with Steve McCarthy
Driving alone along backroads can be fun, but it gets lonely out there.
Working on the Auld Crate alone can be a zen experience.
But, sometimes, you need help.
Eating alone is never fun. Drinking alone is even less fun, and a bit pathetic.
Swapping stories with yourself is just plain weird.
Friends who share your passion for good cars, good roads, good food, good drink, and good lies are what make it all worth it. All the banged knuckles, all the achy muscles, all the sunburn, all the wet, all the bloated feeling, all the hangovers. It’s sharing these with friends that makes it all worthwhile.
The car hobby, in all its variety, like most other endeavors, is full of characters, fanatics, oddballs, and weirdos. What’s especially great about the car hobby is the willingness of others to share. To help. To offer up the shirt off their collective backs, to offer to tow your broken darling, to “loan” you vital parts to keep your’s going, to even save your life. Money never changes hands, it would be an insult to offer. You give back to them or to others. It all balances out without anyone keeping track.
Like all of us, I’ve experienced all of the above. My XJ6 threw a rod bearing on the way to Willow Springs and the guy who ran Cal Club’s Tow 1 hauled me and my broken Kitty home. I used a transmission from the broken TR4 race car in the Blue Meanie while mine got fixed (this was back when the TR was my only car). Working as a course worker for Cal Club, I’ve had my ass saved and saved a few myself. We’ve stopped to help with flat tires and had help lashing up a broken leaf spring. Recently, an old customer from my BAP/Geon days rebuilt the engine in Daughter #3’s 914. Only wanted the money for the parts. He DID however, accept the common Car Guy Currency, a Case of Beer. Actually, it was two cases, he had a helper. Also recently, we had a dozen people over to get the engine and trans back in the TR. We fed them a huge pot of chili and, yes, beer. We’ve swapped the same stories so many times, we could just number them. They all seem to start: “So there I/we was/were…”
“Ah, great time, how about #369?”
On the road, you make friends of the moment, and sometimes, especially with the internet, friends for life. Take that couple who drove their Austin 7 through LA on the way to Tierra del Fuego. We’re still in contact and plan on meeting up with them on our Epic Tour of the Isles in ’16. The chance meeting at a rest stop, the brief conversation at a bar, any of the random encounters along the road. All of these make the day a better one. They make your life a better one.
So here’s a raised glass of Glenfiddich for my friends. Those I’ve known who are gone, those I’ve known who were just passing through, the ones I’ve known for days, the ones I’ve known for decades. I won’t embarrass you by naming names, the statute of limitations may not have run out, but you know who you are.