Ok, so sometimes it really IS the little things that mean the most.
I had to move away from my teenage girls who are still back in Indianapolis. I’m out here in Utah, so I don’t get to see them very much. They are teenagers and are developing their own lives in high school and college. Their lives are busy, they have a new step-dad – and I’d pretty much resigned myself to a card, maybe some socks or a nice tie so I was totally unprepared for the box I received on Christmas Eve.
In it were some nice warm fuzzy slippers and a cute card. There was a little ziplock baggie tucked in the corner which piqued my interest. Upon examination, they were my tie tack collection that I’d acquired over several decades!
I am a high performance driving instructor for BMW, Porsche and Ferrari and have been doing this for over 20 years. The collection of tie tacks was a walk down memory lane of epic proportions. Back in 2008 I lost everything I owned in a flood, including my beloved 1988 BMW M3 convertible, which is one of only 4 in the US. While the house, the contents and the possessions were replaceable, it was the memorabilia and little things that trigger memories that I missed the most. It wasn’t about the STUFF, it was memories attached to the stuff that was significant.
So I was totally unprepared for what was behind the tie tacks over against a corner of the box. They were a few simple snapshots of my first BMW, a gorgeous black 1973 2002 that I named Tera. It was sitting in the driveway alongside our first house, where we had our first baby.
Yes, there were some memories attached to that car! I’d been born with ‘The Car Gene’ and Mom swears that my first sentence was ‘wheels go round’. I’d gotten ahold of a 1965 Mercedes 220Se the year before I got my license and went through the car, fixing this and that, redoing some rust spots. But it was a quirky little 4 door with an automatic, and being in high school I really wanted something COOL. Like a 2 door with a manual transmission. I did my research (at the library downtown, not in my jammies online!) and decided that a Mazda RX-7 GSL-SE, a Datsun (not yet Nissan) 240 or 260Z or a little BMW 2002 would do the trick. I’d learned to appreciate the engineering that the Germans and Japanese had over the American cars of the early 70s and wanted something different, unusual. And something that actually could stop and turn! I loved the way that little Mercedes would go down a winding road, and many a domestic behemoth got dusted down the back roads of Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan.
The 2002 I found was just 10 miles from my sister’s place in Boston. I negotiated a deal, bought a train ticket and drove the car back from Boston to Indianapolis. I started modifying the car as things wore out. The car only had 60k on it, but 100k later it was time for a rebuild. This time around I used high performance pistons, a hot cam and side-draft carbs. I installed headers, a complete suspension with shocks, springs, and sway bars. I’ve always been a pretty good driver, so when I heard the BMW CCA had an event where I could spend TWO DAYS on a racetrack I had to go! I got FLATTENED by a woman in a bone stock 325i and while miffed, I was totally smitten with the experience. Apparently driving really quickly requires more than lots of testosterone and a heavy foot…
I learned more about driving, became an instructor myself and started teaching for BMW, Porsche, Ferrari, Mercedes, Dodge Viper. Anyone who would listen to me! I drove that car for another 100k, carting the family around, running errands. Tera was as much a part of the family as any pet can ever be.
I finally wore out my beloved 2002 and bought an 88 BMW M3, the ‘02’s spiritual successor. That car was clean enough I started competing in local Concours with it as well as doing driving events. There in the box with the pictures of Tera, was a grainy picture of the M3 in a local mall in Indianapolis. One of the few things that I found after the flood was my ‘People’s Choice Award’ from the year the picture was taken. I now had a photo of the car to go with the plaque on the wall!
I sat there at my desk, tears welling up in my eyes. Did my girls know what treasures they’d unearthed? Did they understand what wonderful times and memories were attached to those old fading photos? The purchase of that little BMW not only changed the course of my professional career, it literally changed the course of who I have become. It changed what I do for a living, what I do for fun, who my friends are. It was without question one of the biggest life-changing events of my life and now I have pictures of her again.
Thank you, my daughters, for finding these treasures and sending them to me. I’m not sure if you understood the history behind these simple pictures, but I do know one thing:
Christmas 2012 is one I’ll never forget…