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.