Todd likes cars and trains and boats and machines and, well, pretty much anything with an engine in it, an affliction I can only attribute to his Y chromosome. The primary symptom of this affliction is that he likes going to car shows, and, even worse, he likes to take me with him. I don’t really mind, and sometimes I find it briefly interesting, but most of the time I am bored out of my mind within ten minutes. If we were attending a seminar on how the internal combustion engine works, I would, believe it or not, be all sorts of into that. I was on the physics team in high school. No joke. Our t-shirt was a parody of the wrestling team’s and had a beefy weight lifter on it and said “1,000 N Club.” (This is funny because 1,000 newtons is roughly 222 pounds of force, not that any of us could lift that, either.) I like knowing how things work. But just walking around a showroom in a convention center looking at one car or truck or van after another? Not interesting. I am a firm believer that a motor vehicle’ sole purpose is to get you from point A to point B safely and faster than, say, walking. If it doesn’t wreck the environment, that’s cool, too. So I could care less that this one has a Blue Ray player in it and that one has cup holders that keep your drink cold and that one over there comes with an optional pinstripe along the side. A PINSTRIPE?! Someone explain to be why you have to pay extra for a freaking pinstripe.
However, the Steeltown Shakedown is not your average car show. It’s held at the drive-in movie theater near our apartment and focuses on hot rods, rat rods, and classic cars. It has a flame-throwing contest, a pinup contest, and live psychobilly music, among other things. That’s my kind of car show, yessiree.
We took Todd’s 1960 Oshkosh WT-2206, a huge yellow beast of a snow plow from which you can actually see over the tops of buses and 18-wheelers. The thing is terrifying, let me tell you. Driving it down the interstate isn’t bad, because you have lots of room and it can only go about 45 miles an hour. The scary part is driving it down the tiny, curvy, hilly Pennsylvania back roads. You can actually see the look of fear in motorists’ eyes when you’re coming at them. They usually tell you where to park at car shows, but when Todd and I pulled up, the guy laughed in disbelief and said, “I guess you can park wherever the fuck you want.”
I neglected to take a picture of it at the show, but here’s a picture from this winter. To give you an idea of scale, my head comes up to just a few inches above the bottom of the door. Oh, and I’m six feet tall.
People routinely take pictures of their children being dwarfed by the tires, since they’re almost five feet tall.
But back to the car show. For your enjoyment and general edification, here are some themes I noticed:
The Steeltown Shakedown goes down in history as the only car show that I, a person who could care less about cars, actually enjoyed. Why? The detail, the history, the eccentricity, the haphazard artfulness of the built-from-the-ground-up rat rods. That’s something I can appreciate and really get in to: someone actually building their own car from scratch. So much more interesting than a swanky, mass-produced Jaguar spinning on a dais in an air-conditioned show room. I’ll take a rusted, painstakingly built Frankenstein car with a beer pull for a gear shift over that any day of the week.