I seem to have always been lucky to be in the right place at the right time. Even if I do not realize it at that time. I have been to many Champ Car races, ALMS, Trans Am, SCCA, Grand Am, NHRA, SEMA, and many other opportunities to meet great people. With this series of articles, I will not bore you with stories of standing in a long line to shake Chip Foose’s hand and click a picture, yet I will entertain you with amusing stories of funny encounters with famous race drivers and Automotive Pioneers. For the first edition of B.W.G. (Brushes With Greatness) I will spin the tale of a impromptu lunch I had at SEMA several years ago.
It was late 2003, and being a Ford employee at a Ford Racing Performance Parts Distributing Dealer, I was invited to participate in some of the festivities at SEMA that year. So, with my VIP passes in hand, I headed to Las Vegas! Ford was a feature marque that year as part of their “1903-2003 100 Years” celebration, and Ford had the “Proving Grounds”, a large open lot in between the two convention halls, all to themselves that year for driving displays. All of Ford’s displays inside the Halls were a ‘Barbarella’ theme with all of their attractive models wearing tight silver 60’s era space suits. Me and one of the guys I was with were looking at the Shelby GR-1 concept car and noticed an attractive woman talking to the Barbarella model at the rear of the car. It was obvious by their conversation that they were roommates but I thought nothing of it and moved on.
About two hours later, we venture out to the “Proving Grounds” to have lunch. There is a huge “Ford Racing” Tractor Trailer with a mural of a new Ford GT and an awning coming off the side of the trailer. As it is Mid November in Vegas, it is still a little chilly so me and my buddy take the only table outside of the awning in the sunshine as the shade was way to cool…at this point in time I am very glad I wore my long sleeve Ford GT T-shirt. As we are sitting there, basking in the Southern Nevada Sunshine amongst some very rare Ford Iron, including, Parnelli Jones 1970 Mustang Boss 302 Trans Am Championship winning car, the Ford Mustang GTR Concept, and the Focus RS8 flown in from Europe, I here a sultry voice say, “May I share this table with you?” As I look up I see the attractive woman who was talking to the Ford model from earlier.
She sat down and talked with us for about 10 to 15 minutes, turns out she used to be a Ford model, but now manages them and yes, she is roommates with the other woman she was speaking to earlier. What happened next I will NEVER forget. A very well dressed man walked up and sat down across the table from me. He was shorter with a darker complexion, long straight hair pulled into a very professional looking pony tail. Expensive, thin dark, round, wire rim glasses. He instantly started talking about how tonight was his first night off in weeks and he planned to hit the clubs and check out the local models. We talked cars and directions of manufactures, racing and trends…he seemed to have a very unique perspective on a lot of things and I very much enjoyed our discussion over our lunch. Not once throughout our conversation during the 45 minutes we sat and ate did he make any mention of who he was. After he got up and left, my buddy asked the Model Rep, “Who was that guy…is he with the models?” She just looked dumbfounded and said, “Do you not know who that was? That is Camilo Pardo, the designer of the Ford GT that is on the side of this tractor trailer we are sitting next to…oh and that is on your t-shirt!”
After I got back to my hotel, I googled him and was amazed to read about the man I had spent the better part of an hour with that day. He was Ford’s golden child, brought up through the ranks. His resumé includes not only the Ford GT, but he was also charged with every unique body design feature on the 2003-2004 Terminator Cobra, and every painted work of art in any Ford Corporate office. I also learned along with his keen eye, he has a weakness for lovely ladies, and his parties are quite wild with ladies sometimes ending up covered in nothing but the finest chocolate money can buy!
I learned a very valuable lesson that day….When in doubt, ask who you are dining with and stand up and introduce yourself!!!!!!!
Until next time……..Feel free to drop me a line at [email protected] and let me know what you think of this, or any of the articles….or any B.W.G. you might want to share!
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