Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Dear Reader: This post will require some effort on your part - like a spy glass and/or a secret decoder ring. Despite the best efforts of a handpicked team of crazed gearheads, technical difficulties could not be overcome by post time. My sincere apologies for the inconvenience. We hope to have the problem corrected by next week. Meanwhile, is there an engineer in the house?

I believe it was the voice of our generation, Frank Zappa, who said (first to his parents - pictured here - then to the rest of us), "You are what you is. You is what you am. A cow don't make ham." Zappa's obvious homage to engineers has inspired us for decades. Let's do something about it. Take a minute and get to know your engineer. (Photo courtesy of Zappa family archives)

Volkswagen engineers in particular could use your support. Zappa was very clear on this point. (Image courtesy of Motormouth Ray)


To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

The graduate with a science degree asks, "Why does it work?" The graduate with an engineering degree asks, "How does it work?" The graduate with an accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?" The graduate with an arts degree asks, "You want fries with that?"

Three engineering students were discussing who might have designed the human body. One said, "It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all all the joints." Another said, "No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous system has thousands of electrical connections." The last one said, "Actually, it had to have been a civil engineer. Who else would have run a toxic waste pipeline right through a recreational area?"

Normal people believe, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Engineers believe, "If it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet."


Here in Hotrodville, home engineering rules. This means everyone from Red Green to Ed Pink garners equal points for greatness in their chosen approach to any given challenge. And the closest thing to a rule book is Hot Rod Deluxe magazine (subscribe now at www.circsource.hot-rod-deluxe.com), or maybe Mother Earth News... The following case studies are submitted for your consideration.

We do what we have to do, out in the real world. Field repairs are often the only way home when disaster strikes. On-the-spot engineering is a survival requirement. Complicating matters, field repairs are usually timed events - due to traffic, weather, and light conditions. A perfect example is the heroic emergency roadside repair that Motormouth Ray performed during the winter of 2005 in Long Island, New York: 

Ray's beloved Caprice wagon  appears purposeful to the point of indestructibility, parked in his driveway. It served daily driver duty for years, then met its match on an icy New York highway, shared with a chauffeur-driven limousine

Ray switched hats from Driver to Photographer to Engineer with astonishing speed. Immediately after impact, this was the good news - the front wheels turned and rolled. It was a different story, out back...

...where the quarter panel had wrapped itself around the right rear tire. The smoke show was fun, but Ray wouldn't get far like this. What to do?

Luckily, the Caprice is owned by Motormouth Ray Guarino, so it never leaves the driveway without the essentials on board. On this day, that meant a chain and a come-along. A handy phone pole provided just the attachment point required to pull the mangled sheetmetal away from the tire, and Ray was free to motor on. "I did it the old fashioned way, using what I had - definitely New York street-style! I eventually replaced the quarter, and that led to popping a disc in my back. What we do (and sacrifice) for our cars, eh?" (Photos by Motormouth Ray)

Equally heroic (in its own determined way) is this entry from Bob Maddox in Phoenix, Oregon (about five miles from where I'm writing this), which made its world premier via Facebook on Halloween night. Bob squeezed a big surprise into this little package. I haven't met or even heard about Bob before, but his ride amused me with its grassroots approach to wish fulfillment, which I consider to be the definition of successful engineering. (TRIVIOD: I suspect Bob may be related to some people I know near Phoenix: My first gigs [1966 - I was ten] were spent strumming along with The Maddox Bros. and Rose [Google them]. Last year, I gigged again with Don Maddox - the last survivor of the original lineup.)

Eat your heart out, Drag-U-La. Bob's coffin is mobile here, propelled by a pulse-jet engine. Bob claims "a 0 - 60 time of nine seconds." Is he sandbagging, or still working out the goblins? Or, for all I know, that might be great performance for a pulse-jet engine (whatever that is).

And he built it at home, right next door to the Phoenix Cemetery. It may be weird, but it sure is strange. And it's the only jet powered dragster I know of in my County that debuted this Halloween. (Photos courtesy of Bob Maddox)

We couldn't have all of this backyard fun without the efforts of professional engineers, who supply us with inspiration and regret, in sometimes equal doses. Let's raise our drafting pencils to the pros! Thanks guys - we're watching you...

The 2014 Corvette Stingray is a marvel of engineering excellence. Lingenfelter Performance was wringing ungodly power from America's latest badass, months before it was available on showroom floors. A double engineering whammy!

Then again, Preston Tucker's approach to performance was something to be proud of while Zora Arkus-Duntov was still in engineering school.

Back on Earth, engineering is performed without a license by mortals. Some of these exercises began with promising concepts that led to unforeseen results:

And some of the simplest concepts are executed with such direct honesty as to be considered statements of genius...

Admittedly, this has less to do with engineering and more to do with being a cow on a BMW. Still...

As Timbuk 3 said, "It's the little things that make life such a big deal." Duly illustrated by this throttle cable bracket, discovered at a New York hot rod gathering by Motormouth Ray. (Photo by Motormouth Ray)




Saint Shellski was on the road last week and sent me this cell phone shot from Eugene, Oregon. I nearly peed myself. I can't wait to bag an elegant '30s or '40s hot rod "Comin' at ya" shot in front of this building! 

(Photo by Saint Shellski)



What could possibly be livelier than two over-caffeinated motormouths ranting uncapped about their favorite automotive topics? Throw a couple of Pro Mod racers (Dina and Drew Parise) in with the manic mechanics and you have a non-stop laugh-fest. Before going all Pro Mod on us, Drew Parise ran a sano NMCA Super Street Camaro (featured here two weeks ago) that wife Dina eventually hijacked. That move ultimately led to Drew and Dina each running Pro Mod Corvettes (a '53 for Drew and Dina's '63), both decked out in military livery to draw attention to the Parise's Veteran support programs. At that point, Dina became the company's front person and the name was changed to Dina Parise Racing. They hit the Motor Mouth Radio Hour last Sunday (listen here: www.motormouthradio.com) with eyebrow raising tales of life behind-the-scenes on the Pro Mod circuit. Recommended listening. The giggles start with the first spoken word and continue unabated.

The standard Dina Parise Racing promo shot. Talk about your one-two punch! These Vettes look like a couple of meanies...

Dina wears her game face and race jammies at the office.

Drew, having one of those days, in the pits (giving his battered aluminum block the skunk eye).

Dina, warming up in the bullpen. She's known as The Chef on the circuit. It has nothing to do with her kitchen skills...

... and the resulting Winners Circle shot. Somebody just got cooked.

What Dina does in the pits while Drew thrashes engines together from thin air. Definitely a team player, Dina always throws herself completely into her work. (Photos courtesy of Dina Parise Racing.com)


The people have spoken at the SGE polls and demanded to see squirrels with toolboxes. Here ya go. I don't know what incredibly lucky photographer caught the squirrel at the crash of the Hindenburg (a once-in-lifetime shot!), but I snapped the ancient Snap-On bottom box (full of bodywork tools) at Dr. Lockjaw's shop. At least I think it's a Snap-On product. Hopefully, this will quell any rioting in the streets.