“Built her straight out of scratch”
“The summer’s here and the time is right
For racing in the street”
Racing in the Street
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
Any Springsteen fan knows that Bruce has a love affair with cars… classic muscle cars. It’s no surprise that after the success of the Born to Run album in 1975, Bruce chose the best way to treat himself…he bought a 1960 Black Chevrolet Corvette. Sweet! To Die For! She’s gorgeous!
Whenever I think of classic muscle cars, I think of one of my dad’s best friends…Dr. Bob. He’s a fanatical muscle car collector who also happens to be one of the most successful chiropractors in northern New Jersey. Dr. Bob has a magnetic personality with a rebellious edge. He’s always the life of the party. Muscle cars suit his good looks and charm. I’ve adored Dr. Bob ever since the first day I met him when I was 18. He’s so “down to earth” and way too funny!
Back to cars and racing in the street…
As you can imagine, I was delighted when Dr. Bob agreed to let me interview him about his car collection and love of muscle cars.
The following are highlights from our conversation:
LeeLee: Not sure if you’re a Springsteen fan or not, but Bruce sings about cars a lot. In fact, in the song Racing in the Street he sings,”I’ve got a 69 Chevy with a 396, fuelie heads and a hurst on the floor”
Dr.Bob: (he starts singing the song to me) Lee…you know he screwed up when he wrote those lyrics…
Lee Lee: yeah yeah yeah…I don’t want to get into that right now.
Dr. Bob: Ha. Well I do…396 is the size of an engine. Fuelie heads however, wouldn’t fit on that engine.
Lee Lee: okay, nobody’s perfect. Leave Bruce alone! Let’s talk about you and your cars. When did this love affair start?
Dr. Bob: It’s been going on for my whole life. My Dad was a mechanic. I grew up around cars. From the time I was in the 5th grade, I worked at gas stations.
Lee Lee: What was your first car? And did you build her “straight out of scratch?”
Dr. Bob: Absolutely. It was 1978. I was 17 and my first car was a 1966 Chevelle. I “built her straight out of scratch.” That’s what you did back then. I went to the junkyard. I got the body from a friend, the motor from a junkyard. It took a few months to build but I did it.
Lee Lee: What other cars did you build “straight out of scratch” back then?
Dr. Bob: A 1966 GTO, a 1969 Mustang, and a 1970 GTX.
Lee Lee: Back to the song, Racing in the Street…another line is: “Summer’s here and the time is right, for racing in the street.” Did you ever race any of the cars you built?
Dr. Bob: Yes, the Chevelle actually. About 8 times in Englishtown, New Jersey. Around 1979, 1980. It was a blast!
Lee Lee: It sounds like so much fun but so dangerous. That’s so you!
Dr. Bob: It’s exhilarating. The speed of the car just throws your entire body back. You can feel everything vibrating. Your heart is racing and beating so fast. Racing puts your senses on fire.
Lee Lee: My Dad claims you own some fine set of wheels now and that you continue to build them “straight out of scratch.” Tell me about them.
Dr. Bob: I’m always up for a challenge. Muscle Cars that are considered junk fascinate me. I always see the opportunity to make them beautiful again. I’m fortunate enough to own a few classic muscle cars. My collection includes a 1965 Ford Shelby Cobra, a 1967 Ford Mustang GT 390, a 1968 Ford GT 500, a 1969 Chevrolet Z28 Camaro with a 302 engine.
Lee Lee: Wow!
Dr. Bob: you love Chevy’s because of Bruce referencing Chevrolet so much in his music. The Z28 is a racing Camaro. You would love it.
Lee Lee: Where do you keep these beautiful cars?
Dr. Bob: At my home in Connecticut. I keep them in a climate-controlled garage. I only drive them on the weekends. I never take them out in the winter. They’re too valuable and important to me.
Lee Lee: Where do you do your car shopping?
Dr. Bob: I go to as many auctions as possible. My favorite auction takes place every September in Las Vegas. It’s a great trip and you meet wonderful people…crazy car collectors like me. I know practically all of the dealers now. Great people. It’s so much fun. And, there’s so much money changing hands at these auctions! Who cares about money though! Forget about money! It’s the best emotional investment. Yes, a love affair. You have to be fanatical to understand it.
Lee Lee: Trust me, I do. The way you feel about muscle cars, I feel about Bruce. I get it!
Dr. Bob: Let me tell you about one of the craziest things I did at a Vegas auction. One year, I was scheduled to leave the show before it wrapped up. I was pissed. I didn’t want to leave. Turns out, I guess I wasn’t meant to leave. After checking in at the Vegas airport to head back home to Jersey, I had to deal with mechanical issues on the plane. That meant delay, delay, delay. Instead of sticking around waiting, waiting, and waiting at the airport…I left and went right back to the auction! Screw the flight, the ticket, and going back home! I wanted to be at the car auction! Thank God I went back…I met new people, found a place to crash for a night, got into a bidding war that actually got televised on national TV… I didn’t win the bidding war but hey, I got on TV! It was such a riot and such a rush! So much better than sitting on the tarmac or waiting in an airport!
Lee Lee: Love that story and I love your passion for cars. Thanks so much for sharing! And, yes…I understand fanatical!
Dr. Bob: One last thing…if you need some great reading material other than Bruce…read about Carrol Shelby…then call me up and we’ll really discuss cars!