December 2014 – January 1, 2015
Naturally my Disgustang work slowed down around the holidays, which I expected. But in addition to the usual holiday fun, I had the good fortune to be asked to drive Stanley Zimmerman’s 1936 Packard Standard 8 Phaeton in the 2015 Rose Parade. This year’s Grand Marshall was set to be Louis Zamperini, but he unfortunately passed away in July, so to honor his memory, his family was asked to ride in his place.
The Rose Parade is extensively planned, researched, and managed. It’s a lot of work! But because it’s been planned down to the second, you, as a driver, don’t really need to know or think about anything. They picked me up from my house at 2:45 A.M (yes, you read that correctly) and brought me to the decorating pavilion where all the cars had been decked out with flowers a-plenty. From there we drove up to the Tournament House, where they had breakfast set up for the drivers and other VIPs.
It always amazes me how poorly people take care of their cars. Of the four of us, my car was the only one that started right up at the decorating pavilion, had headlights, and didn’t backfire. Carl Amato, the fantastic mechanic at the Automobile Driving Museum, had gone through the car extensively before we took it to Pasadena, of course. He’d scrubbed the whitewalls, cleaned the fender wells, polished every bit of chrome, changed the oil, put on a steering stabilizer, and set the idle for 2.5 mph, among other things, and I’m glad he did. All I had to do the entire parade was let the clutch out and it idled its way through the entire time! Oh, and lest I forget to mention, I’d driven the car (not trailer’d it) from El Segundo to Pasadena a few days before…the fact that no one else had trusted their cars to drive to Pasadena means a lot.
I had a great time in my literal front row seat, but I was absolutely exhausted by 10 AM. I’m glad I did it, it was a once in a lifetime experience.