Looking back, 2022 was an extremely fun and memorable year. From my mother receiving the OG Award at Driven in May, to the epic day that was High River for all of us in September, the success of new events, the multiple wicked part finds for various cars, and many enjoyable meals shared with friends as we relaxed at the evening car meets, this really was one of the good ones.
Did everything go to plan? Not quite – the Grand Prix obviously never reached the predicted state of completion so its restoration recap and proper debut may be next season, the Thunderbird’s transmission may have decided to not transmission any more at the very last event of the year and the car then took a hit on one quarter, and the S15’s engine pull and bay makeover which were meant to take place this winter have been shelved for another time – but since when do things all stick to the script? Incidentally I also have a few pieces for Arabis that I never had time to install while it was nice outside, but that’s merely the fault of my own scheduling and obligations. Worth noting though is that the project car hiccups were just that – project car hiccups – and that otherwise, everything else went pretty dang well.
As the summer season was starting to wrap up and we were all looking ahead to the fall and winter, naturally my mind started to wander a little bit to the eventual year-end recap that would have to come together to summarize the 12 month period and what exactly the theme would be, if there would be one.
For newer readers unfamiliar, the site’s original review post format (recapping the entire year by going back through and touching on all of the entries and updates from it) was always nice; with the posts naturally being composed and uploaded one at a time and taken as single entities, piling everything from the prior 12 months into a single list and seeing it all together was always an enjoyable reminder (and sometimes surprisingly packed story) of just how much had happened, how much had been achieved, and how much had changed in the year that was about to close. Realistically however one could just scroll back through the site at any time and get a similar experience. The “themed” style of year-end reviews that we have been using for a few years now meanwhile, have been a fun way to change up the approach by bringing a little bit of a mental exercise to the process when it comes to finding a theme that ran through the entirety of the year. That said though, I never wanted to and never would restrict myself or the recaps by forcing some kind of arbitrary theme just for the sake of adhering to that format and I hadn’t yet had to. Sure enough at some point in the year or recap process a common thread would make itself known; a common idea, feel, or direction. To be fair, it took a while for this year’s idea to really make itself clear to me even though it was in front of me the entire time – in a number of ways my friends and I had been changing how we approached things this year and when it finally clicked, I was amazed it hadn’t done so sooner.
Rethinking, reconsidering, reprioritizing. Reevaluation.
If we rewind to the start of the season, the first real instance was a more personal one when I had the wake-up call that now – in my 30s – I simply cannot roll into events on an hour or less of sleep and a Red Bull any more (incidentally, that’s what I was running on for iMSS ‘16, and the Red Bull breakfast was only thanks to Alex bringing me one when we met at my house that morning to take the convoy of cars down to Max Bell, haha). Working silly hours for days or weeks in a row to get a vehicle or set of vehicles prepared for an event massively takes a toll on me now and while we have accomplished great things over the years with this prioritization of working hours over personal care, it became clear that those days need to be behind me now. At the first big event of the year (Driven) I was already feeling the effects from the – all things considered, not too bad – lack of sleep but this year’s Sorority Row was the one that sealed the deal for me. Heading to bed at 6 or 7 in the morning for a nap multiple days in a row had me to a point where at the show, all I heard from people was concern about if I was feeling okay or if I needed to go and rest, which was part hilarious and part alarming. Even Harrison revealed later that he hadn’t wanted to bring it up at the time, but he too thought I looked a bit ill from the sleep deprivation, haha. In fact, the very first person I spoke to at the show that morning was Yolanda and her opening line was “how are you here right now?”, looking like she’d just seen a ghost, knowing how late I had gone to bed that morning. The recovery period from that show was like nothing I’d ever been through before and I drew the line then and there that I could not and should not do that ever again. If it means taking on smaller projects for shows, having less-ambitious checklists to cross off, or even not keeping up such a pace of large events, so be it; we have all made and share amazing memories of having someone’s car in pieces in one of our garages, turning wrenches while the entire neighbourhood was asleep and it was all quiet outside (remember the 3AM interior swap, Brian?), but it’s time to be a little more responsible with personal well-being.
Along with the promised change of how we (I) prepare for events though, also came a rethink of which events we attended in the first place. We have our yearly staples naturally and enjoy returning to familiar grounds annually to partake in another edition of shows we enjoy, but that usually means having to miss out on other events due to the always-overlapping nature of our calendar. With the short season and so much needing to fit within it, having multiple events happening at the exact same time around the city and province is just how things have to be done and that can lead to quite the dilemma – remain at the usual events that we know and enjoy, or skip them for a year to try something else? There are so many amazing shows (especially in smaller towns) that really go all-out and having to continually sit them out is a little sad. This season I made a point to respectfully decline some tried-and-true events for the chance to go and experience ones I hadn’t yet, with the Bowness Show being one in particular which I greatly enjoyed finally getting to see for myself. It could be (and was) easy enough to fall into a pattern of always going to the same events simply because we always go to them and know what to expect, but perpetually having to pass up so many others was something I wanted to change this year. There were in fact still more events in other towns I wished I could have seen in person but I feel a solid effort was made in ’22 and it shall be continued from here on out.
Similarly, even with the informal meets our attendance saw a change as the public “tuner” gatherings were nearly completely omitted in favour of private meets, and the more classic-oriented weekly events. Don’t shoot the messenger, but they were simply better with no drama, no worry of police, and maturity and respect on display instead of crackle tunes and fly-bys. We also solved the issue of trying to fit in both Cars and Coffee as well as Chestermere on Tuesdays by simply agreeing we would have the latter as the default and skip it for the former on the themed evenings, which greatly simplified things and avoided a lot of debates.
Next up, the third big reconsideration for us was then how we spent our time at these events. As the year went on, at many of the Chestermere and A&W gatherings specifically friends and I would spend more and more time each night just enjoying the dinners and conversation while watching the cars in the background, instead of quickly eating and then getting back to walking the lot to photograph everything. I found myself coming home from meets and gatherings with less and less photos each week and that was okay. It’s no secret that not every photo I captured would ever make the site anyway as that would be well more than a full-time job to edit, caption, and share each and every click of the shutter, so having less new pictures (one could say a more carefully-considered collection) to back up and manage wouldn’t affect content. By the end of the season, while the camera would still always be by my side just in case (after all, you never know what will turn up out of the blue in Calgary) I found I would come back from many gatherings with a few phone photos to share on Instagram and nothing more. I am extremely pleased with the collection of photos I have built over the years and wouldn’t trade it for anything, but these days am quite fine with it growing at a slower rate.
The last rethink of note that I want to address as part of this year’s recap also leads into the traditional “What Next” portion, discussing some of what can be expected in the next season, and next year of officialTHREETWENTY. I could discuss things relating to the various cars owned by myself and friends that feature here, or what events we’ll be participating in and/or involved with, but a lot of details and plans regarding those have purposely been left open to change so there’s not such a rigid schedule or to-do list in place before the season even starts. Instead, I want to quickly touch on officialTHREETWENTY itself as that has been the most involved reevaluation and the subject of many behind-the-scenes discussions during the course of 2022.
The reason for this is that 2023 – February, specifically – will mark the 10th anniversary of officialTHREETWENTY. Somehow, nearly a full decade has passed at this point since the very first entry went live and from there we have met an amazing community of people as more and more have visited the site to check out event coverage, follow the builds, reference how-to articles, and in more recent years watch our videos and purchase emblems and other pieces. With the 10 year milestone approaching discussions started as to how we could continue to grow officialTHREETWENTY and carry it on into the next stage, while also being aware of other projects and aspects of life (320 related or otherwise) that need to be juggled and receiving time as well. I don’t wish to share too much just yet however so you’ll all have to check back on the actual anniversary at the start of February when we will discuss what we feel is the logical next step for the blog, channel, and everything related to it.
With all of that said, this is the point when I will sign off now but not before wishing all of you a Happy New Year as we are about to head into 2023. Thank you all for another amazing year of support for the site, channel, and everything else; we’ll be back soon with the post-High River photos to kick off 2023’s content, and once again will have the hotly-anticipated Top 5 Builds list as well. Stay tuned!