SHOP TALK: Talkers, Pride, Ego, and Opinions

While I want to believe that our gearhead community is filled with caring, hardworking, trustworthy, and considerate people, truth be told it is getting progressively worse. The days when you could open your hood in front of a fellow gearhead and get nothing but polite and positive comments has long gone. Everyone seems to have something better, and they are all too eager to educate you just to boost their ego. It also breaks my heart to hear more and more stories of things getting stolen from the pits while the car is staging. The ongoing wars between having a car that is naturally aspirated, blown, turbo charged, nitrous injected, small block, big block, billet block, Merlin Block, Dart Block, are just the tip of the iceberg. The controversy includes; foot brake, trans brake, Powerglide, Turbo 400, delay boxes, bump boxes, the debates go on and on.

This past weekend I took my car to the track to test and tune, but more important, have some fun! There is a lot going on in my life, and to top it off my Mom’s health is on the rapid decline. A day at the track is just what I needed to escape the world and reignite the stress free little boy inside of me.

I enjoyed the dozen or so people who stopped by my car in the pits and complimented how nice it was. I rolled out the red carpet for these people, opened my hood, let children sit in my cockpit and answered every question they had. I remember being that kid as I drooled in the pits at Englishtown Raceway Park. I promised myself one day I too would have a cool car to race. Looking back on last weekend, the same did not apply to many of my fellow racers.

I’m a kid at heart and love just about anything that someone brings to the track. I had a blast talking to a guy who brought an eyesore of a Honda Civic – might I add that it was bone stock and barely made the 25-mile journey just to race. Nonetheless, this was someone’s race car, and I totally admire and respect him and everyone else who does this. I listened to him as he explained the plans he had for his car. While he was talking, his face lit up and there was a sparkle in his eye. I told him we were not so different. He gave me a perplexed look and asked what I meant. “Your car is beautiful and it is done,” he said. I told him yes, it seemed that way and went on to explain the vision I had for the future of my car. He gave me the head nod that only a guy can give another guy, and a fist bump that said it all. Two cars behind me in the staging lanes, guys were laughing at him and his car. I’m sorry, but that disgusts me!

Newsflash – not everyone goes to the track to show off a $100K piece of art. Not everyone goes to the track to dominate and set track records. Some of us, like me, go to the track because it's medicine for the trials of life. It makes a week of hard work seem worth it. It beats dreaming about it and watching it on TV. Like I wrote about in a past issue, it beats the alternatives that trap most of us – pool halls, sports bars, strip clubs, or even worse yet…THE COUCH!

There was a group of guys who brought their import cars that day. There was also a group of guys who brought snowmobiles, 4 wheelers, and a vast array of motorcycles from stock Harleys to full blown pro stock bikes. As I sat in my car watching it from the confines of my roll cage, it reminded me of the cliques you would find in high school. Instead of the jocks, smokers, nerds, and shop people, we had expert bracket racers, nostalgia cars, imports, bikes, and guys just trying to do a burnout and have fun. Sadly, these groups all stayed to themselves. I made it a point to visit every group and admire their rides, but more important, their story.

The day also had its share of old school gearheads like myself, who were simply happy being at the track. One of my buddies invited a young racer to sit inside of his 9-second Pro Bracket Monster. He encouraged this young racer and steered him in the right direction with what to do next to his car. Another experienced bracket racer watched me launch a few times and offered to line me up and assist me with the burnout and launch. (The track catered to the bikes that day and had us line up out of the groove at the starting line. His advice was priceless and the world needs more of these people.)

When it comes to a car show or the racetrack, we all share one common bond. That bond is the car! It should not matter whether it’s a Chevy, Ford, Honda, Mopar, pro class, pro mod, weekend warrior, or the 16-second Honda Civic that’s someone’s daily driver. Every car and everyone has a story. Like this month’s Featured Car – be sure to check it out. Give someone a chance to share their story with you and watch for the sparkle in their eye to light up. For a brief moment in time, the stresses of life vanish. Cars have that power over us gearheads. I have it so bad that I can simply walk into my shop and squeeze my way into my Kirkey racing seat. Once I close the door, the world is a better place. I feel sad for the people who need drugs or alcohol to escape from the stresses of life.

So I ask you all to do your part and to compliment instead of criticize. Encourage instead of putting down. Share your knowledge from the heart and not your ego. In closing, I will share a phrase that is very appropriate and sums this all up.

"Why can't we all just get along?"

Until the next time, keep wrenching,

JT

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