There is the age-old question, well, maybe not that old but it's what our hobby is based on; is it the cars or the people? Of course the easy way out, and the least annoying, is to say that it's both. And guess what, you would be correct, or would you? Here's a little more on the subject.
For starters, every month I receive lots of emails (USPS letters are all but dead, maybe one or two a month, but I average nearly 100 emails per day). The handwritten letters always start out the same, "I don't have email and sure as hell don't want a computer. ..." The flip side is, "I am sending you this email and will wait patiently until you answer. And if you don't, I will hit resend." Those are my favorites!
As you would imagine, the questions are as varied as the street rodders asking. Rodders want to find old friends, need help locating an old car, asking where a specific car came from, saying post-'49 cars at the Nats suck or it's about time post-'49 cars were allowed into the Nats, or "coupes are for chickens while roadsters melt in the rain." And the single most asked question, "What color is that car in this month's issue?" (Remember, what "this month's issue" to you is probably at least three months old to me-tell me the month and page number when asking, it will always help.) Then there is the usual assortment of tech questions: "Why can't I get this part to fit?" and "No one told me to breathe through a mask when painting or wear eyewear when welding or keep my fingers away from the sharp edge-of everything?"
The questions that come in are also personal in nature, "How many doughnuts can you really eat in one sitting?" Last time I tried it was two dozen-Krispy Kreme glaze. "Is it true you were once thrown out of an all-you-can-eat establishment for eating too much?" Yes, but I was much younger and had a very high metabolism. "Is it true you once had your entire screwdriver collection dipped in rubber so you wouldn't hurt the car-and yourself?" OK, that's true but I thought it was just plain mean (and I still haven't forgiven Ceridono for that). It took me an entire summer to find all of them and peel away the rubber coating. "I was told that you haven't polished your roadster in a year?" Technically speaking I haven't polished my roadster in about two years. Tony Correia of Speed Shop Custom Paint and fellow California Roadster club member has a detail division at his shop and once a year around the Grand National Roadster Show takes pity on me and really makes the highboy shine. I have overheard at the club's informal Saturday morning coffee and doughnut (dah) meetings that the entire club asks him to do this. Apparently, they want to make sure my roadster doesn't embarrass the membership when attending the GNRS and Goodguys Del Mar, which is shortly thereafter. OK, while that may be true, my car always gets me there and home. (Well, except once when the starter died but that's fodder for another time.) You are starting to get the drift.
If our hobby isn't about people first and foremost then why are there so many car clubs with so many members? Car clubs aren't a recent phenomenon but rather a staple of our hobby since its earliest days. Now, saying the car isn't an integral part of our hobby is just plain stupid. The car is a focal point for all of us to rally. I have seen and heard on many occasions that a really nice car will be ignored because the owner is somewhat of a putz, while a worthwhile comrade in rodding can have almost anything for a ride and you will see him everywhere accepted by one and all.
And all this brings me to the not-so hidden agenda of this month's soapbox effort. Look elsewhere on this page and you will see several nifty pieces of artwork with the title "Connecting Rodders, for more info and the owner's email see streetrodderweb.com" or "Connecting Rodders, more photos and info at streetrodderweb.com". This will commence with next month's issue (oh that would be the Aug. '10 issue). We will publish the link that will take you directly to the story on the web.
Now, if we have photographed your car for a feature, don't panic. We'll get your permission to publish your email address on the web only when the feature appears. We understand there may be many rodders who don't wish to be bothered and that's OK. But I am here to tell you that I am somewhat amazed at how many rodders have given us permission to spread their email address around so that other rodders can ask questions directly and get the answers they need. Oftentimes this brings about another friendship, not a bad thing. For tech stories (not unlike what we already do with the source box), event coverage, and shops, since email addresses are already public information, we will run those email addresses. Now you won't have to search for these little period punctuated, run-on sentence fragments-they will be right there at your fingertips. We will also work at delivering more photos that just couldn't make the pages (space availability and that sort of thing) that will give you even more insight into the topic you are looking up.
Well, that just about does it. One more way for us to connect as street rodders, proving, while the car is a central theme of our hobby, it really is all about the guy behind the wheel.