Tuesday, July 9, 2013


The fire in the sky on the fourth of July
Wakes up the holy night
Down on the ground a crowd gathers 'round
Looking up at the light
Holding hands we tap our toes to the band
And take the pledge of allegiance

There's a big wheel up in the sky
Looking down on our flag waving wide and high

Christmas eve we pack up and leave
But there's snow on the pass
It's go man go through the ice and the snow
Leaning hard on the gas
Pray to the heavens and open our presents
And take the pledge of allegiance

There's a big wheel up in the sky
Looking down on our flag waving wide and high

Out on the edge of town our children lay down
Looking up at the grass
The daughters and sons of wars lost and won
Keeping the peace at last
Play taps fold up the flags and we pack up our bags
And hit the road for the holiday

There's a big wheel up in the sky
Looking down on our flag waving wide and high

Big Wheel - copyright 2005 Gosson Bros Racing Library

And what a week it was. To a backdrop of thirty-some million frustrated Egyptians sorting out their jangled democracy experiment, countless hotdog eating contests were waged here in the land of the sleepwalk and the home of the dial tone. Such Yankee ritualism may have been lost on the Egyptians, but was awarded with lead story headlines here at home, right alongside Edward Snowden and just behind George Zimmerman (neither of which will likely get their mug on a Wheaties box). And behind the scenes, history unfolded at the SGE compound, as e-mailed files flew under the NSA radar and the Gosson Bros Racing Library inched closer to opening its doors to a public ravenous for the truth. Sweet justice, all around.

At high noon on Independence Day, I had to make a hard cross-shift into spam mode for a radio interview to promote CarTech's Show Rods book. The verbal showdown played out on the Motor Mouth radio show out of Long Island, New York, hosted by Ray Guarino and Chris Switzer - two lifelong gearheads so hardcore that they do the show for free, on their day off, just to get word out to the people. BRAVO! In the days leading to and following the show, I connected with Ray and found him to be a real deal hot rodder. Chris seems a solid stand-up citizen himself, but is an admitted restorer, so you can imagine the suspicious wariness between us. Regardless, we all had a blast bustin' each other's chops, even though Chris and Ray enjoyed a sizable timezone advantage, having awoken me at a Godforsaken hour in the name of airtime scheduling. Real funny, guys. It wasn't even noon yet, but I somehow soldiered through it while gargling the previous day's coffee grounds.

Promoting books is pedestrian enough, but in the process of getting to know Chris and Ray, something very important became instantly apparent: The patter and chatter of these two vastly knowledgeable characters would make nice up-grades for "Click" and "Clack" (obviously ashamed to use their real names!) and their old Car Talk show on National Public Radio. With their New England/Italian accents, Chris and Ray would be plug-and-play replacements, with the huge bonus of actual interesting cars being knowledgeably discussed. I hereby challenge NPR to listen to we the people, who want to listen to them the Motor Mouths..... you know what I mean. C'mon! Who's with me? Before you answer that, listen to them in action for yourself: http://www.motormouthradio.com/ Then, suggest this bolt-in swap to NPR and qualify to win a dream date with Nina Totenbag!

While virtually connecting via e-mail, Ray and I played digital show & tell with photos. This '65 GTO is one of his many projects to have survived the years. He's still tweaking it. At a glance, this is way more interesting than any car I've heard about on Car Talk. 

The primered 4-speed '55 Nomad has been with Ray forever. I'm nerfing him toward installing the injected Pontiac engine in the 'mad. Black primer, bumper-delete and aggressive rolling stock: Timeless. Molded grille surround/spoiler and trendy wheels on the '57: Period piece. Your preference? Discuss...

The moving boxes are still being uncrated at the new SGE World Headquarters. Many hold treasures unseen by human eyes for many years. One particularly personal discovery was a piece of correspondence batted back and forth between hot rod artist/drag racer Pete Millar and myself in the 1990s. Pete had agreed to critique my burgeoning Son of Godzilla comic books at the same time that my life was drawn into a vampirical black hole littered with rusty sheetmetal suspended in nitro fumes. My wristwatch hasn't worked since. Pete not only made time to right my pen, but also sent me a rare (and controversial) Isky T-shirt that he designed in the 60s, and a copy of what I believe was the last issue of Drag Cartoons released before his passing. Why don't they make heroes like that anymore? I take that back - the world is still well stocked with heroes. In fact, besides sharing his wonderful skills and outlook with us, Pete also left us his wife Orah Mae and daughter Robyn, who both work vigilantly to remind hot rodders in every zipcode that it's always Millartime!

Top three: Selected personal favorites from the Pete Millar box. Bottom: Robyn and Orah Mae Millar receive yet more awards honoring Pete, from Dave "Tuna Can" McClelland at the 2011 California Hot Rod Reunion. A lot of Pete's magic came directly from these gals. Awesome people, who deserve a trophy just for being themselves.

  Pete's Chicken Coupe delivered his message to readers with an immediate credibility. Does anyone know if the Chicken Coupe ever ran against the Big Daddy Roth/Bushmaster Yellow Fang rail???

The weekend was spent in the traditional holiday manner, torturing the neighbors with an unrelenting nightmarish din. In lieu of open headers at full song, we made do with precarious stacks of hastily wired power amps and dangerously overloaded speakers at James Drive Garage Studio. Now that the Asphalt Playground CD project is basically done, we've moved into promotion mode by mapping out a video project that will involve many of you. Yes, even YOU! Stay tuned for details.

 No weekend is complete without dropping a few hours at Dr. Lockjaw's Temple of Tetanus (AKA Jamie Ford's Custom Metal shop). We threw a few extra sparks in honor of the holiday and began adding crossmembers to my Model A frame (after shooting this photo). It's finally starting to look like something. If only I could squeeze a few more hours into the week...

In other news:
I began work on yet another CarTech book project this week, but it's classified Top Secret.
Some changes are coming in the magazine world that I can't discuss yet, but stay tuned to SGE.
Nostalgia Fuel Funny Cars ran this weekend at Champion Raceway, but I missed the show.
All is temporary. Savor this moment while it's here. I'll remind you again next week.


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