As much as I try, I'm unable to really capture Gary's energy, personality, or history with mere words. Here's a guy, that once waited for eight hours with me, at an upstate New York rest area, while I was stranded with a borrowed BMW 2002. But it goes so much farther than that.
The back story: It was 2003 or 2004. I was asked to drive a friend's car to Hartford CT from Baltimore MD, so that the folks at my destination; “Sports Car Restoration”, could perform an estimate on some minor touch up work. The guys at SCR live and breath 2002s. Since I was having them do all the metal and paintwork on my own car at the time, this was an easy favor. The car was already beautiful...and remains so to this day.
On the way back, it lost a head gasket. This was years before I owned a cell phone. I called the guys at SCR using one of those “pay phone” thinguses, and they said Gary (who was having them restore his own 2002) was on his way back to New York City, but hadn't left yet. Gary got on the phone, asked where I was, and proceeded to drive about 70 miles to meet me. He then used his phone to call a flatbed truck, and we waited. And waited. And waited. We followed the truck back to Hartford in Gary's other 2002, and arrived around 10:00pm. After the formalities of unloading the car and handing the keys over, he offered me a ride back to New York, where he'd make sure I had a train ticket back to Baltimore. I somehow arrived home, in the back of a taxi, around 5:00am. Longest Day Ever.....and the beginning of a lifelong friendship.
Now that Gary and I have been friends for a few years, I realize this is just pure, standard behavior for him. It's just what he DOES. I moved back to Western Pennsylvania about six years ago, and (as fate would have it) landed a job about 4 miles from Gary's farm in Evans City (yes, film geeks.... THAT Evans City). I signed a lease and kept in touch with him, occasionally seeing him during visits to the shop to talk about our mutual love of 2002s. Gary still owns the very same 2002tii he bought new in 1972. One day, he offers up this tantalizing statement; “You know, I have another one behind my barn. Are you interested in it?” The rest is history.
Seven weeks after I dragged the car from the back of Gary's barn, he and I cruised on a seven hour road trip to North Carolina, for “The Vintage”....an annual event focused on classic and vintage BMWs. As we rolled in to the parking lot, there were standing ovations. This car...and Gary... ooze positive energy.
Mojo is its own fuel.
Along the way, we talked about everything under the sun. Sex, Drugs, Rock N Roll, Movies, Wine, Cars, Travel.... and we still haven't finished running out of things to talk about. We made a superb traveling team.
I'm as flattered by his desire to go with me, as he is for my request that he be my running mate for this high mileage, high speed tomfoolery. He said to me, after he made the decision; “Look! I wouldn't go on a cross country trip with just ANYBODY, you know. I rely on known talent, for such an adventure!”
Me too, my friend.
Photo Credit: Linda Lovecraft