuit of your new hot rod.
I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said, "End of an Era 1-21-09." My interpretation and the owner's are probably entirely different. To me that is "glass half empty" philosophy, and I have always perceived myself as a "glass half full" kind of guy. Although there can be little doubt that "business as usual" is no longer business as usual, I have never dwelled on the end of anything (except dessert), but rather what's next? My age, while now calculated in decades and not years, has brought with it a steady dose of reality to what is, but has always left the door open to imagine what can be.
And while minds more adept than mine crunch the numbers and rebuild our somewhat bruised and battered economy, I will concentrate on what lies ahead for our corner of the world. On this day I (and other magazine types) will see firsthand what the State of California has intended for its rodders with regards to registration and emissions standards. I can surmise this may roll out into other states that haven't yet enacted street rod registration regulations. This should prove to be both enlightening yet disturbing but, hopefully, bring closure to a segment of our hobby that has always been cloudy at best.
I will also spend several days at what is called the MPMC. It is a media conference (for performance automotive magazine writers) instituted by SEMA that allows magazine types to visit for 20 minutes with manufactures from around the country. (Think of it as speed dating for magazine guys with no life outside the garage.) The event covers three days and it is possible for each of us to meet with 51 manufacturers and be exposed to a staggering array of new products, collect fistfuls of business cards, carry home countless CDs and catalogs, shake more hands, and be exposed to more germs then at any time in our business year. (You think I am kidding; in two weeks there will be countless performance journalists trying to shake a head cold.) It really is a great event, allowing us to get a jump on dozens of story ideas and begin the editorial process. It's also a great opportunity to network as old friends move to new positions and introductions occur with our soon to be new friends.
Then there are the Morrisons: Art Morrison of Art Morrison Enterprises and his son, Craig; both work diligently to bring our industry safe and useful products. But that's not the reason why I look forward to their visit at the MPMC. Nope. It's the pizza party we will have after the day's meetings. Nobody has fun the way the Morrisons do. Additionally, I will cautiously look forward to meeting with Rick Craze from Lokar Performance Products. Again, it is a great business meeting, but I have learned to accept energy drinks from Rick with caution. I am still coming off the caffeine buzz from my last sampling. And last but surely not least by any stretch of the imagination are Lisa Chissus, president of Flex-a-lite, and Michelle Radin, the marketing coordinator, as the buckets of oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies they bring keeps many a journalist on an energy push for days.
And then it's back to the GNRS; move-in on Wednesday night will give me a firsthand look at who's in competition for America's Most Beautiful Roadster award. Thursday the remaining entrants will begin their move-in and by late Thursday night the show will be laid out for all of us to wonder over in amazement. Friday morning at the press breakfast is always fun; it's free food! It continues from there with Hall of Fame luncheon and seminars held at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, which is located in an adjacent building to the GNRS.
Now may not the time to spend a lot of money on your latest project but you still have the time to do all those little things that need be done. Lots of cleaning, sanding, prepping, you know the drill. Come this summer all of us should be out there driving and enjoying. Time has taught me that the more things change, the more they stay the same.