The serenity of Saturdays, and doing what you love
*It’s our pleasure to publish this reflection by master customizer and world renown engine tuner Kevin Baxter of Pro Twin Performance & Baxter’s Motorcycle Garage.
I can remember my first exposure to tinkering- around 5 years old learning what tools did what, the difference between metric and standard sizes, and exactly what drawer to put the 1/2″ box end wrench back in, just after I’d gotten it out. All the while “overseeing” the rebuild of a 10 bolt rear end in a ’67 Chevelle SS. Sandblasting the underbelly of a ’50 Studebaker truck after watching the Ford 9″ rear end and frame get narrowed for a set of Mickey Thompson 33×21.5×15″ rear tires. From there, building my first engine at 9 years old, not knowing exactly what it would lead to…
Saturdays at the shop.
I had a very successful corporate career at a very young age, accomplishing all my goals with a fat paycheck, big office with a skylight, nice company cars, travel, and an expense account. I also developed a consulting company helping others design/build all sorts of complex mechanical devices including engines for cars and bikes but my escape, the one thing that brought me focus and took my mind off the rat race and my tumultuous childhood, was Saturdays in my shop.
Fast forward- after a few years of being closed to the general public, only doing bespoke projects on the side, I hung up the suits, got tired of living out of a suitcase, and decided to explore the one thing that gave me solace when the work week or life got tough. I decided to have a go at the motorcycle industry full time 20 years ago, but do things a little different. I realized that if I do a job because I have a passion for it, because I WANT to do it, having a deeply engrained and constant desire to relentlessly strive for perfection, the end product will always be the best I can do. Every turn of a wrench is an opportunity for me to do it better than I did before, and I thrive on that opportunity.
Saturdays might be just another day for some, a day off for others. Some cut grass, and some wash their cars. I wake up, have a cup of coffee, and blast ‘70s rock tunes on the drive in. I flip on the lights, take a deep breath, and look around in the quiet to reflect on the week. Friends stop by for updates on projects, maybe get a service done, or just chew the fat. I pick up the same 1/2″ box end wrench and turn it on my special project for the day.
I remember friends who have come and gone along the way, who helped me, and what I learned from them almost as if they are guiding my hands. And at the end of the day, I change shirts, sweep, and put that 1/2″ wrench back in my toolbox. Saturdays at the shop are very special to me because when I turn out the lights and lock the door, I know I’m doing exactly what I love to do, exactly the way I want to do it, with a quality and attention to detail no different than when my only solace was my own bike or car in my own garage.
It’s another Saturday… and its going to be a great day.
My Road Dirt friends Phil (left) & Rob (right), and yes, it’s a Saturday.