Where We've Been; Where We're Going

I have found that to really get to know someone you must first understand where they came from.  I don't mean geographically, although that does affect most people more than they realize, I mean the bits and pieces of life that help make each of us who we are. 

To constantly remind myself of who I am, I keep a picture hanging in my shop of me at the age of two, proudly standing in front of my father's '34 Chevy sedan.  As the story goes we were getting ready to head to an NSRA event in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  Not bad considering I was returning for my second time!  You do the math.

As the owner of Woody’s Hot Rodz, Chris Sondles is paving the way for our youth to continue to discover the excitement of street machine performance. Chris is a true evolutional son, whose forefathers planted the seed of speed at a young age, and watched it grow to where it is today. From his first professional stint working for the Classic Chevy International club, to becoming SoffSeal founder Gary Anderson’s right-hand man, Chris has made a positive impact on the younger set. Today, Chris operates a shop that can build them with the “big boys.” And with a generation between them, it’s safe to say that Master Sondles will be influencing car enthusiasts for a long time to come.

There are many other things that I keep around that remind me of where I came from.  Like the '78 Spring Nationals hatpin that I bought at my first NHRA event, or the multitude of event t-shirts that haven't fit in years.  The most important item in this collection of childhood memories, however, is my '57 Chevy sedan. 

I have never known a time when this car was not in my family.  The classic was done and re-done several times in the '70s and '80s by my father and uncle, and was a mainstay of Classic Chevy Club national events and ISCA shows for many years.  It was retired very publicly by my father when for the first time in its history it did not place in the top of its class at a national car show.

I still remember the words my father spoke at the event in Columbus, Ohio, in 1984.  He said, upon receiving an honorable mention, "I guess the days are gone when a guy can just build a car in his own garage with his own hands and compete on a national level."  Moments like that one stuck with me as I grew into who I am today.

Growing up as an enthusiast's son has its ups and downs, but at the age of 12 I realized that my father's love for cars could become my meal ticket for life.  All I had to do was pay attention and I could turn his hobby into my career.  And that's exactly what I did. By the time I was out of high school I had attended several dozen national events, had been to the Carlisle swap meets a total of 22 times, had written articles on model car building, worked in my uncle's restoration shop for three summers and had been hired for my first professional job in the automotive aftermarket by the experts at Classic Chevy International. 

Over the next 10 years I was present for the first Americruse, participated in the first Hot Rod Power Tour, saw the rise and fall of Pro Street, attended Carlisle another 20 times, toured 16 events per year for several years as Classic Chevy's road-guy, graduated from college, wrote more automotive articles, became National Sales Manager for SoffSeal, became very involved with SEMA and purchased my first automotive business.

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