Sitting here thinking.... I just turned 53. It was always kind of cool having a birthday at the end of summer. I have no clue why...it just was. Maybe it was the first week or so of school, on last hurrah before settling into the boredom of the next nine months. Honestly, I never thought I would make it this far. A good number of my friends didn't and when you are young, anything over 30 was considered older than dirt. Now, I have a daughter over 30...what can I say? I will admit, time's treated me pretty fair...so far. Reasonably healthy, smart enough to stay out of prison and able to raise some kids to do the same. The good and bad is always there, my story is pretty well known in that regard ... no use in rehashing it. The day started like any other and I was honored to get the first few messages regarding my natal day. Being busy has its merits, no time to spend sitting and playing on the computer. But, when I came back from lunch, I had over 500 birthday wishes... HOW?! I don't think I know that many people! As I read each one, I saw people I have known since my earliest memories. School mates from first day of school in 1969, all the way up to my most recent aquaintances. I realized I do know the bulk of them, if I was Superfan, I might even be impressed at some I know. The width and breadth of my collective of friends is vast and varied. I'm a lucky mofo though. I still have my oldest friend. Known that no good trouble maker for 46 years now. Wouldn't trade one handshake, punch, cross word, tear shed, or insightful moment... not for all the tea in China.
Some of the others are some pretty well known cats and kittens. Racers, musicians of note, actors who knew me before I knew them. Then there's a couple television personalities, authors, etc. One well known gal, I am pleased to call my friend, sent me a birthday wish with a photo of us attached. It was followed by a number of "likes" and comments on how "lucky " I was and I should be thrilled I got that message. Well, I was thrilled, but not how that one fella figured I should be. I think maybe he expected me to fill my happy sock... or prostrate myself at my keyboard. Nah. I was thrilled because it was another friend I had made, from, by, or through racing. Someone who shaped a part of our sports history, for sure. One of a few grounded souls who taught me that fame stuff was good for a few minutes and you had to have something substantially more than hero worship. But enough of that...
I've been a bit lax in my submissions the past few months. This year, has been one for the books, so far. I suppose, part of being a grown up is responsibilities get in the way of what we used to ritually do for fun. Here's a little tale that kind of drove a point home for me and a couple of my compatriots I spoke to about it. For some time, some people tried talking me into being part of car related shows or events here in our town. I resisted due to knowing all too well how things like this turn out.
Well... guess who gave into it... yeah... me... the bumbling idiot, seduced by chrome candies and fumes.
We put together a Cars and Coffee event, to be held on the main street of our little town. The blessings of the city fathers, police chief and business owners (the ones open at 6 am was intact). I agreed to do this, as a means of helping to passively call attention to our "Old Town" area businesses. Generating interest, new customers and for the guy whose wife says, "We never do anything fun...", the chance to redeem himself by taking her to Eureka for dinner or wine ( make him look like a hero!). The first weekend, we had about 35-40 cars show up. Brian Fox from King Chassis brought his Zorba's Ghost out, parked on the street and was by far the most popular attraction. The local liquor store was serving adult libations on the sidewalk and breakfast at a couple dining establishments was there to be had. Based on an informal poll of the attendees, we decided to do this once a month. We had a couple good showings on random Saturdays. Although, aside from a couple diehards it just didn't do it. Last Saturday, I walked over to the eatery we used as a base of operations, had breakfast and sat for an hour...waiting and watching. No one showed, drove by, threw rocks or even sneezed. I paid my tab, got up and went back to the shop to letter trucks. I was disappointed, in a way, but not really too much. This is St. Louis... The Great Void of cruising, shows, etc. I don't necessarily mean a lack of events. There are a number of repeating cruises and such, usually on a Friday night. I meant more of a void of new venues. Any that I have went to, there is always someone who states the usual boredom with the same cars at the same place and the same people. When you suggest a new venue, they are on it like ants on a cookie. But.... when you get new events, someone seems to always be suspiciously absent. The Complainers.
When I was a kid, I would go out of my mind waiting for the Custom Auto Show at Kiel Auditorium, The Show Center, The Arena, etc. As soon as I heard it announced on KXOK, I would bug my old man to take me and my friends. When I got a little older, had my own car, it was dreaming about building one to show. Always... all about the cars. Maybe we were just lucky to grow up in that time. Maybe this is just like the malady of a lot of other activities, replaced by electronica... social media and the comfort of a couch. That Custom Auto Show has left town. ISCA's closest shows are now Indy or Kansas City. The only fix we have now, are the random local gatherings. Without mentioning the larger events, which seem to have passed us by, even though we have a facility capable of National caliber shows... the support just isn't there. I remember waaaaaay back in the late 70's when Car Craft did a series of articles "Cruisin USA" . When we saw they highlighted St. Louis, we were chomping at the bit, most of us a year away from 16 and our drivers licenses. There were a couple hotbeds of cruising in our area. South County, Chuck-a-Burger on the Rock Road, North County, etc. Perhaps the most bitchin was when Hollywood Knights premiered at the 66 Drive-In and the Coachmen Car Club showed up. I bet there were close to 60 cars there. Heaven, or so we thought.
I guess I could go on and on about it. Seems everyone was into something car related... customs, street racers, 4x4's. Surely, this is not unique, nor limited to my area. All over the country, the changing social, economical and physical landscape is the same. What do we do to bring it back? Can we bring it back or do we let it die slowly, along with the rest of us trying to keep it alive? Dunno... I just bought a '74 Camaro, to replicate the one I drove in high school. We'll see....
On the project front. The Hippo dragster is now at King Chassis. With my work schedule and our very own natural disaster this year, it was on course to be done in time for the CHRR... in 2025.
All the bits to get it done are in place and I will put together an update of what has been happening with it. Progress photos and the like, detailing the restoration. Hopefully, there may be some good news concerning it and the legacy of "Hippo" Brammer, based on conversation with the family. The M/T Maverick now has a heart. I picked up a Boss 429 not long ago from an old friend who hoards such things away. So possibly I can get it dropped in place and mess with it a bit, while Brian has the Hippo. The other piles of pipe and fiberglas are stowed away in the back shop... warm and safe and dry .
There are a couple other projects in the offing , when the world gets a whiff... they will be mind blowers. Stay tuned.
Have a safe Labor Day. Like a friend used to always say, " Don't do nuthin stupid, Stupid."
NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD - By Eddie Buck