As I sit here trying to come up with some content for my new DriveTribe page, my thoughts are consumed with the guy behind the wheel in the gray Chevy Nova in the photo above. As I type this, Ed is at his home, surrounded by family, with hospice care present as his fight with an aggressive form of cancer is coming to an end. In the photo above, Ed is the guy driving, and our good friend, Ty is leaning against the car as they wait their turn in the staging lanes at Sacramento Raceway (I took that shot back in October 2010).
Ed, standing in the back row in the middle with the red Solo cup, undoubtedly with a Coors Light in it. Me standing on the left, and Ty crouched down on the left in the front. I'm guessing this photo was some time in the mid/late 90's.
Ed has been a car guy as long as I've known him. Ty and I were friends in High School, and he and Ed were always super tight. I knew Ed through Ty.. but Ed's personality is one that makes everyone feel like a friend. Back in the days shortly after high school (roughly 26-28 years ago or so), we'd all hang out on a Friday night in the Burger King parking lot in Livermore, CA - there were the guys with the minitrucks and all the bass. There were the VW guys. There were the muscle car guys. We'd all hang out blasting music, talking trash about each others' cobbled-together cars, and then at the end of the night, groups of us would take off to the back roads of Livermore for some friendly drag racing.
Over the years, we did our own things - grew up, got married, moved, changed careers, etc. In 1999, I had a little mishap on a mountain bike while living in Texas and broke my neck. While I was recovering (with the halo as seen in this photo), I attended Ty's wedding, and Ed was there too. The kinds of friends that you may not see frequently, and have long spans of time in between - but it doesn't matter... when you see each other again, it's like no time had elapsed.
Over the past 7 years, Ed, Ty and I have seen each other at the drag strip to support Ed's goals of getting a lower and lower ET in his 1968 Chevy Nova. With a potent Chevy Small Block built by Ty - the track became the place we'd all get together and see each other. On various internet forums, "FastEddie" is known for his trash-talk, strong opinions, and also being an incredibly helpful person to anyone who needed advice or a hand. In person, he's loud, boisterous and in-your-face, but he puts aside differences when it comes to our common love of cars (even though I'm still a Mopar guy who also happens to drive a Mustang as a daily driver - he never held it against me!). He's the guy who is happy to help someone else if they need it, and if you're ever short a beer, he'll give you a Coors Light, because it's guaranteed that he'll have one in his cooler.
Ed, protesting a ruling at Pinks All Out, after a decision against John Dougherty that many disagreed with.
The Nova, with it's signature primer gray exterior and 'all business' stance - waiting, at Sac Raceway.
Last year, Ed made some changes to his car, Ty built him another killer engine, and Ed set out on his quest for a 9 second pass (in his FULL interior car). It was no shock that he made it - if nothing else, Ed is one stubborn, determined dude.
Seeing Ed achieve his goals with his car was exciting for all of us - and while it was partially about the car - it was MORE about the friendships. It gave us a reason to get together - to put time on our busy calendars to say "I'll be there at the drag strip", hang out, and chew the fat.
Ed and Brandon, hugging it out at Sac Raceway after a heartfelt talk. One of the things I always enjoy about seeing Ed, is the HUGE bearhugs - from the heart.
Earlier this year around April, Ed was diagnosed with cancer. The chemo and radiation battles started. He would fight like hell. The outpouring of love and support online was overwhelming. People he'd never met or talked to, but were car guys - reached out to him to wish him well and donate to his GoFundMe page. www.gofundme.com/Ed-Burrow
Through the course of his treatments, Ed and I had a number of chats through text, Facebook and in person when we could. His biggest fear wasn't even about his own health or fate - it was about his daughter, and how she was doing. Whenever I'd talk to him and he'd bring her up, his face would absolutely light up with pride - it was heartwarming to see this big, obnoxious, stubborn guy, gushing about how proud he is of his daughter.
The cancer continued to spread, the chemo and radiation were not doing what everyone was hoping they would - and things got worse, quickly - resulting in where we are today - hospice care, just trying to keep him comfortable. So, to wrap things up - while the cars are cool.. the thumping of a high compression engine with a big cam, running on race fuel through open headers is always exhilarating - it's really about the people and the friendships. It's also made me realize that too many of us (guys) are too stubborn or 'tough' for our own good sometimes. It's ok to give a friend a hug, and make sure they know how you feel about them. Life is fickle, cancer is a bitch - enjoy the good times, and tell the people in your life who are important that you love them.
Edit - I found out about 20 minutes after I posted this article, that Ed passed on earlier - as I was writing this article. He is no longer in pain, no more suffering. My heartfelt condolences go out to his daughter, his wife, his sister, and the rest of his family, as well as the countless friends he had an impact on. Race in Paradise, my friend. #WheelsUp