Luckily, I seem to have an endless supply of adventurous nephews. This is Lleyton Gosson. He's four years old. Other than the snappy headgear and blingy bike, this could be a photo of myself at that age. The same could be said for the following images... (Photo courtesy of Skyler Gosson)
"Oh, grow up!" That's what they said. Not once in my childhood did anyone advise me, "Don't grow up! Savor this most wondrous time of your life, and stay in touch with that curious, fearless kid for as long as possible." As it turns out, nobody had to tell me that. I've somehow managed to live almost 57 years while maintaining the maturity of an eight year old. People even paid me to play the guitar, then play with old cars, and now, just to play with words about old cars. Believe it or not, I make more money now than I ever did for mowing lawns, or even washing cars. And that was hard work (for a seven-year-old). Neato! I have no problem with such enablement.
Life just seems too fresh and sweet to ever grow old and bitter. I don't even know why anyone would want to do that. Sure, the maturity thing can be problematic: It seems like every time Saint Shellski introduces me to one of her fancy-schmantsy friends, I'm wearing a stained T-shirt with some hot rod cartoon character on it, or I'm watching cartoons on TV, or, usually, both. And it probably doesn't help matters that I've decorated her driveway with crusty broken parts, tools, and puddles of toxic automotive fluids ("No sweat, Hon. I'll just wipe it up with my shirt.") But hey, life is my playground...
... And I'm not so unique. Here's a random case study and a solid argument for perpetual childishness:
1970. Don't try this at home, kids: Professional driver on closed course? More like a teenaged Mr. Magoo with a reverse polarity compass. On my fourteenth birthday, I flew the coop to street race full time. School and home life were cramping my action. I rented a tiny ramshackle reproduction of a windmill in a backyard on the wrong side of the tracks for $15 a month and parked my '58 Anglia in the driveway. Beer bottles were cashed in for gas money and I challenged the biggest dogs of the valley. They chewed me up and spit me out. I came home almost every night with my tail between my legs.
After three months of losing every race I ran, there was no money for gas or rent. I stored the car at a friend's place and hitch hiked to the Takilma commune, where I survived on mushrooms until being whisked away to Ken Kesey's dairy farm on the next bus to Springfield, Oregon.
At the Springfield Creamery, the Grateful Dead and New Riders of the Purple Sage serenaded us for three days (two of them "official") in a muddy field. Bliss! I loved my new family and gypsied with them off and on for a few years before the magnetism of crusty steel drew me back for good.
1978: We enjoyed a surreal reunion in Omaha, Nebraska at a 3,000 seat auditorium - over 2,500 of which were empty. During the hour-long dinner break, I exchanged Tri Five suspension notes with Phil Lesh, who was putting a '57 Chevy together at the time. Full circle. And that was the last I saw of the...
Epilogue: For years, I carried a heavy regret for abandoning my real family and my education in a state of self-will-run-riot. Thankfully, amends were eventually made and a reconnect occurred with the family. We're closer than ever today, which isn't saying much for us, but is an absolute miracle, all things considered. A GED was also eventually procured at a local junior college. I have no regrets today, realizing that the path led me to where I needed to be, and valuable lessons were learned along the way.
Previously on this blog, Todd Miller received the SGE bump with a mention of his Drag Race Central feature by Bob Frey. The Bump did its magic: Days later, Todd set a new NHRA Comp Eliminator National Record of 6.27 at 224 MPH in his Bill Comstock chassied Altered, blowing away the old record of 6.34 and 217 MPH. Way to GO, Todd!
Another steed from Comstock's stable that's been mentioned here is Dave Hix' new injected nitro Fiat. I stopped by Mark Daley's annual Thunder Struck car and bike gathering across the street from the SGE complex last weekend to find the Fiat parked at curbside. It's very close to being finished and Dave hopes to begin testing this fall. Expect a full feature, once that happens.
Following my too-brief visit to the Thunder Struck street party, I hightailed it to Dr. Lockjaw's House of Tetanus (AKA Custom Metal) to form the sure-to-be-controversial rear crossmember for my Model A frame. This was another pinched-off visit (busy day), but we got the work table cleared and the tubing bender set up, then Doc shared a trick or two with me to strengthen my bending technique. Thanks Doc! I needed that.
Motormouth Ray submitted some pix of Friday night's action at the Bellmore train station in Long Island, New York. Long Island has a rich street/drag race history that's still reflected in recent builds, even though they haven't had an operational track in many years. God bless the believers and rememberers!
THE WEEK IN INK
This week on Scotty's Bookshelf, variety is the spice. Just as with shifting musical tastes, today's reading preferences deem eclectic to be the new mainstream. Personally, I celebrate this healthy sign of (dare I say it?) evolution, that drives marketing executives to drink. More.
This weeks picks: *****, ***** (Five asterisks, each)
What High Performance is to drag racing, David N. Lucsko's The Business of Speed is to the aftermarket industry that has supported hot rodding from day one. Detailed analysis of how and why business, engineering, manufacturing, and marketing decisions were made are all exposed to Lucsko's harsh spotlight with a balanced and direct clarity. And the personalities behind the names are presented as well, giving readers rare insight into the baggage behind the decisions.
Lucsko is a relative infant compared to the grizzled Post, but matches the veteran punch for punch, including that most important milepost (to me, anyway): Credibility. Both tomes instantly passed my personal Red Flag test and have repeatedly proven to be my most trustworthy sources of printed automotive information. Both books also provide comprehensive notes, indexes, and even essays on their sources. (Photos by Shaky Scotty Gosson)
Here's to youth. May it forever antagonize the curmudgeon in us all.