inside a lot of engines. Ford, of course. Chevy. First engine I ever built was a Dodge Dart Slant Six. Indestructible little bastard, those were.
I have a lot of friends with a lot of cars that I’ve worked on over the years, too. My aging land rover. Partner’s Alfa. Shit, that Alfa, one winter we took it apart. I mean Apart. We held every part of that drivetrain in our grubby little hands. That is and was a fine engine, with a lot of very clever engineering, and damned if it wasn’t still being made right up to a little while back.
MG’s. VW’s. Porsches. Yesterday I helped a co worker pull a couple broken studs out of a Porsche 911 case, and it was not pretty- he ended up welding nuts onto the studs and working them slowly while I heated the area around the broken stud. You have to be extremely careful, because the wrong amount of heat in the wrong place can distort that casting. Still, he will be able to put in the new studs which will be installed properly, and this engine will run like a striped ape.
Eventually, if you do this stuff enough, it gets in your blood. I have plenty of days when I think, damn, wouldn’t it be nice to never have to wrench on a car again, to just do like most people do, and drive them, and pay someone else when they need fixing. But I can never walk past someone porting a head and not stand and watch, or help, if asked to do so. I have yanked broken studs out of Mazda exhaust manifolds (Common) more times than I care to recall, and changed the suspension on so many cars it’s not funny.
You get to know people, too. I have met some of the people on some of the teams, and even a few of the drivers; the good old days of drivers coming from among the ranks- especially in the top series- is over, but for a few flyers. That’s why I like the guys who race on mud and small local asphalt tracks. Most of them hammer their cars together all week long to be ready to race on sunday, and they know exactly what the car will do. That makes for a good show, in my book. And you know those gys have scabs on their knuckles under those nomex gloves. I love ’em all.