Starting Over

Losing a Good Friend is Never Easy

By Brian Brennan   –   Photography By the Author

When the doors are closed and locked, when the lights are turned off, and the A/C is shut down, it is time for most Americans to go home. It’s time for dinner, afterschool sports, or maybe you can squeeze in a few hours to work on your project. Not so for your favorite “magazine guy.”

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For a “magazine guy” that’s when our work really begins. For Pat Ganahl and others like him we understand there are the demands of the daytime portion of our job. After the sun goes down there are other demands. It’s now we would wander over to a local rodder’s garage and gather photos while swallowing a piece of pizza–in two bites. Or during these afterhour missions we would visit the local hot rod shop so the owner could help you gather story material without losing a day’s pay. It was a lifestyle Pat understood well, very well. If you want particulars on Pat’s life, he died on August 19, 2022. For his magazine or rodding career, you will have to look elsewhere. This is about Pat, my friend.

mr 2211 starting over 02
One of my favorite photos of Pat. He was the editor of Rod & Custom before it was “consumed” into Hot Rod. If there was ever an individual perfectly suited for a job it was him and this was the job. Pat was everything that an editor of R&C should be.

I find myself enduring another of life’s “hard shots.” The existence of a hot rod journalist, while appearing glamorous (I tell myself that), it’s still a job. I see that it’s late and dark while I write this editorial. My heart is heavy and my fingers are shaky. In Pat all of us lost a dear friend, a great journalist, and one hell of a hot rodder. I can’t even begin to imagine how devasting this is to Anna his wife and Bill his son. It’s utterly life altering.

Many will tell you that while his life was cut short, he was doing what he loved. Fundamentally I suppose that is true. The fact is I find a flaw in that thinking. To me it was too soon for Pat to close the “garage door” for the last time. By any accounts it is the death of a great husband and father, friend, hot rodder, historian, and journalist. Pat did die doing what he loved, but he had plenty more to give.

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He and I needed to have more talks about rodding and racing history. I was always fascinated by his take and perception on any topic. He was an amazingly sharp individual and his take, while not always the way I would envision the occurrence, was still fascinating and would cause me to pause and think. For Pat there was much more to say.

Our friendship began after he joined Street Rodder. I had left and was involved with Rod Action. We talked about our early days. For Pat, he liked to build model cars as I did. It was our introduction to real cars and specifically hot rods. We would talk about our model car exploits and given we were the same age our experiences overlapped. This of course led to our slot car “careers.” This then led to our first car magazines and what we liked about them.

We would talk about our younger years, and it was during one of these conversations that he mentioned a childhood (age 6) through high school friend. Turned out we had the same best friend but at different stages in our lives. While he spent his youth through high school hanging out with his buddy, I spent my thirties at competitive cycling with the very same John Dashiell. The three of us would compare notes and get a good chuckle.

He and I would converse in magazine speak: A brick of film, a China marker (preferred orange), 120 and 220 film, proof sheets, 5×7 and 8×10 prints, Remington and Underwood typewriters, and then the MacDaddy of them all, the IBM Correcting Selectric II. It was the end of the “hot type” era and the beginning of the “cold type” era. Those were the days. He and I would laugh and wonder how the heck we ever made it this far.

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It was never difficult to find Pat at a hot rod event. He attended “all” of them. When someone would ask, “Where’s Pat?” I would point. He was a very tall man and easy to pick out of a crowd.

One year at the Tulsa Nats someone volunteered the two of us for the dunk tank. The money raised was for charity, so we thought it was a good idea. The downside is the two of us spent our week’s allowance trying to dunk each other. Eventually the two of us ended up walking around soaking wet.

That led to the two of us being part of the “Magazine Team” who competed in the basketball tournament in St. Paul back in 1974. We had a great time and, of course, we got our butts kicked. There were also a handful of times we would play volleyball at club events. You always wanted “Too Tall Pat” on your team, whether it was basketball or volleyball.

Recently I had the opportunity to write the feature (photos by Tim Sutton and run in the July ’22 issue of Modern Rodding) on Bill’s Rivi. It’s Bill’s daily driver and shop business card. It should be noted that I tried to hire Bill at one time to work on the staff of R&C but it wasn’t to be. He’s a multitalented individual like his dad, and Pat was very proud of this.

The most any of us can say about our fellow man is “He was a good man.” Simple, to the point, and all encompassing. Pat was a good man.

“The purpose of life is to discover your gift, the work of life is to develop it, and the meaning of life is to give your gift away.” There can be little doubt Pat discovered, developed, and gave much to all of us. All of us will miss you, Pat. MR

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