A little brag about my dad

I’ve already written one story about my dad, telling about his resourcefulness in fixing things, old cars and trucks especially. That’s here. Now he’s approaching 80 years old, and has once again raised the bar on both resourcefulness and having fun.

You see, for the last decade or so, mom and dad have been heavily involved in the inception and subsequent growth of the Early Ford V8 Foundation Museum. This was initiated, in part, by the realization that the old Fords that were so instrumental in their generation’s lives were in danger of being forgotten as the years passed. Young people would never know what it was like to have an understanding of how vehicles worked; to be able to fix their own cars, and not rely on the car dealership and it’s complicated electronic equipment needed even to diagnose a problem, let alone fix it.

Jordan was just little when Dad pulled this 1952 Ford F1 out of the barn for the two of them to restore together. Mom’s idea of a youngster’s first ride being one he worked hard to restore, thus causing him to drive safely, was well intentioned but also set him on the path of a serial restorer.

When our son Jordan was born, they started with him. Instead of being the doting grandparents that sent him home loaded up with sugar and toting yet another noisy annoying toy that needed an endless supply of batteries, Jordan came home from weekends at their house with grease under his fingernails and a half disassembled carburetor in a grungy cardboard box. The teaching stuck, too, as Jordan’s now all grown up, with a degree in mechanical engineering and is gainfully employed at one of the country’s leading transmission manufacturer.

And they didn’t stop at profoundly affecting the life of one young man. They, along with a troupe of like-minded individuals, made sure that their little group’s museum grew to become a significant presence in the preservation of automotive history. And they’ve done so with a savvy that has made this marketer so very proud. The latest of which was the participation in the infamous Sugar Valley Rally in a museum-sponsored car.

At first blush, the idea of a couple old guys going off for a fun week driving through pretty country in a car about the same age as they are doesn’t come close to describing the intensity of the actual event.

According to the event’s website, The Sugar Valley Rally is a precision timed event scored on the accuracy with which you follow the instructions, not how fast you complete the course. Drivers and navigators steer their pre-1963 vehicles on a predetermined course, trying to match a perfect time. The endurance of man and machine, knowledge of mechanics, and timing skills are all tested as the competitors challenge each other for a substantial cash purse. The vehicles can be basic drivers, show quality restorations, or race cars, but are required to be authentic to the year they were built.

Conceived and organized in 1989, the Sugar Valley Rally has grown by leaps and bounds. Last year 55 cars were entered, with competitors from 14 states. Only The Great Race has a larger field of antique auto rally participants. The Rally has been the longest continual rally in the US, and is now sanctioned by the Vintage Car Rally Association.

With Dad as driver, and car owner Craig Floyd as navigator, they set off in a ’46 Ford Coupe festooned with the Early Ford V8 Foundation’s sponsorship stickers, looking for all the world like they were made to be on the side of that particular car. What happened next would make for an epic story. You see, even though these old cars are infinitely less complicated than the modern versions, they can (and do) break down.

Reading Craig’s account of their experience at start of the event made me want to throw in the towel for them:

“Thursday we had a major problem. We spent 7 hours in a parking lot about 20 miles from Scottsbluff. Lucky for us almost everything we needed to convert back to regular points was in the car. We had a spare distributor, plug wires, condenser and coil. The only thing we didn’t have was a working coil. The spare was bad. A kind person helped us get a new coil. We made it back to Scottsbluff just in time for technical inspection and we passed. We get to race! We didn’t get any testing done but the car was working.

We wanted to test the car before the Friday Rally class and the practice Rally. Again we had ignition system issues. We discovered the NAPA coil was bad. They had another one but we were 20 miles from Scottsbluff. If you ever need to restore your faith in your fellow man, break down in western Nebraska! We made some great new friends sitting on the side of the road.

One of the Rally participants skipped class to bring us the parts. The second NAPA coil was junk too. We now were missing Rally school and still on the side of the road. I wanted to load it up and go home. Ron said ‘we don’t give up’. I agreed.”

That “We don’t give up” decree would be tested many, many more times throughout the course of the event. Not only did they recover from numerous difficulties to finish the race, they placed SECOND!

Craig Floyd and Ron Stauffer with their second place award. You can more about their experience at the rally here

To me, the real prize here is that of being able to tackle whatever adversity comes your way while maintaining a positive outlook. So many of us (myself included) do, indeed, manage to slog through all of our challenges – but the part about maintaining a positive outlook doesn’t always make the roster. Navigating the life equivalent to standing alongside the road with cars whizzing past in dangerously close proximity, stuck there not because of your own doing, but instead because you trusted that something you bought and paid for not once, not twice, but three times – did not perform as promised… To miss the part where you’re instructed on how to do things – and have to figure it out by yourself, on the fly… working with a partner that you only interact with a few times a year… and coming through the event viewing it not as an ordeal, but an adventure – that’s something to brag about. Thanks, Dad – for setting an example that I will always, always strive to emulate.

Wanna read more?

Is this all I do? Post pictures and stories about life here on the farm? Nope! HoofPrints.com is my “real” job.

You can read more posts about horses here

For more fun on the farm, go here

Adventures in remodeling are here

Is the house haunted? There are some stories about that here

Laughable housekeeping advice is here


  1. Your Dad and my Dad were cut from the same cloth. My Dad had a can do and make it work attitude too. He fixed or did everything possible to fix something before he bought another one. We had old card in or behind the barn at all times. My Dad is gone now but I admired him so much and miss him even more. Hug your Dad while y can….you have a good one!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, Gina! My husband Bill and I belonged to the Early Ford V 8 Club in Abilene, Texas. We had a 1040 cherry-red Ford convertible (restored) and a 1940 green Ford sedan (not restored, but running). The Club took several weekend trips to places around Texas, and had a recent-model Ford pickup along as emergency garage, with all the spare parts that might be needed if somebody broke down. Most of the guys had restored their own Fords, so were able to do minor repairs if they had to. Then everybody got too old to go on trips like that or passed away, so the club has dwindled down to a very few hardy (younger) souls, but we had some great trips and made some good friends while it lasted. Happy memories.
    Linda Laws
    Coleman, Texas

    Liked by 1 person

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