We’re Not Getting Older, We’re Just Vintage
I hope all of you had a very happy Thanksgiving. We nostalgia racers and fans have a lot to be thankful for and have a lot to look forward to next season. Last month, I asked all of you to send in something about your plans for next year. It was probably a little early, because the response was, well…underwhelming. So, you get to hear about my Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving was wonderful. Things One and Two and I spent the holiday at one of the sprawling Utterback estates. We have a northern compound, which is nestled in the Inyo National Forest. It sits at roughly 6000' altitude. It's ten miles west of Bishop, California, and is generally referred to as "Grandma and Grandpa's house."
Okay, I'm exaggerating. It's a three-bedroom house with four cars on blocks, two welding machines on trailers and a racecar trailer that I never finished from my first "garagester" back in the ‘80s. All these treasures are in the backyard. But still, it's Grandma and Grandpa's house. Yep, white trash does come home for the holidays… well, I'm not from Bishop. My folks lived in Long Beach when I was born and they moved to Bishop about 18 years ago. But going to your parents' house is like going home. Ya need to go with me on this. It's all I got this month.
Our family traditions are watching a lot of TV and eating too much. This year it was the Discovery Channel and that Man vs. Wild show marathon. You know the one, the show where the guy survives all kinds of crazy "today, I'm crossing the Sahara desert with no water. I'll survive by drinking the liquid from camel dung" stuff. Generally reminding me every thirty seconds or so just how much of a pussy I really am. After a couple hours of this torture, I tuned it out and started talking to my parents. The conversation always turns to how big the kids are getting and how old we are.
Great, this has been on my mind lately. Thinking about getting old and how everything I do in life is about getting old. Nostalgia drag racing, Hot Rod Heritage series, Nostalgia funny cars, Vintage drum sets, Classic rock, Vintage BMX bikes, ugh. Even this column, Getting Nostalgic, my commentary on the nostalgia drag racing scene. These thoughts consumed me until I started for home. Hit highway 395 south, Did Not! turn on the local country music station, for fear of hitting rock bottom. Got cell service back and called one of my drag racing buddies who is more depressing than I am. That cheered me up.
With that, I've decided to embrace all that is old. Or nostalgic, or vintage, or classic. It's been written about many times. The affection we as racers and fans have for nostalgia drag racing. We get to honor our heritage and stand out from the crowd doing it. It's getting more and more popular every year. Look at the cacklefests. There are more than 100 of these things starting up and stinking up (in a good way mind you) car shows and events all over the place.
And it's affordable. Bobby Hansen just ran his car at the CHRR and the Irwindale reunion event at the Wally Parks Motorsports Museum. Two weekends and he burned maybe ten gallons of fuel and changed the oil once, just because. We might look at the bearings soon. Just because. Look at the progress we have made just in one year. We went from eight major events to upwards of 20. Next year there is no way you could hit every major nostalgia drag race in the country. And some schedules have not been finalized yet. Things are looking good. I hear talk of some new corporate sponsors looking at nostalgia drag racing and an announcement is pending. It's good to celebrate getting old and all that is old. Or, appears old.
Since this month has turned into a me-fest, let's take this time to thank some of the folks who have helped me be a real pain in the ass to some of you folks this past year. I got to drive one of the coolest nostalgia funny cars on the planet, the Pisano & Matsubara tribute car. A big thank you to everyone involved with this car: Danny Pisano, "my brother" the owner; Todd Mallory, valve runner, clutch helper, all around good guy, future driver and a great new friend; Mikey Mallory, body maintenance and lowering guy extraodinaire, tire guy, huge all around help and the team "peace keeper". Mikey is the guy who first told me, "My drinking team has a racing problem!" Of course, there's Mike Filitti, bottom end and the guy who gets to look at the pile every day; Dave Filitti, Mike's son and a big help; Randy Hudson, truck driver, the guy with "the dream" Randy, have you woken up yet?; "Swindle Wendle" the cat who has ice back ordered to Eskimos and did our merch sales this year; and, Steve Montrelli, who's tuned Dale Pulde, Don Schumacher and so many others and I got the honor of driving for him this year. What a great bunch of guys who tolerated me the whole season and might do it with me again next year! Real quick on the car sponsors: Clevite bearings, Engle cams, Havasu property, Hedman headers, Mattel, Mothers, Purepower, Seat Source, Venolia, and Wedge Engineering.
Other folks who deserve thanks for supporting me in doing what I do, Bobby Hansen at Hansen Chassis, Robert Reehl Equipment, Bob Eakins at East West Engineering, Dale Pulde with ProNitro, Bill Sweeney at Standard Abrasives, Dawn at dragstripgirldesigns.com, Things One and Two and their mom, Pammy, and of course, the staff at Drag Racing Online. Boy, was that sappy or what?
So, with all of that sappiness, we are definitely smack dab in the middle of the holidays. This year, I'm really proud of Thing One and Thing Two's Cub Scout Pack. They are donating a holiday tree and having a decorating party at the LAX USO. They hand-made the ornaments and cards to help brighten the season for our soldiers who pass through on their way to various destinations around the world.