You know why I love bench racing so much? It's because it's a lot like a high school debate, but without the braces and boring subject matter. Like school, a bench racing session still involves hot chicks because most bench racing happens at the track (chicks dig drag racing) or the garage (Sport Truck posters on the wall, duh!) so the scenery at a session tends to be pretty good. Put a few gearheads together in the right environment-a wedding reception or a wake works just as well as the garage-and a good bench racing session can easily provide an excuse to avoid chores or an annoying relative. Plus, no one ever really loses a bench race because we know that the same subject will be argued about the next time your buddies get together anyway. There really is no downside to bench racing unless you suck at it.
To be a master bench racer is to have your facts and fiction on the tip of your tongue at all times, and to be prepared to defend your position whether or not you're right or have a clue what you're talking about. You don't have to know the difference between a body-drop and a channel job, you just have to pick a side and throw some verbal jabs to prove that your opponent is fat, lazy, has a crappy rear suspension on his truck, or has never even finished a project so he couldn't possibly know what he's talking about. Yes, bench racing is equal parts knowledge and BS and intertwining both into your argument is a valuable skill that can reap cold, frosty rewards and cold, hard respect.
Bench racing is indeed an art and the topic of debate need not even revolve around racing. Some of my favorite topics include: what's the real difference between a race truck and a street truck, when are wheels too big, and the hotly-contested built-versus-bought debate. In case you're wondering, here are the sides on the first to two topics I usually pick during a bench racing session: a race truck can't gas up at the cheapest gas station in town, and your wheels are too big if you have to add metal to the tops of your fenders to cover them.
That last topic is a universal theme that hits home with anyone who's into cars and trucks and it will be fought over until trucks fly and I actually finish one of mine, whichever comes first. Does it really matter if you build your project truck or pay for it with your hard-earned scratch? Of course it does! I'll give you a great example of why it matters. We just featured an amazing truck in a recent issue of this magazine. I'll spare the new owner the embarrassment of telling you which truck it is, because the new owner embarrassed himself enough already.
I photographed the truck and it was sold before the story went to print. The new owner had the gall to tell me that his name should be in the article and to leave the old owner out of the story. Now, most of the time we are at the mercy of the information provided to us and it's not always accurate, leaving us to play detective, figuring out who built what and when. This time I knew the full story of the truck and yet, this guy wanted me to lie in print and say that he did all of the work.
In most cases I don't give a damn if the truck I'm writing about was bought and paid for by someone who didn't turn a single wrench on it. That is unless the dude is gonna outright lie about it and tell the world he's responsible for the work involved in making it beautiful. Very few people can build a truck from scratch into something amazing, and they are forced to farm out the work. There's nothing wrong with that. It's a necessary aspect of this hobby. If the only guys who got to own cool trucks were the fabricators that built them then there'd be very few people cruising the earth. So I've got nothing against anyone who pays to have good work done to their ride, and I've got nothing against anyone who purchases a finished ride and takes it to a show as long as they respect the person who built it by not trying to take credit for the work.
I do believe that when you aren't directly involved in the decision-making process of a project build that you're totally depriving yourself of the best part of the experience of owning a custom truck. It's tough to really appreciate a great looking truck once it's finished unless you've spent weeks combing through internet websites staring at wheels, spent days with a tape measure stuffed inside of the wheelwells of your ride while you agonize over choosing just the right backspacing for maximum tuck and maximum dish, and drawn rendering after rendering of your perfect paint design even when you have no artistic ability whatsoever. When the truck is done and if you pulled off the look you were after, the sense of pride you'll feel is way more tangible to you than it is for the guy who buys your truck because he likes the way it looks.
Buying is always easier than building. That's a fact. However, I don't believe we should all be so hung up on the built-vs-bought debate when there are so many better topics out there to argue over. Why don't we BS about the guy who puts hot rod-style pinstriping on a contemporary truck and instead of running the right old-skool steel wheels, he stuffs 'bags 'n big billets on it? If there is a more retarded look out there, I don't know what it is. Talk about clashing styles. Feel free to email me your point of view and I'll argue with ya about this one. See ya next month.