ricky bobby

“If you ain’t first, you’re last,” is apparently one of the best pieces of fatherly advice people have gotten from their dads. We think some of them might be fibbing. But we enjoy the fact that we’re not entirely sure. (Image/Uproxx)

We got together with our friends on Summit Racing Equipment’s social media team, and asked them to pose a simple question to their audience:

What’s the best car advice your dad has given you?

Summit Racing’s Instagram followers did not disappoint.

Hundreds of responses poured in, several of which we can’t publish here because their fathers used very naughty language.

There were a few reoccurring bits of advice, which suggests one of two things:

  1. One guy fathered, like, 58 kids who all follow Summit Racing on Instagram and shared the exact same advice, or
  2. In the world of auto enthusiasts and motorsports, there are a few oft-repeated pearls of “wisdom” passed from fathers to their kids during car rides, or working in the garage, or out at the racetrack.

“If you take care of it, it will take care of you,” was shared by many people who have apparently taken to heart their fathers’ wisdom on how proper vehicle maintenance is often rewarded with our vehicles getting us reliably and safely to our destinations.

Another piece of fatherly advice (to, presumably, their sons) centered around the idea that anything with an engine or tires, OR who happens to be female, are destined to be expensive and cause headaches. No word yet on whether any of them are the sons of longtime TV host Larry King, who has been married eight times.

And another piece of fatherly advice shared a gazillion times was: “If you ain’t first, you’re last,” which, as far as we know, was coined by Bill Lumbergh (the always excellent Gary Cole) playing Ricky Bobby’s father in “Talladega Nights — The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.”

You know, this guy:

Gary Cole in Talladega Nights

Ricky Bobby’s dad, teaching his son something important. (Image/Columbia Pictures)

As we honor father’s everywhere for Father’s Day, here are some of the more notable pieces of car advice given to people by their dads.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.

34 Pearls of Automotive Wisdom from Dads*



“Oil change is cheap insurance.”



“If you’re going to do a burnout, don’t half-ass it.”



“Take care of it and it will take care of you.”



“Work smarter, not harder. There’s the right tool for every job.”



“Take care of problems as soon as they happen. Don’t let them get worse.”



“Don’t break anything you can’t pay for.”



“Build whatever you want and block out all the haters.”



“When you buy used, you buy other people’s problems.”



“Remember how you took it apart!”



“Chrome don’t getcha home.”



“Always keep track of the 10mm (socket).”



“Before you learn how to drive a car, you need to learn how to build a car.”



“You can sleep in a car. You can’t race a house.”



“Never drop the 10mm socket near the engine bay.”



“Cars are cheaper and far less frustrating than women.”



“Tight’s tight. Too tight is broke.”



“Buy a car with a good brake system. Staying alive is more important than being first.”



“Application, application, application.”



“Always keep five 10mm sockets in your box at all times.”



“Every clutch has a sweet spot. Slow out. Quick in. Driving a clutch correctly is like giving a good handshake—which all boys your age suck at.”



“If you don’t have time to do it right, you don’t have time to do it twice.”



“Don’t race your daily driver.”



“If it moves and it shouldn’t, weld it. If it doesn’t move and it should, WD-40 it.”



“Change plug wires one at a time.”



“You can always fix body rust, but don’t buy cars with rusted or broken frames.”



“Smoke tires, not drugs. And drive a stick so you don’t text and drive.”



“When troubleshooting, start with the cheapest potential fix.”



“It’s all about torque, not bhp (brake horsepower).”



“Try tuning the carb first, then buy jets. Tuning is free.”



“Horsepower may get the girl, but torque wins races.”



“Know where the four corners of your car are.”



“Always gravity bleed your calipers.”



“Don’t be scared of breaking [stuff*]. Parts and tools break. Just learn from the experience.”

(*he totally used a different word.)


“All you need in life is more boost.”

What’s the best car advice you ever received from your dad?

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Author: Matt Griswold

After a 10-year newspaper journalism career, Matt Griswold spent another decade writing about the automotive aftermarket and motorsports. He was part of the original OnAllCylinders editorial team when it launched in 2012.