Gone Racin' - The Old Car Nut Book #2

Gone Racin' - The Old Car Nut Book #2
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     THE OLD CAR NUT BOOK #2 is the second in the series by editor and author David Dickinson.  The book is a well-crafted paperback with a nice black and white cover photo and measures six by nine inches.  THE OLD CAR NUT BOOK #2 contains 49 stories by car collectors and hot rodders in 262 pages with black and white photographs interspersed throughout the book.  The paper is not high gloss and the photos are small, but the quality is good enough to help move the stories along.  Evancourt Press is the Publisher/Printer and the ISBN number is 978-0-9898065=1-0.  Try locating the book via internet or at my favorite book Store Autobooks/Aerobooks in Burbank, California.  You can read my review of THE OLD CAR NUT BOOK #1 to get the gist of the bench-racing stories told by car guys throughout the nation.  The stories come from the heart and soul of hot rodders and car guys and are remarkably well written.  I found them interesting and with often unusual stories. 
     Book #2 went way above book number 1.  The quality of the stories matched any of the many short stories by well-known writers.  Maybe they are just car guys and gals but they mixed comic writing styles with a great deal of zeal and pathos.  Some of the tales were sad, yet tinged with hope.  Other stories were of events where, “We should have known better” and I smiled and thought how all of us have been in their shoes at least once in our lives.  Even the battiest ideas for a car rebuild proved to be successful.  Steve Walker was enthralled with sidecar motorcycles and thought, “Why not a sidecar car?”  Only a hot rodder and car guy would come up with an idea like that.  Only another car guy and customizer could possibly tell you the nightmares you’ll have to face.  By the end of the story I was grinning at what Steve went through and the remarkable success he had with his “sidecar Alfa Romeo Veloce.”  Tom Glide penned a large number of stories and one of them centered on a ’67 Plymouth Belvedere.  That’s an eclectic taste for a robust muscle car, one that my good friend Ron Henderson went to so much trouble to restore.  Glide wrote with a great deal of emotion that came through to the reader how the Belvedere kept up the hopes of a young boy whose father was taken from him all too soon.
     On a more humorous story the editor, David Dickinson, gave us one of his embarrassing stories that hit the mark head on.  Just learning to drive with the “Ink barely dry on his driver’s license,” he meets up with two hot sisters who let David drive their car.  The young ladies spotted a hunk they knew and before mature thought could take hold the two young men were illegally street racing with the gals egging them on.  If young men are street wild, young ladies have a tendency to urge us past all prudence.  Yep, the cops caught them and young Dickinson lost his license for six months.  The moral as the editor/writer explained is to avoid wild young ladies and hot cars; as if that advice has ever been taken.  I laughed heartily at that story.  A woman I admire is Penny Pichette, co-founder with her husband Rich, of the West Coast Kustoms car show and a remarkable lady.  Rich has passed on though Penny still runs the car show up in Paso Robles.  She explained how the car show came about and how it ended up in downtown Paso Robles, a delightful Central California town.  I could read everything that Penny writes, but I have to say, what she says is even more entrancing in person.  The people that she and her husband know are also my friends, some of whom who have passed on; Eric “Rick” Rickman, Gene Winfield, and many others.  The editor should devote an entire book to Penny; I know I would want that book.
     Another story by a friend of mine, Ky Michaelson who is also known as the “Rocketman,” told of the exploits of Rick Rojatt, the “Human Fly.”  Rojatt wanted desperately to break Evel Knievel’s record of jumping over 13 buses in a motorcycle.  Evel himself was beyond brave, even beyond foolhardy and suffered injuries and broken bones in the process of his dare-deviltry.  But Rojatt surpassed even that contempt for life and limb by contracting with Michaelson to build a rocket-powered bike that could jump 36 buses lined up side by side.  The promoters were all for this death defying stunt but Michaelson shook his head and explained that there wasn’t enough room in the stadium to safely leave the launch ramp and land on the receiving ramp.  Rojatt who always wore a super-hero mask and uniform was undaunted, but agreed to only 27 buses.  Michaelson weaves humor and terror into this tale; read it if you want to know whether “The Human Fly” survived or not.
     Dave Darby tells us about the thrill and exhilaration of just driving on America’s back roads, exploring small towns and talking to ordinary people you would never meet in a big city.  I’ve been down the open roads with my father and later with my son.  Dad used to take any old road, the more inaccessible the better.  If he didn’t know where it went he just had to take it and he didn’t care where it ended up.  He was happiest there.  So is Dave Darby and he adds a poignant story about Bill “Shorty” Etes and his 1940 Ford Coupe.  Dave Southwick purchased the car after Bill’s untimely death and kept it in good running order.  An old tin car needs to be loved and it needs to ride on those old open highways. 
     Lance Lambert is a well-known car guy and his story is titled Pizza Sauce and 30W Oil.  Lambert is a man whom I understand completely.  He loves cars and hot rodding but being a mechanic is a confusing enigma to him and to me.  I can write all day on the subject and still not put all the parts back correctly.  In fact, I believe that the automakers deliberately put more parts than were needed to make a vehicle move simply to confuse me with left-over parts.  I have a garage full of leftovers.  Lambert solved his mechanical enigma by getting others to work on his car, a 1948 Chevrolet Fleetline.  He worked at a pizza parlor which he managed and traded pizza to his buddies for working on his car.  He traded pizza for parts and pizza for oil and pizza for labor and pizza for just anything that he needed.  There’s no law in the books that says a hot rodder has to get down and dirty with oil if he can get down and dirty with pizza sauce.  I liked the humor in Lambert’s writing and hope he will contribute many more such stories.
     THE OLD CAR NUT BOOK #2, by David Dickinson is a delightful book.  It’s not better or worse than book #1, it’s just that I enjoyed book #2 more.  The more I read the sadder I got when I realized that these stories die all the time.  They are bench racing tales with more truth than fiction and even if there is some fiction in them they are highly entertaining.  I collected a number of Ak Miller stories, the kind that are rib-busting, or at least rib-tickling.  Those were comprised of stories about the tricks and pranks of a generation from the Great Depression and World War II.  I just can’t find where I put them.  Stories like those found in THE OLD CAR NUT BOOKS are usually oral stories with lots of hand waving, eyebrow raising, and tone changing histrionics that leave the listeners bent over laughing or cringing at the danger or the sadness of a loss.  When the speaker leaves us for the great “Cruise in the Sky,” those stories die.  For a time they are remembered until the listeners also pass on, then those words filled with passion leave us for good.  What David Dickinson has done is capture them for as long as paper will last and people hold them in our libraries and take them out periodically and read them.  Dickinson has done an excellent job and I heartily recommend adding the old car nut books to your library.
Gone Racin’ is at [email protected].