The Monterey Historics: Glorious Man, Glorious Machines

August, 1988.

That was the first and only time I had traveled up to Monterey for the annual historic auto races. My friend Chris and I had just graduated from high school down in Coronado, and we were car crazy.

For Chris, it was truly in his blood. His dad, a master mechanic and amateur racer in his younger days, had passed on those vroom-vroom genes to his son. When Chris found a great deal on a ’66 Mustang GT, it didn’t take long for him to convince me to get a classic as well. I had just crashed my first car, a 1980 Toyota Celica Supra, beige and automatic, that my parents had bought for me. The insurance money went to a ’65 Mustang, burgundy in color, with a standard 289 cubic inch V-8, and a 3-speed manual gearbox.

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I spent much of my free time working on the car, rebuilding the top-end of the engine, as well as replacing worn-out bits of the suspension. In fact, when we decided to take my car up for the races, I had the tremendously good idea to replace the front ball joints myself. One of them wouldn’t give, and after three long days struggling with it, drilling and sawing and fretting, and with our departure date looming, Chris’s dad drove down, jumped out of his truck, grabbed a hammer, whacked the stubborn remains of what was once a ball joint, and out popped the little bastard in under a minute. I understand he still has that little piece to this day, and takes great joy in recounting the story to anyone who will listen.

We were two broke kids without much of a plan. We slept in my car, later realizing after the fact that with the removal of a simple bolt, the front seats would recline, making things immensely more comfortable; and generally did the trip for very little money.

None of that mattered. We had a tremendously fantastic time. For Chris, who had grown up surrounded by racing, it was a pilgrimage to Mecca. For me, I was seeing cars I had never even dreamed of, as well as real-life versions of divine chariots that had graced the pages of my monthly bible, Road & Track. It was glorious.

On the way home, I got a ticket in Paso Robles.

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