Thursday, March 26, 2009

What about the buh-lower, man?

You can't underestimate the power of subliminal messages.

When I was a sophomore attending William B. Travis HS, I took a senior-level science class, Anatomy and Human Physiology. I was pretty focused, but many of my classmates were not.

Bradley Bohls and Brad Newcombe sat at the lab table behind me. We distinguished Mr. Bohls with his full name, in order to refer to them more easily.

Brad and Bradley talked cars all year. All the time. During lectures, quietly, and during breaks loudly. As I was taking a ham sandwich with lettuce and mayo through the digestive system (our mid-term was just one question: Take this food through the digestive tract, describing in detail what happens to all the components of it...), they were debating the lift of the newest cam to come out if Isky, or how whether sleeved blocks were OK to use, or should it be iron or nothing.

It was a constant, low buzz behind me. They were positively giddy. Only Brad actually had a car, of course. He was a devoted Mustang guy. Bradley, on the other hand, liked Chevys. He was of course, willing to help Brad out as he could, while he waited for his ride to show up.

About midway through the year, I started helping the guys through their labs so we could talk cars.

One thing got them both more excited than anything else: Forced induction. We'd be talking about crank balancing and how it related to engine horsepower, and Bradley would grip the sides of his seat and start rocking back and forth, gripped by automotive autism, and he would say
"Yeah, man, but what about the buh-lower Brad? Huh? What about the blower!"
And then we'd talk about Maggies, and roots-type blowers, and the centrifugal ones and struggle to understand why God inflicted turbo lag on the faithful.

Weekends, I worked at a pizza place where most of the school turned up after football games. Brad would bring the mustang down, when it was running. He never did get a supercharger in the car, but he did have an awful lot of engine. He used to put a bag of cement in the trunk to keep the rear end down (we didn't know anything about suspension).

I learned a great deal in Anatomy and Human Physiology. In addition to getting my first glimpse at how the human body worked, I got an education on cams, pistons, transmission ratios, and of course, buh-lowers.

Thanks Brad and Bradley for the constant background drone of car talk. When I got the vette, it all came back to me. It was as if all those car magazine articles on "how to" were right there in front of me again.

Every once in a while, when it's quiet under the carport, and there's only me and the car and the work on it, I can almost hear "But what about the blower, man? When you getting the BLOWER?"


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