While I'd like to be modest, and say, "Here's a little bit about me," in actuality, it'll be a bit more than that. You see, I've had many great automotive influences in my life that have helped mold me into the car geek that I am today. You'll hear about several of these great folks in coming posts, but just know that there's been some wonderful people who have allowed me to pick their brain, and enjoy gleaning whatever I could from them and their cars.
Growing up, my interest in cars consisted of Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars. And wow, did I have a million of them. Literally. In fact, I still have a bunch somewhere in storage. They're all chipped up, some have bent axles, but they've all seen many thousands of pretend road miles. Even today, I still look into that box, and I find cars like the pink Lamborghini Countach, or the red Ferrari 308 GTB (which was a long-time favorite) and can still remember running them around my parents' coffee table. "Don't chip the table!" my mother would scream. Sorry, Mom. It was my 5-year-old's need for speed.
I always enjoyed looking at the occasional car magazine, but what made me a true car guy was the day (around age 10) I got a ride in a custom Hugger Orange 1976 Corvette that belonged to one of my mother's co-workers. It was bright orange, with brown leather interior. And it was LOUD with a 4-speed, and a lumpy cam-induced idle. I sat in that low-slung car, barely able to see out of it (that pit of an interior that is the Mako Shark '68-'82 Corvettes...), and it was life-changing. My body pinned to the back of the seat as we charged through the countryside at full-bore. It was the coolest thing ever!
Over the years, I'd get rides in a lot of cool cars, and every one of them left an indelible impression on me. From the truly great, to the truly awful, each one would get my own brand of car reviewing. In my head, I sounded like Brock Yates!
Eventually, someone planted the seed in my mind that actual people designed the cars that I had always loved. What? You mean I could do that??? And many, many pages of notebook paper and miles of pencil lead later, I'd created my own study-hall portfolio. I still remember my first "design study" - variations on the first generation Ford Taurus. I'd developed a whole series that ranged from sport coupes, to a Ranchero, to a targa-topped wagon. But supercars were the most fun to draw.
Sometime around 1993, a family friend, Don Layton, introduced me to the world of hot rods. I was amazed what could be done to existing cars using parts from other cars. The paint, the stance, the sound - it was all new and exciting to me. Don took me to my first real hot rod show in Ocean City, NJ, and introduced me to yet another automotive influence - Egon Necelis. Egon and I hit it off well, and shared another wonderful chapter in a young man's car life.
Since then, I've gone from getting rides in cars, to being able to drive them. And from having to bum rides to car shows, to being able to get myself there. I ended up doing a series of articles and show coverage for a web site called Speedoptions.com (which is now out of business). The pay wasn't much, but it was cool to finally see my work in print, and the feedback I'd get from the readers.
I still subject every car I drive to a car review. I suppose it's still that 5-year-old in me that enjoys running the cars around the coffee table - driving them the way they should be.
And enjoying every minute of it.