As spring prepares to turn to summer, my mind recently drifted back to the best time of the year. When I was a kid, there was nothing better on a Saturday morning than waking up before the rest of the family, pouring a huge bowl of breakfast cereal and plopping down on the family room floor in front of the TV.
My Saturday morning cartoons were ready to start. Planning out the morning’s viewing was always difficult, especially because my older sister and younger brother thought they deserved both some of the Sugar Pops and a chance to select the next half-hour’s viewing. That’s why being first to the TV was so important. Because we had never seen a remote control, being within arm’s length of the channel changer was critical to maintaining control of the airwaves.
Over the years, my cartoon favorites all seemed to include one thing: a car. Vehicles were important to me and, usually, were more so than the characters or their actions.
I found myself particularly enamored by any Warner Brothers cartoon that had a road in it. Of course, that meant the Road Runner played a huge part in my passion for cars. The fact that I knew someone who actually drove a Plymouth Road Runner with that distinctive horn…even better.
Hong Kong Phooey, the superhero crimefighter secret identity of Penry Pooch, drove the “Phooeymobile,” an incredible car that could transform into a boat, a plane or many other vehicles, as needed. The physics were puzzling, but I managed to get past any nagging questions.
The Wacky Racers were a group of race car drivers competing in a series of nonsensical races across the country. Penelope Pitstop was the beautiful female racer, Dick Dastardly and Muttley were the villians, but my favorite was Rufus Ruffcut and his Buzz Wagon, a log with sawblade wheels.
Velma, Daphne, Fred, Shaggy and Scooby Doo all drove from adventure to adventure in the Mystery Mobile. The Flintstones got where they were going through the courtesy of Fred’s two feet. The Jetsons had flying cars, for crying out loud, vehicles I’m still waiting for.
And, when Pops would outfit the Mach 5 with some new gadget for Speed Racer’s benefit? Oh, I was in heaven.
Even the commercials were important, at least when Evel Knievel’s Stunt Cycle or the SSP Crash Up Derby cars were shown.
I say all this because we’ve all had inspiration for our careers that we may not have even realized helped fuel our passions. For some, it’s ridiculous animation and cheesy voice actors. For others, it’s an influential teacher or mentor.
Congratulations to Jerry Koenig, Power Equipment and Diesel Technology Instructor at the Cuyahoga Valley Career Center in Brecksville, OH, who was recently named the B’laster “Instructor of the Year,” in partnership with our sister property Tomorrow’s Technician. Jerry has been much more inspirational to his students – future members of the transportation repair industry – than any amount of super-sweet cereal was to me.
As Jerry (and thousands of other automotive teachers) begin their summer vacations, I’d like to say thanks for everything they do. Our industry depends on them to continue to grow.