Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Backstretch

Nearly Christmas 2008

Lou and I spoke on the phone regularly, and he gave me updates both on the car and the team. Everything seemed to be going well, and I suspected he was either a lot better at building race cars than it appeared, or really believed what he was saying. Since I already gave him the money, I hoped maybe he knew what he was doing.

Lou invited me out to lunch one Saturday in Berkley to meet the other team members and a few other interesting car guys. That morning was pretty cold, and as a result the MGB did not want to start. Damn. This only happens when I’m around other car guys, and I’ve come to think of it as stage fright. Meanwhile the Datsun was sidelined with a leaky rear axle, which meant I had to borrow my in-law’s Honda to go meet a bunch of car nuts. What a bummer… 365 days a year of proudly (suffering) driving vintage cars, and now I gotta show up driving a Honda? Go figure.

I showed up at the Chinese restaurant just in time for fortune cookies and to meet fellow teammate Armand along with several other car enthusiasts. After introductions I was typically quiet and just listened to their stories and banter, while Lou alternated between reminding us of his world records, and breaking out in more limericks. They were quite creative even if they came at odd times, and he claims to have written them all himself.

This group seems to tolerate Lou’s peculiarities, and may even be a little fond of it. It appears as if they have come to realize Lou is Lou and there is just no changing that. He and Armand invited me to meet up after “lunch” at his friend Eric’s shop, and then they left just before the rest of the group did. When Lou had gone, one person in the group (who turned out to be Chief Perp Jay Lamm) asked me point blank;

“So how much is Lou charging you guys to be on his team? And Let me guess, he gave you a money back guarantee”.

I kind of skirted his questions for a couple reasons, and I said “Well, all he really has is his word. I’ll just have to wait and see what that’s worth.”

Then he told me “I can’t guarantee you many laps on Lou’s team, but I can guarantee you lots of great stories, ha-ha-ha!!”

Crap. Well it’s too late now. And at least I’m hanging around fellow gear-heads for a change.

Back at Eric's shop he showed me some of the world's coolest toys. One that stood out the most was what appeared to be a fully restored 37-40 Studebaker Coupe Express(Think El Camino or Ranchero). But when he popped the hood, there was a Dick Landy full-boogie race Hemi pushing an estimated 1,000 HP! Holy CRAP!

Eric then started it up for us, and the sweet sound nearly melted my brain... all the hair stood up on the back of my neck, and I had the biggest shit eating grin on my face. I spent the good part of 45 minutes oogling the car, and crawling on my knees to check out all the stealthy engineering in this car. It was unreal.

When I got home I told my glazedovereyes-spouse all about it. She was happy for me and glad I had a good time. Could I take out the garbage?

I suggested we bring Brownie with us so we would have a home base, and a place to relax. To my stunned surprise she said “Sure, that’s a good idea.”

“What? Really?”

“Yeah. Do you think he will make it?”

Oh yeah baby… let me introduce you to my friend the Dodge 440...

That night I dreamed of Bonnie & Clyde type escapades, only this time we escaped with the help of a thousand smoking horses.

Next: The Homestretch

Previous: Time

From The Begining - The Hook... (Part 1)

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