I have a confession to make; I don’t watch TV –at all. Apart from the news or catching a glimpse of it in passing, I don’t “tune in” on Wednesday night for my favorite sitcoms or reality shows. No American Idol or Jersey Shore for me. I’ll be the first to admit the fact that I’m not like every other person I know.
I hate commercials, I’m too cheap to spend the extra money for DVR, and frankly I really don’t have the time. Besides, I’m more of a movie person anyway. So on the rare occasion when I did find myself plopped down in front of the TV the other night; I ended up becoming mesmerized by a scene from The Bucket List, a film starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.
The scene in question in none other than the part of the story where they’ve begun fulfilling their dreams, particularly Freeman’s character’s desire to drive a ‘66 Shelby Mustang, only to have Nicholson join him in a race with a ’70 Challenger R/T. It was entertaining but yet painful to watch these two old codgers trash the classic Ford and Dodge by the end of the clip. Apparently when you’re 80 and dying of cancer, scratches and dents don’t really matter anymore, although I guess it can be seen as a metaphor for the men themselves.
On To The Bucket
Anyway, it’s a movie that I’ve already seen in the past but it made me think. There are goals all of us would like to accomplish before the Grim Reaper comes calling, whether they’re automotive related or not. I could go on for hours about how I’d like to jump out of a plane or write a novel, but for the sake of this article I’ll stick with those from my personal list that require four wheels and an engine to fulfill. This is a car magazine, after all.
As a teenager, and even before I had a car worth mentioning, I’ve done what all 16 year-olds do with their first car; broke the speed limit, spent all of my extra money on gas, played the role of ‘driver’ for friends who didn’t drive, and used my car as a “hotel” as such when that first girlfriend came along. In case you’re wondering, the vehicle in question was an ’84 S-10 Blazer 4×4.
Later, I picked up a car with some actual power (a Trans Am), and started bracket racing at the drag strip. I would go on to modify it along with multiple other cars that have come and gone over the years to varying levels of success. I’ve built engines, attended car shows (both as a spectator and as a participant), and even started a car club. Admittingly, I’ve achieved most of these in my early days of hot-rodding.
Hot Rod Power Tour
Years after that, I went on to become a Hot Rod Power Tour long hauler, I visited the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, and covered the inaugural Holley LS Fest for one of my first assignments as a [freelance] automotive journalist, an accomplishment in itself. The cherry on the cake was when powerTV recently sent me to review the ’12 Chevy Caprice, Impala, and Tahoe Police Pursuit Vehicles (PPV) at the GM Milford Proving Grounds.
I’ve wanted to go to Milford since I was a kid, looking at vintage pictures of ’67 Camaros and ’68 Corvettes being fined tuned for mass production, and there I was, making a few of GM’s finest engineers nervous by testing the latest PPV’s.
Drive A Cop Car
This was something else that I’ve always wanted to do as well –drive a cop car. Apart from the fact that they could legally walk around with a pistol on their hip, I wasn’t ever interested in becoming a police officer. So in order for me to have the opportunity to drive one otherwise, I’d have to steal it. I’m pretty ballsy, but I’m not stupid, nor a criminal so I never bothered to try.
However, during my early twenties, I’ve had my fill of sitting in the back of police cruisers, being charged of operating a bright red T/A while under the influence of a heavy right foot, also known as “speeding,” evidently. It was either that, or the result of the after-hours massive burnouts I would do in parking lots with the other local hot shoes looking on. Luckily, Johnny Law was never around for my late-night, unsanctioned, quarter-mile drag racing antics (in trafficless, non-residential, industrial parks). But I digress.
Tour East And West Coasts
Last summer I had the opportunity to drive along both coasts of the United States, although in less-than-exciting rental cars; a Nissan Altima in Southern California and a Toyota Camry along the East Coast. The cars were dreadful, but somehow that didn’t seem to matter given the circumstances.
If I were to pick between the two (coasts, the cars were irrelevant), I’d have to pick the Pacific Coast Highway at sunset during the weekend. It was absolutely epic. It’s one of the few things in life Midwesterners like myself need to experience at least twice, I’ll just have to do it in a real car next time.
Getting Salty At Bonneville
Then there’s Bonneville; a dried up, salt covered lake bed in Utah, and a place where land speed records are set every year. I can’t see how any gearhead would not want to go there. Spanning miles of a smooth salty surface, mountains, and usually a clear blue sky, the scenery looks like something out of a dream. As a bonus, apparently it’s free to show up and drive your car as fast as you want. It’s a no-brainer, really. I have yet to go, but I will eventually.
There’s a countless number of other activities that I need to participate in as well in the coming years; including The Midwest Musclecar Challenge, The Bandit Run, and since I can’t see myself attending the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France anytime soon, I’ll just have to settle for the 24 Hours of Lemons.
For those of you that still haven’t heard of it, it’s basically a 24-hour race between fields of home-built, sponsor-less jalopies driven by racers of varying talent. Some of which have no racing experience at all, so it’s actually kind of dangerous –perfect for a fearless guy like me. The stipulation is that your car cannot be valued at more than $500, it must have a roll cage, and be stripped of any glass including all lights and windows, among meeting other requirements.
If you do manage a victory in one of the many categories, you’ll receive a trophy and a cash prize ranging anywhere from $500-1501, all in the form of nickels, of course. It’s clearly a competitive sport that isn’t taken too seriously. This is kind of how I roll anyway. All I need is a jalopy that can take a beating, handle decently, and offer reliable power, any suggestions?
Coast To Coast
I think the last eventual achievement that comes to mind as I write this, but the first that still tops my list, is a coast-to-coast road trip. Obviously a Japanese family car won’t do, and although I currently have a pick of three cars in my personal stable that don’t fall into that category, I’d still prefer to do it in an old-school musclecar –something along the lines of a’69 Camaro with LS power.
At this point, I’m sure you’re probably wondering why I’m even telling you this. Well as I’m approaching 32 years of age, it’s become quite apparent to me that life moves too quickly. Many of us are stuck in dead-end jobs we hate, married to a spouse we can’t stand, or have tons of bills, and seemingly will never get out of debt. I don’t have these problems, but unfortunately for many Americans, some suffer from all three.
The only real cure for this is to take charge of your life; go back to school, seek marriage counseling, and quit buying crap you don’t need. Most of it is probably made in China anyway. Finally, when you get that annual vacation from work, do something useful with it. Don’t waste it by being a couch potato, or having a 14-day alcohol-fueled bonfire party with your friends. Read a book, travel. Finish your project car and hit the road. Life is too short, so why waste it?