Tuesday, July 29, 2014



Northwest hot rod character Dennis Bradford, at home. I've known Dennis for a few years now, but not well enough to know whether his wife kicked him out of the house or he's always chosen to live in the garage with his true love. Either way, I can relate. (Photo courtesy of Dennis Bradford)

They call me The Transparent Man (you'd think The Invisible Man copyright statute of limitations would have expired by now, but no... It turns out that the CIA owns the rights, so it could be a while before the documentation is even located to reveal the expiration date). My life is a wide open book (much like the award winning best seller, Racing to America, available wherever Racing to America is sold). So I had no qualms about mentioning my small living space on last week's blog post. But qualms were had by others: In the last week, dear friends and total strangers alike have derided my choice of lifestyle as immature, irresponsible, and even implausible. I plead guilty to all charges:

Immature? True, my lifestyle hasn't changed much since I left home at 14 years old, yet carbon dating places me solidly in the "mature" category (I'll be 58 this fall). So this one could be considered a toss up.

Irresponsible? That's a matter of perspective. For a guy who has spent a good segment of his life sleeping under the nearest star, I felt pretty adult about the progression to snoozing in cars, race trailers, and 24 hour laundromats. My current living space may be minuscule, but it's inside of an actual privately owned building.

Implausible? I'm with you there! I never dreamed I'd be living this well either! And I couldn't be more grateful.

Compared to my early years, living in a 10' X 10' room in a brick building is one of the most pragmatic things I've ever done. The building may be over 100 years old, but I have yet to be run over by a roadster in the middle of the night here. Plus, I now have a sleeping bag and everything - pretty civilized, I'd say.

Graphic proof of my domestication. Note carpeting, sleeping bag, cooler, and ELECTRICAL OUTLETS in background. Long considered a bohemian, I now stand exposed as the princess poodle I have ultimately come to be. Inevitable, I suppose. (Scotty shot)

The starving artist lifestyle isn't for everyone, but simplifying our lives (and eliminating distractions in the process) seems to be working out for Dennis Bradford and I. We do it by choice and necessity. Bradford and I are both professionals in our chosen fields. We chose the feral life in hopes of allowing our goals to be more achievable. We're both enjoying sublime satisfaction in our work, and are earnestly grateful to be doing it, no matter how sparse the paychecks. Our careers just happen to take priority over impressing our peers. If that's wrong, we'll gladly plead guilty - just to get you off our asses.

Defensive, yes. I'm sometimes resistant to change, and this protest is just an aging man's kneejerk reaction to realities that I'm sure to embrace soon enough. You read that right - I'll keep my "apartment", but have vowed to learn and institute a program of self care (starting with diet and exercise). There will be an adjustment period which could be challenging, but I love my life and don't want it to end prematurely. Count me in for the long haul.

I believe Mark Erwin is responsible for this unintended portrait of the middle-aged me. Mark actually works on The Simpsons show, deeming this image doubly cool (to my tired eyes and sophomoric taste buds).


On the flip side of the above coin (to coin a phrase from the flip side of the United States) is our own Motormouth Ray. The New York college faculty member/automologist and radio host is currently teetering on the edge of retirement, while eyeing a future of extended shop time and radio broadcasting. He paid his dues long ago as a student, and has been savoring the fruits ever since. Ray's pragmatic efforts have already been rewarded with a comfortable home, fully stocked with loving family members. And now a sweet pension lurks just around the corner. While road tripping to upstate New York last week, Ray and Mrs. Motormouth (AKA Linda) traveled in air conditioned comfort, and snored the nights away in a cushy motel room. Is that any better or worse than how Dennis Bradford and I experience such adventures? That depends on whether judging events to be Right or Wrong trumps simply accepting things for what they are. Priorities... One of Motormouth Ray's priorities as a student was photography classes. That's why he was hand picked to provide our coverage of the Right Coast Association's Syracuse Nationals. Let's cut to the action and get this show on the road! Ray?

"At Motor Mouth Radio, we don't get to travel much, especially to any really big car shows. So when we were invited up to Syracuse for the first time in 2013, with a repeat invite the weekend of July 18 - 20 of this year, we jumped at the chance to be part of a National event. I guess we didn't do quite enough damage the first year, so we were still on the 'Safe Guest' list."

"The year 1999 saw the birth of the Nats at the State Fairgrounds, with hopes of drawing a few hundred people and cars. But they saw 3,000 vehicles and thousands of visitors flow through the gates. Fast forward to 2014 where they anticipated 7,000 cars and over 80,000 visitors, and you can see why this has become a 'must do' summer event in New York state. Bob O'Conner, Director of the Right Coast Association, has been on our show to promote the event and provide follow-up thoughts and statistics, despite our efforts to sidetrack him with inane questions. Bob is quick to credit his hoards of volunteers from the Central New York Car Club Association, as well as world renowned pinstriper Artie Schilling, who hosts the 'Arties Party', where the 1-Shot flows like Niagara, and the only place you'll see horse hair move faster is on a live equine. The art created at the show is auctioned off before the paint dries, with proceeds going to the local Ronald McDonald House. Artie Schilling reports 71 artists produced over 200 pieces, raising $70,000 this year, thanks to 1 Shot and www.racingjunk.com."

"A weekend might not be enough time to traverse it all. We checked out the Ol' Skool Roundup, Tech Seminars, Auto Cross (they have a full size road course on site), Designer's Dozen Pro Awards, manufacturers midway, and the myriad ice cream vendors. Ice cream = GOOD!"

"As a certain west coast automotive journalist coined it, the 'Syracruise Nats' is a thing to behold, even if you have to travel a ways to get there. We all hope to see you there next year."

Ray even included a couple of links for your virtual pleasure: http://www.rightcoastcars.com/ and http://www.artiesparty.com/ . Enjoy.




The SGE Pick was awarded in absentia to this schizophrenic Buick, sporting beater, musclecar, custom, and luxury car elements. It's gotta be the most efficient car in all of New York to handle all of that action at once. (Photos courtesy of Motormouth Ray)




Jim Lindsay has cancelled all appointments, is taking no phone calls, and refuses to answer the door. This antisocial behavior has resulted in a completed engine build, chassis wiring and plumbing, plus a test session in the seat, while sporting a snappy new hat. Speed Week 2014 is the goal. With a mere two weeks to deadline, it's no wonder Lindsay dozed off during this photo shoot. The stress must be exhausting. We'll stay on this story to its conclusion, however it may play out. (Photos courtesy of Jim Lindsay)

With Lindsay and his roadster now out of Marty Strode's shop, how has Strode been filling his days? Penning stories of Northwest hot rod greats for Hot Rod Deluxe magazine, of course. Get yours now!

Lance Sorchik is adding a bellypan to his '33 roadster project. The function is to cover the torsion bar suspension. The result is cleanliness/godliness, with racy overtones. Double winner! (Photo courtesy of Lance Sorchik)

The rolling stock for the SGE A-bone is now mounted, balanced, and waiting for us to build something to bolt it to. The rear tires were detailed here last week. The fronts are 175R-16 Austone taxi tires from Universal Tire in Hershey, Pennsylvania. They have a load rating of 1,650 pounds, are 27" tall, and boast a 5 1/2" tread width. $150 a hit. It took me several months to save up the money for these quasi-trad rollers, but I'm so happy to have finally found 16" tubeless radials that don't look like donk tires, or cost $400 apiece. Special thanks to Lance Sorchik for helpful tire selection and mounting tips! More Project SGE updates next week. (Scotty shot)



Cute warm-and-fuzzy, or nightmarishly terrifying? Again, it all depends on your perspective. Your answer may differ from that of the squirrel.

One of the shop cabinets at Dave Shuten's workplace, Galpin Ford in Los Angeles.

Rare bonus shot of Shuten's home workbench, covered with historical coolness as usual. (Photos courtesy of Dave Shuten)


My first independently rented home was a child's miniature windmill in someone's backyard ($15 a month). Then an abandoned motel-turned-apartment building ($35), and on and on like that. My favorite was a 1 1/2 car garage with a tiny living space in the rafters. Here's some more automotive domesticity imagery, starting at the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair in New York...

Helmets, I've had a few... But there's one obsolete brain bucket I just can't bring myself to toss...