Through the years, I’ve watched the H.A.M.B. make many a hero – some deserving and some… well, maybe some haven’t been as deserving. There’s no picking and choosing as to whom the masses will relate with, support, and follow with their admiration and, on occasion, even obsession. And I’m not certain there’s any formula that would rationalize why one guy would garner any more attention than the next. It just happens in nature and I gave up long ago trying to understand it all.
Every now and then though, a story or personality pops up that is just simply bigger than all that.
Shawn is a surfer and a car guy from Santa Maria, CA. From what I can tell, his personal uniform is a pair of OP trunks, some flip flops, and whatever shirt (sleeveless or not) that he might have lying about whenever he gets around to dressing for the day. I talked to him for just a few seconds at the Round Up, but the merch line kept me from any kind of meaningful conversation. In fact, the only lasting image I have is of him walking away hand-in-hand with his four-year old son. I remember thinking he looked a lot like Spicoli… or maybe Jesus.
Sometime later, someone mentioned that he’s a youth pastor at his local church. The title conjures images of someone that nobly dedicates their weekends to helping kids and just generally spreading a nice message to the world while selling insurance or something the other five days a week. But that’s not the case here – Shawn is a pastor by profession – 7 days a week. The church is his office and his life.
I bring this up and I paint this picture with (admittedly) a lot of assumptions not because I’m a religious zealot that’s naively spreading the “good word” hoping you’ll follow aimlessly, but because I think these details are important to the story. See, about ten days ago Shawn started a thread on the H.A.M.B. documenting his epic road trip from Santa Maria to Austin in his ’59 Chevrolet wagon. With him were his wife and two young children. It started out like a typical travel thread that we host hundreds of every year, but the thread quickly matured into something much more than that.
The family of four made stops at just about every meaningful town between here and there and at each, they’d take the time to fire off a few snapshots. Those pictures along with the accompanying stories created this sort of modern day Norman Rockwell painting and I couldn’t help but become lost in it. And now that I think about it, its become almost spiritual to me. The two most important things in my life are my family and cars… And this was a story that took both and wrapped them up with a big ole bow, tied by a guy that looks like Spicoli and lives life like only a few of us truly could.
Plenty of people become heroes because they can weld better than you or I. Others get their badge because they went 200mph at Bonneville or set a 1/4 mile record back in 1958. That’s all great shit and all, but to me… I’d rather be the guy that showed his family the USA in his Chevrolet. Of course, you don’t get a fancy patch for that or a trophy, or even a mention in some history book somewhere. But that’s really the great thing about the H.A.M.B. – THIS STORY, will be around forever.