Last week, I went to the Grass Valley, California area to pick up my NEW CAR!!! Rick Smith (a longtime racer buddy, who now has my old Anglia race car - the "BTU") recently got a new daily driver and gave me his old one - a '98 Honda Civic (though it may be a Hyundai, or a Hyabussa, or a Dipshitsu, or something else - I have a lot to learn about modern cars). The Honda gets 50+ MPG vs the 12 MPG I'm used to with my Bi Polar Bear station wagon. My quality of life has improved by 38 MPG overnight, and those gallons don't even have to be real gas. You can probably burn urine in these things.
As luck would have it, Rick was delivering yet another car to a friend and was headed my way anyhow, so he picked me up and provided free transport to pick up my new free car! If the Big Three provided such customer service, there would be no more wars. Bottom line: Rick Smith = HERO!
Our trip to Grass Valley in Rick's pal's car (a Kia, or Lexus, or something like that) was uneventful, but for hours of adding greasy thumbprints to an enormous touch-screen, built right into the dash. We never figured out how to make it do anything, but we found it to be baffling entertainment, regardless. Picture two crusty old hippies playing a seven hour game of Pong at 70 MPH. We couldn't make the radio work, either.
We finally arrived at Rick's acreage at sundown and I clicked some images...
The following morning, we hit the local gearhead circuit to nab photos for various projects I'm working on. Here's some out takes of the day's adventures. I'm withholding hard data (and the best shots) until I know whether or not there's any money in these stories.
Our first stop was at Ken Stephens' shop. That's Ken in the top photo. The chassis is for a lucky customer's '35 Ford pickup. This guy has serious skills.
Ken won the weekend's Best Engine Stand award with this gem, which he even demonstrated for us. The Duntov 30-30 cam in this crate 350 sings a sweet song. Hopefully, Ken's neighbors are music fans.
|Ken built all of the above '32s, and we couldn't find a single inch in any of them that wasn't worked to 100% perfection. Ken hides plenty of clever trickery in each car to discover, too.|
Okay, this Model A isn't quite finished to the above standards. But then, Ken didn't build it. Yet.
Mr. and Mrs. Bob Duncan were our next hosts. You might not recognize Bob here without his trademark black top hat. He's a regular on the salt, usually with the Buzzards Race Team '34 coupe.
But we came to see Bob's Willys pickup, captured here in winter hibernation mode. Bob's dad ran the old Duncan and Shores Willys A/Gas coupe, before they switched to the ex-Chuck Finders' pickup. When Bob found this truck in Ohio and discovered it was also a Finders (1980ish) build, he pounced on it and built a tribute to dad's rig. This one hammers both street and strip. Hard.
We hit Bill Brothen's place just as he was formalizing plans to drive his '34 (with '33 door tops) to Bonneville. I can't wait to shoot this sano streeter with the Buzzards' nearly identical race version (now fortified with Hemi power) on the salt. Yes, Bill's a Buzzard, too. Membership is apparently a prerequisite for Grass Valley citizenship.
While we drooled on Brothen's tin, Bob Duncan rolled up in his driver. The '57 Ranchero does tow duty for the Buzzards. We were invited to stick around for some roadster guys who were enroute, but as you can see, the shadows were growing.
We walked in on Craig Wallace to find him doing that voodoo that he do. It's my understanding that Wallace did the body and paint chores on every one of the above cars (all steel, like the Deuce 3-window on the rotisserie), and I know he's done a zillion others. His work has been renowned for decades. But that isn't what he's most famous for...
Some of Wallace's street cars. He builds them from scratch, alone - except for the late model ('56) Ford, which was a father-son build. Craig and wife Stephanie hit the road in style, as time allows.
After such a grueling day, Rick's couch was beckoning to me. But of course, we stayed up all night jamming and bench racing, instead.
And now, the moment you've all been waiting for! Ladies and gentlemen: Behold the 1998 Honda Civic LX!!! This magnificent machine has over a quarter million miles on it and is still tight as a drum, thanks to Rick's strict adherence to an anal retentive maintenance schedule.
That name again: Rick Smith. Badass Hot Rod Hero.
Upon waking, I poured $24 of bargain-basement rotgut gas into the Honda and headed north to the Pacific Wonderland. Six hours later, I arrived home with a quarter tank still showing on the gauge! I can get used to this. Bonus: Nothing is stealthier than a silver Honda 4-door. I'm the Invisible Man. Nice.
I used up the remainder of the week searching for shelter, but finding none. It's still rest area parking spaces for me - which means no electricity, and therefore, no work getting done on my many writing assignments (This blog entry is being typed on a friend's computer, in a big sweaty hurry). But I did manage to get in some more work on the recording project at James Drive Studio and a bit of labor on the Model A project at Custom Metal...
Later this week, I have a meeting with some people regarding my new publishing company. Hopefully, next week's blog will feature some good news regarding my next step to financial independence. I'll also have some behind-the-scenes reporting on my new life as a homeless veteran in the modern age. Until then, take good care of each other and savor every moment you get.
This week's bonus shot: Scotty Fenn's gift to humankind, being towed up to the line. One of my alltime favorite images.