Once upon a time, my friend Kamil Kaluski, a true gearhead, found himself staring down the barrel of fatherhood. He was living and working in downtown Boston and, without a proper house, garage, and three never-ending projects, he created a website as an outlet for his automotive passion. That website was called CarGuyDad. He’s since moved on to help run Hooniverse, but the term “Car Guy Dad” has always resonated with me.
A little over a month ago, I found out I’m going to be a father.
First time. It’s both thrilling and terrifying; like firing up a new engine for the first time. All the hard work and preparation (or lack thereof) comes together in an instant. The key is turned, the engine roars to life, and a new chapter in a gearhead’s life begins.
Then Post-Installation Paranoia (PIP) sets in. Every momentary catch in the idle, every random, fleeting odor from the engine bay, every almost silent rattle or hum is a reminder that we are not perfect. Everything can come crashing down around us in an instant. Those first days with the new engine are full of self-doubt and an overactive imagination, but with each passing day, our confidence returns.
Reflecting on car guy dads past.
I think back to all the gearhead buddies I’ve had who had children and how everything suddenly changed for them. Naturally, raising a child is a top priority; it’s in our genes to care for our offspring, but it’s widely accepted as being incredibly expensive, too. It’s probably a good thing I never bothered to keep track of how many project cars I’ve seen sold to make room for baby over the years.
I’m reminded of my buddy Aaron in Indiana. He lives maybe four hours’ drive from the DSM/EVO Shootout, yet I’ve not seen him there in the six years or so since he had his first child. It’s a single tank of fuel and one (free) night in a hotel to hang out with friends, but it’s no longer a priority for him. He still has his car and it still looks pretty awesome (see above), but I don’t think he’s done much since the kid was born.
It’s not always like this, though, as embodied by my friend, nay – brother – Dino down in Houston. In 2011, we went to the DSM/EVO Shootout and so did Dino – with his wife and 11-month-old son, “Li’l D.” He may have left his DSM back home in Texas (in the middle of some no doubt diabolical project of some sort), but he loaded up the entire family in the TDI and made the drive to be there. Clearly proof that having a child doesn’t necessarily mean our gearhead days are over.
Still, I’m a little worried.
You see the picture above? The one with the black and white, JSB Galant VR4, would-be race/rally car? I just took that picture. This is as far as I’ve managed to get with my biggest automotive project (not counting this site, Gearheads-United, and/or Penmanshift), since 2007. I bought that car in 2004 for the express purpose of turning it into a rally car. Eight years later, this is as far as I’ve gotten with it.
And this has all been when I’ve had the time and money (if it’s important, you find a way to make it happen) to play with cars. Right now, I don’t even have an engine I can install in this thing to be able to move it around under its own power. And I’m going to make it happen after having a baby? I’m already thinking about selling it. Ugh.
Which brings me back to Kamil, Mr. Hooniverse Car Guy Dad.
I always thought he had a really sharp angle with that site. I don’t think GBXM needs to turn into a site just for gearhead dads, but I would sure like to hear from the gearhead fathers out there. I wonder how I’m going to manage to complete my automotive projects after baby arrives, how gearhead life changes in general, and what I haven’t even thought about yet (but should).
I’d like to thank Kamil for reminding me that being a car guy dad might bring special challenges, but also special rewards. Maybe I’ll get my race car finished. Maybe I’ll scuttle the project in order to spend more time (money) getting to know gearheads doing awesome stuff all over the world. Maybe the best is yet to come and I can’t even begin to appreciate it until I hold my own child for the first time.
Dedicated to Dino, Julie, Li’l D, and baby Evelyn, born 16 April 2012.
Congratulations to all of you. Thank you for being such exceptional friends. Here’s to the road ahead being more than any of us ever hoped for.