Saturday, May 31, 2008

What I Saw Today, Bonus Edition

My intent is to publish no more than one What I Saw Today per day.

However, while driving Casper and a Uhaul to my new place, I was travelling down A1A, which is beach side at this point, and over the top of one of the buildings, I saw this.

It was a team of the most expensive plumbers, not just in the world, but in the universe, headed off to fix the john.

I love the Birthplace of Speed already.

What I Saw Today

While I am waiting for my moving help to show up, I thought I would post What I Saw Today.

The condo complex I live in in Sl-Ocala is a quiet one with, mostly, older residents. This morning I went to take a quick dip in the pool as it is quite warm here today. On my way to the pool I saw this car. I have never seen it in this complex. It wasn't there yesterday. I have no idea how it got there but it obviously was not driven. Used to be a nice car.

The guy in the photo knew nothing about it either. Yes, that is Casper in the foreground and background.

And that is What I Saw Today.

Remembering Birthday Cards from Granny and Man

Remember when we were kids and got birthday cards with coins taped to them from our grandparents?

Well, my Mom passed recently and my brother Tom has been administrating her estate liquidation.

One of the things he did was cancel her magazine subscriptions. My idiot sister Jane thought this was a high priority, after all, Newsweek only prints so many copies.

So the estate got a refund from Newsweek and Tom split it ten ways and sent me my share.

Three dimes taped to an index card.

I love Tom's sense of humor.

Friday, May 30, 2008

What I Saw Today

One of the blogs I frequent, Jalopnik, periodically posts, what they call, DOTS, Down on the Street. It is a set of photos about unique cars seen down on the street.

I thought I would do one called, What I Saw Today. I am not sure what the subject line will be but today's post is a cool old motorhome I saw in Daytona Beach. It is a Balboa, based on an old Dodge A100, ahhh more numbers to consider!

I showed these photos to my nephew, James, and he said he sees that every day on his way to school and never knew what it was.

Hope you enjoy the series.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Day on the Farm

As I mentioned, I am moving to the Birthplace of Speed this weekend. Today a drove a load my junk over to put into a storage unit for a month or so while I sort through what to keep and what to get rid of.

As I was driving, I got to thinking about this blog and where I want it to go. Ed doesn't want me to use swear words, even like this, sh**, so to keep him off my back, I will try to refrain from their use. Well, I came up with no answer to where this blog is going, so I got to thinking about my posts, thus far.

With the exception of the one where I figured out how to blog, all of them have been about cars. Is this the direction I want this blog to go? I don't know, we just have to keep looking at the numbers and see which way to go.

Since I didn't want to do another post on cars, I thought I would post this one about a tractor and a truck.

In the early 70's, my family had gone through a pretty terrifying ordeal and my Dad

decided we needed a big shakeup in our lives to get away from those memories. My Dad was the editor of a Roman Catholic newspaper for the Diocese that covers the bottom third of the State of Missouri. He travelled alot and sometimes we got lucky enough to go with him. Mom complained about us missing school and his response was "Never let schoolwork get in the way of education". A motto I agreed with then, and still do. But, I digress.

His recently transferred boss had offered him the same job in the Kansas City, Kansas diocese. My Dad went to his new boss and struck up a conversation about the possibility of this move. The Bishop asked Dad, "What do you really want to do?" My Dad responded, "I want to buy a farm." The Bishop picks up a Sales Contract off his desk for a 173 farm the diocese was selling in Halltown, Missouri. "How about this?"

We moved to Halltown within a month.

Now when I say we, of the ten kids in my family, the three oldest boys, Bob, Jim and Tom, were already off saving the good ole USA, Mary the oldest of my 3 older sisters moved out there but as she was a senior, she continued to commute to St. Agnes with my Dad until she graduated. She promptly moved back to Springfield. That left Mom, Dad, Carol, Jane, and the four little kids, me, Ed, Ellen and Joan.

So here we are, a bunch of city kids moving to a farm with none of us, including my Dad, having any rural experience, ever. My Dad did work in a chicken processing plant as a kid so maybe that counts.

It was like freaking Green Acres,

all the way down to the tractor wheel falling off. You were wondering where the tractor was, weren't you?

Dad found an old IH Farmall C, Tricycle front

somewhere and drug it home. It seems we Lee Boys have a penchant for that. It worked off and on, went through several starters, but it did have a glass fuel filter which I always thought was cool as could be.

One day while Dad was out mowing in the Settler's field, all the fields had names--Front, Side, no back though, Dad's--the largest, and, among others, this one, so named as it had an old farmhouse which we presumed belonged to the Settler's of the farm.....God, I digress, thankfully I have not yet had that cocktail....SO....

Dad is mowing this field and the left rear axle housing breaks and the wheel falls off the tractor. As anyone who is intelligent enough to be here knows, if you take a wheel off a tricyle, a fairly catrostrophic occurence, well, occurs. The left side of the tractor falls to the ground and Dad, while I did not see this, must have jumped clear of that or held on tight for the ride. I am his age right now when that happened to him. It is a pretty scary thought.

So I know it must have been the summer or fall, since Dad was mowing. He finally found a used axle housing at some tractor junkyard somewhere in his travels and, yes, drug it home. Now this old tractor was something like a 1954 or so, and back then, they used real American Iron.....RRRRR....think Tim Allen here...I mean to a couple kids, Ed and me, it weighed a ton.

When Dad finally brought this home, the season's had changed and it was now fall.

So much for the background, now for the story.

One miserable, cold, drizzly, nasty, windy, overcast Saturday, Dad decided Ed, I and Dad were going to fix that tractor. Now, the Settler's field was the absolute farthest field from the house and barn and that tractor was stranded in the farthest corner of that field. So Dad, Ed, and I loaded up the old Dodge Pickup, similar to the one shown here

but ours was white with painted bumpers, absolutely no frills. 3/4 ton, 6 cylinder, radio delete, no air, four on the floor. It was a beast. So we load that truck up with everything we think we will need to perform said repairs. Well, of course, we didn't have everything and I think Ed or I or the both of us must of made 5 different trips to the shed to get more tools.

We finally got the tractor jacked up from the ground, got the old axle housing off and the new one installed. The only task remaining was to slide the axle into the big assed gear (pinion?)inside of the casting of the tractor. No real rearend as cars have, the entire inside of this tractor was filled with gears and, of course, gear oil. So we had removed the PTO (power take off) from the rear of this tractor to access this pinion gear to hold it in place.

So, here it is on the cold, windy, dreary, drizzly, overcast day, 6 or 7 hours into this project in a remote field in Southwest Missouri. We are miserable. Did I mention it was nasty out?

I, being the full fledged boy I am, have my whole arm inside the back of this tractor, immersed in cold gear oil, trying to hold this pinion gear, which probably weighed more than I did and it was at the absolute extent of my reach, if I had one leg off the ground, while Ed and Dad tried to turn the axle itself to slide in that gear.

After probably 50 unsuccessful attempts, my pissed off Dad told Ed to go get Carol and Jane while bitching about premadonnas, warm house, TV, working our butts off while they pampered get the idea, typical Bob Sr. rants. So Ed went up and got the girls and returned, why I don't know.

So now, instead of 3 miserable, wet people, there are now 5 of us miserable, wet people.

So Dad, Ed and I went back to it, me with my arm in the cold gear oil, trying unsuccessfully to hold that gear in place while Ed and Dad are trying to slide that axle in, with those two girls standing in the drizzle, all bundled up watching us.

Finally one of them, and I wish I could remember, but I know who'll take credit, said to Dad, "Why doesn't John take that big metal rod and put it in the tractor to hold that gear in place."

Anyone ever heard of leverage?

So, I picked up that bar, slide it into that tractor and held that gear in place while and Ed and Dad successfully slide that axle into that pinion gear, the first time.

Thank God for those girls.

My Dad was pissed. The girls were smart though. They jumped in that truck and blasted away, full speed ahead, with mud flying.

I have told this story several times and the response has been either, "How sad your dad reacted this way"--Laurent's parents, or "You should always listen to a woman"--everybody else.

While I didn't then, or now, fault Dad for his reactions, he was, afterall, a human being. I prefer to alway listen to a woman. Life seems to be easier that way.

And that is the story of the wheel falling off the tractor.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More Rolex 24 Memories

My brother, Ed, called me earlier and told me, "Quite a blog you got going there. Congratulations." I told him he only liked it because he is mentioned so often. We had a chuckle about that. He told me I should post about the trip his son James and I took to the pits at this year's Rolex24Hours at DIS. So here is that story.

A little background. The Rolex 24 Hours has been running at DIS for something like 43 years. It started out as a 12 hour race but expanded to 24 hours a few years later. The race, literally, runs nonstop from 1pm on saturday to 1pm on Sunday. Most teams have 4 drivers, but some have more or less. For the remainder of the races in the season, most teams have just 2 regular drivers. For the 24 hours race, drivers from almost all of the other racing series join these teams. In the past, Max Papis, Dale Earnhardt Sr and Jr, Jimmy Johnson, Kasey Kane, Juan Pablo Montoya and many others have raced in this race. It is pretty cool to see them all.

The race is run on the entire NASCAR track at DIS plus an infield road course. In all, I think there are something like 75-80 cars in this race in two classes. The Daytona Prototype (DP) and GT class. The DP's are one off, they all have the same body style but chassis and motors are up to the owners. Supposed to save bucks this way. The GT class consists of Porsche 911's, Vipers, Ferraris, Corvettes, and Mustangs and more. The two classes race at different speeds, with the GT's being slower. As a result, when a DP approaches a GT car, the GT must move over and let the DP by. You think, "This is not a big deal." Until I point out that oftentimes, two GT cars are battling for position when the DP shows up. The trick for the lead GT driver is to let the DP car by but not his opponent, the GT. It is a blast to watch and observe different tactics, at least for us. There are actually three winners in this race, Class winner in DP, Class Winner in GT, Overall winner. Each driver with the winning teams gets a Rolex watch.

For the many years, a friend of ours has had a concession at DIS and during Speedweeks, the Rolex24, Daytona 500, the Brumos 250 and the (former) Pepsi 400, Ed and I become his employees and we enjoy passes that allow us everywhere, except the grandstands, we are there to work, afterall. Our buddy brings his motorhome out and we camp out in the infield with several hundred other motorhomes. Ed and I are the camp stewards. I am the chef and Ed is in charge of basic camp duties, get the generator going, set up and take down chairs, police the campsite, well you get the idea. Our buddy never stays overnite. He lives in Ormond Beach and, I think, enjoys the party more than the race.

Ed, James, and I have been going to this race for quite a few years,

but this is the first year Mom let James stay overnite. At 15, I would say about right.

At some point, the three of us, along with a buddy of James, camping with his dad in tent city, went to the pits but with only three passes.

Along the way, we saw this Kodak DP spun out in the hairpin, yes the same hairpin where Ed got that tire a few years ago.

In the pits and garage area, we saw some pretty cool, and some not so cool, stuff, such as this not so cool DP

So sad, I hate to see this as this means less entertainment on the track. Unlike some forms of circle track racing, wrecks are not cool, just expensive. With reference to the crowds at the 24, think Maserati Quatrorosport vs. Ford Taurus.

This was the pit stall for the #60 car, forgot what it is. Check out those computers. And to think, I am just learning how to blog. Sorry about your luck.

I was going to tag this going but you can see what it is. Brumos is a high end sports car chain based in Jacksonville. Sadly, this was the first year in many Bob Snodgrass was not there. He passed in 2007.

If you look closely in this photo, you can see Ed telling the mechanics how to change a radiator in this Porsche. No, not all Porsches are air cooled.

At one point, Ed and I appropriated seats on a cart while James and his buddy went into the pits. James had Ed's pass while his buddy had a spare. A few minutes later, they returned looking down in the dumps. I asked why back so soon. James related, to us sitting right there in that picture, upon passing through the second security station, they got stopped. The security dude asked James' name, and James said, "James Lee" while wearing Ed's pass. Needless to say, Ed and I burst out laughing. Ed, to his credit, described the protocol for using fake passes, but did add that if James ever did that to get booze, the sh** would hit the fan.

But that is not the story this post is about.

As I mentioned, this was James' first time to stay overnite.

The three of us are sitting in the motorhome, about 12:30 that night, watching the race out the windows

and watching it on SpeedTV. James looks over at me and says, I swear, "John-John, this is surreal". I was floored. I was watching this boy become a man and he described the moment perfectly.

Of course, in this deep moment of mature reflection, I said, "Let's go to the pits".

And James and I did. Ed was to pooped from bossing around those Porsche mechanics earlier in the day, and decided to stay home with his friend Bud, under the Lite.

So James and I set off. On the way, at the hairpin, we saw Chip Ganassi's 02 car spun and being recovered. Guess we should stay away from the hairpin.

We got to see this Kodak car get a 20 minute brake job, rotors included, and yes, we saw this car come into the garage area, stayed for the whole show, and watched it leave.

Shortly after this picture was taken, we walked down a few pit stalls and came across a guy, in the lower left of the following photo, working on a couple sets of tires. I asked him if they were heading to the truck, meaning wrecked out or terminal mechanical failure. He replied, no, the previous tenants of this stall were already in the truck. He worked for Mazda, the next booth over.

I told James to head into that booth and we kept talking to the Mazda dude. Well, he took off his headset and put them on James' head, saying, "Don't touch anything". I was floored and James didn't know what to do. Unbeknownst to me, while James had that headset on, the Master of Operations came on the radio and said, "Next time around bring it in and we'll take four tires and a change of drivers". Once the tire dude saw all the activity in the pits, he snagged that headset and got to work, doubletime. James looks at me and tells me this. I was so excited for him. I suggested James go up by the pit wall and hang out. You can see him in the same pic sitting in the corner, but definitely not in trouble.

Needless to say, we stuck around for that pit stop, and took pictures.

Check out James' sh** eating grin...

and mine, too.

One of the best parts of this tale is this Mazda won First in Class.

Now for the best part.

As we are walking back to the motorhome, James tells me, "Ya know John-John, I knew at the same time as everyone on that team they were going to come in." I didn't say anything and we continued to walk along. James then gave me this biggest compliment I have received in some time. He said, "John-John, every time we hang out we always do something fun."

Wait until the Amelia Island Concours de Elegance next month.

But that is another post.

At Bob and Deb's in the Rain

My older brother Jim published this photo of me on the bus the other day and it reminded me of the weekend it was taken. My brother Ed
and I had the honor of receiving an invitation to visit my brother Bob
and his wonderful wife Debra
for the rare 4th of July when Ed's family went to the Ozarks and Ed stayed home. Of course, getting an invitation to go play at Bob's house is better than a visit to the Queen. We both joyfully accepted, knowing Bob will have a project for us to do. Such as build this bar
or this waterfall by the pool (cost me a big toe nail)

Well let's see, July 4th, in Florida, of course it is going to rain!! It was too wet for any projects so the three of us did the next best thing, we started drinking. Ed and Bob are both confirmed beer drinkers while I prefer the stuff in the blue bottle in Bob's picture.

At Bob's you are always outside by the pool and bar. He even has a flat screen TV out there, along with all the other cool stuff you see in these photos. The really fun part is he makes us pay for our drinks, with money he provides us and keeps in an old cigar box behind the bar!!

Anyway, the three of us sitting outside in the rain, in Bob Lee provided raincoats and getting schnockered and solving the world's problems.

Ed commented that he was having a blast even though the only part of him that was dry was his crotch.

Bob promptly reached over the bar and poured a beer right in Ed's crotch.

Ed's Beer.

Ed and Bob love to tell that story and I have heard them relate many times.

Nope, it's not a fordor

Well, as I mentioned, I am relocating from Sl-Ocala, Florida to the Daytona Beach area. While loading some stuff on Casper, yesterday, I was putting the doors for my brother Jim's old Cushman Truckster in the truck. This is the effect the placement of the doors had.

Yep...I am that much of a car fanatic. I'll take a picture of most anything.

Now, the story of why I have a pair of doors from an old Cushman Truckster my brother, 1200 miles away, used to own. This is it.

Jim found these doors on e-bay and they were located in Ormond Beach, home of my brother Ed and his family, and soon, me. Anyway, he called me and asked me to go over and buy them. So, I did. Got them for $100, tried to get Ed

to store them. No luck, his wife would kill him for dragging more stuff home

so I drug them home. When I go up for my Mom's internment this summer, I will bring them up. Tried to get Ed to tie them to the top of his Expedition for that trip but don't see that happening. Guess I'll drop the back seats of the 850 and have my own truckster, if just for that trip.

The table in the Casper shot, to the left of the doors, is going to my brother Tom, sometime in June when I meet him in Destin.

That's it. I have got to get back to packing.

Rolex 24 Memories

My brother, Ed, emailed me the above photos, the top two of which are from this year's Speedweeks in Daytona Beach. For those of you who are not aware of what "Speedweeks" is, or is that are?

In early February, the auto racing season gets underway. For two or three weeks in Daytona Beach, at the Daytona International Speedway, henceforth DIS, racing in one form or the other is happening on the track. It could be either sports cars, NASCARs, motorcycles, NASCAR Truck Series or any type of feeder spec races. It is an exciting time, if you like autosports. It is during this time the Rolex 24 Hours race is run, which I love. As well as the Bud Shootout and the Daytona 500.

The third photo, of the wheel and tire, well here is that story.

A couple years ago, the second year after the introduction of the Daytona Prototype, henceforth DP, Ed, James

and I were walking back to the motorhome from the pits. It was after dark, probably about 8 or 9 o'clock. Earlier in the race, the Suntrust DP and a Porsche 911 had had an incident in the hairpin turn which took out the Wayne Tayler's Suntrust sad..

Anyway, wait, I should preface this with a little history.

For a long time, I have always had a tendency of wearing Polo Oxfords, Khaki's and loafers. I don't know why but I do. Ed, on the other hand always wears Levis, Golf Shirts and sneakers. I don't know why but he does.

On this occasion, we were wearing our typical attire, but as it was chilly, yes in February in Florida it is chilly, maybe 60 degrees, Ed was wearing a Goodyear windbreaker and a Goodyear cap, as he works for Goodyear, it was a cheap wardrobe. Again, I digress.

Ed, James and I were walking back from the pits. We get near the hairpin and Ed sees the above pictured tire lying on the grass. Now at DIS, on the road course, there is a 6' chain link fence keeping us away from the race cars and a guardrail keeping the race cars away from us. This tire is in the grass on the other side of the guardrail. Ed says to me, "I am going to get that tire". Now I was tired and a bit cranky. I told him he was out of his mind. There is security and all, you will never get that tire. Well, of course, that set him off. James and I kept walking while Ed

Walked right by the security and up to the tire, picked it up and walked back. Now this is not just a few feet, but probably 20 yards or so. As Ed was walking back by security, he mutters, "Sucks to be the low man on the totem pole." Security laughs and says, "Yeah, it does."

James thought his old man could do nothing wrong and that tire and wheel is now garage art at Ed's place and will, forever, have a place in the 24 hour race memories of James, Ed, and me, and now, you.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

More Stuff I Like

While I am waiting for the fries to cook in the oven and the grill to warm up to cook that steak, I thought I would try to post more stuff I like. Let's see if it works.
driving the old van with a shirt and tie on.

think car seats will fit in this longroof?

I love this longroof.

Only one, Privately built, of these was ever built. At least in the civilian version.

Ketel One, Rocks

Gotta love him smoking in this ad.

Yet another Cool VW ad.

Citroen DS21 grill. Would love this in my home.

Just a cool old truck

Would love to see one of these in person.

Saw these on several blogs. Apparently, all the rage in Japan these days.

my brother Tom used to have a 65 just like this. Forest Green

My brother Jim's current bus and grandson.