In Which Your Author Discusses Extracurricular Activities

This week was slow from a writing perspective.  However, I did push out an article for the Ferris State Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) blog.  I can honestly say that joining PRSSA has been one of the main contributing factors to my recent level of professional and academic success.  As someone who is studying outside the Public Relations field, joining PRSSA has yielded a mountain of benefits in building my own “personal” brand.  I highly recommend any student, no matter their major, to take a look at their local PRSSA chapter.  It will certainly be worth your time.

Check it out!

A few articles will be posted up on The Speed Journal over the next week, so keep an eye on that site for updates.

In the meantime, follow me on social media @drunkonunleaded.

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It’s Been Awhile

Six months have elapsed since the last time I wrote something for myself.  Truthfully, I have let this site languish as I focused upon more pressing things.  A lot has happened since that August post, and I’m here to report that I am pleased with the way things are going.

Unfortunately, I have no war stories to share.  In order to keep content flowing, I am going to go back in time and bring to light some tales that haven’t been made public.  I had hoped to have something fresh as Dosh was planning on picking up a Corvette for himself down in Florida on New Years, but I ended up finding him a clean 2003 about at a dealer in Lansing.  While it wasn’t the winter death sentence we had hoped for, I’m glad he finally found the right car.  Worse yet, his family’s place in Punta Gorda is rented until May, which means spring break will most likely be spent in Detroit.

Even though my blog has fallen into dormancy doesn’t mean that I have stopped writing, in fact its much the opposite.  Francis Racing/FrancisSpeed has finally been relaunched as The Speed Journalwith a broader focus upon the automotive lifestyle.  I’ve written every article on the site at this point, so I urge you to go check it out.  Whether you’re into racing, restoration, or the latest supercar, there’s certainly something on there for everyone.

I’ve also occasionally written pieces for The Odyssey, but have been bestowed with the opportunity to function as Editor in Chief.  I will say that I have not devoted a large chunk of time to the site, as I don’t agree with giving another outlet ownership of my work.  Nevertheless, it has provided a great deal experience functioning in an editorial capacity.

As for summer, well, that’s up in the air.  I am still waiting to hear back in regards to an internship that I’ve been chasing since late September.  While I am hesitant to speak about it until things are finalized, I am salivating at the opportunity.  Barring that, I do have some events lined up for the summer, in order to bring some more content to the site.  Keep an eye on here, as I will be updating the site with anything I have written for other outlets.

With that being said, let’s keep hoping for warm weather and the chance to once again take to the streets in something other than a winter beater.

Until next time, feel free to contact me through the site or follow me on social media @drunkonunleaded.

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Of Burning Boxsters and #Brexit

As stated in my previous post, today is the day of my #Brexit from The Senior Alliance.  To say that the feeling is bittersweet would be a gross understatement.  I grew up here.  When I started at the ripe age of 22 I was irresponsible, childish, and hedonistic.  Actually, not much has changed..

I normally write these things a few days in advance.  However, I have spent the past week working on more important things.  Therefore I am currently sitting in my cubicle, less than an hour before this article is scheduled to post.  In the words of a brilliant man, “You can do whatever you want on your last day.”  I would assume that this included blogging.

The past few weeks have been pretty busy.  Not only have I been slowly packing up my life, but trying to address the post-vacation hangover that always seems to follow a week spent on the road.  I have come to realize that for every day one is on vacation, two days are needed to recover.  I have yet to finish unpacking from my trip and spent the past two weeks living out of my suitcase.

Despite the whirlwind of changes going on, I did manage to write some things.  This week you can read my article about a beautiful BMW Z4M and a Boxster that caught fire.  There are a few bigger projects heading out the door shortly, including news about a new supercar and a long-form article on vintage Japanese tin.

I have also taken up a position writing “for” The Odyssey Online.  Expect many listicles, poorly-written articles on social issues, and more drivel that will lead to the eventual demise of “journalism” as we know it.  Who knows, I might even wrote about something other than cars…

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For The Times They Are a-Changin’

I returned home Tuesday morning a few moments before 3:00 AM.  The past two weeks consisted of over 3,400 miles behind the wheel, 10 states, and one plane ride.  During the course of my vacation(s), I learned three important things:

  1. 30 hours in a Penske box truck is not the ideal way to spend a Sunday, yet we did it on 1.5 hours of sleep.  Luckily there is no shortage of Hooters and Waffle House locations to offer a break from the monotony of a vehicle limited to 65 MPH and leaks water from behind the cab.
  2. 3/4 of the booth operators on the West Virginia Turnpike are not amused when you decide to pay the $5.00 fine and blow through the tolls.  Apparently, they didn’t understand that ATM fees are a thing.
  3. Spirit Airlines is absolute garbage and should be avoided at all costs.  The LAST thing I want to hear at 7:00 AM is how I could benefit from their credit card.

Despite these struggles, I truly had the time of my life.  The Revs Institute was worth the trip alone, I found myself hyperventilating as I walked through the halls and laid eyes upon some of the most beautiful vehicles ever produced.

Charleston is absolutely gorgeous.  I got completely caught up in the moment and neglected to take any pictures until my final day there.  There was simply too much to see in that town than we could ever fit into a long weekend.  I can’t wait to go back.

By the end of the weekend, I was ready to get home.  Rather than following my original plan to stop overnight in North Carolina and drive the Tail of the Dragon, I had decided to drive straight home Monday night.  I got stuck in massive traffic backups in Virginia, blasted through the mountains, and clicked off sleepy miles on Ohio’s turnpike.  Spotify and my Valentine 1 provided the soundtrack to my drive as I rolled with the windows down from the VA/WV border to my doorstep.  When I turned into my driveway I was exhausted, physically and mentally.

30 hours alone in your car is ample time to work through any of life’s problems.  During my drive, I had finally come to terms the fact that my life would forever change over the next few weeks.  I am proud to announce that I will be attending Ferris State University this fall to finish my Bachelor’s Degree.  Furthermore, I am enrolling in an accelerated program to obtain my Master’s the following year.  By the time you read this, I will have put in my two weeks notice at The Senior Alliance.

The past few years have been a period of personal growth enlightenment, and I cannot wait to see what lies on the road ahead.  Thank you to all the family, friends, and coworkers who have supported me as I made this difficult decision.  I could not have done it without you.

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Wherever I May Roam

 

Things have been pretty hectic as of late.  Friday night yielded 13 hours of sleep, which was more than I had accumulated since the 4th of July holiday.  Part of the reason was due to this article I wrote about one man’s trip to Australia to drive V8 Supercars.  Jeff gets to experience a lot of great things, and it has been a privilege to write for The Speed Journal.

Speaking of experiences, I will be on vacation from 15 July – 26 July (or thereabouts).  I’ll be flying to Florida this weekend and driving back, with a few good stops a long the way.  Next Wednesday I will be loading up the Z06 and heading south for Carolina.  To put it mildly, I’ve been long overdue for a proper vacation.

You can follow my travels on social media with the hashtag #WheresRyanNow.

  • Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat: @Drunkonunleaded
  • Facebook: www.facebook.com/Drunkonunleaded

I’ll have some cool things to share with you upon my return.

 

 

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Reunited and It Feels So Good

Saying that the past few weeks have been busy would be a gross understatement.  For example, I recently learned that a mounted C5 Z06 rear wheel will not fit in said Z06’s trunk.  I’m not sure if I’m more fortunate in that I didn’t get abducted during this Craigslist transaction, or that I lack friends willing to meet men behind secluded gas stations.  Nevertheless, the wheel was a great travel companion on my 1.5 hour ride home. It certainly had more personality than some of the women who have sat in that same passenger seat.

Most importantly, I stood up in a wedding this past weekend (Congratulations Marty and Molly) from which I have yet to recover.  If there is any crossover between my readership and wedding attendees, I can now disclose to you that I was probably more stressed over the whole ordeal than the groom.  Don’t ask me why, it’s been that way for every wedding that I have stood up in thus far.

Fortunately, you can still read the Gospel According to Ryan on Francis Racing’s site.  This week, I covered the June “Double Regional” at Laguna Seca.  Most notably, Team Principal Jeff Francis being reunited with a beautiful Z4 M Coupe.  I implore you to check it out.

There are some big things coming up in the near future, as well as some original content that will be exclusive to this site.  Stay tuned.  Drop me a line.  Take me to dinner.  Never call me again.

 

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That moment when you first get published.

It’s a great feeling, seeing your name on someone else’s website.  It’s a better feeling when those words are describing something you’re passionate about.  A lot of hard work and long nights went into making it even this far.  I’d like to thank all 6 of you loyal readers for your support and patronage.  I’m not exactly sure where this road leads, but I will enjoy the drive.

The article chronicles the new Élan Technologies NP01, a new “prototype” racer that NASA hopes will bring an increasing amount of new racers into their organization.  Regardless of the business side of things, it looks to be a solid alternative to the HPDE horsepower wars.

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Impeding Traffic: Amtrak is a colossal waste of Taxpayer dollars, but damn it can be fun.

If you are among the 24 weekly readers (and growing!) that follow my adventures, you would have noticed that I did not post anything last week. To be honest, I’ve been extremely lazy. I’ve spent the past 4 weekends out of town. On Oct 25th, I was in Indiana. Halloween weekend was spent partying at Ferris State. The November 6-8 was spent Pheasant hunting with my father. Last weekend, Ferrin and I headed back to Pennsylvania.

For those who are not aware, I own a myriad of vehicles. My driveway currently looks like a junkyard while two derelict vehicles (Neon and Buick) await their new owners. With that being said, I was in the market for a new winter beater. I was fortunate enough to drive the Vette up until January 3 of this year until salt molested our roads. I wasn’t about to take the same chance this year. In fact, I do not have valid plates on anything except for the Vette at this point.

After months scouring Craigslist and eBay, my uncle in Pittsburgh gave me a call. Being a GM retiree, he picked up a sweetheart of a deal on a new Cadillac SRX and was therefore selling his Blazer. I’m not going to bore you with details. It’s a 99 Blazer, 4-door, 4wd. Best of all, it has only 110k miles. It’s a perfect companion vehicle to the Vette, and better than the dozens of rusted Jeeps I had checked out.

I decided that this was a perfect opportunity for another stupid trip. I enlisted Ferrin to accompany me on the journey. Flying was completely out of the question. For starters, my uncle technically lives in Altoona, which is 2 hours from Pittsburgh Airport. That wasn’t happening. My father suggested we look into Amtrak. There is an Amtrak station right in downtown Altoona. It helps that the rail industry is huge in that area of PA.

To my surprise, tickets were only $50 per person. The train would pick us up in Toledo at Midnight and drop us in Pittsburgh at 5:00. We had a 2.5 hour layover in downtown Pittsburgh, and a 3 hour ride to Altoona. Tickets were book, money wired for the truck, and I had valid insurance coverage. We were all set to go.

We arrived 30 minutes early, as the directions stated. The time was spent “conversing” with the others that will be making the journey west. There were families, college students, and those who looked as though they lived at the station. One middle-aged man struck up a conversation with us. He began to talk to us about his travels and motivational speaking.   While his name escapes me at present, the man explained that he was on the last leg of traversing the entire country on his bicycle. He was heading home to complete the last chapter of his memoirs. We exchanged blogs. As it turns out, his specialty is Christian Men’s Conferences. I don’t think he will enjoy my writing very much.

The Toledo train station is in an absolutely horrible part of town, situated in an industrial area beneath the freeway. The station itself was marginal at best. Architecture looked more along the lines of a Soviet jobs program, rather than a local transportation “hub.” Considering that Amtrak was essentially created by the government in the 1970s, I wasn’t exactly expecting to see the idealized 1930s rail system that only existed in the mind of my late grandmother. There was one television turned to the local news.

I can honestly say that I am spoiled by air travel. At the very least, there is a comfortable place to sit, Wifi, and a place to plug in your phone. Hell, most terminals feature at least a bar and restaurant. Luckily for us, Toledo’s Amtrak offers none of these amenities. The vending machines were broken, so the only thing on sale was a man hawking bibles for $5.

When we finally boarded the train, it was announced that the Café car was “closing in 5 minutes.” Apparently, we were lucky that they stayed open “late” for those getting on in Toledo. Food consisted of hot dogs and pizza that were microwaved. Luckily, we were able to purchase beer. A can of Bud Light ran $5. We ordered 6 and sat down to begin our journey.

train beer

Luckily, Amtrak allows you to bring your food/drink (including alcohol). However, they do now allow consumption of alcohol outside of the Café/Dining cars. Anything consumed in those areas must be purchased on the train. One can consume their own food/drink in their seat, but alcohol only in a private sleeper. Not being one to follow rules, we pre-mixed whiskey and coke into 20oz bottles to consume in their seats. We also showed up a few drinks in, there was no way we were making the trip sober.

The coach-class seats themselves weren’t bad. They are wide and recline much in the way of a business class seat on Delta would. Even better, nobody rides Amtrak. Ferrin and I each had a row to ourselves. Considering that we are both big guys, there was no way in hell we could be comfortable sitting next to one another. Each row featured an 110v outlet to plug in your phone, but no Wifi. We downed some whiskey and beef jerky and decided to sleep. I’ve honestly slept worse, but the train didn’t make it easy. Think of it as a flight that is in perpetual turbulence.

Row

We arrived to Pittsburgh right on time, 5:00. The conductor was gracious to give me a nudge and yell, “End of the line.” As we entered the station, I expected something along the lines of Union Station in DC. That was pretty damn close to an airline terminal, but with the charm of yesteryear. We were greeted with a larger version of Toledo’s station. Ohh, and this station also did not have Wifi.

station

Luckily, the original Primanti’s location was a few blocks away. For those not in the know, their “thing” is the sandwiches. There are about a dozen choices, all topped with cole slaw and fries. The original location, in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, is open 24 hours. We dodged the sketchy cab drivers and hailed an Uber to the restaurant. The meal was nothing short of amazing. Ferrin was completely blown away. I’ve been there no less than a dozen times, but Primanti’s never fails to disappoint. I cannot wait until they open their location next year here in Detroit.

Primantis2

Another Uber delivered us back to the station, and we waited another hour for our train. This leg was a bit more crowded. As I noted previously, trains are a big part of Pennsylvania culture. The largest diesel repair shops in the world are located in the area, and the area features some of the most scenic views this side of the Mississippi.

(Un)fortunately for us, there was no observation car on this train. Considering the Pennsylvanian runs from Pittsburgh to NYC, this genuinely surprised me. Nevertheless, we opted to both sit on the right side, allowing for views of the famed “Horseshoe” curve as we headed into Altoona. If one is situated toward the front of the train, you can actually see the tail end begin to take the curve. After this, I can completely understand why rail travel is considered a vacation unto itself.

Train Speed

The train, however, was mostly empty. Business class had all of 4 people into it. I assume that the occupancy was higher the closer you get to NYC. I inquired about upgrading our seats at the station, but I was told that this was not a possibility. Despite how crowded coach was, we were still able to have a row to ourselves.

The trip wasn’t without hiccups, however. While this train featured Wifi, its coverage seemed to fluctuate based upon barometric pressure. In all seriousness, it was less reliable than 1990s cell phone coverage. This is not surprising, considering that Amtrak’s internet is based upon cellular service. If Delta can provide enough bandwidth to stream Netflix as I fly across the Midwest, I see no reason as to why Amtrak cannot do the same.

Amtraktwitter

The cloudy day was a perfect backdrop for the scenic views. We had a few morning drinks and my Spotify “Sleep/Hangover” playlist provided the perfect soundtrack for an uneventful morning. I can honestly say that I enjoyed our trip on the Pennsylvanian, poor Wifi be damned. It suited our needs perfectly.

It may seem as though I am complaining about our trip, but I am not. The real problem is with many of the other routes along Amtrak’s service. Layovers in excess of 5 hours is the norm when headed west, requiring an extended stay in Chicago. As the distances increase, so does the price. Once you get outside of a 6 hour drive, the price is not much different than airfare. For people like me whose time is actually worth something, spending 24 hours on a train when you could drive somewhere in 10 is completely out of the question. I don’t see a point in taking Amtrak for anything other than sightseeing once you cross that threshold. Even flying + car rental works out better as far as economics are concerned.

I understand that Amtrak requires government subsidies to exist and that they operate on a pretty thin budget. As it stands, there is little point to traveling via rail unless major upgrades are made. Obviously, this is paradoxical at best. Nobody will ride Amtrak if fares were higher, but nothing can be improved without added income.

Fortunately for us, Altoona was the end of our Amtrak adventure. The station was actually a touch nicer than Toledo or Pittsburgh, but featured similar “amenities” to the others. On Sunday afternoon, we loaded up the Blazer and headed west for Detroit. The familiar chirps of my Valentine 1 followed us home as Spotify belted out our favorite classic rock tracks. Somewhere on the Ohio Turnpike, a few miles west of Cleveland, we stopped at the Service Plaza and gassed up. Ferrin and I treated ourselves to Starbucks and hopped back into the truck. At that moment, we both agreed that nothing is better than traveling in your own vehicle. Nothing captures the romanticism of the open road.

Road

 

 

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(Motor) Way of Life: Blood on the Page

“If one day the speed kills me, don’t cry, because I was smiling.” – Paul Walker

For those who are a part of my personal life, you are undoubtedly aware that I lost two people very important to my life in the span of a few months. The first, my cousin (technically 1st cousin once removed, my great uncle’s son). George “Chope” Patrick was probably one of the most genuine men you’d ever want to meet, someone cut from the type of cloth you cannot find among today’s “men.” He, along with my father, was the type of people we should all strive to be. I could write multiple stories on this guy, his life, and the things we’ve done together. However, I’m here today to talk about the other loss I’ve recently endured.

On September 2, 2014 we lost a man who was, for all intents and purposes, my brother. Nick Hudec passed at the age of 23 in a Labor Day Jet Ski accident on Lake Erie. Although the term is cliché at this point, he was taken “way too soon.” No matter where life takes me, Nick will always be my brother.

We met at the age of 10 when we were skating for a local PeeWee hockey team. Nick was probably one of the smallest guys in the league. Even at that age, I completely towered over him. I cannot even begin to recall the amount of times he got in way over his head talking shit to people, and called me into back him up. When I got suspended from Middle School for matters I won’t divulge, my penance was spent in an after-hours tutoring program helping Nick with his math. We’ve worked on cars together, drank beer together, rode motorcycles in abandoned construction sites, and almost went to jail together on multiple occasions. There weren’t many things we did not do with one another. Even as we began to grow apart during High School, there wasn’t instance where he was my first call (or vice-versa) when help was needed.

I’ll never forget the summer of 2007. We both had received our driver’s licenses. His grandfather had come up from Florida, with his 91 Mustang LX Convertible in tow. Equipped with the “5.0” engine and T-5 Manual transmission, it was the first “fast” car either of us had the privilege of driving. I don’t need to say this, but that type of car was entirely too much for two kids with little driving experience. We did 120+ on I-75, raced anyone who gave us a dirty look, and participated in general asshattery. Any chance we could, we did burnouts. His grandpa was absolutely pissed at us for killing TWO sets of Michelins that summer. The first set was gone only after 1 week in our possession. I’m honestly surprised we survived that summer.

Then, we got into off-roading. His 09 F-150 had a mild lift and 35” mud tires. I had recently acquired my 98 Jeep Cherokee. No mud hole was safe. We came close to rolling my Jeep no less than three times in an abandoned housing development. His truck sucked water up through the intake after fording a deceivingly deep mud hole. We ran from the police on more than one occasion, dreading the idea of being brought home in a squad car to our parents.

When I had the Neon and sold the Jeep, our days of street racing rivaled those of summer 2007. Every freeway on-ramp became an impromptu race track. The abandoned streets of Detroit’s more impoverished areas were a literal playground for us, much the way Ken Block films his “Gymkhana” videos. In the days before heavy police presence on Belle Isle, the island’s race track was a place where we could drive any way we desired, pedestrians be damned. I’m not here to glorify street racing, as those days are long behind me. We both derived our kicks from the type of foolishness you’d see in movies such as American Graffiti, and I will not lie and act as though this wasn’t how I spent many afternoons during our early 20s.

Life unfortunately took us down different paths. I got into a career, a few relationships, and further into car stuff. However, he and my sister became closer than he and I to an extent. There was a period where he was probably a better brother to her than I was to some extent. The truth is that there is no other person I would rather have as a stand-in. Although the two of us have quite the history between us, I knew he would always take care of her. As with a lot of family that I am related to by blood, if the moment came where either of us were in dire need, I know that we would have come to each other’s rescue. That is what brotherhood is all about.

A lot of people ask me about how I handled the loss of my best friend. The truth is, not very well. When I’m eating at Hooter’s (we got kicked out once), doing something stupid in an automobile, or talking shit to someone at the bar, I know he is right along there with me. The truth of the matter is that he isn’t really dead to me. We’ve gone months without speaking to one another. As long as his memory is still alive, he will never die.

Nicholas Hudec died in a jet ski accident near Horse Island on Sept. 2..

RIP Nick Hudec (December 16,1990 – Sepbember 2, 2014)

http://thenewsherald.com/articles/2014/09/06/ile_camera/localnews/doc54076b946d2c9998555074.txt

http://martenson.tributes.com/obituary/show/Nicholas-Ryan-Hudec-101652115

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Impeding Traffic: Possible New Low for Millennial/Baby Boomer Relations

Show 2

About 6 weeks ago, my father and I had this conversation:

Dad: “My buddy Jeff called, he’s DJing for a car show this Saturday and wants you there. You need to go.”

Me: “I haven’t washed the Vette in two weeks, and it is supposed to rain.”

Dad: “It’s supposed to clear up Saturday, wash the car right before you leave.”

Me: “The Beer Crawl is Friday night, I will probably be too hung over for that nonsense.”

Dad: “Well, too fucking bad. I told him you were coming, so you get to man up and head there Saturday. It starts at 11.”

Me: “Fuck.”

Ladies and Gentleman: My father. No really, he’s legitimately an amazing man. Any of his friends (or mine) can attest to that. Unfortunately, as a nearly splitting-image of my father, I get to be his stand-in at events to which he cannot attend. I cannot begin to count the number of friend’s birthdays, funerals, and graduation parties I have had to attend on his behalf. Granted, he is a busy guy, so I don’t complain. He also is 3” taller and about 100 lbs. heaver than me. Even at 25, he still scares the shit out of me.

Unfortunately for me, I presently do not have the means to move into the luxury condominium I have my eye on and make a monthly Corvette payment. Actually, that’s wrong. I can, but I can say goodbye to nights of $100 bar tabs, spontaneous weekend trips, Brooks Brothers shirts, or superfluous spending in general. #FirstWorldProblems

I despise washing or detailing cars. Mine are cleaned about every month if I’m lucky. Last night was the first time I washed the outside since the aforementioned car show, some 1800 miles and 6 weeks ago. This was also the first time that the interior has been cleaned since I pulled it out of my driveway storage in March.

In my eyes, the time I spend washing a car could be spent driving. Even when clean, I take it out immediately afterward and seemingly never fail to accrue a smattering of insects on the front bumper. Not to mention, I’ve turned a few dozen miles shy of 10,000 in the Vette this year. I feel that I am justified in my laziness.

Unfortunately, I catch a lot of shit from people for not keeping it clean. I once had a lady yell to me whilst at a stoplight, “that car is too nice to be that filthy, you need to wash it. I like Mustangs better, but you need to take better care of your car.” I casually rolled up my window. If I wanted lip from a middle-aged woman driving a 93 Caravan, I would’ve placed an ad on Craigslist’s Casual Encounters.

Upon arrival to the show, I was to complete a form for “judging,” and display a numbered placard in my window. Both the “attendees” and “participants” will be selecting “winners.” Now, I have to deal with pensioners ridiculing me in regards to the way in which I maintain my own personal vehicle.

Around 11:42, I began to get restless. The first hour or so passed easy enough, as I decided to wipe down the entire car with spray wax. At the very least, it looked presentable. If I were to take it to Ruth’s Chris, the valet might not have to park it in back. I even plundered Harbor Freight for WOWOMGHOTBUYS92%OFF items. Fortunately for me, I have a cabinet full of blue tarps and poor-quality LED flashlights.

I did, however, purchase a folding camp chair. It seems as though you cannot be admitted to a car show without one. My chair was about 1/10th the price of the others in that I did not have one with my car’s logo. Even cuter was the couple with their 2005 Mustang V6 Convertible, situated behind me. They not only had the matching Mustang chairs, but went as far as to have their names embroidered on the back of each one. This apparently is the key to a successful marriage, marking whom each $82 camping char belongs to.

Occasionally, a few people would walk up to the Mustang. “That’s one hell of a car,” barked one old man. “I bet she’s one fast horse,” exclaimed another. “Wow, a real driver’s car this one is,” replied the owner. If it weren’t for the massive hangover, I would’ve been inclined to question what makes his car a good “driver’s car.”

Judging by my observations, a real driver’s car has the following attributes:

  • 5-speed automatic transmission
  • V6 producing 205 HP
  • Poverty/rental-spec cloth interior
  • Matching embroidered camping chairs

Around 12:30, an older gentleman pulls up next to me. He’s driving, a 2015 Chevrolet SS. I was praying for someone to talk with that actually knew something about cars. For those who don’t know, the SS is a V8 RWD sedan. Think if it as a 4-door Camaro with absolutely zero marketing behind it. The majority of buyers purchase these because they know exactly what they are. It’s a car that screams, “I like to go fast, but want to be discrete while doing it.”

The owner of the SS unloads a camping chair, sits down, and begins to spark up a conversation in the twangiest of southern drawls:

Him: “Do you know what this is, son?”

Me: “Yes, it’s a Chevy SS. Cool ride.”

Him: “You know it ain’t a Malibu, rite? It’s Australian.”

Me: “Yeah, it’s called the Holden Commodore down there. Loosely related to the 04-06 GTO.”

Him: “Uhh, sure. A lot of people think it’s a Malibu. You know no Malibu came with the motor your Vette has like this puppy did. Runs like a raped ape.”

Me: “They’re pretty quick, but your car actually has an LS3, a generation newer from the LS6 that’s in mine. Similar, but different head design and larger bore block“

Him: “I’ve only got 3,000 miles on this thing, keeping it up so it can be big money at Barrett-Jackson one day. You drive that Corevette much?”

Me: “Over 12,000 miles last year. Went to Raleigh, Roanoke, DC, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and all over Michigan last year alone. Drove it up until the snow fell on January 3rd. This year, I’ve been to Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Louisville, The Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Corbin and Knoxville. I’m about to cross 7,500 miles since I took it out of storage in March.”

Him: “Man! You’re just miling that thing up, ain’t ya? Not gonna be worth a dollar when you’re done with it. Derp derp derp derp. Derp derp derp.”

My new friend drew out the conversation for 30 more minutes.

He then began to educate me as to how lazy “kids these day are.” This notion that Millennials are lazy/entitled has been the topic du jour in the media for the past few years. The adjectives “privileged,” “lazy,” and “entitled” come immediately to mind. When one takes time to analyze this situation, the irony becomes very apparent. No two generations of Americans have had the privilege or entitlement of the Baby Boomer generation.

At a quick glance, even I fit into that stereotype. I grew up in a very safe suburban neighborhood with great schools. My parents paid for me to attend a Catholic High School. I was awarded a Presidential Scholarship to Wayne State University’s College of Engineering. I managed to piss that scholarship away over the course of 3 semesters, instead choosing to focus on the pursuit of women ranging from the leather-clad hipster in English 1020 to my Calculus TA.

I changed my major two more times, and ended up in a program at my local Community College. I lament the moment at which I will need to cease taking 12 credits per semester behind a computer screen and complete my undergrad at a real university.

The truth of the matter is that I work both a full and part-time job to finance my schooling, cars (I normally own ~3 at any given time), spontaneous road tripping, and excessive restaurant patronage.  It’s been that way since I began college, and I unfortunately don’t think that is going to change anywhere in the near future.  I’m really hoping that I can win the lottery here soon.  The odds of that coming to fruition are better than my 403b retirement plan providing me a comfortable life once I turn 60.

Eventually, the man steers our conversation toward his life.  Apparently, he worked for his parents his entire life. If this story is to be believed, they owned a few restaurant franchises as part of a now-defunct chain that was integrated into gas stations throughout the country. He said he sold their restaurants and spent his money on, “a house on the ocean in Miami, 2 Cigarette boats with 3 of them 502 crate engines each, a 1963 Corvette with the two back windas, a 1957 Shivvy, and a Shivvy SSR truck that’s also a convertible.”

Do I believe any of the above? Perhaps. Judging by his outfit of sweatpants and an American Flag T-Shirt, I don’t exactly believe that he is of high enough net worth to own a few million dollars’ worth of ocean view property, “go-fast boats,” and vintage cars. The story sounds more along the lines of a modern-day Miami Vice villain of the week. I’ll leave that judgment up to my readership.

The man could also be completely full of shit. For all I know, he spent 32 years tightening lug nuts at a long-shuttered GM plant (there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I have contemplated said career path on more than one occasion). He had a tear in his eye when the final Chevrolet Lumina crossed the line in 2001, and still holds a grudge against Michael Moore for making “Roger and Me.”

Finally, he retires and buys himself the “hot rod” he has always wanted. Well, not exactly. Most retired men buy Mustangs or Corvettes thinking it will somehow help them recapture the youth that slipped away several decades ago. They yearn for a time that wasn’t filled with doctor’s appointments, the 24-hour news cycle, FM radio, or the Internet. These are the type of men who will get up at 7:00 on a Saturday to hang out in a Harbor Freight parking lot, reminiscing about their youth.

As for me, I’m going to avoid car shows for as long as I can. The time is much better spent on more fruitful endeavors. When the day comes that I am the old man lecturing “kids” at a car show, I will have the ability to look back upon my youth and be truly happy in regards to how it was misspent. Life is too short to spend it washing your car and hanging out in parking lots.

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