Commentary: Being "Everywhere"

Photo by Randy Stern

"Hey, Randy, are you going to be at the Car Craft Summer Nationals?"

For the past month, this has been a common question amongst readers and other automotive enthusiasts locally. I am indeed flattered everyone thought of me when one of the biggest car culture events looms on our calendar.

To explain, the Car Craft Summer Nationals takes place at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul. The event runs from Friday, July 20th to Sunday, July 22nd. Sponsored by GM Performance Parts, it is part-car show, part-consumer version of SEMA and geared towards those of you who love to customize your automobile for performance and appropriate looks.

There is no brand or corporate discrimination at this event. I can guarantee you that it would most likely be more skewed towards the North American makes. Having never been to one of these events, I could be wrong.

Think of the Car Craft Summer Nationals as one of those events that take the concept of "carmmunity" to 11.

I get it, though. Even since I drove into that part of the pool, I began to absorb the idea of making a vehicle faster, more efficient, more attractive, better tuned for handling and so forth. It is part of what I do here (plus Lavender and other outlets my work ends up in). I am the unicorn listening to how a turbocharger should be installed and fed properly for a Mazda MZR engine – amongst other technical arguments being thrown around my atmosphere.

Again, as an old man – I am a student again. This is all catching up on thirty years of not caring about engine modifications, exhaust expansion and other crazy stuff that people do to their vehicles today. The latest craze is to put a cold air intake onto their engines to induce more efficiency towards better fuel economy. If you asked me about cold air intakes a few years ago, you would have gotten a "deer in the headlights" look. Today, I understand fully why someone would add that to his or her car to the point of even nodding affirmatively such modification if you choose to do so.

Admittedly, I am stuck on tire and suspension improvements. My bag is the search of better driving dynamics by improving the ride/handling mix. Tires have changed with the times. It is hard to keep up with the so-called "best" tire for which vehicle and application these days. It is no longer a matter of "look and feel" when it comes to tires. Growing up in California, I understood that tires have to do the job year-round. In Minnesota, one hopes for the best if a set of tires would make it through the winter.

Not to mention my frustration over how certain states and municipalities made it hard for suspensions to last through the warranty period. Part of this mix is to understand how an all-wheel-drive system works against a traditional four-wheel-drive set-up to deal with the increased snow and ice the Twin Cities will most likely get this coming winter.

When it comes to attending the Car Craft Summer Nationals, I would be more comfortable with my not-so-deep knowledge of vehicular customization. I would not look like a unicorn newbie with "deer in the headlights" looks when presented with the latest and greatest modification to any engine or a complicated piece of fiberglass made into a body kit.

However…to answer everyone's question…I will not be able to attend any of the Summer Nationals. It came down to a scheduling conflict based on a long-standing invitation. That weekend, I made a commitment to be in Rochester for a friend's BBQ and their Pride event.

I know – I am an automotive journalist, not a LGBT activist. Considering that some of my non-automotive photographic work appeared in the LGBT press recently, you might say I have become quite versatile in what I do.

Believe me, a huge event such as the Car Craft Summer Nationals is on my "to do" list. It brings in thousands of cars, many more people and a good variety of vendors and sponsors to the Fairgrounds in St. Paul. There is always next year.

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