The Daytona 500 was this past weekend, and America (and the world) can now look in the record books and see that 20-year-old Trevor Bayne has become the youngest winner in the history of the race. That’s right. The youngest winner, ever. To top it off, he did it in only his 2nd start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and in his first Daytona 500. In addition to that, the team he was driving for, the historic Wood Brothers Racing team, is now a small single-car underfunded operation that is just a shadow of it’s former glorious self. The last time they visited victory lane after the Daytona 500 was with David Pearson in 1976! Oddly enough, the paint scheme on Pearson’s ’76 Mercury Montego (which was an ugly car with a cool paint job) was identical to that on Bayne’s 2011 Ford Fusion. Bayne held off the best NASCAR stars in the industry to get the win, and as a Daytona 500 Champion his life will be forever changed. I’m jealous of him. Big time.
In the qwest to figure out what exactly it is that I want to do with my life I’ve always chosen the “safe” route. Instead of becoming an Air Force fighter pilot out of college as my instincts told me to do I decided to pay off my debts and take a nice, steady, and happiness killing desk job. More specifically, it was a happiness killing cubicle job. I’d like to say that the happiness killing was the fault of my employers, but the reality was that the problem was between my own two ears. For some reason I had decided that my value in life would be determined solely by what I did for a living. I’m in my mid-30′s now (dang-it) and I finally see that what I do for a living and my value in life are not mutually tied together. More specifically, I now see that if I’m taking my Christian faith seriously that if I really want to honor God in the best way I can that I need to use the interests, passions, and talents that He gave me. That’s really what led me to start The MuscleCar Place in the first place (read more about how to make a lining loving muscle cars here). I’m not saying at all that someone couldn’t be serving God with excellence while doing a desk job, but simply that I struggled to do it. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that in order for me to do what God really wants me to do that I have to become a race car driver. I know. Poor me.
So, now what? What type of racing should a 35-year-old white guy from Iowa with a wife, 3 kids under the age of 5, thinning hair, and a mortgage get into? Also, did I mention that I have driven one, count ‘em, one actual race car in my entire life? Well, ideally I really will be racing in the Daytona 500 some day, but the demands of that lifestyle are just not something I can (i.e. will) commit to right now. It’s more important to me to provide for my family first, fund their college plans, provide health insurance, go to ballet lessons, have friends, be in a good church, and on and on. I can do that as I continue to build The MuscleCar Place. The desire I have to race though remains. So, as I always seem to do, I’ve put together a long drawn out plan that will eventually lead me to the big leagues, and I’m going to start with what I’ve got in hand.
The beauty of having The MuscleCar Place is that I get to write and talk about the cars that I think are the coolest. That being said, wandering around all day at a car show and just talking cars with people gets old with me in a hurry, as sad as that is to say. I’m happiest when I’m behind the wheel of my Chevelle, driving fast, hopefully a little sideways, and not getting busted while doing it. Thus, my master plan is (drum-roll please) to compete in the PRO TOURING movement with my Chevelle. More specifically, I want to build that car into a holy terror and see if I can hang with the best of the best.
In the coming weeks I hope to have more details, but in working with Jeff Allison at Allison Customs I intend to turn my Chevelle into an LS-Powered monster with world-class suspension, brakes, wheels, tires, and even a good set of racing seats. Let’s throw in a roll cage for good measure as well. One little glitch that will come in is the fact that it will need an entirely new floor and trunk to become safe again (long story, but you’ll have to trust me), so the body will need to come off of the frame before we really get rolling. I don’t have all of the details put together quite yet, but I’d love to clone Detroit Speed’s ’65 Chevelle test car. If sponsorship lines up we should be able to have the Chevelle ready to race for the second half of 2011.
My plan is to hit every Good Guys show and Optima Invitational qualifier that I can. Unfortunately, time and money will dictate the direction of this build (doesn’t it always), so it’s likely that the first revision of my Chevelle will be able to clobber a new Camaro, but not a new Corvette Z06. Ah well, not to worry. I can always improve things in the future, right? I’ll take the Chevelle as far as I can. My only big requirement is that it still be able to hold a family of 5 and that it stays white with red interior. Other than that, it’s all fair game.
Here’s to chasing the dream. Stay tuned.