For most of us, it started out this way. Plastic Models, Slot Cars, Hot Wheels…
Our greatest automotive father-kid combos
In an attempt to squeeze one more day out of Father’s Day, we’re celebrating all the dads who invite their kids into the garage to get their hands dirty while they teach them how to change a tire, check the oil, and (hopefully) fall in love with cars.
We asked members of Hagerty’s Media team to pick the greatest father-child combos in automotive history. Yes, we know, that covers a lot of ground and leaves much to the imagination. And even though we didn’t allow any duplicate nominations (first come, first served), the list is far from comprehensive. Please feel free to nominate your choice in the comments section.
Ben Woodworth: Ferdinand, Ferry, and Butzi Porsche—I’d argue that no family has designed three more iconic cars than the Porsche family’s Volkswagen Beetle, Porsche 356 and Porsche 911. The Porsches felt it was important that each new generation also be involved in the next generation car model. Ferdinand designed the Beetle. Ferdinand helped Ferry with the 356, and Ferry helped Butzi with the 911. (Butzi also founded Porsche Design, which makes watches and crap loads of other trinkets.)
Carolyn Greenman: John Force and his daughters—We hear a lot about fathers and sons in the automotive world, so how could I not nominate the Force family? My dad taught me a lot about cars, and John Force did the same for his girls. John is one of the most successful racers in NHRA history, and his daughters were bitten by the same bug—Adria is the CFO of John Force Racing, and Ashley, Brittany, and Courtney all drag race. Bonus: since Courtney is married to Graham Rahal, Bobby Rahal’s son, this is a 2-for-1 nomination.
Davin Reckow: Numerous—How ’bout Harold and Corky Coker? Harold started the business (Coker Tire) and Corky took it to new heights. Corky also runs the Great Race. And Vic Edelbrock Sr. and Jr. (who passed away recently) influenced generations.
Jeff Peek: Frank and McKeel Hagerty—OK, nominating the boss and his dad is a bit of a suck up. I know they aren’t the greatest father-kid combo in automotive history, but I’ve always loved their story, so I’m going to roll with it. Frank certainly wasn’t the automotive expert that McKeel has become, but he was passionate about cars and planted that seed early. Frank loved to tinker in the garage, and he restored a classic car with each of his children—Kim (1962 Corvair Lakewood wagon), Tammy (1960 Porsche 356B Roadster), and McKeel (1967 Porsche 911S). In the process, Frank taught his kids about hard work, responsibility and perseverance, qualities they’ve all put to good use. Here’s to every father (and that includes my own) who uses his influence to guide and grow his children into great parents, great neighbors, and great role models. Better still if he also inspires a love for cars.
Joe DeMatio: Lloyd and Mark Reuss—Lloyd Reuss and his son, Mark, jointly have served General Motors for a total of six decades in a variety of high-profile engineering and executive leadership positions, in the process creating many of the automaker’s most beloved performance models. Lloyd served as chief engineer for both Buick and Chevrolet and eventually was general manager of Buick, where he was instrumental in the creation of both the two-door Reatta and, famously, the Regal GNX. Mark, also a GM lifer, established the GM Performance Division in 2001, which created V-series Cadillac and SS Chevys. The younger Reuss also did a stint Down Under, as managing director of Australia and New Zealand and as a member of GM’s Asia Pacific Strategy Board. Recently he has served as head of global engineering, president of GM North America, and currently as executive vice president of global product development. In those roles, Mark has always been known as a keen car enthusiast and protector and promoter of performance cars within GM.
Jonathan A. Stein: Henry and Edsel Ford—It took Henry Ford a few tries to get his company right, but he had smarts, mechanical ability, and persistence. He also took a few risks early in his career, possibly explaining why he took too few later on. Too bad he had to bully his brilliant and talented son, Edsel, to his grave. Edsel had an inherent sense of style and knew a thing or two about running a company. With a little bit of freedom, he could have taken Ford to incredible heights. Any other father would have been delighted with Edsel. But not old Henry.
Jordan Lewis: Jos and Max Verstappen—The best part about this Dutch father-son duo, Jos and Max Verstappen, is the relationship they have developed through Max’s racing career. Jos, a former F1 driver, taught his son everything he knew. If you have ever seen a video of Jos and Max together, you can see just how much fun they have. This is a result of Jos trusting his son to pave his own path and never feeling like he has to step in and make decisions for him.
Larry Webster: Numerous—[Larry had a little trouble settling on one…] The Unsers, for sure. What about Bobby and Graham Rahal? The Pettys? The Ferraris? The Andrettis? Bill and Chase Elliot? Don and Dan Panoz? How about Joie Chitwood, who ran a stunt show, and his son, Joie Chitwood III (who is president of Daytona International Speedway)?
Stefan Lombard: Steve and Chad McQueen—I’d venture to say that 100% of the automotive credibility here lies with Steve. His influence on automotive pop culture was and is so overwhelming that his inclusion seems necessary. Chad just happens to share the genes and gets invited to car stuff as a result.
Todd Kramer: Dale and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.—The Earnhardts made a huge mark on racing, maybe outweighing the Pettys and Andrettis (especially if you throw Grandpa Ralph into the mix). Both Dales won the Daytona 500—Senior once, Junior twice. Senior was one of NASCAR’s all-time greats, winning 79 Winston Cup races and seven championships. Known as “The Intimidator,” he died blocking for teammates Michael Waltrip and Dale Jr., who finished 1-2 in the 2001 Daytona 500. Junior won his first Daytona 500 three years later. A little-known fact: Senior and Junior formed a father-son team for Corvette Racing, driving a C5-R at the 24 Hours of Daytona just two weeks before Senior’s fatal crash.