Father and daughter in the garage

Ah, Father’s Day. A day of celebration for dads everywhere. A day of get-togethers, gift giving, and long-standing family traditions. A day of half-priced appetizers and overcrowded restaurants. (Okay, I might be projecting on that last one.)

Much like fatherhood itself, Father’s Day can mean different things to different people, at different points in their lives. Regardless of what it means to you, it is a great opportunity to reflect on the wide variety of roles that dads play in all of our lives.

Dads are creators, repairers, heroes, pranksters, teachers, entertainers, protectors, and—for many of us—the shapers and influencers of things that we love. As a father myself, I feel confident in saying that we all want our children to enjoy some of the same things that we do.

Tons of our readers have stories of fathers who instilled in them a love of all-things automotive. Many more are fathers themselves, presumably seeking to steer their own children down a similar path.

It should come as no surprise that there are a lot of car aficionados working for our friends at Summit Racing. We reached out to a few of them to find out what Father’s Day means to them and how their fathers nurtured their love of cars.

Here’s what they had to say.

Brian N.

Father’s Day is a time when I think about growing up in the 70s and 80s. My dad started me off with a go-kart in the third grade, and I’ve been hooked on racing ever since.

Being a mechanic wasn’t exactly his specialty, but it seems that everyone back in those days did their own work. Do an oil change, tune a carb, change an air filter, change a tire, change points and set timing, paint a car, etc., etc. He was always a by-the-book mechanic, so when I’d ramp in another 5 degrees of ignition timing, etc., he’d always tell me I was going to blow something up. (And sometimes I did!) But he kept letting me go at it, and then it turned into a career for me.

I now have a couple kids of my own: a son Van, named after my grandpa, and daughter Vitesse, which is the French word for speed! I’ve been dragging each of them to races their whole lives and put a wrench in their hands early. It makes me happy to see them thrive, and I’m looking forward to seeing them race and helping them win. Dad passed away a couple years ago, but he got to be around for much of that, and for that I’m grateful.

Barry F.

I have often considered myself to be extremely lucky to have been able to participate in this great hobby from an early age. While many of my peers were experiencing family road trips in the back of a minivan, I was able to see the country from the back seat of the family hot rod. A few years later, while those same peers were shopping for their first cars, I had the chance to build mine—a 1935 Ford 5-Window Coupe that I still have to this day. However, the best part about all of this is that I got to do it all along side of my dad.

Over the years, some of my most cherished memories have revolved around our shared love of all-things automotive. Whether it was time spent in the garage together working on any one of our cars; attending countless shows, races, and road tours; or the many late nights spent just talking about cars, our adventures together—both past and present—have provided me with a treasure trove of memories and artifacts that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Now that I am a father, I can only hope that my daughter Taylor will share just some of the same memories and feelings that I have. Because this hobby has had such a profound impact on me, and has given me so much over the years, I feel a responsibility to do my part to help pass it along to the next generation.

Around here, we tend to focus on building vehicles of all types, but we must also focus on building memories. So, take a kid to a car show, race, to the trail, or out for a cruise. Let them hang out in the garage. Take the time to teach them about what they are experiencing so that they can see first-hand what fuels your passion. Not every child will follow in his or her father’s footsteps, and that’s okay, but the time that you spend with them will be remembered and cherished regardless. Happy Father’s Day to my dad and all of the fathers out there!

Al N.

When I was growing up in Cincinnati, my first car was a ’68 Camaro RS/SS. I had a job as a paperboy, cut grass, and worked really hard to save up my money to buy a car. I found the Camaro in the local trading times and persuaded (begged) my mom to go out and look at it. The owner was smart. He took me for a ride without mom, did a big burnout, and I thought, “I need that!” I was 15 at the time and could not drive the car, but I wore my mom down, and she finally agreed to let me buy it.

We broke the news to dad that night, and he was NOT happy. What did a 15-year-old need with a car? I couldn’t even drive yet for Pete’s sake! I explained my master plan to strip the existing paint (white with baby blue stripes) and make it red with white stripes. By the time I had my driver’s license, it would be like new! Dad finally agreed, the Camaro was purchased, and the owner delivered it. My dad looked at it and said, “What a pile of $%&@.” He was right; it was rough.

That fall, I stripped all the paint, did all the body work in my parents’ driveway, and bought the finest tools money could buy with my $3.35-per-hour job. I panel-painted it with red lacquer (using a solid, non-metallic red, thank goodness) and then taped off the Z stripes, painted those on, and clear-coated the car. The process took a while—my air compressor was only about a 1.5 horsepower unit, and I had to wait for it to charge up to paint the next panel. Finally, I put new carpet in, made some other cosmetic changes, then buffed it out. It was right around Father’s Day when my dad came home from work to find me covered in buffing compound and said of the car, “That looks really good.” Compliments from my Dad were few and far between, as I was a rather “rambunctious” teen to be politically correct.

Later in that same driveway, I painted a ’78 Z-28 then built the frame and tubbed a 1980 Camaro. When we cut the floor and frame out of the Camaro, I remember him looking in the garage, and saying, “Is that EVER going to move again under its own power? Will I ever get the garage back?” About a month later, it made its maiden, big tire voyage. Dad again said, “Wow, I cannot believe you and your friends did that.”

As I got older, Dad would go for rides with me in the various cars I built. In 1996, when I built my ’67 Camaro, “Old Red,” he came from Cincinnati to visit us. When he arrived, he said, “Wow, that is like your first car but it is so much nicer.” Yes dad, that is what a lot of experience can do for you. (It also helps having some additional funds compared to when I was a high school kid!) We went for a ride, and I really wanted to impress him with the 383 I just built. After a few hits, he was definitely older and wiser and said, “Okay, that is enough.” As time went on, he would tell me he was proud of how I was able to have a profession that also was fun and enjoyable. I really miss being able to take dad for rides.

Today, my two sons have both driven our Corvette and are working up to driving Old Red at some point.  It is great to see them both appreciate performance cars as they get older, and I have great memories of recruiting them to help me install the LS, work the jack, pass me tools, learn about all this wonderful hobby has to offer, and meet a lot of great people along the way.

Jen D.

For me, Father’s Day is a uniquely special day, because I was born on Father’s Day. Talk about the best Father’s Day gift ever!

Jen learning to wrench
Jen’s dad taught her how to wrench at a young age.

My dad has had a major influence on my love of cars and trucks. He was a diesel mechanic, and I can remember his mechanic hands with calluses so thick they looked perpetually dirty because the grease never quite came out. My love of a good ol’ square body was born from growing up riding in my grandpas ’82 Chevrolet Scottsdale. He had bought it brand new, and later it became my dad’s truck. I grew up dreaming of owning that same truck one day, but sadly it was sold before I was old enough to buy it.

My father was a mechanic, my brother is a mechanic, and I married a mechanic. With my passion for old cars and trucks, my husband’s skills, and our shared love of old vehicles we have taken on many rebuild projects. Together we have owned an ’84 K5 Blazer, a ’72 Blazer (my favorite), and now a ’62 Chevrolet stepside pickup that is our current project. While building many engines together, our little girl always wants to help daddy turn wrenches and get her hands dirty. In addition, we’ve taken the kids to car shows and Nascar, dirt track, and drag strip races, the favorite being dirt track.

Paul J.

It’s hard to put into words what Father’s Day means to me. Each one means a little more since my dad is 81 years old. I’ve appreciated each Father’s Day more and more as I mature and understand how important your father is.

A shared love of cars is by far the biggest bond my father and I have. He’s owned a number of Firebirds, GTOs, and Grand Prixs. Some of my earliest memories are from my uncle’s garage. My dad did not have a garage at the time, so we would work out of his brother’s place. There was always some sort of hot rod in there, most notably the original Flintstone Flyer. They’d tinker with the engines, paint cars, build chassis, etc.

When I was around 10 years old, my father had a garage built. We would paint cars for his coworkers to make a little extra cash to pay for performance parts. At the time, he had the truest “street strip” car you could have in the sense that whatever he was driving was usually our only vehicle. If we broke it, we had to fix it before work the next day.

There were some late nights. When I was around 12 or 13 years old, my older brother opened a carburetor shop where we spent quite a bit of time. Through my father’s influence, my brother developed the shop into a very successful performance business specializing in traditional Pontiacs. The three of us would attend and participate at various drag strips around Ohio.

You cannot place a price tag any of my past experiences with my father and brother. Fast forward to current day, and the love of cars still consumes our lives. Our son Luke has the “bug” and is now part of the crew that my father started. He is creating more memories for myself and my wife Deana to enjoy the rest of our lives. When Deana and I recently decided to purchase a ’62 Catalina I think Luke was more excited than we were. He’s 14 and already has a ’77 Trans Am project. The possibilities for future memories are endless.

Paul’s father (left) got him started on his love for cars, while his son Luke (right) is keeping the family hobby alive.

I can honestly say the love of our Pontiacs that started with my father has helped shape me, my son, and the father I am hoping to be. The bond this hobby builds between friends and family is remarkable.

Kerry M.

What does Father’s Day mean to me? Well, it is awesome, mainly because I have a cool pops. He has literally taught me everything I know about cars and hot rods, and he has given me the ability and tutelage to be able to build full-on custom cars.

Every weekend and during all of my spare time, I am out at the shop working right next to him in the garage. It is these moments when I get to spend time with him that I will remember forever. We always talk about the cars we have built, the ones we are building, or the ones that he and my grandpa built together back in the day. It is awesome getting to share these stories with him and getting to create memories and pieces of rolling art with him.

Pops and I are almost the same person, so when we are out there, we may argue and get ticked off at each other, but we are both saying the same thing—just in two different ways. On some occasions, he even chooses to use the better idea (mine), and it impresses him.

In the end, pops has taught me everything I know inside and outside of the garage. He is my best bud and my partner in the shop. I love him, and though we may disagree or have different points of view when it comes to burning out in his blacktop driveway, I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you know Terry, you know I couldn’t ask for a better guy as a father. To me, hot rods are not just a hobby, but a part of my family heritage passed from my grandpa Bob, to my pops, down to me, and hopefully to my future children.

Mike A.

My dad was friends with Arlen Vanke and Art Arfons, so at a young age I was exposed to cars and racing. When we got older, it was a way for us to spend time together in the garage. We built cars for ourselves and for other people all over the world.

The most special project we took on was a Corvette show car called War Eagle. The car was shown for two years all over the country, and we placed 5th in the ISCA World of Wheels finale. It allowed us to meet new people, see new places, and enjoy the hobby I love.

Fast forward, my son and I are building a show truck for him, and my daughter is going to take over the driver seat of one of the race cars that we have. My goal is to teach my kids—like my father taught me—how to build and maintain their cars and to help them discover the same love and passion for the hobby that my father instilled in me. By the way, my 4-year-old granddaughter makes it clear that the race car is “my car, papa” every time we start it up. So, who knows…maybe generation four will build cars, too?

To me, Father’s Day is a thank you for the tireless love and dedication you give to your children in teaching and loving them. Cars offer just one of the many ways I can spend time with them and pass on the knowledge my father gave me. Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there!

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Author: Will Schertz

Will is a contributing writer for OnAllCylinders. His automotive writing career stretches back longer than a decade and includes a stint as senior reporter for one of the tire industry’s largest trade publications. He enjoys long walks on the beach, romantic candlelit dinners, and thinly veiled sarcasm. Will lives with his beautiful wife and two small humans who steal his food and "need" more LEGOs.