BJ Kimbrough: Take That Salad Bar and Shove It

There’s nothing I like to do more, other than a good old fashioned rat killin’ at the local dump, than to meet the legends and old timers that are heroes in our hobby and the automotive industry. Don’t get sidetracked by a rat killin’ in Southern California, there are still a few of us good old boys in the “Golden State” that know our way around a ’57 Chevy, eat biscuits and gravy for breakfast, and own .22 caliber rifles and jacklights. But don’t get sidetracked by that either, it’s meeting automotive legends that really make this story interesting.

Heck no. My personal trainer told me to take that salad bar and shove it!

Recently, the managing editor of our media group; an early thirties, scrawny, pencil-necked yuppie type, I’m told that yuppies are called metro-sexuals these days, handed down the assignment to cover Edelbrock’s annual charity car show weekend. A yuppie is easily identified because they don’t know what a bowl of grits are, or they believe that grits are grown on trees.

This beautifully prepared rod parked in the spot designated for Gene Winfield.

I tell Mr. yuppie editor that it would be a privilege to attend the Edelbrock event with full knowledge that when old hot rodders get together, there will be plenty of great stories and copious amounts of alcohol. All of this would translate into enough information for several future articles and another opportunity to win the “Drunker than Cootie Brown” award.

May 5th is a big day in Southern California. The locals call it Cinco de Mayo, a Spanish term which translates into 5th of May. It’s supposed to honor the opening of the first Corona beer bottling plant in May 5th, 1925… or something like that. Anticipating that there will be American long neck beer at the “Legends Party”, I arrived early at the Edelbrock distribution center in Torrance, California.

Gene Winfield and Dave McClelland were two of the twelve legends honored.

I watched as the honored guests and legends pulled into their assigned parking spots at the front of the building. New Escalades, Excursions and other SUVs rapidly filled the front row. Hardly what you would expect to see at an event honoring hot rod legends. All of the sudden, one of the nicest looking custom street rods pulled into the parking lot and found it’s way to the spot marked for Gene Winfield.

Winfield is one of the real legends in custom car building, having earned his reputation on the streets of California and Arizona, and cementing his status as the King of Kustoms in Hollywood by building cars for the popular shows of the 1960s.

The car stopped in Winfield’s designated spot and a younger looking man with a beautiful blond woman got out of the custom sled. Knowing that Gene Winfield was 85 years old, I was pretty sure that the man that just got out of the car was not the legendary car builder.

Winfield looked me right in the eye and explained that eating red meat and covering everything in salt is his secret to staying fit.

Once inside the building, my crew and I took in all the sights and got the lay of the land. The charity event was featured around twelve legends in the automotive industry. Each of the twelve legends were given a gold name tag to wear on their lapel so the adoring fans could identify them. As it turned out, the young man that parked in Winfield’s spot was indeed the 85-year old Gene Winfield.

Stunned, I clearly saw a plate of green in Winfield’s hand.

I made my way over to Winfield because he obviously had the secret of youth. After a quick introduction I got straight to the point. “Listen Gene, you look great and I have to ask what your diet is because I want to look like you when I’m 85.” Winfield looked me straight in the eye and lowered his voice so that only I could hear. “I eat lots of red meat and pour salt on everything,” he answered.

That sounded like a dietary plan that I could follow. Besides, it made perfect sense. No self-respecting car guy would eat anything besides red meat. I applied the new dietary plan immediately. A beautiful young blonde woman was taking orders and serving the attendees. “Would you like some of our salad from the salad bar?” she asked.

Later we spotted Winfield with a plate full of salad. Maybe there was bacon on it.

“Heck no. My personal trainer told me to take that salad bar and shove it,” I said and made my way to the taco bar where I paid my respects to the Cinco de Mayo holiday. Remembering what Winfield had said, I loaded up the tacos with spicy red meat.

It was time for our crew to start taking pictures and video of the event so we retreated to the balcony area to get some nice photos of the whole room. There was plenty to photograph and we were busy snapping pictures as quickly as the camera would capture the action. All of the sudden, I spied my new mentor and personal trainer through the lens. There was Winfield walking back to his table, returning from the buffet line. Closer inspection revealed the truth.

Playing with the zoom feature on the lens, I brought the image in closer to me. Stunned, I clearly saw a plate of green in Winfield’s hand. Later conversations revealed what I suspected. Gene Winfield, in addition to being a very creative man, has a wonderful sense of humor. Maybe we’ll have to invite him out to one of our monthly rat killings at the dump after all.

 

About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
Read My Articles

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