The summer months are always busy here at ACC, as our production schedule here at the magazine ramps up alongside all the annual summer events scheduled to take advantage of good weather. Between that, selling my house, buying another house, and the daily life of having two kids under seven, time has been slipping through my hands like sand through a rake.
So two weeks ago, I made a special effort to get out to the drag races in my 1966 Caprice. PIR is just up the freeway from town, but I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t been out to run my car on the strip in over a year. I used to go every week when I was younger. Lately, my evenings have been all about stuffed animals and bedtime snuggles rather than burnouts and ETs.
At my wife’s insistence, I made special effort and got my car ready for the track. That included looking through it for the items I knew I’d need: Shoe polish for the windows, my good tire gauge to air down the slicks, my good flashlight, etc. All that stuff lives in the car, but I needed to find it before leaving my garage.
The shoe polish was in the trunk next to the flashlight and a pair of workgloves my dad put there in 1998 “because you never know when you might need them.” The gauge was in the center console next to a couple of pens from the auto shop I used to run before my days at SCM and ACC. Inside the glovebox, I found my red parking pass from high school. Next to that was a sticker from the high school drags at PIR in 2000 — slightly shrunken from spending a few years displayed on my dash. I didn’t win that year, but I came close. Just under that was the green pen I’d bought when I was still wrenching. I’d used it to color the dots of my fuzzy dice to match the stripes on the car. It was exactly the right color, according to my boss, the old-school mechanic and shop owner.
Before I knew it, I’d lost an hour of my Saturday digging through the car and being 18 years old again. The rest of the night I cruised with the windows down and the radio up, and ran full-throttle down the strip on the hunt for the best ETs.
For me, that car represents a slice of time — and thanks to all the other things going on in my life, and all the changes that come with getting older and having a family, it’s frozen in an ever more distant place. The value there is in the visit: That car is a vacation from my adult world, kept in the garage, turn-key ready and waiting for its next full-tilt run down the strip and back in time to when I was unattached.
And then, just like that, I’m home in time for those bedtime snuggles.
That’s why, after 20 years, I still own this car. Why do you own yours?