Posted by Bill Prosperi on July 21, 2011
Everyday I watch Little Man become more of a gearhead and it makes me ponder myself as a kid. I had many Hot Wheels, Matchbox cars, and many cheap knock offs. While Little Man plays with them as they should be with his garage and track sets, I was not so kind. I was more interested in seeing what happened when a cinder block fell on them from several feet high. Then there was the off chance that we got our hands on some fire crackers. That never ended well for the car. Then there is Little Man who was in tears cause he was not allowed to go out in the pouring rain to get one he left out in yard the night before. There is a point to this rambling and we will get to that. Growing up, I was never all that interested in cars, unlike Little Man is now. I would watch NASCAR to see the wrecks, Little Man watches road racing and can rattle off manufacturers, drivers and tracks. I could not tell you what Hot Wheels I had as a kid, but could probably tell you how they met their fate. My son, at five, can rattle off what he has in his collection and even knows when he sees the actual car when we are out.
My father tried like hell to turn me into a car guy when I was young. I tried to play along for a few years but would rather have my head in some science fiction book, playing Dungeons and Dragons, or studying dinosaurs. Yes I just outed myself as a nerd, but just like the Nerd movies, I ended up with a hot girl, so na na boo boo! Growing up on a small farm, we always did our own car maintenance, so we had our own small private junk yard. My dad always tried to have me involved so when I grew up (he is still waiting), I would be able to do things myself. I remember standing there and handing him tools but my mind was off slaying a level 20 troll. Though, I did have the obligatory Lamborghini Countach poster, my collect of identifiable Hot Wheels was far fewer than my dinosaur collection. I give him full credit for planting the seeds that eventually sprouted me into the half wit car person I am now. I think he is a little proud now when we visit and the conversation turns to four wheels, especially from the Sixties. I always played along as a kid because I knew that this was time with my dad. Time he did not always get as a kid and I knew I should be enjoying this moment no matter how little fun I was having. I still have vivid memories using cinder blocks as jack stands when we rotated tires. Cinder blocks were much like duct tape growing up, it’s something I have no answers for.
Cars and the auto industry really did not become part of my life until my early to mid twenties. I think it was the realization that I would eventually have to purchase my own car someday instead of family hand-me downs. From there, I would find myself thinking a lot more about cars beyond the sheet metal that made them up. Simple things like horsepower and mpg started to make sense. Now look at me, I am a mostly unknown Formula 1 writer and semi-known Mazda enthusiast who may or may not be influential to the brand. Heck, I even engage in some not so semi-formal conversations about cars on the Twitter now and then. Even run a Tumblr site dedicated to a previously mentioned brand that I may or may not influence. Even published some blogs post on a few obscure websites some might have heard of. All this from a level 32 Elf.
Now here I am with a son and task at hand. Luckily my task is nowhere near as tricky as that of my poor father. I did learn a few things and do a bit of my own maintenance. Little Man is usually right there, for as long as his five year old attention span will allow, asking all types of questions. Questions I am sure I should have been asking as a kid. Questions I wish I would have asked but am sure my father answers without issue when I talk to him now. Life has a funny way of doing that, I guess. Here is to hoping that I can take the baton my father had a hard time handing to hand me as a kid and hand it of to my son. Especially since he has a knack for pulling things apart in order to put them back together. If only he didn’t break them beyond repair in the dismantling process. Thankfully, we do not have any cinder blocks laying around.
Posted in Auto, The Other Side of Life | Tagged: Auto, Cars, cinder blocks, dad, father, hotwheels, life, matchbox | 1 Comment »
Posted by Bill Prosperi on March 11, 2011
It was a warm sunny summer day. We pulled into the field next to my parents’ house. There was a row of barns to shield us. I leaned in and mentioned how this was not my first time but was still nervous. I had attempted this once before in van on a back country road. It was tricky and I eventually got the hang of it but as always, things like this can come to a quick end. We started off slowly as I got familiar with our actions, slowly picking up the pace as we moved along. Soon things started moving quickly, maybe a little too fast. My dad showed up to tell me this was not the Indy 500 and I was driving in circles in the middle of a field. Buzz kill.
This was the first time I got to drive my first car, my 1981 blue Chevette. I was rolling in a ‘Vette, envy me. Please. Someone? Anyone? Ok, I thought I was pretty damn cool. We had some fun times together. It was rough for me having a summer birthday and being the youngest of my friends. All my friends had their license and access to a car. Then there was me, living out in the middle is nowhere. I always felt bad asking for a ride since I was 30 minutes away from everyone. This was my chance to finally fit in and get away. The day we first met is still burned into my memory. It was the summer of 1993 and I was coming home from somewhere and there sat this strange car in the driveway. My parents tried to play it of the best way possible but I was able to put two and two together. This car was mine all mine.
As with any car given to a teen just learning the ropes, it was lacking in a few areas. The stereo would not bounce a dead bug of the speakers, the passenger seat belt did not work, and the fuel tank had a hole in it. As long as I owned it, there was never a full tank, always three quarters. There were a few other things but nothing major. It was the perfect daily driver for a kid with no money. This was back in the day where gas was always under a dollar. When needed, a fill up would run around five bucks and go on to last around two weeks. The seat belt? Not an issue. The car had belts for up to five, which several times was a few short as I found that up to nine high school kids could fit in this little coupe. Clown car? Maybe?
The many memories that were built around my first car. Most of them would have ensured that I never drove under my parents insurance unless it was a medical emergency. It was senior year in high school, what was one to expect? There was the time though, that the windows were fogged up one morning and we kinda skidded against a electric pole, running a long scratch down the driver side. Dad was pissed and I would be grounded for the next two weeks. Grounded? I was a senior in high school and it really was not my fault. Dad caught his own hell for that one. Thanks Mom. I did take good care of my ‘vette though. The car was washed regularly but rarely waxed. I was convinced by my father to just put a little oil in the water every now and then when I washed it. I think this was he way of saying: ‘Don’t use my Mother’s Gold on your car, ever’. Shhhh, I may have done that a time or two when he was at work.
We would go on to spend a good year and a half together. The final days came when I moved to Columbus to go to college. I arrived early to work with my uncle and get a little extra cash in my pocket. While attempting to follow his directions to a job site, this was pre-GPS days, I drove through a red light and was hit in the driver side door. Luckily this was low impact and everyone was just fine, except for the car. The door was pretty caved in. I would go on to inherit my late great grandfather’s Citation, which had very low miles considering the age. The age would prove to be the downfall but that is a story for a later time. Just put these two words to mind, float and carburetor.
The freedom that came with your first car is something that will always be there in the back of your mind. The ability to go anywhere instead of having someone else take you is liberating. Those were the days. We were young and not a care in the world.
(This was not exactly my car but similar. I am not even sure if I have any pictures of my first car since there were no such thing as digital cameras back then.)
Posted in Auto, The Other Side of Life | Tagged: Chevette, Chevy, First Car, Mother's Gold, Vette | 2 Comments »
Posted by Bill Prosperi on March 2, 2011
It is Saturday morning. I am the coach. I need to be at the field…… NOW! HA!! No worries, we just picked up this nice ’95 Renault Espace. Its a little old but it will do the trick. Luckily I was smarter than the average bear this time around and packed everything last night. It is an early game and all. Who schedules a game at noon on a Saturday? I just got to bed a few hours ago. Oh well. We throw the kids in their seats, strap them in, and off we go. We (I) could have planned better and woke up on time but what fun would that be? It would be very un-Prosperi like to be on time for something. The Espace quickly breezes through traffic and around all the slow lumbering ‘SUVs’ the other soccer moms are driving. We looked at the usual suspects for our new ride but I decided this was the one for us. Its French! What could ever go wrong?
So what makes this minivan so special? It is packing a World Champion Williams engine. (MORE POWER!) The same one used to power the Williams-Renault FW15-C to the Formula 1 title in 1993. This beast might not be a 4×4 like all the other soccer moms but are they packing an 800hp (upgraded from its original rating of 700hp), 3.5-litre, 40-valve Renault RS5 V10 engine? I think not! And the Smiths thought they were the cool ones with their Equinox SS.
We had thought about going with this one but thought that it might be a little too ‘loud’. Didn’t want to get the neighbors talking.
Guess who never misses a tee time?
Posted in Auto, The Other Side of Life | Tagged: Espace F1, F1, Renault, Scotch, Soccer, Soccer Moms, Williams-Renault | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Bill Prosperi on February 2, 2011
As a Mazda fanboy and a part-time redneck, I needed something to fulfill both sides of my heart. One fine summer day, I took a trip out to the Googles and found this awesome RX-7 over on some list by this guy named Craig. Cousin Earl had an extra lift kit from his failed attempt to raise his Wrangler tall enough to climb some rocks out in the dessert. I told him I had a plan and we would put it to use. I knew this would land me some hotties in no time.
We worked hard all summer long. That dude Craig and his list found us some big lights we could mount on top for whens we go ‘coon huntin. Them rascals ain’t going to out run us in this. Cousin Earl and me, well I ain’t one to brag, but we is the fastest mud boggers in the tri-county area. All them boys and their oversized trucks can’t touch our rotary goodness. I thinks they all are trying to compensate for something (if you know what I mean).
The cooler full of Iron City fits good in the back but now I just need to figure out how to mount the gun rack.
Posted in The Other Side of Life, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »