I have been rising every Saturday morning at 5:00 a.m. for the past 15 years, not to milk cows or feed the horses, but to cruise over to the local "donut shop" in one of my custom rides for a religiously attended gearhead gathering. Guys and gals start rollin' in as early as 4:30 a.m. to capture a premium parking space. By 6:00 a.m. the parking lot is at full capacity, with approximately 200 hot rods, customs, lead sleds, rat rods, musclecars, and trucks double-parked in spaces down each row. Fortunately, in this part of the country we can participate in this activity year-round. The "donut shop" ritual has been repeated every Saturday morning in the same parking lot since 1984.
There's nothin' like bench racin' with a couple of ol' custom guys while sippin' hot coffee and tastin' the sweetness of a glazed donut, all while watching another picturesque sunrise, surrounded by a sea of awesome custom rides. It's these moments that make me realize how blessed I am to be involved in this sacred hobby, as I continue to stroll the aisles, checking out the custom eye candy and pausing to chat with a couple of buddies.
I noticed peering out over the hundreds of hot rods, rat rods, customs, musclecars and trucks that the worshippers were predominately gray-haired males of the "Baby Boomer" generation. Many have been enjoying the hobby since high school. (For some, that's 50-plus years.) Others have recently merged into the scene after surviving a midlife crisis or gaining the ability to finally afford the ride of their dreams.
I'm continuing to ponder the thought of what will happen to all these bitchin' rides when the old, crusty guys die off. Will the cars and trucks of their lives succumb with their owners? Currently, we are witnessing the first generation of hot-rodders from the '30s and '40s passing on. We have lost a couple of our own "donut shop" dudes recently.
The younger generations have passions tied to their own wheels of excitement from their teenage years. Every generation has its own music and hot rods.
Each generation's hot rod must be respected for what it is. It doesn't matter if it's a '32 Ford coupe or a Honda Civic. It's their generation's hot rod. Hopefully, this hot-rod hobby will be carried on for many generations to come. It doesn't matter if you're 16 or 60. Custom car and truck enthusiasts have no age barriers. We share a common bond throughout our lives, full of experiences that cure into memories. Those rolling chariots we come to love and enjoy give us a feeling of self-expression and enrich our personal self-esteem. I have also learned, over the years, to respect others for their efforts. Life is precious and we need to cherish every moment, whether we're cruisin' down an open road or changin' plugs under a shade tree.
I can remember my grandpa, who spoke of his youthful years buildin' and racin'. They were the greatest days of his 84 years.
Life is what we make it.
Remember: Old Guys Rule!