Wednesday, December 26, 2012


You have your Time Magazine Person of the Year, your Heisman Trophy Winner, your Late Show Top Ten List, and your Best Dramatic Actress in a Supporting Role. I have this blog, which has been noted as one of Google’s 100 Most Insignificant Sites, which I assume formally qualifies me to list what I deem to be the coolest and coldest events of 2012.

Coolest (in no particular order):


Yet another of my extended hitch hiking journeys across the U.S. produced the usual results: A wicked case of permagrin, more new friends, and enough hot poop to nourish this blog and several issues of Hot Rod Deluxe magazine. Major stops included Speedway Motors, the Sandhills Open Road Challenge, Speed Week, the Pebble Beach Concours de Elegance, and the California Hot Rod Reunion.


Not that I know jack about bikes, but this guy also owns the tire store where all of my rolling stock comes from. And after years of nodding hello to each other in the pits and staging lanes of our local track, it’s wonderfully surreal to see him blasting across my TV screen every Sunday. Scotty’s a helluva great guy, and works harder than the average bear at everything he does. He earns his success and wears it gracefully. His learning curve was actually a straight line, traversed on everything from street bikes to Nitro Harleys, Pro Mod Bikes, and now, Pro Stock Motorcycles. The only comparable current local yokel is Top Alcohol Dragster shoe Mike Austin, who’s automotive repair shop is scant feet down the road from Scotty’s tire store. I love that stretch of Hwy 99 North and have proven it with countless contributions of vulcanized rubber coating. It's okay - I have a tire guy.


Can you believe I write this drivel from such a palace? I know, me neither. Amazing. This is my office -  just one of many, many rooms that I spend a lot of time dusting...

Lance and Diane Sorchik made their maiden voyage to the northwest this fall and I was honored to offer them room and board. Lance dug Twisty Ron Austin's race trailer. Kiwi "House" Gilbert brought his whole fam damily for a stay, but we were having too much fun to stop for photos. Rick "What?" Smith is a regular visitor at my place. Here he is (sans cigar) getting my old Anglia teched in. I miss it, but it's in good hands...

I’ve been house sitting for the neighbors since June. They’re really nice people and I’m very honored that they trust me with their amazing home. I call it The Museum, for its dense collection of artifacts from around the globe and across the span of time. Wandering rodders have always been welcome at my place, which is usually a tiny rented room. But in 2012, I was able to offer genuine comfort to weary friends for the first time. For that, and the silent solitude to write in, I’m ever so grateful.

Right where I left it, fifteen years ago. The cowl is a '31 Briggs-body Model A and the rear half  is a mystery piece (it was represented as a '27 Rickenbacker, but I soon learned that Rickenbacker never offered an open car. It might be a Studebaker). These components represent a $25 investment. As of today, I also have a frame, drivetrain and suspension to go with this tin. I can't show or tell you any more, as this project will be detailed in an upcoming book. You have to squint really hard to see the potential here, but trust me, it's gonna be cool.

Fifteen years ago, I began mocking up a Model A-based jalopy in my shop. When a hot job offer dictated a long distance move, the project was abandoned in a field at Dr. Lockjaw’s farm. It would still be sinking into that field today, were it not for the Good Doctor’s generous offer to help me build it in his shop! So I go out there every Sunday (30 miles each way) and Doc coaches me in converting my dubious vision into reality. Delayed gratification at its best! It will take a while at this rate, and I’m fine with that. Having lost my shop over five years ago, it just feels good to be accruing greasy cuts, burns and blisters on my fingers again. Thanks Doc!!!

Flat black and slammed hard, how could anyone resist EE's badass Chevy? Especially when it beat all the big scary baddies. Crewchief (and Erica's main squeeze) Dave Connelly makes it go and Victor Cagnozzi primes the pump. They actually made P/S event coverage interesting to watch, twice, in 2012. More of this, please.

Well, it’s about time. When Pro Stock was instituted in 1970, many of us fans expected Shirley Shahan and Judy Lilly (at least) to appear in the new class, but apparently their invitations to the party were “lost in the mail”. Okay, they both may have just preferred to stay in Super Stock for all I know – I’m not privy to that information. But I do know that Enders’ 2012 wins are the first estrogen powered event victories in Pro Stock since the NHRA deemed the factory hot rods a PR gift from God, FORTY TWO YEARS AGO. Good Lord, what’s that smell? For today, I’m wearing a clothespin on my nose and congratulating Erica Enders and her tribe on this monumental achievement. And I’m hoping someone up in the tower has noticed that something smells sadly wrong in Mudville.


The Austin Bantam altered from New Zealand, Renault sedan delivery from France, and primered Deuce roadster from Switzerland are only three of over a dozen such overseas racers who breached U.S. borders to race in the land of the fast and told all to yours truly. If you think getting out to the local track can be a challenge, try racing on the other side of the planet!

Similar to the Model A project, this is also a long distance dream, slowly coming into focus. I’ve alluded to it before here on the blog, and only mention it again now out of pure adrenaline poisoning. Every day, the first GBR book gets a little closer to print, and it’s looking pretty damn good (thanks to Lance Sorchik artwork and Christy Collins design)! And there are more fun surprises heading your way under the Gosson Bros. banner. Stay tuned...

 The above artwork was supposedly done by Felix at five years old. If that's true, I'm even more impressed with his vision and faith. No Red Bull needed - Felix' adrenaline valve is stuck open. Can you imagine doing this?

As you know, I’m all about the leap of faith and trusting in the present moment. That’s why this guy is my new hero. Fearless Felix Baumgartner from Austria, fell over twenty four miles after stepping from his custom NASA-style capsule, wearing a space suit, a helmet and a grin. Felix clocked a four-plus minute E.T. and cleared the traps at 833.9MPH (or Mach 1.24), breaking the sound barrier in the process. Baumgartner shaved a whopping sixteen seconds off of the previous E.T. record, set 50 years earlier by his hero, retired Air Force Colonel Joe Kittinger, who coached Baumgartner through the experience. Fearless Felix had hooked his capsule to a balloon in Roswell, New Mexico (of course) and ascended to 128,100 feet before taking the big dive. When his face shield fogged over at stratospheric altitude, Felix shrugged it off and fell blind. He spun out of control at one stage of the drop, but reeled himself back in. After cheating death by freefalling through the sound barrier, Felix quipped, “At a certain RPM, there’s only one way for blood to leave your body, and that’s through your eyeballs. That means you’re dead. That was what we feared most.” But Baumgartner survived and was humbled in the process: “Sometimes you have to go up really high, to understand how small you really are.”

            No caption required. This now iconic image still triggers every nerve ending in our souls.

Not car-related, but this is even more important: People across the country are actually talking to each other! And it isn’t about the usual banality we use to distract ourselves from reality – it’s actually about reality itself. Sure, some are posturing themselves and most are pushing agendas, but they’re all talking about it, and get this – most are speaking from the gut – not the so-called intellect. That means there’s a chance that positive change could come of this discussion and American society could potentially take its first shaky baby step forward in decades! Shooting from the hip, so to speak, this appears to be a divisive train wreck approaching - but when you stand back for some perspective, you can see people feeling, people opening up, people soul searching, people intently listening – all the required ingredients for growth. I’m so damn proud of every one of us, I could salute! Keep this momentum going and it’s bound to deliver us to places unimaginably wondrous… Eventually.

The Coldest (in no particular order):

From the Civil War to 9-11 and beyond, we figured we'd seen the worst that humans were capable of. Like any pivotal event, the timing of this one made the difference. Time will tell how much difference.

We’ve absorbed some heavy hits over the last two centuries in this country. But perhaps nothing has delivered such a collective wince and shudder. Today we are a black and blue nation. How to heal from this? Discussions on eradicating mental health stigmas and consideration of gun control are underway. The world is watching our next move very carefully.

   (Vintage photo courtesy of Ken Crawford)
People in the know tell me that Tony never missed a single event at his home track - Famoso Raceway, near Bakersfield. I don't know how he could do that and hit every SCTA Speed Week too, but he pulled it off for a lot of years. Tony was a lifetime member of the Smokers Car Club that hosted the Fuel & Gas Championships (AKA March Meet) at Famoso. Tony's Fuel Altered ran regularly and successfully against the rail jobs. The other (color) shots are from October - the last time I saw Tony, running A/Fuel with son Darrell at the 2012 Hot Rod Reunion. Godspeed.

You might know Tony as the runner up at the inaugural 1959 March Meet in Bakersfield, where he was forced to lift (to avoid hitting raucous spectators, or because of sand blowing onto the track - depending on which legend you believe) while battling Art Chrisman for the Top Eliminator title. Tony preferred to be known as a stable fixture at both Bakersfield and Bonneville, or later, a force in NHRA’s Heritage Series A/Fuel class, where he fielded a throwback grassroots nitro entry with his son Darrell. I met Tony a few years back, when our local hero Mike Austin was driving the A/Fueler for Tony (the car was built and stored here at Bill Comstock’s shop). In fact, I was there when Mike drove the car to Tony’s only March Meet win - what a night that was! During that time, I was honored to hang a bit with Tony and the guys. When I last saw Tony (on the starting line at the 2012 Hot Rod Reunion), he shot me a quick grin and knowing nod, acknowledging our little connection. Last night I heard that he had passed on. Today I can tell you one of the worst kept secrets in drag racing: When Surfer Mike Sorokin was killed, it was in Tony Waters’ dragster – a fact that tortured Tony so profoundly that most drag journalists omitted it from their coverage of The Surfers’ story, and Tony’s. I was always amazed that the press could muster that kind of respect for anyone, but once I connected with Tony, I understood. You had to admire the guy, period. His passion was that pure. A service for Tony will be held on January 5th at Hillcrest Mortuary in Bakersfield, at 11:00AM. A Celebration of Life will follow at Woolgrowers restaurant (where Tony was also a mainstay). Tony Waters was 85 years old.


This will likely live on as an infamous milestone. I only read Newsweek in waiting rooms, but it was a lifesaver for me at those times. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that another mainstream print publication has decided it can’t afford to pull precious resources from its digital persona to support its failing print alter ego. This saddens me. That’s right – the same guy who’s been preaching that growing pains are healthy is not happy with this one. I confess – I’m all too human. But hey, I don’t have to like change to accept it.

Here’s hoping that 2013 will spawn a new age of understanding and acceptance for all of us. Or at least take us a step in that direction. See you there!

My apologies to any Psy fans who hit this site in search of more Gangnam-style video. Have a super sparkly day!

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Things went a bit sideways during Lance Sorchik's Hot Rod Deluxe photo shoot. Don't let this happen to you. Obey all posted public highway notices or prepare for regret. In the end, Sorchik's banged A-bone made it into the magazine, but this shoot was much more expensive than necessary. (Photos by Diane Sorchik)

  First things first – let’s not kid ourselves here. The multi-kazillion dollar mass media industry parades under the guise of “communication”, but the true purpose of its existence is generating noise to distract people from their real selves. Telecommunication is still somewhat legit, but the rest is just noise – the few messages being communicated share a commonly negative value. As an automotive photojournalist, I make my noise in a quiet little neighborhood known as the hot rod microcosm, which entails less than one percent of the world’s consumers. And lately it seems there are just as many journos fighting for attention as there are readers desperately searching for legitimate information. If you’re one of us myriad cub reporters, frantically thrashing in the industry mosh pit, I may have something for you here.

Some folks seem to be making up their own rules these days, perhaps empowering themselves with an “I invented the wheel” mentality. And while I’m all for experimentation, innovation and evolution, I’m also somewhat a traditionalist, especially concerning the craftsmanship aspect of the creative process. So it’s hard not to notice a writer tossing out half comprehended concepts as absolutes. This gets my attention because it reminds me of my cocky and ignorant self, not so long ago. Today, I carry a certain regret for the times I swaggered through literary intersections in total disregard of the road signs. In recent years, I’ve been noticing a lot of this from overnight experts and established (but overworked) veterans alike. It isn’t necessary and does not serve anyone – especially the writer/reader relationship. So, as a public service, please allow me to point out some red flags that you may not even realize you’re waving. Kind of like cruising down the freeway, unaware that your turn signal has been blinking since the last rest area. Better check your shoe for toilet paper, while you’re at it.

Most obvious are betrayals of the general guidelines presented to you in grade school English class. You may be a black belt texter or tweeter, but when writing for a general audience, you must assume that the reader is educated enough to expect proper use of basic English. Anything less will distract said reader and your important message will not be received. I myself am an uneducated person, but recognize good writing habits due to voracious reading. If I can do it (yes, even by faking it), so can you.

The jazz-based slingslang of the hot rod vernacular presents untold opportunities to prove yourself as respectful, a credible player, a lazy slob, or an outright fraud. Your choice. Let’s go straight to my Pet Peeve Du Jour to prove the point: A building has a roof – a car has a top.

One of the few cars with a legitimate claim of a roof was Bell & Trantham’s Outhouse show rod of the mid 60’s. Most others either have tops or no tops. (Photo courtesy of Jay Ohrberg)

Other common automotive nomenclature that has become bastardized nearly out of existence includes Quarter Window, Backlight, and Decklid. Variance from these basic terms may seem whitty or cute, but results in confusion and/or distrust from the reader, blowing your chance to establish credible voice in the reader’s head. Just remember the first rule of journalistic survival: Kill your darlings! In the quest to effectively communicate with the reader, you must coldly eliminate any distractions, like a hit man. And the primary target is almost always that cute term or phrase you wish to impose on the proceedings. Kill it and walk away.

Traditional garners the credibility you were after before blurting out Old School and blowing your cover.

Feel free to stylize your prose with a Z (Rodz), toss in some PG-rated color (badass mother), and/or embellish with extra exclamation points!!! Just know that these sophomoric moves identify you as someone who dots “i”s with hearts and butterflies.

Rims, Nos, Dubs, Donk, etc. Slang, yeah, but I’m too old to qualify for an opinion. Likewise, if these are terms of your generation, you’re too young to opine on Bangers, Gow, and Jitney. So there.

Having said all that, I don’t feel any better. Just older. No, wait – actually, I think the noise in my head may have receded a couple of decibels. I’m going to celebrate by turning off this computer.

 The Sussex County (New Jersey) Sheriffs Department thanks Lance Sorchik for his generous donation.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Back to the Bunker - or - The Art of the Restart

The author, relaxing in his den. Okay, I'm actually house sitting for some friends here and was caught  researching tech info for a top secret project. (Photo by Shellski)

I never saw the Detour sign. This blogsite was intended as a vehicle to cheer on fellow hot rod writers while promoting my own work. That lasted about three weeks before going horribly off course. There's just so much fun happening around me at any given time... And I don't know that I'll ever get comfortable with the self-promotional aspect of this work. But I hereby vow to make an effort to refocus, and right this ship. Somewhat.

You may have noticed that the blog posts here aren't as consistent as before. That's due to an ever-increasing workload that I just can't say no to. The Forrest Gumpisms keep happening and doors continue to open. Who am I to say, "No thanks"? So for the last five years or so, I work from waking until the wee hours, grab a few winks and hit it again. I've learned to pace my day with short breaks and naps, when possible. I'm the creepy shut-in that the neighbor kids whisper about. I usually wear pants, but don't always shave. I shuffle around in slippers a lot these days. My car is covered with leaves, pine needles, bird poop, dog pee, moss and slugs. I've never met the mailman. Or my neighbors.

My first two Cartech books. The third one is 99% done, but I'm sworn to secrecy until it's actually on the store shelves, so I can't show it here yet. The fourth and fifth ones are well underway. Start your Scotty Gosson collection now, before you fall hopelessly behind! Once that happens, you'll never catch up. is our main outlet, but these books are also available at your corner bookstore.

Most of the heavy lifting is on the Cartech books. These projects have been a godsend of education, forcing me to hone skills that would otherwise atrophy and rust. It was a challenge to not repeat myself in my first book - now on my fourth, it's a grim quest. But it never ceases to amaze me how many (admittedly semi-lucid) combinations are available in our crude little 26 letter alphabet. Anyway, this is a great gig: CarTech lets me choose from a handful of subjects deemed profitable by their monstrous Marketing & Research Department, they mostly leave me alone for the nine month gestation period, then I give them the finished product and they let me choose the next project. Mind you, these "choices" are obviously "choices" that veteran authors have passed on as being a stupid amount of work for the money, but I'm relatively young (not even on Social Security yet) and ravenously hungry to feed my passion - in other words, doubly stupid. They love me at Cartech! As for the money, they give me an advance check roughly every 90ish days. After a book sells enough copies to pay back the advances, I get a percentage of the profits! I even have an official contract that says so. These guys are in business to make money though - the Accounting Department knows exactly how many book sales it takes to pay off my advance, and that's exactly how many get printed. I finally received my first royalty check last month and now it's framed and hanging on my wall - because it wouldn't have paid for the gas required to haul it to the bank. Nevertheless, this is my bread and butter now. Thanks to the advance money (and food stamps), I haven't come down with Rickets or Scurvy since signing on with this outfit, which is a major plus. Seriously, I'm very grateful to have this job.

Cancel your subscriptions to those Brand X pulp magazines and sign up for the only one that matters, ASAP!

I also work for Hot Rod Deluxe magazine. This is considered sexier work, as it often sends me to exotic locales to cover exciting events. It usually starts with an e-mail:

Editor Dave: "You available to cover the California Hot Rod Reunion this year?"

Scotty: "Sure thing! But, um, is there a travel budget?"

Editor Dave: "No budget.You're on your own dime. Plan on coming down a few days early and staying a few days late - I have some other stuff for you to do." (Red Flag!)

Scotty: "Jeepers! Thanks Chief! You won't regret this! I'll be there extra early to scout locations, parking, etc."

Editor Dave:     (No reply)     (He's a busy guy)

These events are not money makers for me, but are a relatively cheap way to experience an event from the inside out. This CHRR example is a 16 hour drive, each way. I sleep in the car at the event, and eat PB&J sandwiches from the trunk. And the really sad part: To me, it's totally worth it! I get my Nitro Jones fixed, while hobnobbing with my cronies and hopefully magically furthering my career.

The magazine work is usually done after hours, meaning between midnight and sunrise. It's nice supplemental income, and I get to write about my favorite subject, for one of my heroes (I literally learned to read on Editor Dave's stuff, and no one is more knowledgeable or has more hilarious first hand stories of drag racing's golden era). Just between us: If I had the money, I'd pay HR Deluxe to let me write for them - it's the only publication that still presents the world as I want to see it. Well, I guess Mad Magazine is still around, too...

Here's the world premier of the first Gosson Bros Racing Library release! Coming soon to your spambox. Cover art by Lance Sorchik and Foreword by Cole Coonce.

This was originally intended to be the first GBR release, but it got shuffled back in the staging lanes. It should be in your hands by this time next year. More Lance Sorchik cover art, but no celebrity Foreword yet (Stephen King - here's the automotive credibility opportunity you've been waiting for). There's yet another book all written, but the cover art isn't finished yet. Besides my standard windy text, all of these books boast even more photos than the Cartech books - very labor intensive... My ex-pal Christy Collins lays these out for me. She totally hates my guts now.

About a year ago, I began organizing to self publish some books I wrote that CarTech considered incapable of meeting their profit standards. I get to pay for the up front production costs, out-of-pocket, but any profit is mine, all mine! So I'm slowly taking the leap of faith. These books are truly just spare-time kitchen table projects, but my goal is to eventually put out enough of these to become at least somewhat self sufficient.

Mr. Leisure Time, snobbing it up in his '32 3-window. What a cad! In reality, I'm just doing test monkey duty in Dr. Lockjaw's car here. My hot rod is not quite a Deuce. (Photo by Dr. Lockjaw)

And how does a worldly guy like me relax in his spare time? This week I began recording an album that ties in with the hot rod books. And when I'm not reading 18th century Slavic poetry to my girlfriend, or walking the dog in the rain, I find intimacy in a dimly lit garage, running my hands over bare naked steel (warmed by sizzling welds), while the frost gathers outside. I just resumed work on a Model A roadster project that I had to set aside over 15 years ago. Talk about your delayed gratification! It's hard to describe how good it feels to pick up where I left off. And as of today, there's a good chance that this project will culminate in a lowbuck how-to book, as well, also, too. Oh yeah, and I just edited a custom book from the Netherlands - kind of a translation deal. Look for The Jack Stewart Ford by Rik Hoving - an amazing labor of love!

Okay, automotive photojournalist students - it feels like we're getting back on track. Study your notes this week.
Next week: Saving big bucks on tools of the trade! Make your own camera from a cereal box, cellophane, a couple of rearview mirrors, and duct tape.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Of Sex and Race on the Quarter Mile

Tis the season. Family and friends are risking life and limb over icy roads, enroute to holiday social gatherings – a painful time for people like me, with the social skills of a fence post. It gets worse when the chit chat starts: “And what do you do, Scotty?” When I explain that I work in the hot rod world – with a focus on drag racing – I get a lot of this:

“Really? Jeez, you don’t come across as a redneck at all. Sorry, but you caught me by surprise there.”

“Well, are you maybe thinking of stock car racing? You know, like NASCAR? It evolved from moonshine runners, and…”

“C’mon, what’s the difference? It’s all white male dominated, right? A ‘Good Ol’ Boy’s Club’?”

At this stage, I point out some notable women and minorities they may have heard of who’ve made their mark in the sport, but we both quickly realize I’m citing exceptions, novelties, tokens even. Ultimately, I concede that not much has changed in motorsports since it began. In this predicament, racing seems one of the last outposts of chauvinism and somehow remains socially acceptable on a limited, stagnant level.
Trapped in a living room cluttered with Christmas decorations, tweed and Birkenstocks, it hits me: Say what you will about Wally Parks, but his tireless efforts to change public perception of drag racing from hooliganism to professional entertainment feel forlornly fruitless at times like this. Desperate for answers, I look out the window and see my primered street/strip car in the driveway. Have I helped to destroy sixty-some years of Wally’s hard work with this noisy throwback machine that screams “danger” from every angle? It probably looks pretty threatening to Mr. and Ms. Middle Class.

What makes this all the more frustrating to me is knowledge that more women and minorities than ever are earning engineering degrees, following their passions to personal golden rings, and setting their own reservations aside to truly blend into the melting pot. They’re more accepted and respected than ever, in every facet of society. But we’re not seeing many of them in motorsports. Are they just too smart to step into a situation where they’re clearly outnumbered? The more relevant question is why are they so outnumbered?  

Wow! Get this: While writing that last paragraph, I was distracted by raised voices on my TV:
A  roundtable of African-American sportscasters and athletes on ESPN were debating upper level sports management practices, but all agreed that the true face of any sports organization can be judged by the diversity of its Board of Directors. They said one look at the makeup of the Board tells them at a glance whether an organization will give them a fair chance to succeed. Hmmm…

With current pro-level stars like the Force sisters, Erica Enders, Antron Brown, and Hector Arana Sr. and Jr., NHRA’s collective butts are covered – until someone questions why these individuals stand out so much from the herd. Obviously, they’re awesome racers, and are equally obviously poles apart from the established status quo. That’s a can’t-miss combo for exploitation, but what message is delivered to potential non-white-male racers/fans, looking in from the outside?

In the Sportsman trenches where I dwell, there are no such distractions from the truth (the “Sportsman” tag itself being a red flag to some). Our women tend to be mostly wives or girlfriends in vital but supportive roles. The few women I’ve known who come to drive (even those with Junior Dragster backgrounds) enter with trepidation. For what it’s worth, I do my best to chat them up and make them feel welcome and equal, but the majority of these women don’t stick around for long. Those who do are – well, exceptions. Maybe the others snuck a peek at NHRA’s Board of Directors and didn’t see anyone they could relate to. Who knows? They’re gone now, and not talking.

I’ve heard it asked if maybe some people carry in their own baggage that prompts negative reactions, even on a subconscious level? Of course, that works both ways: One of my racing buddies in the Midwest was a black guy with a contagious passion for the drags that completely overshadowed any cultural differences between himself and fellow racers. If he ever had any baggage, he checked it at the gate. And I've never heard any white guys say they were made to feel uncomfortable at Brotherhood Raceway. Unfortunately, I never made it down there myself.

All I know is that when grilled by the general public on the issue, I feel at a loss for an answer convincing enough to erase their image of drag racers as Dukes of Hazzard cousins. And all I want for Christmas is your feedback in the COMMENTS box (below). Am I making a mountain of a molehill here? Stirring up trouble that may hinder actual progress? I’m jingling my Salvation Army bell for your two cents…

Jerry Shalestock (at the wheel) and company, headed to a Maryland strip for their first shot at B/Street Roadster class racing, with a smallblock Chevy replacing the previous flathead Ford in their sectioned Deuce roadster. How much has drag racing changed since this mid 60's photo was taken? It depends on your perspective. How much have YOU changed? 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Further Adventures of The Son of Godzilla

Last week, the Son of Godzilla Morris Minor was trapped at the end of a pitch dark rural drag strip at midnight, with speeding race cars hurtling toward it at full song. It didn’t look good for the littlest hero and time was rapidly running out. With only a hundredth of a second to spare before imminent destruction – I don’t remember what happened. You’ll have to revisit last week’s blog.

In 25 years of building/owning/driving the car, there were way too many escapades to recall here, but the highlights began on the maiden voyage and continue, unabated: Like blasting sideways in a cloud of noise and tire smoke, inches from a startled Iowa State Trooper on a Des Moines, Iowa freeway interchange; breaking a chintzy throttle cable in Omaha evening traffic and proceeding home with a friend running alongside the car, working the carb linkage by hand; towing to Bonneville, only to be rained out, then joining dozens of other frustrated racers from around the world in an impromptu street race, where we drove each others’ cars; getting caught in a cattle drive in eastern Oregon and literally covering the car with bullshit; coasting six miles down a mountain grade after running out of gas (and losing a $5 bet with my dad in the process); getting into the tens for the first time; driving two miles up a steep, deeply rutted mountain trail to surprise a friend on his birthday; filming movie scenes on a city backstreet at 2:00 AM for a whacky comedy about street racers; taking my family members and friends for their first ride in a real hot rod; returning to Bonneville, running 140 (complete with funhouse spin-outs) and writing a feature story about it; teaching my girlfriend to drive the car; participating in three of the Americruise events and a bit of one Power Tour; this list could go on for a number of pages…

There were no cameras present for most of those high jinx, but I was lucky enough to get some snapshots of a few other high points of my time with Lil Zilla…

Is there any better hot rod fun than grudge racing your best friend? Dr. Lockjaw and I helped each other build these cars, then pitted them against each other at every opportunity. To me, this is the ultimate fulfillment of the build process.

Racing against personal heroes (and friends) like Craig Wallace was priceless. This particular match was a classic: Something went wrong with my transbrake at the launch and as I slowly coasted to the 330’ mark, waving my fist at Wallace to entertain the troops, I finally realized he had redlit! I idled it downtrack and beat him. Or so I thought – I carded a 31 second ET on that pass and it was explained to me that anything over 30 seconds was a disqualification – no time. So I managed to lose the same race twice to a guy who redlit! Anyone here ever hear of such a thing?

After Dr. Lockjaw whipped up one of his top secret Custom Metal anti-roll bars for me, the nose stayed grounded and level. Now the runs are mostly drama-free, but still fun enough to keep the driver awake. (Dennis Vollmar Photo)

At Bonneville, I spun out at anything over 137 MPH, but CC somehow finessed it to 140 – all of this at half throttle. I had the flu and still had the time of my life. Details are in the April 2008 Rod & Custom magazine.

Old pal CC is taking excellent care of  Zilla Jr and occasionally uses it as a work commuter. It still has cooling and charging issues, fouls plugs, rattles like a can of skeletons, and the combo of camshaft overlap and open headers shakes every window in the neighborhood. Just the way I left it. We’ve been invited to display it at the Hot Rod Magazine Homecoming in 2013. All we need is travel money and vacation time (ie: Ain’t gonna happen).

CC re-enacts a recent full throttle pass through town.  Due to packaging constraints, this vehicle must be driven in the “Giving Birth” position – but is worth it (ergonomic, no - egonomic, sure). Besides, with a two gallon Eelco fuel tank and an EPA estimated 5 MPG, frequent gas stops offer plenty of leg stretching opportunities.

The part I miss the most. I still wake up in the middle of the night with some great idea for a better way to mount something, and have actually started walking to the garage before remembering I have no garage and no hot rod anymore. But I'm working on the latter. More will be revealed...

Next week: Back to reality.