Friday, July 19, 2013

Off To The Races

When I was about five years old my Dad's VW Bug's engine died and my life changed forever.  You see my Dad decided that he was going to learn how to rebuild the engine himself.  This led him to working one night a week, after his full-time job, at Ozzie's Automotive.  At Ozzie's he would shed his coat and tie for a jumpsuit, and clean parts and help put together engines, including his own VW's engine.  This experience, and reading about a German racing parts company, inspired him to start a small business called Power Haus Products. With the help of a friend, who happened to be a famous WWII test pilot (in Germany), he made a deal with Oettinger Okrasa to be the sole American importer of their Porsche and VW racing parts.  For the next eleven years I helped my Dad ship and sell crankshafts and pistons to engine builders across the U.S. and Mexico. 

By the time I was seven or so we were regularly attending midget class races at the half-mile dirt track at Ascot Park in Gardena, CA.  This included the Turkey Night Grand Prix held every Thanksgiving evening, which I must have attended at least seven or eight times.  We also attended drag races, speedway motorcycle races, Formula Atlantic, Formula One races and Indy car races.  I was very familiar and fond of the smell of burned methanol and motor oil.  I also spent a lot of time in the garage handing my Dad wrenches and cleaning parts in solvent. 

I lament that for the last couple of years I have not been able to make cars as much of a part of my kids' life as it was for me. But there are some bright spots.  There is a Friday Night car show not that far from where we live, which since Lukas was a little guy we check out a couple of times a year.  We have also attended Monster Truck "races", which is technically a motor sport.  This year I was able step it up.  I took the boys to their first dirt track race and drag race. 
Yes, drag races can be very loud

Tennis balls in the intakes and cans on the exhaust
At their first dirt track races (in between potty run #4)
Lukas is nowhere near where I was at 9 in understanding cars, but it's a start!  I hope they all develop some appreciation for motor sports.

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