Family Tradition

Family Tradition

I think it was 2002 when Marcie and I flew into the very first Lonestar Round Up. We met Keith and Mary Tardel at the airport and then hooked up with Rob Fortier at the hotel later that night. The rest of the weekend is a drunken blur of memories… We sat in the grandstands of an old football stadium, played crash derby with rental cars, snuck backstage at a Reverend Horton Heat show, closed down the Continental Club, and met people that would become family for the rest of our lives.

This past Friday marks seventeen years of going to that same show… and a lot of shit has changed since then. Sans Rob, we all live in Austin now and we all have kids, more complicated lives, and the sort of muted motivation brought on by the jaded viewpoints only time can stack on you. We don’t have the patience to even drive down South Congress during Round Up weekend, much less close down the Continental Club like we used to… The stadium is long gone and who wants to risk the insurance points with a stupid game of bumper rental cars?

This is all a long and drawn out way of elaborating on how old we’ve gotten. If you spend too much time thinking about it, you either get depressed or you start making bad decisions – the repercussions of which you are far too old to handle. But I learned something this weekend…

See, this weekend is usually a time of complicated babysitting schedules and dealing with the crazy logistics of making sure each brew makes it to their dedicated activity on time while Marcie and I work the show, but in leu of all that we just decided to take the kids out of school and bring them all to the fairgrounds. It was a risk for sure, but one we decided it was time to make.

The reward was handsome.

At one point on Friday, I was sitting in a lawn chair (oh crap…) while Juno (my youngest) was running around from vendor to vendor trying to con free stuff with her looks, Miller was walking every inch of the fairgrounds taking pictures of cars, and Presley (my oldest) was running our merch booth. It was then that I realized that I didn’t have a damned thing to do and that my kids were actually and literally taking over my own obligations with more energy than I’ve ever had. It was downright glorious fellas.

I spent much of my free time talking with pals, looking at cars, and just generally doing what care free people do at a car show such as the Round Up. Without doubt, I got to study more cars this year than I have in the past decade. And really, that’s what a car show is to me – an opportunity to study and consider the art form of hot rodding and customizing. Having the time to REALLY do it is something I’ve longed for recently and I have my kids to thank for the opportunity to do it this year.

And after contemplating hundreds of cars, I had to pick one for The Jalopy Journal award. I actually had my pick fairly early on Friday. It was a highly detailed and finely finished ’32 roadster that looked familiar to me, but that I couldn’t place. The car was still in primer, but the chassis and other bits were finished to a high degree. To me, cars like this are a bit of blank canvas and your imagination can go crazy with ideas of potential. Without doubt, this is my favorite stage of the life of a hot rod.

Anyway, I made my pick… and only later found out that the car looked familiar because I actually knew the owner and the builder. The owner is Brandon and Martha McCullough who are a dedicated Oklahomans that share the same passion for Oklahoma football that my wife and I do. And the builder is none other than Jason Smith of the Hot Rod Garage in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Despite his affinity for the “other” school in Oklahoma, I still consider him one of the smartest hot rod builders that I know… and if you don’t know of him, he is definitely the most talented builder you don’t. He’s that good.

Chore done. Pick made. I spent the rest of Friday listening to the kind of music only Steve Wertheimer can book and talking to pals I don’t get to see as often as I should. Saturday was a different story all together. My kids had too many sporting events to attend the show and the weather in Austin couldn’t have been much worse. It was bitterly cold and if the low 40-degree temps weren’t bad enough, mother nature decided to throw in some crazy wind just to optimize the misery. Marcie and I spent most of the day huddled down in our tent listening to more of that really incredible Round Up music.

As bad as it was, it couldn’t have been much better. It’s kind of like Pizza. You know how even bad Pizza is still pretty damned good? Well, even when uncontrollable elements hit the Round Up as hard as they can, it’s still as good or better than any show in the country.


The only photographs I took during the show were of Brandon’s roadster as published above. The rest of my show coverage comes to you by way of my 9-year old son – Miller Cochran. I have no idea if this will be as interesting to you guys as it is to me, but keep in mind that Miller hasn’t shown all that much interest in hot rods or customs. Granted, he’s grown up around traditional hot rodding all of his life, but I’ve never really discussed with him the merits of the traditional or why it is that I like what I like. I’ve just never been one to push my kids one way or the other.

Anyway, if you know anything about the Round Up you know that there is a little bit of everything there. From the super traditional hot rods to the finely finished street rods to the rattiest of rat rods – it’s all represented. And Miller spent hours walking everywhere on the show grounds – including through lots that I haven’t walked down in years.

So… All that in mind… here are the cars that Miller deemed worthy of a photograph:

It kind of gives you a little hope for the future – doesn’t it?

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