Auto Service World
Feature   February 1, 2002   by Andrew Ross, Editor

Time for Action

Let’s face it, most of us could probably make a lot more money doing something else. The problem is, well, we seem to like cars and car people. Don’t try to deny it. Even those among you who didn’t start out as car buffs probably harbor some secret desire to own that certain car, some particularly powerful, nimble, or expensive piece of rolling art.

Some among you would have a piece of late ’60s or early ’70s Detroit iron as your halcyon ride; perhaps it’s a ’57 Chev that you hanker for.

As for me, I can’t decide whether I’d rather own a new Porsche or an old one. The conflict is killing me. It was, after all, the first car I ever rode in (I was a couple of days old).

There are actually lots of cars I love, but if I were to be totally honest, the ones I have the most affection for are seldom seen on public roads, save for a few special days a year. Those who know me best know that the automotive passion that I harbor is centered on motorsport.

I’m not sure when exactly it started, probably at the very beginning with the family Porsche 356. Or maybe it was the ride my father gave me around Mosport in his Formula Vee when I was just old enough to grab the steering wheel and the gear shift, but too short to reach the pedals. And, of course, I’d seen the CanAm cars and the big block sedans rumbling around Mosport, and St. Jovite, and, yes, Harewood.

What probably crystalized my image of “big time” racing, though, was the film “Le Mans,” Steve McQueen’s reaction to Grand Prix. I’ve since learned much about how that film came about–about how he was supposed to play James Garner’s role as Pete Aron, but had a falling out with the production staff etc. etc.–but back then I was just a kid fresh from playing on the monkey bars at the drive-in who saw racing from a whole new perspective. I was hooked on racing and on cars.

When I was growing up, it seemed, it was a common ground that was significantly more densely populated than it has been through much of the ’90s. Yes, there were enthusiasts, but too much of it was high-end, too little of it an all-consuming passion among young people.

Even those who liked cars liked their souped-up computers more. I guess it was inevitable that the fast-car subculture that had been bubbling just under the surface would once again need a kick in the pants from Hollywood to bring it to the fore.

What I’m referring to, of course, is the film “The Fast and the Furious,” which pits renegade subcompact racers against each other with cars aplenty and a plot that’s purely secondary. The cars are the stars.

For those of us in the business, none of the super-fast sport compact stuff is new. For millions and millions of kids it is. Like it or not, the automotive business can be a bit of a closed society, and it’s a welcome development that someone is out there popularizing it.

The windfall in interest for the performance industry has been significant, but it is at least as important for the entire aftermarket for young people to get excited about cars. I believe it will help bring people into the industry who might otherwise have gone elsewhere.

What you need to do as a jobber is to talk to these young kids and be positive about working in the industry. Try to get past any initial reluctance based on what passes for fashion–I’m sure we were all pretty scary-looking at some point–and talk to the bright, interested ones about making a career in this business.

It’s a good business, and they’re mostly good kids. They just have different ideas about what they want in cars and, frankly, different ideas are exactly what this business needs.


We have a lot on the go for March, too much to mention in fact. Stay tuned to in the meantime.

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