On Saturday, our David Tracy hosted one last meetup in Detroit before he heads westward into a new life free of his rusty shackles. His going away party was grand in scale and the turnout was epic. Somehow, David cleaned up his house just enough that it did not look like the Superfund site that it normally is, but that didn’t stop the madness that everyone saw coming.
I started my day at 5 am, piling some basic tools into the E39 wagon that I acquired from the Bishop. The E39 is far from the most efficient vehicle in my fleet, but I felt like I should stretch its legs on a road trip. With each passing mile, I became happier with my purchase. This $1,500 wagon was a better road trip vehicle than either of the Smarts that I purchased brand new and even better than my more expensive Volkswagens. At least to my eyes, the E39 joins the ranks of the few vehicles that can make 85 mph feel like 50 mph. Seriously, this wagon is so smooth and so gentle at high speed that I pulled out a GPS app to make sure that I wasn’t going 20 mph slower than indicated. Thank you again, Bishop!
Anyway, I arrived around 1 pm, which was just enough time to help my pals David and Jason do some last-minute prep for the party. This involved seeing a cute keg in the back of the E39, a grocery store run, and discovering that through the black magic of using a furnace, my bosses figured out how to thaw the pipes in the house. We had running water, thank God, and every other deity because I was not prepared to use a bucket.
At roughly 2:45, David and I hopped into his J10 and set off for the junkyard, leaving Jason to do last-minute prep. We arrived to a crowd of roughly 30, maybe 40 people.
All of you lovely people came out on that cold Michigan winter day to mess around in a junkyard. Most of these people were driving cars that weren’t even in the yard. In fact, the junkyard showing had cars fitting almost every enthusiast’s niche. We had a Chrysler K-car with mismatched body panels, there was the gorgeous pink Jeep of Just Jeepin’ from Opposite Lock, a couple of glorious Gambler 500 cars, and even a sleek Porsche 911.
Opposite Lock had a huge showing at this party, and I finally got to put faces to a lot of the names that I’ve been seeing online!
David must have looked like a sheepherder because we followed him everywhere we went. A lot of us weren’t really there for car parts, but to examine what poor vehicles ended up at US Auto Supply of Sterling Heights and why. Some cars burned, some cars were crashed, and some had mechanical failures. Some others were there because of Pure Michigan:
Some didn’t have a clear explanation, like this poor Nissan Pathfinder that looks like it got parked on its side in a hailstorm.
And what’s going on with this window? The glass shards were on the ground, so the damage was presumably done with the vehicle already at the junkyard. Did someone with a death wheel get bored?
Oh, and this Dodge Ram, which had some fantastic artwork. But it all looked a bit “off,” like there were some recreational drugs involved in the painting.
A bunch of us spent a good amount of time looking over a Land Rover. It seems that it did not reach the junkyard because of physical damage, and the airbag suspension had 2020 date codes on it. That made us shudder thinking that it got here because of a mechanical problem or an electrical problem.
Hopefully, that problem wasn’t in the transmission because some poor schmuck basically deleted the whole front end just to grab the transmission.
I hope to never end up in a place where I need a junkyard Land Rover transmission in the middle of a Michigan winter.
After the junkyard, we moved to the house for the party. I could tell you everything that happened, but our readers have been going a great job in today’s comments. Now, I’ll try to recall some of what happened, but as it turns out, I was the main drinker of the Malort that I tried to get others to drink. I do know that someone started a bonfire, and to fuel that bonfire, we started throwing David’s furniture in.
Oh, and a Lincoln Town Car on mud tires got stuck in the backyard mud pit just five minutes after the party started.
Reader bluemanual6wagon recalls it well:
The most telling moment of the party that put David’s sickness on display was when he looked out the back window in horror as a cheap bookshelf plucked out of his driveway went up in flames on the bonfire.
“That was a good bookshelf!!”
A bookshelf he is now free of.
Later that night, Jason told me to fetch the wooden table from in front of the house and burn that. Now this was a quality, solid wood table, but I’m not going to say no to watching household items burn. David stopped me just seconds before it went in. However, what did end up burning by accident was a tire, and that made for a horrific stench that filled the house.
3WiperB remembers the Troy Tire Fire, some say it can be smelled in 46 states!
I think I lost a few day or weeks off my life from that fire. Between the bookshelves and maybe a tire? Good times though.
The tire definitely took months off of our lives. At least it didn’t burn until after dark otherwise we would have met the Troy fire department that day.
David and Jason really pulled out the stops in making this party possible. They somehow achieved the monumental task of making David’s house presentable for guests. Our guys even managed to take some of the car parts that were laying around in David’s yard (seriously, there’s an alternator under one of his trees right now) and arranged them in the house like museum pieces. A rusty brake rotor also became a projectile at one point during some improvised karaoke. Oh, and they tried to give partygoers random crap from the house. Someone left with a printer and trash bags, I got a Lee Iacocca autobiography, some Matchbox Jeeps, and this vintage house fire starter:
David and Jason also stocked up on snacks, ordered a bunch of pizzas, and tried their best to make everyone feel welcome. It was a genuinely good time and one that I think few will forget.
Honestly, this party went off perfectly for the departure of a Detroit legend. You’ll hear about it more when David gets the chance to write about it. If David and Jason ever find all of the tools in his yard and finally push him off to California. Speaking of that, Sid Bridge wrote:
I feel for whoever moves in there next. I have this mental image of them trying to install a swimming pool, but ending up in a shot-for-shot remake of the climax to Poltergeist with rusty Jeep parts in the pool instead of corpses.
Amusingly, so many objects were hidden under snow cover that night that 3WiperB offered the idea of using a Harbor Freight metal detector to find cartifacts in the yard.
In all seriousness, thank you all for coming. The cars were great, the food was great, and the booze was something else. Special shoutout to DSM_OR_DIE from Opposite Lock. He brought some booze that was quite possibly the most delicious alcoholic drinks that I have ever tasted. But the best of it was the people. I heard all kinds of stories about people, cars, planes, buses, and even trains and I loved hearing every single one. It was lovely meeting all of you and I hope to meet even more of you when I kick off Chicago and Milwaukee reader meets in the spring. And David, I can’t wait to see where California takes you!
How does a tire end up in a fire pit by “accident”?
Mercedes did mention Malort…
Alcohol + fire = things go in fire (intentional or not)
at least that is my experience…
It was a result of a tire being used as a base for a fire pit bowl. It spread to the base at one point earlier in the night and someone used 4 pieces of sheetmetal between the bowl and the tire, which turned out to be some expensive floorboards for one of David’s projects. Later, when bookcases and other pieces of furniture that were larger than the bowl were added, the fire jumped to the tire. The floorboards were removed from the fire and cooled in the snow, and we let that tire fire rage, taking with it unknown amounts of time off the lives of all in attendance.
When and where for the Chicago and Milwaukee contingency? I may have to hurry up and get the 86 Cabriolet back for the mechanics place it has been for 2 years. If you juxtapose the meet with camping we will be there with the RX300 treehouse!
Having moved over a dozen times in my adult life(over 20 if counting as a kid), I can say it’s really helpful at keeping clutter down.
So hopefully this is really a fresh start for David but what I think he really needs is a significant other to help him focus on 1 project at a time, or just in general tell him no, you can’t bring that home, go work on the 3 you already have. 🙂
Good travels to David and Jason, hope they make it to LA ok.
I can’t wait for the invite to party at Torch’s house (). I’d drive the 2-3 hours for that…if I could get one of my cool cars reliable enough.
Or maybe we just all meet at Duncan imports?
That battery charger needs to be dismantled and disposed of immediately. This from a guy who uses his old man’s 50 year-old Schumacher!
“discovering that through the black magic of using a furnace, my bosses figured out how to thaw the pipes in the house”
Did he…turn off the furnace in the middle of winter?
Shame I wasn’t able to make it (I was at a brewery about 35 minutes NE of David’s), but I’m quite sure that either of our cars that we currently have access to definitely would have found themselves stuck in his back yard (the other two, on storage for the winter *definitely* would have).
How did David not get evicted long ago?
Because he fixes his landlord’s cars for free
That cannot be worth the grief inflicted upon his neighbors.
I think his (soon to be ex-)landlord lives next door. My guess is he’s been planning on bulldozing the whole lot and extending his house, but just lets David live there for entertainment and possibly as a cautionary example. “Kids, if you don’t do your homework, you’ll end up like that man next door!”
“…he’s been planning on bulldozing the whole lot…” And having it declared a Superfund Site?
Sounds like it was a blast! I wish I could have stayed longer than about 10 min, but a splitting headache and an hour left to drive before getting home kept my visit short. Glad I got to say bye to David (who of course offered a beer and a full box of some delicious looking donuts, but alcohol and sugar wouldn’t have helped my head), and briefly meet Mercedes chilling on a front seat used as furniture in the living room though.
I certainly won’t forget how disturbed Torch was after the worm when he realized the inexplicably moist floor had dampened his fine shirt. What a trooper. Very happy to have made the trip from Toronto. Autopians Assemble!
The junkyard crawl was awesome! It was cool seeing what other people geeked over. Also watching 15 people try to get a shift lever out of a Jeep was pretty funny. The party was great. I met a lot of new people and was surprised to see some friends there. I’ll miss you David. You brought me some challenging stuff to fix.
Coming out there was the best time I’ve had in a long time. An epic send-off for an epic gentleman. Sincerely, the guy who brought a multi-colored Plymouth while wearing an ‘Ask Me About My Yugo’ nametag.
Hey, I asked you about your Yugo! 😀
We started to talk about it and then we were diverted to push the green BMW wagon (I think) through the snow so the driver could park.
It sounded like yours is fantastic shape!
Whoever got the Lee Iacocca autobiography, that right there is a quality read. I had to do a book report on an autobiography decades ago, and I picked the tome written by the savior of Chrysler. All I remember of it is him ragging on the PA Dutch kids that ridiculed his childhood birthday “pizza parties” when pizza was an unknown food (“you don’t see any G-d D—n “Shoofly -pie Huts” all over the country nowadays, do ya?”) 😀
Shoo-Fly Pie huts … damn, I’m in. But they better have good wet-bottom pies, the one and only true Shoo-Fly!
“Wet-bottom pie” sounds like it could be an Amish sex thing.
I read that autobiography in high school and it made me want to be an IE so badly.
I never got there but being a UX Designer is just as good using the same sensibilities.
I’m so bummed I missed it! I moved my flight and everything to be able to go and then a migraine hit and I was unable to make it. Next time…if there is one!
It was a great time. It was nice meeting you, David and Torch. You are all just as nice in person as you guys are in the your videos. I was standing in the garage when someone came in for “sheet metal” to help with the tire fire. When leaving he shoved a board out of his way which then collapsed another wood shelf holding petroleum products. David can’t win with his shelving. I hope he doesn’t need much in LA. It was also great talking to Rob Peterson who is an engineer and Autopian contributor!
Amazing recollection of the event. I just laughed my ass off since I was the guy who came in looking for sheet metal. ???? Great times.
The sheet metal worked though, theydelayed the tire fire by a couple hours. Those floorboards might be a smidge more brittle now though.
So sad I ended up not being able to come, but this write-up is awesome!
Is it weird that this comment also fits after a piece of erotica m
my favorite moment during the relatively brief time there was a younger fella saying that was his first tire fire. the wife and i were very pleased to have witnessed that and thought fondly of our first tire fires (yes, we both grew up in rural michigan, albeit hours apart). we enjoyed the fine humans that were present.
“Oh, and this Dodge Ram, which had some fantastic artwork.”
Indeed, that’s a nice profile of an RAF Hawker Hurricane (though the air intake is a bit small). I couldn’t do that sober, much less while under the influence, so kudos to that artist…
oh god… malort 🙁
I have the same reaction to IPAs. And rum. But people like what they like.
For when you want to fight your dad!
Also, these pants aren’t gonna shit themselves!
That looked like a lot of good fashioned, all-American fun. Obviously, I wish I could have been there, but it’s a delight to read about all the hijinks and fun had amongst Autopians. Maybe someday, I can make it for the reunion.
There’s going to be a reunion, right?
I won one of those prizes, and being the Porsche guy, my choice was the “Annual And Sustainability Report of Porsche AG 2018” – first, because it was the only Porsche thing there, and second, for the ludicrousness of it. I mean, it’s two volumes of around 145 pages each, in a fancy slipcase. For a SUSTAINABILITY report. Shouldn’t that be digital only? I mean, I’m not exactly Captain Planet, but come on. So I figured something ridiculous was the perfect way to remember this event. Thanks for hosting David, Jason, and Mercedes. It was great talking to David and Jason again and finally meeting Mercedes (I *still* can’t get over the fact Mercedes has 21 vehicles!). Sorry that David is gone but he did promise to return for some events – we’re holding you to that! Oh, and that artwork tailgate in the pics above – David brought that and said it’s going on the wall of his LA apartment.
It was definitely a party 🙂
The snow made parking fun. I may or may not have hooned a little, taking the long way around the tree to join the surprisingly orderly row on the left. Jeeps went to the back right corner, and other vehicles were lined up along the fence. AWD/4WD vehicles went wherever, as did later arrivals. We almost got the Abarth (not me, a car) parallel-parked perpendicular to the K-Car. Some folks got stuck but we were able to get them moving. And there were no accidents AFAIK, which is a minor miracle.
That poor eviscerated Range Rover in the salvage yard was jarring, but there was a beautiful green L322 at the party – stunning. And it had just hit 102,000 miles.
I got to chat with you, DT, and Torch and even got a couple of great pictures of the four of us – illuminated as we were by the very bright lights on Derp’s truck. 🙂 And I had some excellent conversations with other guests – a bunch of interesting car nerds, having a great time.
Damn girl! I been pitchin gold here lately! WTF happened to COTD?
I have attended many a party. Mostly frat parties which some here will poopoo as elitist rich snobbery. Not my frat Kappa Sigma at FSU. Were all poor, seeking friendship, a family to replace the family we left behind, and a lot of booze. It like here worked not because of frat or free beer but because of a kindred spirit among various races, creed, and color as well as sexes. I remember many of those brothers and sisters nigh from 40 years ago. I doubt the party will be remembered just for the party but as kindred auto enthusiasts who follow this site I bet 40 years from now there will be several autopians who write “Hey you remember when all this started? Back before David and Jason became President and Vice President and we partied at DTs house before he moved to LA? What a long strange trip it has been. We are so lucky that DT & JT are President and Vice President of our HOA don’t you think?
Ok, Imagining those 2 as President and VP of a HOA makes me think. What would an Autopian HOA community look like? Would there be regulations that residents are required to have at least 2 non-running project cars at all times?
Imagine getting a letter scolding you for not having ENOUGH spare parts stored on the lawn.
The thought of this brought happiness to an otherwise Tuesday morning…
Viva Opposite-Lock! It was great. I look forward to making long drives for a reader’s meetup I maybe shouldn’t attend but will anyway. And of course the possibility of organizing the chaos for Detroiters… Hey, I somewhat organized the Oppos!
Hells yeah, y’all’s even gots gud parsh to show up.