To this! Returning a hot rod to glory, one part at a time. It's more satisfying than sex! Well, it's pretty satisfying. And you can do it almost anywhere without getting arrested, infected, or impregnated. The I-beam connecting rods in Ray Guarino's Pontiac were no match for his size 13 right foot. Ray has higher expectations for the new H-beams. (Photos courtesy of Ray Guarino)
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EAST vs WEST
By now, you've probably read Spike Kilmer and Joseph Alig's East vs West Showdown, wherein they pay homage to the polarizing coastal rivalry that once prompted territorial fistcuffs. It's a fun read, with great photos. Highly recommended.
In my eyes, the Atlantic vs Pacific hot rod wars pretty much turned pointless once we all came to realize that we're in this together and need each other to survive. Despite the peace treaty, both coasts still sport instantly identifiable styling cues, born of regional history and philosophies. Today, we celebrate these differences, rather than razz each other about them. And a couple of guys who know a thing or two about celebrating and razzing just happened to send in photos last week from the East coast.
The SGE staff tends to take on a nervous giddyness when Motormouth Ray Guarino reports in. At once edgy, studious and funny, Ray can blow a productive day at the office completely out of the water with a single one-liner. Anyone who's listened to the Motor Mouth Radio Hour can attest to that. But when he dons his grubbies and dives under the hood, Ray becomes - well, he just becomes even more funny. But he gets the job done too, in traditional hot rod fashion. The very same can be said of Lance 'Jumpstart' Sorchik, who also checks in this week with some tech tidbits of his own. Grab a grease rag and enjoy the view over the shoulders of these East Coast luminaries, as they approach soft and hardcore challenges (respectively) with a wink and a grin. The hand cleaner is over there by the bench...
RAY GETS EXHAUSTED
Ray spends Friday nights at the Bellmore train station on Long Island. I look forward to receiving photos on Saturday mornings. This place is happening! Here's my favorite from last week...
LANCE GOES TO CHASSIS CAMP
Old pal Lance Sorchik has been cranking out his twisted (yet all-too-true-to-life) hot rod cartoons since the early 80's, while simultaneously creating 1:1 scale versions of said caricatures from his home shop in northern New Jersey. His freshman effort went platinum - you may remember the Jersey Suede '34 3-window... Like all Sorchikmobiles, it began as a sketch, then was animated in three dimensional metallic taffy.
This more recent Model A truck build took the same route...
There have been several more surrealist badasses from Lance, but you get the idea. He builds and drives what he draws. That alone earns him hero status, but Lance and wife Diane stand beyond heroship, to me. They're dear friends and total funsters. We've shared a few laughs over the years...
I once arrived carless at Sorchik's place (this was several years ago), and he tossed me the keys to the loaner car. I'm tiptoeing it through York, Pa in the photo below (shot from their '48 Chevy pickup). The '33 roadster had been sitting for decades before Lance resurrected it. It ran, but was oh so tired. Lance and Lady Di are bona fide road dogs, but their adventures in the roadster got shorter and shorter as it grew longer and longer in the tooth, ultimately restricting it to staying this side of the City Limits sign. The party was over.
Lance stripped the roadster down to the short hairs and considered the situation. Priority 1 was to create a rolling engine stand worthy of carting around a 24-stud flatty that had powered his late dad's tractor. The original '33 V-8 60 was found to be about one mile from drawing its last rattling breath, so this step was a no-brainer. One secret to Lance's wrenching success is an honest assessment of his limitations: He's capable of doing whatever needs done, but sometimes farming out specialized chores to a veteran craftsman trumps ego trips, in the long run. So dad's old V-8 was shipped off to a friend's machine shop, while Lance focused on the chassis. Upon deciding the roadster's next incarnation, the sketch pad was attacked with abandon. Now he had a plan. The '33 frame rails were in good enough shape, but the rest was beat to death. Where to start?
Lance called his pal Jesse Coots at Old Soul Hot Rod Shop in Leroy, New York. Old Soul does good work, so the shop has been very busy since opening. So busy that Jesse now needed a vacation. And so it came to be that Jesse closed the shop for a week to supervise/mentor Lance through the process of realizing the chassis that had been banging around in his head. That was the original agreement, anyway...
I received the following photos of Lance's trip to Chassis Camp last week. The roadster is well on its way to being completely unrecognizable as the highboy beater I bashed around Pennsylvania. I'll let Lance explain:
And just like that, Chassis Camp was abruptly postponed so Jesse could focus on the upcoming Hardcore Happening, presented by the shop annually. Stay tuned for more details as they develop on Lance's '33 and Ray's GTO...
RE: THE WEEK IN INK
Ray Guarino saw last week's mention of my bedtime stories and couldn't resist topping me. He has ink stashed in every room of the house, for quick and easy access. Wise man. You beat me fair and square, Guarino.
I'm not exactly an East Coast guy myself (my place is about 50 miles due east of the Pacific), but since this is my blog, I guess I can post MY big ink news of the week: The Proof copy of Racing to America arrived today! I've been waiting almost two years for this leap-of-faith plunge into independence - the first Gosson Bros. Racing Library title. To finally hold it in my hands and thumb through it was a surreal adrenaline rush. I'll give it a thorough going-over tonight, then we should be sending it out into the world in the next few days. May it entertain, educate, or inspire you in some way...
ALMOST EAST COAST NEWS (To equally offend citizens of both coasts and everyone in between)
For those living on the West Coast, anything east of the Rockies tends to be considered the East Coast. Not quite accurate, nor fair to either party, but oh so ingrained. Nebraska is plenty East enough for me (I qualify to be so flip, having spent 20+ years there), so here's a peek at one of the most unique and coolest events in the country, the Sandhills Open Road Challenge (SORC) in Arnold, Nebraska.
The Sandhills (gateway to Wyoming) is ranching country, where long ribbons of deserted narrow County roads connect scattered towns like Arnold - deemed the Radiator Springs of the Midwest when the Interstate Highway System passed it by. That very isolation now deems Arnold the Home of Great Plains High Velocity. See last year's extensive SGE coverage for more details.
Next week: It'll be a surprise to both of us...