So, not many of you know this… But, in short time, I’ve become rather obsessed with diving our oceans. It started a few years back when my daughter wanted to get SCUBA certified. I did it with her and the next thing I knew, I was on the bottom at Tiger Beach surrounded by mature examples of one of the most fierce apex predators in the world – the Tiger Shark. And instead of being terror-stricken, I was enamored. I’ve now dove with twenty one different species of sharks and rays. It’s an obsession that rivals my attention towards all things fast on wheels.
Last month when I was in Hawaii, my daughter and I spent a few minutes with a White Tip off the coast of Kauai. As I hovered in the water, surrounded by only blue and two of my favorite things in the world – my daughter and a shark, I began to think about what it is I’m doing with my life. And because I am who I am, this made me think of hot rods, customs, and this thing of ours that we have been doing for so damned long.
Where are we going?
You know when you are at a car event of some kind and a car pulls in that makes you loose your breath for a split second? That happens to normal people too, right?
This past year, at the Round Up, I was minding my own business on the hill and taking a few photos when a black ’34 coupe pulled in late. As it rounded a corner and pulled straight into an open spot, I just got hit in the gut by the grille, the sinister chop, the stance, etc… The form and motion of it all lit a match in me. I don’t know shit about biology, but I think it’s a testosterone deal? Visually, that thing was as fast as any car in the world and something deep inside me was sort of challenging the Alpha side of my brain. And I liked it.
In Hawaii, I was diving a cave off of Tunnels Beach when I came across a large pocket in a lava tube. I peaked over the rim of the pocket to see two 6-foot reef sharks swimming in formation directly towards me. Again, the form and motion hit me hard. These two sharks were the fastest things in the world at that moment and my testosterone (if that’s what it is) spiked. And I loved it…
What strikes me now is that the feeling in both instances was identical. It’s not fear. It’s not pride. It’s not ego. It’s excitement. And I’ve kind of gotten to the point in my life where I want more of that. When I was younger, I could just go out and get into trouble with my car if I was bored. Now that I have the responsibilities that come with age, I can’t really do that as consistently without the people around me paying major consequences.
So, what’s next?
With the diving? That’s easy… I want to swim with a White Shark. And that will happen as soon as I can financially make it happen.
But what about hot rods? What about this thing of ours? Where are we going?
Hot Rodding is a young man’s game. It always has been and it always will be. I can remember going to car shows when I was younger, doing burn outs, causing all kinds of mischief, and just generally making life hell for all the old farts in their lawn chairs sitting aside their Boyd inspired street rods. They would sort of passive aggressively thumb their nose at us and we’d giggle knowing that we were the ones doing the real hot rodding.
Now, I’m the old guy… and I don’t know what’s more depressing – the fact that I don’t even go to car shows anymore because I can’t stand the thought of hanging out in a lawn chair or the fact that there aren’t any young guys around to give me shit for it.
I have no idea what’s next in hot rodding… and that scares the living shit out of me. I feel like this thing of ours is in trouble. Not in the short term, but in the long simply because we don’t have the numbers in the young. The blood is in the water fellas and no one is out there with a scoop ‘cept for us. So I guess the question isn’t what’s next, but what are we gonna do about it?