(I apologize in advance for the lateness of this report. This event was held on March 24th, but I'm just now reporting on it now, as we enter May. This delay should not be construed as any slight on this event, it's just a reflection that life gets in the way sometimes. As a testament to the awesomeness of the event, I have been telling anyone who will listen to me about it, and both the words "rad" and "dope" have reentered my lexicon after a multi-decade hiatus.)
I'm a sentimental guy and a creature of habit. Those of you who know me will attest to those facts. I love the predictability and stability that only routine and regiment can provide. I guess, like anyone else, I perceive my "normal" as somehow superior to the next person's. I like my rock 'n' roll classic, I'm not flashy and honestly, my inclination is to observe, rather than participate. I have my "thing," and that's the way I like it. Now that I'm well and truly in my 40s, I am becoming a "man of a certain age," and in that mold, I've found myself muttering and/or grumbling about "kids these days," and about all things new and different that I really don't understand.
It's for this reason that I had a preconceived "take" on this thing called Radwood. I became aware of Radwood mainly through traffic on our our Instagram pages and through some of the podcasts I listen to (the Smoking Tire's Matt Farah is a vocal proponent). Radwood is generally the manifestation of a intense love of all things from the 1980s and 90s, expressed on a foundation (or delivery system) of the automobiles of the era. Radwood events aren't annual like the Goodwood Revival, or the Monterey Historics...they're more of an irregular happening...and they happen when they happen.
If my count is correct, the Hooptie-Con incarnation was the third Radwood event and it was sharing event billing with a 24 Hours of Lemons race and a couple of other car shows. Couple that with the promised attendance of one of Bruce Canepa's 959's, and I figured we couldn't go too wrong.
I want you all (both of you) to understand that despite growing up in the era, I am not particularly enamored of it. Sure, I like some things about it, but those of you who know me, know that my tastes in music, cars and culture significantly predate it. More than one person has told me that I was born 20 years too late. Because I am who I am, and what I had heard/seen about this emerging happening, I thought (at most) I'd see some interesting cars at the expense of being reminded that I'm one of the few people I know who really doesn't long to bring back all the stuff of my youth. I was prepared to like it a little, but certainly not to get into it...
My 11-year-old son and I arrived to find a small but steadily growing corral of cars and motorcycles. There weren't a lot of people yet, but some pretty solid classics from back in the day. Yeah, there were some high dollar icons of speed in the mix from Ferrari, Lamborghini, BMW and that tasty Canepa 959...the stuff of dreams for a kid from that time. You would expect that. Hell, my son knew the names and designations of many of them. But as we walked around, the corral and adjacent hillside began to fill with scores and scores of other "vintage" machines...foreign and domestic, shiny and dull, common and extraordinary (and I use this term somewhat loosely).
Along with the cars were their owners and the "stuff" of the owners. A DJ began to pump out remixes of all the songs you'd expect to hear, and the genius of Radwood began to become apparent. I started seeing things I hadn't seen for decades....walkmen, fanny packs, calculator watches, flammable plastic clothing, headbands and a Vaurnet sweatshirt....A VAURNET SWEATSHIRT!!!! I could even swear I saw a VHS tape.
Slowly, but surely, I was being drawn in.
After a walk around, my son was magnetically pulled to some tables set up with tube TVs and old video game systems, so that was kinda neat. (kids these days need to know how good they have it with their gaming systems) After prying him away from an epic game of Sonic, we began another stroll around. As luck would have it, we ran into some friends from Cars and Coffee Folsom, who were clad from head to toe in period correct threads (#plastic #neon #fannypack). At this point, I was almost felt like an outsider (despite growing up during the same two decades) yet I still had no real desire to celebrate it by displaying any period flare.
It was about this point that I felt things start to turn. I was beginning to drop my resistance. I began to embrace Radwood for the genius it is. Sure, It wasn't the era of chrome and power, it was a time of electronic awakening and a redefining of cool. It was a time for the world to make and promote ridiculous things and for no apparent reason. Looking at the cars that had finally filled out the main corral and the field above it, I realized that my formative years really may have been cool and might even be worth celebrating. Is a Nissan Pulsar Sportback really worth celebrating though? Maybe not to everyone...but hell if I haven't seen one in a million years! Hell if I know how or why I was so jazzed about a Chevy II Twin-Cam 16 Valve. Really, my son was terribly confused why I was staring at a replica Monroney sticker in the window of a 1984 Jetta...and he had every right to be curious.
I've raised both of my kids on the best of the best of the automotive world. Both of them know their classics, customs, musclecars, exotics and racers. But now I realize that there is a huge hole in their education. There are lots of machines out there they've never heard of or seen despite being the most ubiquitous cars and trucks of my youth. Yeah, they're not really that well made or particularly reliable. Almost all of them are pretty gutless and droopy and covered with lumpy plastic and rubber bits. They were daily drivers or commuters or oddballs or "imports." (Aside from the uber expensive euro equipment) They were more or less common and not all that remarkable. If you saw most of them on the street in your neighborhood today, most people probably wouldn't even notice them...but maybe that's why they're worth looking at now. Upon much reflection, and in in musical terms, they are the soundtrack of my youth...the landscape of the time.
By the end of our afternoon, I'll admit that I'd come full circle on this thing called Radwood. I'm not, by any means, ready to dawn the period garb and portend that I want to get into a time machine and get back to that time, but I am ready to proclaim that Radwood represents something that's good for the automotive world. It is not polished or snobby, and it doesn't proclaim to be anything that it's not. It simply opens a porthole into the past...just like Goodwood and the Monterey Historics. It is absolutely worth your time and money to experience, and it worthy the notoriety that it is garnering in the automotive media universe right now. We look forward to sharing more about the Radwood phenomenon as its franchise expands and as it spreads out from its Nor-Cal / Bay Area birthplace. If you want more information about it, you can check their website, www.radwood.com and you should take a listen to a few podcasts by the minds behind (and promoters of) the phenomenon: Driving While Awesome, Clutchkick and Cammed and Tubbed.
As always, our pictures are a better represnetation of things than our words, so please take a look at the gallery below for a taste of this thing called Radwood.