Like many of you, I hold a number of hot rodding's heroes in the highest regard—you could say celebrity status. Larry Watson, Sam Barris, and Dean Jeffries are all individuals I consider my idols. However, unlike regular viewers of TMZ, I don't hold them so high to the point of being worshipped.
In reality, despite what some may feel, they're people just like you and I; they just happen to be very, very good at what they do—or did. And of course, they deserve every bit of respect and admiration for their talents and subsequent efforts. But, if and when that celebrity status goes to the head, then it can become easy for me not to fully recognize just exactly what it was that got them there in the first place. Fortunately, that isn't a common occurrence in this field whatsoever—but it does happen.
To me, your typical "celeb" is spoiled by fame, and in that process of rising in rank has forgotten where they came from. Expectations exceed the limits of ridiculousness, and many simply want the world handed to them on a platter. Good thing there are no paparazzi following hot rodding's higher echelon, as that's the only valid excuse I buy for some celebrities acting the way they do.
Hot rod and custom legends rarely overlook their fans, their customers, and their coworkers, all of whom helped get them to the forefront of our hobby. Without them, there is no fame in which to enjoy, no golden years in which to reap the benefits others in the world refer to as retirement. We owe our own variety of celebs the reverence they've worked so hard to achieve, as without them, many of us have nothing to look up to, no inspiration to better our own skills.
As the years go on, our heroes become fewer and fewer—but in their wake spring up younger talents destined for the same legendary status. As long as they concentrate on their craft rather than reaping the benefits of the glorified fame and fortune, this hobby will continue to sustain itself for decades to come.
They deserve every bit of respect & admiration for their talents & subsequent efforts.