The Run, The Party, The Book…

The Run, The Party, The Book…

This week was one of the big ones for me. After years of planning, working, and scheming, it was time to let go. But “letting go” comes with a lot of work, stress, and a certain amount of self doubt as well. I spent much of the week working on my shipping/receiving work flow and went home every night with worry and concern. What could I have missed? What am I doing wrong? There has to be something.

And so when my wife called me on Wednesday night and told me we were having dinner over at the Wertheimer’s, I was less than excited. I had so much work to complete and so many details to think about, the last thing I had time to do was take off early to grab a bite. But she persisted, I caved, and we headed to town and towards Casa De Wertheimer. When I got there, I immediately grabbed a beer and shrunk down into the couch – exhausted. No sooner than my ass hit the leather, Steve asked me to go retrieve something out of his basement.

As I walked down the stairs, I noticed someone sitting in Steve’s dragster. It was my brother Keith. He flew all the way out from NorCal to surprise and support me. I don’t know if I can put into words how relieved I was to see him. For some reason, Keith Tardel just makes everything better… This was no longer a week of stress and doubt. It was my week.

The Run
The Reliability Release Run was disorganized (to a point) and completely laid back by design. I’m not into schedules and I’m not into clocks. I prefer to go with the flow and let the chips fall where they may and have always felt that this attitude works well for runs. We designed a pretty scenic route with a few interesting stops, handed out maps, and told people to have fun. That’s it. And I think that’s exactly what everyone did.

Around 55 cars joined us by the time we hit the Salt Lick for lunch. At one point, I took a look around and realized that I was surrounded by nothing but buddies. My best pals from Australia made the trip. All of my best friends from California were there. And Dallas/Fort Worth. And Houston. And San Antone. And, of course, Austin… Even my mom and dad (from both sides) came out. That’s when it hit me like a Joe Lewis right cross – my friends and family were there for me. Really there. In numbers.

I don’t know that I’ve ever had an experience like that and I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so damned fortunate to know so many really great people. I can only hope they all know how appreciative I am of all of them – sincerely and with everything that I have.

The Party
Appropriately, the release party went down that same night at the world famous Continental Club. My good pal Shaun Young and his new band The Blue Dots set a tone early and it stuck. No static. No stress. Just great music in the best venue on earth with the above mentioned friends and family. It was a classic night out in Austin.

(And the next morning, momma cooked  a breakfast with no hog.)

The Book
It’s done. It’s out in the world now. You can buy it. And it’s an odd feeling to say that. I’m so close to this thing and there is so much of me in it, that I don’t know how to even begin to market it. I am as proud of this book as anything that I have ever been apart of, but I can’t stomach the thought of forcing it down anyone with a sales pitch.

I can tell you that it’s very different from anything that has ever been done before. It tries to capture the hot rod world from a distinctive perspective of sorts – one that isn’t as obvious as a tech sheet or a perfect 3/4 quarter shot of a hot rod. At the end of the day, I think what we’ve tried to do with this publication is tug at emotion and passion rather than straight logic and penetrating precision. Above all notions, I think what we’ve created is an art book.

Initially, I was really concerned about how folks would take this direction. Art, after all, is subjective. I wasn’t sure everyone (or hell, anyone) would really want to go where we were trying to lead them through layout, photography, and writing. Somewhere between now and last Wednesday, I lost that concern. I’m certain there will be folks that won’t appreciate what we’ve done, but on a personal level I’m just so satisfied with the end result, that any other acknowledgement is just gravy.

I’m profoundly satisfied and I hope your guys are to.

Special Thanks:

1. John Mearns & Jeff Norwell. I had the best partners anyone could have for such a project. And the proof is in the pages – There is just as much as each of them on every page as there is of me. And the book is all the better for it.

2. Tim Sutton. John, Jeff, and I decided on day one that we had to have Tim Sutton and his camera involved. His photography became such a huge part of what we were doing and that work speaks for itself – LOUDLY. We couldn’t have done this without Tim.

3. Jeral Tidwell. You know the bitchin’ posters we gave away at the run? Those are courtesy of Jeral and his magical printing. We owe him… Big time.

4. Steve Wertheimer. I always feel like Steve is looking after me. He’s one of those pals you can count on no matter what and we leaned on him a lot for this book. We asked him to get his digger to California, we asked him to risk life and liberty and drive it on city streets, etc… And, of course, he made sure everyone had a ride in the reliability run. He goes so far out of his way and he does it with such grace. He’s one of my best pals. He’s family.

5. Keith Tardel.

6. Bob Owens. I love Bob. He makes every event better. Plus, he towed down Jeff Norwell for us!

7. Jeb, Coby, and the rest of the California crew. I know it’s a long haul from out west, but man… Am I glad you endured it.

8. Norm Jones. The Tall Texan.

9. Bruce’s Rod Shop. My favorite Texas hot rod shop… These guys support every thing we do in Austin and I love them for it.

10. Everyone that made the run with us from near and far. I can’t believe you guys. I really can’t. This was supposed to be a small get together. You guys made it big AND quaint.

11. The Cochran and Flinton families. Your support means the world to me.


I’m sure I’ve left someone out. I’m pretty much overwhelmed with appreciation right now. I’ve got it so damned good – I’m certain I’m breaking some kind of law.

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