Ride of the Week: Catching up with a CUSTODIAN of COOL…

When I was a child, I spent many hours under our olive tree with my toy cars — Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Corgis and Dinkys.

I would clear out the leaves from the root systems and create a trail to which I would drive each car completely through. This was what I could control in a family of seven where the unpredictable was predictable.

But I wouldn’t get up until each car had its turn, and I had about 100 cars. So it would take at minimum an hour. When we moved from Palos Verdes to Ojai, I set out to find a new tree, but alas, they were oaks surrounded by ivy. So there were no root systems and I had to find a new car hobby in which to immerse myself.

My parents weren’t into cars, but I was. And I was in deep. I spent my childhood with model kits, car movies, go karts and drawing. Drawing, drawing and drawing.

Guess what? Now, my life is about driving up and down on PCH in a different car every week. And still drawing, drawing, drawing. Seems like a good life, eh? I mean, I was surrounded by all those toy cars my entire upbringing and it’s brought me tremendous joy. What could be better?

Cut to: Pictured here is tiny Max Neel sitting in a 1956 Lincoln Continental. And compared to me and my experience with cars, this kid is a hundred-fold. He spends his days with his dad driving classics, muscle, vintage trailers, classic trucks, antiques and more. I give him my books so he colors like the wind. Every day, he races around a car museum owned by his pop, climbing in and out of every car, capturing the feel, scent and sound of them all. His playground is over 60 years old.

What will life be like for Max in 40 or 50 years? Because of his upbringing with cars, love and passion of his parents and hanging with guys like me and my team, it boggles my mind as to what this kid will be up to. My son Sean was immersed in art, sculpture, movies and Malibu. And now, at 31, he’s a professional sculptor in the film industry having just worked on Star Wars and is a dad himself. And yes, he loves the ocean.

So this week’s Ride of the Week is dedicated to little Max here. And it will stick with him until he’s 50 for sure when he pulls this article out and shows it to me when I’m 90. “Remember this, Fireball?” he’ll say. And on that day, I’ll have the widest smile possible.

Fill your life with those things that give you joy. Immerse your time with those that share your passion. Spend your days doing what you love and loving what you do. And start right now because, in a blink, you’ll be 90, too. And you better hope to God that you’re smiling. I know I will.

Want to be featured in Ride of the Week? Send Fireball an email at askfireball@fireballtim.com.

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