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AutoMatters & More: Memorializing the Very Last Time

Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner at 2004 Goodguys Del Mar Nationals
Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner at 2004 Goodguys Del Mar Nationals

As we live our lives we do many things that we enjoy. You may look forward to doing them often but, as you do, have you ever paused for a moment to consider that a particular time might be the very last time that you will ever be doing whatever that happens to be, eventually for it to fade away into your increasingly distant, perhaps forgotten memories?

While we may never know that it is the last time that we’ll do something, our words and photos can help us to remember those happy times. Around 20 years ago I embarked upon my journey as a columnist. At the time I had no idea how long that journey would last, or where it would take me but, without having intended for it to serve this purpose, these columns have become a sort of memorialization of many of the happy and particularly interesting times and events in this part of my life. Those columns serve as vivid reminders of those times for me, and they continue to enable me to share them with you here, and soon on my AutoMatters & More website, which will become the online home and archive for all of my columns (691 and counting).

Paul Tracy won IndyCar at 2004 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
Paul Tracy won IndyCar at 2004 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

What are some of those things on your list, some of which you can no longer do but wish you still could? My list of things that I’d like to remember, in no particular order, includes: summer vacations with my parents to Penticton and Vancouver, and side trips to go fishing with my dad; snow skiing every winter in Banff, Alberta at Lake Louise, Sunshine and Mt. Norquay; autocrossing my cars; watching auto races (NASCAR and IndyCar at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, historic car racing at Coronado, IndyCars and sportscars at the Grand Prix of Long Beach, Formula One at Indianapolis and Formula E in Paris, France); driving an assortment of new cars with my fellow members of the Motor Press Guild at Willow Springs International Raceway; going to my kids’ birthday parties and school graduation ceremonies; driving my first car and my favorite car (not the same car, in case you’re wondering); going to San Diego Comic-Con and Tiki Oasis; taking photos through the open door from 10,000 feet up, in the frigid air, as the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights skydive out of their airplane towards the MCAS Miramar Air Show: and riding inside the Blue Angels’ Fat Albert C-130 transport plane as it practiced its entire aerobatic routine at the NAF El Centro Air Show. For every one of those things there will be, or has already been, a very last time.

San Diego traffic was even bad back in 2004
San Diego traffic was even bad back in 2004

As a senior citizen, there are some things that I used to do but am no longer able to do. My kids have long since had what are likely their final graduations from school. Some car races are no longer being run. My parents have both passed away. Snow skiing might already be too dangerous for me to do.

As a life-long photographer, I’ve photographed many of the things that I’ve done and enjoyed — first captured as prints and slides, and more recently as digital files. I never used to organize most of my prints, which I regret. Instead, the oldest of those photos — literally snapshots of my memories — were eventually stored away in boxes, not to be seen again for many years, if at all. I still have a projector and screen, if I should ever wish to look at my slides again. My digital images are my best organized photos, which makes it easier for me to find particular ones.

Mazda Miata Coupe for Japan-only in 2003
Mazda Miata Coupe for Japan-only in 2003

Together, those photos bring great joy to my life when I do take the time to look at them again.

They remind me of so many happy times in my life, and can serve as starting points for stories that I may someday tell to my children.

The next time that you are doing something that you enjoy and that you have done many times, perhaps think for a moment and ask yourself if this may be the very last time that you ever do that. Consider taking pictures of it, and perhaps writing down some of your thoughts. Years later you will likely be glad that you did.

Jay Leno at 2003 Art Center Car Classic
Jay Leno at 2003 Art Center Car Classic

To see additional photos, visit www.drivetribe.com, click on the magnifying glass, select “POSTS” and enter “AutoMatters & More #691” in their search bar. Please send your comments to AutoMatters@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2021 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #691


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