Muscle Cars

Car Talk: Back to Basics

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By Mark Weisseg

This term is used all the time in business. I was part of the working class for decades and when things got a bit out of control or there was a slide in profits some pointy head from headquarters always came down to us and said those famous words.

So, in the car and truck hobby we have seen amazing advances in nearly everything. When you sit back and think about what has transpired in such a very short time you gotta believe we are just starting to get better. I find it ironic that when automobiles were first produced, steam and electric cars outsold the gasoline cars. The gas car opponents screamed in the press that these machines were unsafe, will blow up, and will kill you. The steam powered cars had no transmission back when they were built. Yes, you needed a lot of water and it took time to build up pressure to operate, but the steam vehicles worked well. Same as the electric cars. I don’t know if you ever heard of the Baker automobile but that was an electric vehicle. It was quiet, pretty fast for its day and obviously had no emissions. Now, you can argue it takes a coal plant to produce the electricity and you would be right. We could argue or debate that for eternity. My point is not to take sides but just remind everyone we are doing a full circle again. We will not see steam powered cars but hydrogen and Electric cars are out there as are hybrid vehicles. All have great advantages.

Now, we may have some purists that believe we cannot hold true to our hobby unless we have big gas engines and I say that is wrong. Let me remind you all of a story I wrote about once before. It might help you understand.

A few years ago my brother and I were in Las Vegas having the time of our lives. We are both big time gear heads and he is the guy that restores my classic cars for me. Well, We were in the mood to do some go cart racing so we went over to a place called Pole position. When we arrived we discovered all the carts were electric and we were very disappointed. We wanted very fast carts so we could race like wild animals out there and nearly kill each other. Well, we were there so we signed up for a three race package, signed the release forms and put our helmets on. Seemed dumb as we raced for years without release forms and helmets but we live in an age of circling lawyers.

So, we finally strap on and a bunch of us go off in a group. We are crawling about five miles an hour and I am getting my blood pressure up because this was not a cheap date. Finally once everyone was on the track they flipped the go button and off we went like a bat out of hell. Twists, turns, straightaways and so on. We were going so fast down the long straightaways that our eyes would water. These carts were unbelievably fast. Tight turns, remember no bumping. And so on. But, when we finished our first race they dragged all of us in for a short break. Everyone was out of breath and talking a mile a minute how much fun it was. Well, we did two more races that day and had so much fun we forgot that there was not a horizontal shaft five horsepower engine strapped behind us like in the past. Needless to say we have been back to Vegas every year and every year we go cart racing at this place and never leave unhappy.

So, back to basics is kind of funny because I have some very fast cars at home and at one point a few years ago I owned and drove a pick up truck just like the one in the picture. It was slow, smokey, hard to steer and stop, yet I loved everything about it. So, even this hardened old gasoline gear head that was raised on octane must keep an open mind. We do, and yes we hope the future is bright with all kinds of options for all of us.

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