D . I . COLUMNIST The Real Deal with Tommy D ' Aprile
For as long as I can remember I have been around hot rods or antique cars . I have a memory from when I was probably 5 years old playing outside when a 1930 Model A Ford with huge rear tires and a blown Chrysler Hemi sticking out of the hood showed up on a flatbed . My dad had found this car when it was being used as a hot rod police car .
I was so excited ! Those tires were bigger than me at that time . All I could think about was how cool and loud it was going to be . My hot rod suggestions were put aside , though , as my dad opted to put the car back to its original state . Somehow , a flathead four-cylinder didn ’ t excite me as much as that big old Hemi . Even at that early age , I had it in my blood .
Just writing these memories down gives me a rush of the excitement I had experienced . My dad was usually working on his projects in the garage after work and to this day I can still smell the mix of Bondo and paint supplies used back then .
As the years progressed , I found myself never letting go of the passion I had for cars – the louder the better . Anything that had an engine on it was cool to me . My bicycle had a fake engine on it , with cards stuck in the spokes that made for a cool sound . After bicycles were motocross bikes . I was riding every day after school until it got dark . I would have slept sitting on that bike if my parents let me .
Our motocross track closed , and shortly after I discovered drag racing . We did not have Jr . Dragsters at that time , so at the age of 14 I was in a 12-second Nova . Trying to stop a 4-wheel , drum-brake car at 115 mph after a quarter-mile pass was exciting to me .
I was fortunate enough to have parents that allowed and afforded me to race , and today I am the proud parent of four kids who race , continuing to pass down the passion of our sport .
When I see kids today racing and working on their cars , it brings a smile to my face . We didn ’ t have the smartphone distractions of today when I was a kid , so I was always outside or working with my hands . The amount of knowledge you can acquire by hands-on training is immense , and I encourage all our youngsters to not only drive their race cars , but understand them and work on them .
Most kids will say it ’ s not fun to work on the car , and my response would be that putting in the work helps you appreciate the ride that much more . They may not understand that now , but they will appreciate it later in life . My dad always helped me , but I had to put in the work as well and learn . If I didn ’ t , the car would stay home .
Bringing up some of my childhood memories was a great way for me to appreciate all that I have been taught , and now I can pass some of this knowledge on to my kids as well .
Responsibility in racing is key to success , and the sooner our younger generation learns this , the better off they will be . Racing is a privilege and no one has done it all on their own . Give credit where credit is due and try to always remember where you came from .
Young and old , remember this statement that was told to me by my mentor in Pro Mod , Quain Stott . He said , “ Remember all those people you are passing on the way up the ladder , because you will be passing them again on the way down .”
Teaching your kids humility can go a long way in protecting their character . Not just kids , but us adults should always be humble in victory and defeat . You know that you will always lose more than you win – that ’ s a fact .
Create memories your kids will cherish later in life and always be open to learn and teach . Young and old can learn from each other as long as your pride doesn ’ t get in the way . This will not only have an impact on you , but your kids as well . As always , the choice is yours to make . DI
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