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Bob Warenda

When Bob Warenda was a grade-school kid in the 1950’s, he lived on the corner of a city street where cars had to stop at the intersection. Pre-war hot rods would occasionally pass by, and he thinks he must have been infected at that time. His first car was a 25-year-old 1940 Chevy. 20 years later, his project car was a Cadillac-powered 1938 Ford.  

He got started photographing cars thanks to the long-gone Hartford Autorama indoor car show in the 1950’s and 1960’s, which featured hot rods, customs, dressed-up motorcycles and race cars. It was held during the winter at the Hartford, CT Armory for several years. Photos of most of the cars in the show were published in a black and white program, but the photos were very small. Bob went to the Autorama for the first time in 1960 and figured out that if he wanted larger photos, he’d better bring his own camera. The cars shown in a couple of his grainy old photos from the 1963 Autorama include the TV Tommy Ivo 4-engine dragster that was appearing in car shows around the country at that time and a channeled ’34 Ford coupe that was owned by Peter Tytla of East Lyme, Conn. Peter still lives in East Lyme and is a regular attendee at local cruise nights and car shows with his replica 1934 Ford, which resembles his original hot rod.   

In 2007, a co-worker from Bob's company's Rhode Island facility was visiting and asked about photos of street rods that Bob was using as a screen-saver on his computer display. Bob explained that he’d been taking photos at cruise nights and car shows for years, as a hobby. The co-worker told him about HRHL, and suggested that if he was going to be taking photos anyway, he should send them to HRHL. For the first couple of years Bob would mail photo CD-ROMs to Idaho, because he couldn’t use the company data network for personal business. Eventually his home Internet connection was fast enough to allow photos to be uploaded to the HRHL website in a reasonable amount of time.  

Bob's list of favorite car shows is lengthy, but one which immediately comes to mind is "Connecticut Dragway Reunion - Connecticut Nostalgia Night" hosted by Connecticut Street Rod Association on the Monday after Father’s Day. He's had many special cars over the years, but for the past 17 he's been having fun with a Chevy-powered 1934 Ford pickup. (2018 Photo by HRHL Photographer Joe Lajoie is attached)

For the past few years, Bob's noticed and admired the effort that younger people are investing in bringing old hot rods and customs back to life, or creating new hot rods using ancient cars, early powertrains and antique speed equipment. Seeing a vintage hot rod in the viewfinder makes it a special day for him.

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