IT ALL BEGAN…

In early April of 1951 at a Portland Oregon hospital, Rod and Olivia Hutchcroft gave birth to a 7lb 7oz baby boy named Jerald. Little did they know at the time, in less than 10 years, their new baby would turn into a lifelong CAR NUT BALL. My first memory of anything related to a car was looking up at the sky from the rear window ledge of my parents 1949 Mercury four door sedan. I was probably only four or five years old and that was long before seat belts became the norm. If l was riding in the front seat, a hand across the chest was the only seat belt needed on hard stops. Funny, l never did any air-time while perched on that rear window ledge, so It’s entirely possible that l was only allowed up there when the car was parked at the store and our mom would leave Linda, Debby and me in the car. Watching the delayed broadcast of the Indy 500 race on TV in the late 1950’s is exactly when my love affair with cars began. By age 11 I was that kid that could name almost all of the new cars and remember well the day my dad came home from Ralph Williams Ford with a two year old 1960 Mercury Colony Park station wagon with the rear facing 3rd row seat. Oh yeah, of course I would wave and make faces at the vehicles behind us when l got to sit back there. The big Merc had a 430 cubic inch V-8 and my dad loved to show off its power. Could that be when drag racing first started to enter my CAR NUT BALL brain??? The expensive Merc quickly gave way to a four door 1960 Chevy Corvair and a move from Southern California up to Medford Oregon soon followed. The Medford experience only lasted for about a year and we moved back to So-Cal.

By age 13 my parents divorced and my love for cars began to really speed up. By age 15 l somehow talked my mother and uncle into buying me a used $300 Honda Super Hawk 300cc motorcycle. I made $20 a month payments to my uncle Jack from my busboy job at Bob’s Big Boy in Glendale, California. Bob’s on Colorado Blvd. in the mid 1960’s was one of the hot cruising spots in Southern California. It was common on a Friday or Saturday night to see cars lined up for several blocks waiting their turn to park in the rear car hop area. WOW, the amazing cars. music and of course the girls. An exciting time for a 14-15 year old kid, that had to lie about my age to get the job at Bob’s. The Honda had a blown up engine within less than six months, 100% from drag racing. The final street race was against a Chevy El Camino and 200 feet off the green light on Chevy Chase Blvd. in Glendale, the little Honda died. Because l was a drag racing idiot on that bike and didn’t crash and didn’t die, l decided to never ride a motorcycle again.

My first car was a 1949 Plymouth coupe that l paid $30 for. My 18 year old friend George made the deal, because l wasn’t even 16 yet. George had already taught me how to drive a car, but l only had my learners permit, so one day while George was at work, l snuck over to his house and fired up the Plymouth’s flathead straight six engine with the three on the tree transmission and decided to just drive around our one mile loop neighborhood. I was totally enjoying my first ever solo driving experience and sort of lost track of time as l made one mile loop after one mile loop. On one such loop, a fellow held up a sign that read PIT IN ONE LAP. To this day I still laugh whenever I think about that special day. I quickly parked the old Plymouth and soon sold it for a nice double my money profit. That’s no doubt exactly when the Wheeler Dealer part of my CAR NUT BALL life got started.

Turn the clock ahead almost 60 years and l still love to go drag racing (at the track), l still love cars and l still love the chase of Wheeling and Dealing and buying them and selling them. Leaving my very successful printing brokerage business in Huntington Beach California in late 1988, and moving to the Woodlands Texas (near Houston) and starting this newspaper has been the best business decision l’ve ever made. Not for the money, but for the love of making a living doing something that l still love now at age 73. The second best business decision l ever made was selling the paper after 33 years, to Jeff Nagy who has been a friend and business associate for over 25 years. I’m so proud of how Jeff, Chris and Lucy have taken the paper you are holding to a new level and are dedicated to making it better and better and I feel lucky to be part of their team.

by Jerry Hutchcroft
Car – Nut – Ball