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A Tribute to Hot Rod Moms

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I have a twin sister. And she has two little boys. So in a weird and great way, I have two little boys. But since I have the patience of my 76-year-old dad, thankfully they’re the type I can give back when needed. Charlie is nine years old and Emmett, the surprise bonus baby, just turned two.

Being twins and inseparable even as young adults, I spent a ton of time with a young Charlie, and watched him grow up in a hot rod household. There was evidence he was going to be a car guy from the start: he had an early appreciation for tools, he always had a Hot Wheel car in his hand, he knew the word “Speedway” long before he knew all of his colors, and he pointed out hot rods on the T-shirts worn by the family. Charlie was born into a hot rod family, and he has participated in family traditions older than his mom.

Our twin hotrod lives literally started days after we were born. Our dad belted two car seats into the back of a red 1934 Ford Sedan and proudly drove us and our mom home from the hospital. We grew up hearing this story and seeing photos from the day. As we grew and it became clear that I would build the ’33 Coupe with my dad, it started to make sense that Jen would take ownership of the red sedan, now with primer brown front fenders.

And when it was time to bring their new baby boy home from the hospital in 2011, she chose the ‘34 to continue a long held family tradition. The sedan was a little rough, having been stored in a barn from 1988 until 2010, when a Bonneville land speed streamliner dominated our dad’s time. But within a month, it had new brakes, wheels, tires, a new roof, updated fuel system and was thoroughly cleaned. It was a mad dash, but it was an important tradition to uphold. Because to my sister, hot rods and specifically that ’34 sedan are tangled throughout multiple stories in her life.

Charlie grew up alongside this sedan. He laid on the fenders and pet the little greyhound doggie hood ornament, just like his mom did when she was a kiddo. He watched his Grandpa build a 1931 Model A roadster and helped me work on my ’33 Coupe. He watched his parents work on a ’65 Chevy C10 Truck, a ’48 Chevy Fleet Master, and most recently, a 1960 Chevy Bel Air. He and his Grandpa have built many wooden models of the cars surrounding him, each one more detailed and complex than the one before. He has his own toolbox and set of tools to care for and use.

And now, little Emmett, who was brought home from the hospital in the Bel Air, is growing fast and also always has a Hot Wheel in his little hands. He has spent less time in grandpa’s shop due to Covid this year, but has spent that much more time in his dad’s shop, hammering on a 1954 Chevy truck.

While the love of cars can most certainly be traced to our dad, our mom had just as big of impact in our development. Our mom raised strong, independent daughters. Ones that were capable of holding our own and taking care of ourselves. Education was important, along with choosing the right career and the right partner. With a HUGE emphasis on choosing the right partner; because it takes two to work hard and provide and because life can be better with a friend. I would venture to guess there are just as many car moms in the world, as car dads. Supportive moms, standing just off to the side or behind the scenes. The ones holding the camera and smiling, encouraging us to build our dreams.

A friend once told me, “There’s a fine line between supporting and enabling.” And Jen fits into both categories. When Jason was working on his ’65, a truck he’s had since high school, she was the one pushing him to go farther and spend just a little more time and money to make sure he was happy with it. To have no regrets when he was done.

Another tradition that Jen has kept alive and well is the long family road trip. Like their 2,900 mile round trip to Pullman, Washington in 2019, to see family in the Bel Air. She worked like mad to prepare and pack and make it a good experience for the boys. And years from now, they may not remember the specific trip, but they’ll remember that feeling. That it was an important connection between them, their family and that car. And they’ll carry it with them forever. Just like Jen and I carry with us our many family treks to the salt flats.

Jen is an Associate and Senior Interior Designer at LEO A DALY in Omaha, Nebraska. And also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She averages a 60-plus hour work week. Being the wife of a firefighter, she’s capable, self-reliant and doesn’t live by normal defined roles. She’s dedicated and works hard because that’s the only option. A working mom, fierce, tired and yet tireless. Staying up to hold a baby that isn’t feeling well, enduring unholy public tantrums that make one question the universe, working hard trying to instill the right amount of discipline, and much more. On top of diapers, laundry, and keeping an ordered and maintained house, several cars on the road and all the mowing. The “MacKichan” tradition of hard work and the satisfaction of a job well done is alive and well within her.

Another tradition that I think we take for granted is the wonderful and helpful tight-knit community that her sons are now being raised within. The car community is full of smiling and waving and encouraging people.

So to all the hot rod moms out there – roll down the car windows and take the long way home tonight. You deserve a moment, a few more miles, more credit, a break. The sound of your engine melting away a full and hectic schedule. You’re passing down important traditions to the next generation. And doing a great job. And we know it when the two-year-old smiles and says, “I like your hotrod.”

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