October 5, 2023
I wrote in my last post about the passion our technical experts feel for the gear trade. Passion, in my opinion, is an underappreciated factor in a successful career, no matter what the field. Unfortunately, the same passion that drives a career can upset the work/home balance that we’re told is the key to a happy life. I say this as a guy who once worked on CAD drawings under a beach umbrella while supposedly watching my kids swim in the Atlantic Ocean. Few people are blessed to find their passion in their vocation. Sometimes I have been surprised that people with what I thought were dream jobs really would rather have been doing something else. A few years ago, a friend and I went to visit a legendary race car builder. His health had been poor and the family thought he might be cheered by a visit to his shop following a month of convalescing at home. I had not seen his place before and was in awe of the cars awaiting restoration by this master in metal forming. Four cam Ford V-8s, turbo Offies, Halibrand transaxles, and Lotuses were stacked up around the place like so many old cars waiting to have a fender pounded out. We got the tour and took him to lunch expecting to chat about what we saw. The legend wanted to talk about the train layout he was building in his basement. It was a magnificent layout, I’ll give you that. An homage to the Chicago area train stations of his youth, built to a level of accuracy you might expect from a world class race car builder. But it was a bit sad too because if you listened to how long it had taken to get to that point in the project and then looked at the frail artist responsible for it, you could tell the vision was not going to be completed. A few months later the legend passed away. Look, none of us is getting out of this life alive. My legendary friend had wonderful stories to tell of racing around the world, yet I know he had regrets about that train layout. I’d rather die with a bunch of unfinished projects than to have never cared enough to start them. My passion for the gear trade remains strong, but I also love race cars, writing, and history. Trains, motorcycles, and firearms aren’t things that trip my trigger, but I can understand if they work for you. Just remember no one makes a clean getaway.