Racism at small classic car rallies-your opinions & feedback
Hello everyone, my name is Paul Lee, as my username suggests, I am Canadian-Korean, born here in Canuckville. I was recently at a small local classic car rally in Burlington, Ont (a sleepy, wealthy retirement area west of Toronto), with had a healthy mix of custom hot-rods, all the major makes from the 1950s-1970s on Lakeshore Road at the Food Basics plaza parking lot. The vast majority of people were kind, gregarious and helpful to me. But a healthy number eyed me with suspicion and mild animosity. They did not acknowledge my presence, and almost viewed me as if I were going to do something negative to their property or for whatever reason. I was reasonably dressed given the weather I guess I was somewhat yuppish in fashion, and I am generally clean-cut in appearance. I am young, and single and a regular fellow who like these white older men LOVE classic cars. I appreciate their simplicity, their elegance, and of course their outright beauty (and for the preppers formerly known as "survivalists," their EMP resistance hahahaha). When I asked the owners about the vehicles, many happily answered my questions and were passionate about their cars and were delighted in answering my questions as a newbie (as I do not have a classic 1966 Mustang, but I would be willing to give a kidney for one right now hahaha)My main concern I presented to those kind souls who talked to me: is the real cost of ownership, and driving it around, parking safety issues, etc. The fine men gave me excellent & practical advice, and I greatly respected their knowledge & experience. But other owners as I said before viewed me with disdain, as if I didn't know a thing about cars, or could even drive, despite the fact that I've attended three advanced driving schools, including Bridgestone Racing Academy, east of Toronto. Or they viewed me perhaps out of a simple racist upbringing, as many of these men grew up in the Halton Region and surrounding areas, when it was essentially a Anglo community, during their heyday I imagine seeing someone who wasn't White must have caused a stir when they were younger.
Was I wrong in my observations? Doesn't the classic car & the larger overall auto racing sport/hobby/community inorder to remain alive & vibrant need fresh blood? Shouldn't the elders teach the young not only the history of the cars, the practical mechanical skills, but the love that goes with pride in owning and loving these wonderous machines regardless of skin colour or if the driver is a boy or girl?
Best advice I can suggest is to stick to talking to the good guys and ignore the 'bad' guys! It's their problem and their loss. I've always found that if you go up and talk to anyone and express interest in their car, then generally they will be happy to talk to you about it - covering all the subjects you mentioned and sometimes a lot more than you need to know!
Stick with it and I hope you have a more relaxed response at the next show you go to. As an Australian in the UK I've had to overcome the natural reticence of the English in a lot of cases - at least in the US people are generally more outgoing!
I'm British and go to British cars shows but you will always get a few that seem un-willing to talk or help, maybe with me it's the long hair and long grey beard that makes me different, as Andrew says above stick to those that are the good guys.
I suppose there's often doubts in peoples' mind at such events when someone with what many would call 'alternative appearances and dress' approach them, but my partner is from the Far East, and other ladies from Africa and China (partners of English people) turn up, but never seen any problems: my "her indoors" seems to capture all sorts of owners for a chat - better at it than I am! - so as most owners of cars are delighted to help and talk about their pride and joy please have another think about why any problems occur in this (unfortunately) now corrupt and violent world.
I wouldn't give it any of your time. It's the same reaction when you turn up in a car that 'they' might not agree is a classic. It's merely a matter of opinion and everyone is entitled to it. Though I would prefer it if everyone focused more on the shared enthusiasm and passion for fellow car fanatics. There are ooodles of cars that do not float my boat, but I love hearing about them from a passionate owner - not dull/overbearing gnomes however...