Sunday, January 8, 2012

George and I

Standing on the start line at Bonneville in 2009, my friends Bill, Tim and I spy a beautiful bright yellow roadster with a color-matched 30's pickup as a push truck.  "Hey, isn't that George's truck?"  Bill says to Tim.  Apparently, George, the owner of the truck also lives in Washington and my friends know the guy.  We make small talk while they set up to run, and George tells us where we can find 'em in the pits so we can meet up later.  It's obvious he's one of the friendliest guys you ever met, and he's crewing for the Flatliners, so I make a mental note of where they are 'cause I want to get a closer look at what they have under the hood of the roadster.

 George and the Flatliners, gettin' ready for a run...

While George and the Flatliners guys get down to business, Tim elbows me to get my attention, undoes a couple of snaps at the corner of George's tonneau cover and dumps the handful of crushed empty beer cans he's been carrying around for the last half of an hour into the bed of George's truck.  Tim grins, we stand back, and the start line officials wave 'em out on to the course.

Pushing in to a run, our beer cans in tow...
The next day, I go out and find George, Don and Skippy in the pits.  They're working on the roadster as they've been plagued with problems this time out.  The hood is off the car, and I find myself staring at one of the purdiest blown flathead setups I've ever seen.  We chat about the car for a bit, and George asks where in Washington it is that I'm from.  When he finds out I live in Puyallup, we discover we know a lot of the same people, and in fact, I have a bunch of pictures of his cars from local parties and shows. 

But that's only the beginning.  After a while, we put together that he lived in Santa Cruz when I was growing up there, had an auto shop across the street from the high school I went to with his two step-sons, and they were pretty tight with the two brothers that were in the band that used to invite me up on stage.  Small frickin' world, I thought.

Over that week, I hang out with these guys a bunch, and although the car is uncooperative, we had a great time.  Sadly, it's the last time the car ever runs as it finds a new home in a museum in the mid west, retired.

L to R: Don, Myself, George, and Skip's in the dirver's seat.

Somehow, I didn't run into George in 2010, on the salt or at any of the local shows, though we were both at most of the same events at the same time.  However, this year at Bonneville, I did run into him in the pits.  He was talking to Paul Heady, who was running '34 coupe in the Vintage Fuel Altered class, and for whom I had volunteered to lend a hand.  After a hearty handshake he asked what I was up to, and I replied, "oh, I'm helping Paul out on this neat ol' race car."  He says, "y'mean MY old race car?"  Apparently, George used to own the car that Paul was running, and sold it to him with the agreement that Paul had to keep it a racer and run it at Bonneville.  Yet again, another random connection.

By the way, Paul is the current Vintage Fuel Altered and Vintage Gas Altered record holder with that '34, but we were unfortunately unable to better his times this year.

Paul's '34 Coupe race car, (which used to be George's).
So that brings us up to a couple of weeks ago when I happen to find the brake drums I'm looking for on eBay.  Since wide five drums from '37 or later are getting kind of hard to find, I look at 'em pretty hard and they look like they're in good shape and are a great deal.  Plus, I've been looking for a pair for about a year and haven't been able to find 'em, not even at the Turlock swap meet, so I'm super interested.  I notice that they're located in Sequim, which is only about 2 hours away.  Even better.  I can just go pick 'em up rather than having to pay a bundle to have them sent.  Then it occurs to me...  "Wait a frickin' minute... Isn't Sequim where George lives?"  He and I had been emailing back and forth recently, so I shot him a note, and sure enough, he had posted them on eBay himself.

I made a trip out to Sequim a few Saturdays ago to pick up the drums and hang out with George for the day.  It was great to see him and check out his shop, as well as all of the things he was working on.  Here's some of the photos I shot out there:

 In the shop...

 The roof panel for this pickup doubles as a tonneau cover. Pretty slick...

 One of the man's friends showed up driving this great little pickup.

 George has had this 5-window since he was 18.

 "And here's the guest room.  Don't worry, we'll roll the Fiat outta there if you're ever going to stay over."  I told him I thought the wifey would prefer the car in the room.  She agreed.

Mr. George Antoline, in the green room...
Y'know, people keep saying that the hot rod hobby is getting too big, it's getting harder and harder to find "the good stuff" and everything's becoming too mainstream.  Most of the time, I'm inclined to agree, but  George kind of makes me wonder:  If I can keep running into the same dude in such random ways, is that really the case?

Thanks, George, for the brakes, as well as a great afternoon.  See you next time, planned or not!