What makes a motoring enthusiast?

Are they shaped by circumstance or born into the world followed by the smell of burning rubber and unburnt fuel?

Looking back over the history file of jumbled receipts and dubious service history of my own motoring background, I try to evaluate how I came to be obsessed with cars and the act of driving.

On my father’s side of the family there’s Australian Rules, East Sydney Football great in my grandfather Jack Dean and Wally O’Connell, an Australian rugby league footballer, but no drivers of note.

Look to my mother’s side there are some clues, two uncles who were both mechanically minded and belted around the streets in worked Brock Commodores. Their influence was very early on and not around my teenage years, they both heralded from Warialda and Armidale - further back along that blood line, leads to Australian Frederick Wordsworth Ward, better known as Captain Thunderbolt. An Australian bushranger renowned for escaping from Cockatoo Island, and for his reputation as the “gentleman bushranger” and his lengthy survival, being the longest roaming bushranger in Australian history. I bet Thunderbolt would have had some street racing tendencies!

Maybe it was necessity, growing up on the Central Coast, north of Sydney. The only way you were getting around was by car, the senior’s school car park had a few of the classics, Ford Escort MkII, Mazda RX3, KE10 Corolla, Ford Cortina, a sexy TA 22 Celica that once prowled the streets on huge 15inch wheels and my TX Gemini coupe.

This is where it started for me, once we all left school the power wars began and racing ensued.

If enthusiasts are born then all it takes is a little exposure to anything mechanical and they are on the highway to automotive nirvana, but if motoring enthusiasts need shaping then we all have our own roles to play in making that happen. To quote the Pittwater Motor Enthusiasts Association: “Run ‘em - Drive ‘em - Ride ‘em - Don’t Hide ‘em!”


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