This weekend we are at the center of the antique and collector car universe with the huge Turkey Run at the speedway and the Birthplace of Speed events at Ormond Beach.
Automobiles from the earliest days to the present will be on display for all to see. Lots of fun to be sure and most of us will be able to find at least one car that will bring back a flood of memories. Let’s face it, America is the most automobile-oriented nation on the planet and it has been that way right from the beginning.
Most of us can remember our first car, or perhaps the one we had on our first date. Maybe it will be the vehicle in which we courted our spouse, but whatever your connection you could find that car here this weekend.
When I began to think of my own car memories, I had so many it took a while to sift through them. After all, I have been a “car guy” since long before I had a drivers' license. Much of my life has evolved around what type of wheels I owned.
One of my favorites is when I was a 20-year-old working in the Midwest. One day I found myself without a car or money. Not a good place to be. In those days if I wanted a date, I knew I had to have a ride. I went to a local junk yard and told the owner if he had a clunker I might fix, I would pay him for it on installments. He said no, but he had a 1953 Ford I could buy outright for 50 bucks. When I saw the little Ford, I loved it. The grass around it was four feet high, but I could tell that the car was solid without rust.
Somehow I managed to get the $50 and was able to talk the guy into giving me an old used battery. The car started right up and I took it home. It looked awful with terrible paint. I removed all of the chrome, filled the holes and, with a borrowed gun, painted the Ford a bright bird’s egg blue. (I didn’t want anyone to miss me as I cruised.)
As you might imagine with any 50-buck car, there had to be problems. This one had no piston rings and the engine blew black smoke as it burned oil. Back then stations sold oil in bulk for a dime a quart if you had your own container, and I had to have a couple gallons of oil to get through a day of driving. Still, I loved that Ford.
Soon I found myself spending a couple days in the little town of Algona, Iowa. At the local hamburger stand, my blue Ford caused quite a stir and caught the eye of a cute red head. Right away I asked her for a date for the following night and she said yes. Now understand it was not because of my charm. In that little farming town, a new fellow had an easy time of it just by being different. Not many newcomers there.
The next evening I filled the Ford with oil and pulled up in front of her house at the appointed time. While I was on her porch, another car pulled up and the guy driving yelled out the red head was his girl. We discussed that at length and finally the fellow says if you think that blue Ford is so hot, let’s race for the date.
Now I could see that his ride was a '50 Chevy and I knew that car would be powered by a six cylinder. (Chevrolet came out with their first V-8 in 1955.) No competition for my eight-cylinder Ford. The race was on. I told red to come ride in my car and off we went. Out on the highway I pulled way ahead and laid down so much smoke, the Chevy couldn’t see when I had made a turn. The red head was mine. Aah, what a memory. I hope you find yours this weekend.
Dan Smith is on the board of directors for the Ormond Beach Historical Society and The Motor Racing Heritage Association and is the author of two books, “The World’s Greatest Beach” and “I Swear the Snook Drowned.” Email questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (386) 441-7793.