I am going to write this blog and try not to loose my headache readers and gear heads with mumbo jumbo.
If you are a gear head/car guy/automotive connoisseur/aficionado and attended the E.L.T.A.bash you will know exactly what I am talking about. If you are a survivor of headaches you will appreciate what I am going to write about.
In synopsis I have chronic cluster headaches, chronic migraines and tension headaches,& PTSD. If you don't understand the difference between the three headaches. You can read the rest of my blog to explain in detail or you can take my word that one of these types of headaches causes people to commit suicide.
For my headache followers, The ELTA car club is a club I belong to in my hometown and puts on the coolest bash anywhere. Its a celebration of all things automotive from traditional hot rodding and the life of gear heads. In every sense of the word it is a car guys dream to be apart of this.
How does these two things co inside?
So I been sick 11 years. And in those 11 years I have had travelled a journey that has caused many people to commit suicide. But I overcame my hurdles on my own, I fell down and got back up. I have had 4 brain surgeries and lost more than my vanity including my career, friends and ability to work.
I spent many years living in seclusion after brain surgery. And having been an outgoing person most of my life and enjoyed meeting new people. After surgery and abandonment I stayed home for about 3 years. In those years I was invited to the ELTA club house numerous times. I was invited to the Christmas party. I even went once. Walked in the restaurant, seen all the people and left in tears before anyone could notice me. I had the hardest time wanting to trust a friend ever again. But after years I forced myself despite my physical changes to go and make new friends and broaden my life and potentially celebrate all things automotive with like minded people.
Despite the disease and what came with it my love for being a gear head never changed. I was the kid like any gear head who played hot wheels and pretended one day of owning my favorite cars. I fantasized like any kid of owning a cool car, building a car, drag racing and all things for the love of automotive. I literally eat sleep dream cars. Not uncommon for my wife to walk into the office , see me on the computer and say oh "car porn eh babe" while I read the latest and greatest on cars.
The boys at ELTA I have known most of the club members for 20-30 years. The prez Mark R. And his bad ass dream car of mine a beautiful 55 Chev Bel Air. He has owned the car 38 years. I remember being 14 years old taking the bus to cruise nights and seeing his car come. The 55 Chev to me was the ultimate car being on the big screen with American Graffiti and Two Lane BlackTop. Most of the other members I have worked with at factories, known from the car world in car shows/cruise nights etc. Many familiar faces. But acquaintances in all fairness. I am sure I was known to them as a fellow head.
The ELTA club house is literally lined from bottom of the floor, too every wall and every inch of the ceiling with an incredible part of automotive history. Almost museum like. Racing/club jackets from all over north america, a dragster on the ceiling, body parts, wheels, and more. Its history. And take my word I have worked in a world class auto museum/Auto salon. I have been in world class garages. (Jay Leno's) and this club house is the coolest 3000 sq feet anywhere. For a gear head its heaven. And when I die. I want some of my ashes at the club house. It is my 2nd home. Alot of the items in the shop are from members and fans of the club but the primary collection belongs to Mark. What Mark has forgotten in 1 day I couldn't learn in a lifetime. His knowledge of cars far supersedes mine and its impressive. His energy of having a open door policy welcoming fellow gear heads that are not members. The coolest thing about this club is that it even let me in.
A mantra is written on the wall explaining being a gear head. And a large "No Goofs" sign adorns the exit. We have 1 rule and 1 rule only. No Goofs. There is no bantering of oh you are a chevy guy or those ford guys or oh no a Chrysler guy. We do not operate like that. The club adorns everything from early 20s hot rods to even early 80s cars. From Rat Rods, to Gassers, to Muscle Cars to you name it.
Now that you have the jist of the club, its members and cars....how do you get a member club shirt?
A question I asked before being a member and a question I get asked every time I wear my club shirt.
The official answer is it is up to Mark the Prez. Its his choice who and why. And at present there isn't a member I wouldn't take the shirt off my back for. There is absolutely no comradery about what you own, who is faster. It is can I help you? Wanna go for a rip? We work together as a team.
So how does this fall into place with a blog about headaches?
Remember those years I sat home? Didn't want to trust anyone because how bad I got burned? Well, fall 7x and get up 8 is my moto. I had lunch with Mark once and he told me "Your attitude dictates your altitude". And its true. None of these guys really knew me as far as my journey was concerned. Nor did they judge me because of my disease. All they know was that I am a gear head and they are good with that. I really just wanted to be treated like anyone else. And no special treatment. Just to be one of the guys. And when the time came for me to leave early, come late, not show up, or cancel they knew and was ok with that.
There are members who have had trials and tribulations of their own. And becoming great friends with all these guys makes me forget how sick I am some days. Even if its just for 2 hrs on Saturday mornings having a cup of joe and hearing stories about cars, what projects people are building, getting advice or bench racing. For those 2 hrs a week I feel normal. I can't possibly expect for a second that anyone who isn't sick to understand it fully but it allows me to be me.
If it wasn't for ELTA. I think I'd still be at home. That is a fact.
I don't expect fellow survivors to run out and join a car club. Hey if you are a gear head and suffering like me,maybe its your thing to. It doesn't matter what it is. Could be canoeing, painting...any hobby. Get involved. I lost 3 years of my life for people that didn't deserve me to stop living for 5 min. Get out when you are not hurting. Join something. Whatever floats your boat. Don't stop living. Everyone has something they love and is passionate about. You may meet people who are sick too who share the same passion for a hobby.
This years bash was the best. I was able to enjoy it for once. Let me explain what the bash is and consists off. It is all things for the love of being a gear head. It is hot rodding in its purest form. It is a way of life. The bash consists of every member helping one another to have a safe and successful bash. It is on a industrial street lined with historic buildings for the ambiance. Lined up the street of 600+ cars you will see a Rock A Billy Band, An Elvis tribute artist, classic hot rods, rat rods, muscle cars, a driveable picnic table, a pro street mini bike or driving beer cooler(built by a club member), You will see things you have never seen before. All controlled by people respecting one another's passion. For a show/bash that is unadvertised to the general public. It draws thousands of people. I believe last years bash got us in 6 magazines ! By no means am I trying to hype it up.If you ask Mark he will tell you less and be far more humble about the actual numbers.
In reference to Mark who organises the show by himself the show means probably the most to any attendee who comes. For him not to attend is hurtful. Well the week leading up to the bash I was having a really bad week. I went 9 days straight with a migraine that left me in bed for 5 of those days. vomiting etc. You get the gist. I kept praying to just have the weekend off. Let me suffer before and after the bash. My wish came true. By Friday I was on the mend. Sadly. Friday Marks back took a turn for the worst and off the hospital he went. If anyone knew how bad he wanted to be there it was me. I knew how bad I wanted to be apart of this, this year. And to see Mark leave in pain broke my heart. I know what its like to be not able to go. I have missed out on thousands of things I have wanted to do in 11 years. Last years show I was only there for 1 hr as my mom was dying in the hospital of brain cancer. So this year I felt good and was able to help my fellow brothers in the club and enjoy a day for me. A day my wife knew I wanted and needed for my own sanity.
The streets were lined bumper to bumper, lot to lot. Fellow club brothers directing traffic, as I was under a tent by the shop door. As we gave water and pop, shook hands with hundreds, thanked them for the attendance. Because without people coming it would just be us. So we appreciated everyone's attendance. And everyone was behaved. No one I seen was being a GOOF.
Having had the worst year of my life loosing my dog, my mom, absence of my boy, 2 of my friends dying and its has been a heck of a journey. I needed this. I needed to be there and enjoy this day.
Luckily with some medicine Mark came back Saturday to see what has come to fruition. That us club brothers worked together as a team. Helping one another. making everyone feel welcome. His hard work putting this together has become nothing short of the coolest automotive events around.
Sometime near the dinner our the "Cackle Fest" begins. What is a cackle fest? Well probably the only one in the country it is a line up for dragsters, rails, and cars firing up some 1000 horsepower engines on alcohol and even our club brothers car on Nitro Methane. It will put lead in your pencil. This is the music of my people.
While I don't expect my fellow headache readers to understand the lingo what I am trying to convey is keep living. If you are going through a rough patch with attacks. Live for when you are not hurting. We suffer a great deal of our life. It fatigues us badly. Trust me I know. But if you have some time which most of us do. Ge involved in your passion. Whatever makes you tick. Whatever makes you happy. Do it. Life is very very short. Before you know it. It is too late.
If you seen me Saturday at the bash. If you seen me smiling. Know that I earned every second of that day to be there. Know that I was beyond grateful to be in attendance. I am honored to be an ELTA brother. And that there is NO GOOFS in the club and we support and respect one another. It is a very cool feeling. It gives me purpose. If you see me at the club....its a good day.
Thank you to everyone of my ELTA brothers. Thank you to Mark especially for allowing me to be apart of this. Thank you to who came up and said thank you.
ELTA stands for East London Timing Association.....No Goofs !