We recently had the great privilege of attending the Autoplex in Castlemaine for the public memorial celebrating Larry O’Toole.

It was special to hear Shane, Carmen, Lara and Al speak of their father, each bringing out good aspects of their father’s life, activity and character. You often learn about people in the story telling at a funeral or memorial. It might be some sort of unknown revelation or simply a reinforcement of something you already knew. His kids brought Larry honour, and all those present were better off for being there.

I too have been greatly blessed with a wonderful dad. Not a hot rod dad, but a great dad indeed. I’ve included a couple of pics of my dad; just about as optimistic and happy in 2022 as he was in his post-war surplus tank billy cart that he made in the late 1940’s.

Not everybody’s relationship with their father is ideal. For some, there’s way too much “I’m right and you’re wrong” in the words spoken. And yet at his best, a father will be your best friend, your biggest supporter, a wise old head and a proud parent.

Auto Recycling

We live in a time of disposable. Single use, then discard. Yet, there’s no doubt that hot rodders stand out making a great contribution in the world of recycling. When it comes to building a hot rod or custom, the rodder will go to extraordinary lengths to take the remnants of an old vehicle considered way beyond saving, then hang around early model swap meets and wreckers, looking to find parts that might fit or be able to be adapted to work in a new application. 

Car recycling really is putting an automotive jigsaw puzzle together. For a well-designed model car kit, it’s relatively straightforward to knife individual pieces from the tab and assemble away. You know that thought and design has gone into how each piece relates to the whole finished item. Yet a hotrodder’s re-imagining of a car is much more of a stretch.

I think this was one area where Larry O’Toole excelled. A lifetime of repurposing stuff was brought to bear as he played master puzzler. One thing that set Larry apart at this point was his ability as a communicator and his need to share his findings and discoveries. The Australian Street Rodding magazine served as a perfect vehicle for Larry to pass on tech-tips as he encouraged so many others into trying what he found rewarding. And if that person was from an even younger generation, then all the better!

A young person was relaying the joy of picking up a cheap 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle at an op-shop. They knew there was a risk that there may be only 998 pieces in the box. The thought of being one or two pieces short is enough to drive me mad. But she was comfortable enough that the vast majority was there, it was cheap, and she had hours and hours of puzzlin’ and reconstituting ahead of her. I guess it’s a great reminder that life is not perfect.

Far from perfect as we see the devastation of flooding, and Covid keeps hanging around long after it has outstayed its welcome. Struggle on…

I heard recently of an old workhorse, with over 700,000 kilometres on the clock, looking at a well-deserved retirement. Rego run out and the big rest…. but wait… the engine is still good! Rings, bearings and a little bottom end refresh, and a new lease of life powering a hot rod (and with a lighter body to haul around!).

There’s hope for the future. And for us, despite as feeling worn down and tired – we look forward to a new lease of life also. We know we are appreciated by our families and our hot rod buddies. And even though plenty of events have had to be cancelled and postponed, we do know that eventually we will be able to go to hot rod events again and enjoy them massively with a real appreciation for not just for the gatherings themselves, but also for the organizers and volunteers who have “stuck their necks out” on our behalf. Better days ahead!

I spoke recently with someone who was eagerly waiting for a feature on his hot rod to be in print in an upcoming Cruzin magazine – now that’s anticipation, and better days ahead.

Blessings as you navigate this fragile life.

Peter Miles
Chaplain, ASRF Victoria