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Walt Smolenski

A caption in Walt's Dad's High School yearbook said he was a demon driver, and I guess that's where Walt's genes came from. He started building model cars when he was seven years old and he still has the first model he ever built (a Monogram '32 Ford roadster, brush painted with just about all the decals that came with the kit). He went on to hone his skills building pro-quality models until it was time for real cars. Extremely disappointed that he couldn't get his driver's license on his 16th birthday, he had to wait two days longer for the first available appointment.

A series of '55 & '56 Fords and a '56 Chevy followed. Then came muscle cars like his '67 SS 396" Chevelle 4-sp and his pride and joy, his first brand new car, a '70 455" Stage-1 Buick GS 4-sp with all the performance options. He drag raced all of those cars, but the gas crunch and meeting Peg, his future wife, brought out the practical side of Walt. Marriage, a family, a house and life, followed although he kept his dream of someday owning a street rod alive; 35 years of riding shotgun in his buddy Carl Libucha's "Timeless-T" didn't hurt. During that time, devastating health issues happened; Peg was diagnosed with MS and has been fighting it for over 19 years as well as a couple of other serious problems, and Walt has had three heart attacks and surgeries himself. After the second surgery he was at a GoodGuys show one week laterm taking pictures to share with everyone on Hot Rod Hotline.

Walt is a guy with TOO MANY interests, as he'd tell you (family, cars, photography, fishing, hunting, gardening, woodworking, model cars and diecast, Oldies rock and country music and collecting too many things). He worked full time and did a part-time job on top of that for eight years until the first heart attack put an end to that two weeks before he turned 40. He worked at the University of Mass for 48 and 1/3 years, just retiring on May 20, 2016 after a career in information technology spanning punched cards to today's innovations, literally asisting thousands of faculty, staff and students.

A few days before retiring, he and Peg took a trip to New Jersey to look at and try out a street rod that Bob Hunter had for sale. Peg told him to put practicality aside and to get it for himself for his retirement. They both liked it, a deal was made and a deposit given and Bob said he'd deliver it in mid-June. Everyone Walt has told about it have been extremely happy for him. He's got a 22-year old granddaughter and twin 9-year old granddaughters who he can't wait to take for rides.

Oh yeah, the street rod is a 1932 Ford 4-door Phaeton, 350", Powerglide and the guy behind the wheel with the big grin on his face is Walt. If you see him at a show, say hi, and more than likely a picture of your car will show up in his event coverage on Hot Rod Hotline.


Car Show Albums of the Photographer :