Being a car enthusiast is much bigger than simply loving a material object. It is about experiences, good or bad, about learning, and most importantly, about the community with which you surround yourself. The friends you make, the shared passion between them, and the growth you experience together are who add depth to an otherwise unhealthy obsession with an inanimate vehicle. Those friends are who compel us to keep going, keep improving, and keep challenging ourselves. They are also the driving force behind the long, lonely, expensive road trips I take back to Tennessee for an all too short weekend spent around them enjoying food, cars, and company. 

This past weekend, I spent roughly twenty-four solid hours driving with spurts of relaxation in between to attend the Slammedenuff Nashville show at the Wilson County Expo Center. My trip down from Ohio to Chattanooga, where I stayed with my friend Karey, was roughly uneventful. The E30 has been in rare form lately. I finally replaced the hacked-together exhaust with some beautiful, if too loud, ‘bosozoku pipes’ mated to equal-length stainless steel headers on the M52 swap, have handled all the leaks that developed over the past few years of driving, and even dialed in my fuel mixture issue that was destroying my gas mileage. However, I didn’t realize that the stay at home practices we have all suffered through would have a physical effect on me.

Since I have barely been able to enjoy my convertible this season, I made the (stupid) decision to drive the entire trip with the top down allowing the wind to blow through my hair. Being incredibly pale from my lack of outdoor exposure this year, I had no tan to protect myself against the Sun. Nor did I make the intelligent choice to wear sunscreen of any kind. By the time I arrived at Karey’s house in Chattanooga, I looked like cooked bacon. Blistered, pained, and brilliantly red. This would hamper some of my weekend fun, as most of the show that was to take place that Sunday was outside, but I refused to let it completely ruin my trip.

Despite my stupidity, we were still able to follow through with our plans to have a small pre-meet at Karey’s house. Ben Battles, a regular contributor here with his incredible photography, joined us and we were finally able to meet in person after two years of creating content together states apart. More of our local friends came through, and we enjoyed dinner and drinks together in the waning sunlight of Saturday night.

Karey is a unique person. His passion for cars is only exceeded by his passion for kindness. He regularly hosts his friends for dinner, opens his doors for guests to stay as long as they wish, and entertains us all with his glowing personality. That personality is what brought many new faces together in his driveway for our impromptu meet. It is his character that I think perfectly depicts the ideal car enthusiast. He loves everyone, no matter what they drive or who they are, and is an excellent example I think we should all follow.

Thankfully, Ben (@madhatters423) was there to capture all Karey’s hospitality and our takeover of his driveway. We were in good company, all thanks to the cars that connected us and Karey’s friendship. Even in my hometown of Chattanooga, I was able to find new enthusiasts with whom I had never connected despite many mutual friends. That’s what this interest is truly all about. To put it in stereotypical terms, it’s about ‘family’ (read that in Vin Diesel’s voice.) We share an interest that brings us together like none other could, whether we’ve been together for years or minutes. Even with a nine-hour drive one way, filled with sunburn, I was still able to have a wonderful time thanks to those people. We could all use some good news right now, and I think this is it. We still have cars and a family of enthusiasts globally. No matter who you are or where you are, you can find those friends and enjoy their company through a common lens.