Every once in a while I'll get a letter or e-mail thanking me for something we did. Generally it's from the owner of a car we featured or possibly someone who really liked a tech article we wrote that helped him. I got one of these letters the other day that was a little unusual though. It was from a woman who was thanking me for saving her and her husband $2,000. She didn't put her name on it or put a return address on the envelope (it was postmarked in Colorado), so I wasn't able to respond.
The reason for her gratitude was generated from one of the Americruise updates we did that showed an illustration of a '55 Chevy that Roy Brizio was putting together with hopes of driving it back to Lincoln. We mentioned that he might even compete in the Rod & Custom Custom of the Year competition at the event. Her contention was that if Brizio was going to show up with this car, it was going to be a lock for him to win because we know him and have worked with him in the past. And figuring that the Rod & Custom staff has no integrity, she assumed we couldn't possibly look past this relationship and award the trophy to another car that might deserve it more, like her and her husband's. So by giving them fair warning, we saved them $2,000 in traveling expenses because now there was no point to travel to Lincoln.
Not being one who ever chased trophies, I can't quite understand the point of building the car in the first place if all you want to do is win stuff, regardless of whether it's a $5 plaque or some prestigious title. How sad is it that the time spent cruising 1,000-or-so miles in this "awarding winning" car wasn't worth the effort if there wasn't a chance of winning something at the end? I always thought you built a hot rod to drive and enjoy, and if at some point it's recognized by someone or some organization as being worthy of an award, that was just the icing on the cake.
The funny thing is that her concern was a moot point because anyone who knows Roy knows his philosophy is that hot rods are built to be driven. In fact, the deal with the '55 was that Roy had wanted to build one for himself for a while, and when one turned up, he jumped on it. I called and told him about the competition when I found out about the project. After talking with him for a while, it was quite clear he really had no interest in building the car to compete in anything because the award or title wasn't important to him. What was important was building a car that was comfortable to drive and trouble-free. He then offered to let us drive the '55 if it was ready in time to make the cruise, figuring that if it performed like he built it to, that would be all the recognition he needed. I'm sorry to say that like so many other shop owners, customers' cars came first, and Roy had to push the completion date back a couple of months.
The whole point of the Americruise is the cruising, hence the title. We wanted to encourage people to drive their hot rods and customs out to the event and have some fun. The event is still two weeks away as I write this, but I'm already wondering how I'm going to pack two and half weeks worth of gear and clothes in a '32 roadster. We'll be driving to Lincoln and then we're heading over to Louisville for the NSRA Nationals. By the time we finish at the Nats, we'll have put about 2,500 miles behind us.
So I guess the point of all this is to remember not to take awards too seriously, build what you like, and above all, have fun.