I'm a dance dad. Any of you who have daughters or sons that have taken dance classes, went to school to major in dance, or are professionals in the world of dance. You know the endless hours of work and prep it takes. The physical and mental toll it takes as they strive to do the perfect performance. The most graceful moves may start as stumbles or awkward attempts. One day though, it becomes a graceful and fluid movement from start to finish. They make it look easy. In the case of this tome. The dragster ballet is becoming reality. Hippo is getting its finishing cloak and what was once a cobbled and worn old pile of pipe is returning to its former glory.
The trials and tribulations of bringing an old racer back is a daunting task. Some just don't have the moxy to do it. Some, they wouldn't know where to start. Me, hell, I still haven't figured it out. I went from a warehouse stuffed with funny cars, all with a fair amount of photographic references... to a dragster with one magazine feature and a handful of mediocre photos. I was going to do this all myself. I have farmed a lot of it out now, hence, selling off all but one funny car.
Some of the proceeds went to finance this labor of love and insanity, known to all as "The Hippo". I could have done the work. I know I am dangerous enough to accomplish the tasks. Time, was a factor, as well as the obvious waste of materials. See, if it doesn't look right, I toss it and start over. Plus, my "average" proficiency means it will take 3 times longer than a pro.. at the VERY minimum. Enlisting the skills of a chassis man, ensures if it ever reaches completion, the first or subsequent push start will not result in it breaking in half. Safety ranks up there in the highest. Living to enjoy my old age is something I have taken a shine to after turning 50. Just one of those fetishes, ya know? Having a true artisan with metal makes a difference too. I wonder how many mistakes I could make in that department. The miscuts and shoddy bends I am sure I could perform with great ability... it would be breathtaking. Not to mention the gnarly hands from cuts. No... I think that was another wise decision to sensibly relinquish that part of the restoration as well. I have found I am really good at driving all over the country, with the trailer hooked to the back of the Ram. Thousands of accident free miles. I have helped the economy too. All the fuel I have burned, gas and diesel, amounts to a fair paycheck for someone. Then there are all the food joints, the waitresses and waiters who get their obligatory 20 percent tips. Tolls... a couple tickets... blown trailer tires... the list is endless. I try to be the dutiful customer too. Never want to be the guy who shows up unanounced, or every other day. I know I hate it when that happens. It's okay to check in, ask if it's okay to drop by, or if there's anything they need me to pick up. The worst part about it, I must confess... is when I get progress pictures. Usually, I first see them on the phone. That is the worst for me. First, because I usually don't have my glasses. Secondly, that damn screen is too small! No matter what way I turn the phone and try to enlarge, I still can't see. Lastly... my depth perception as it relates to cell phone pictures is terrible. I feel for the people who have to deal with me in that case. Truly have sympathy for them. Most of the time, I am able to glance at them and refrain from comment until I am able to sit down at the computer on the big screen and look at the pictures.
File photo of "The Hippo" - Dan Prieto photo
Patience is definitely a virtue. It's a hard won ability for me, it's taken years. Day by day, as the return home is getting nearer, my next duties are to prepare for its debut. It has been decided to slowly and methodically allow the evolution of its completion take place. I'll be displaying it in bare metal for a while, to show off the talents of the men who have hand it under their hands the last couple years. I still believe the evolution of anything worth seeing or experiencing is the most satisfying and gratifying endeavor. Much like the ballet, the first steps, miscues, do-overs and eventual mastery of the dance are the works that lead to the appreciation of a task, attacked with vigor and conquered with expertise cultivated with hard work.
Here's to a new year, with hopes of many events to fuel our addictions.
Aloha, Mr. Hand!
NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD - By Eddie Buck