One of the things that makes Factory Five Racing special is the large community of customers, suppliers, builders, and friends. This all begins with and forms around the cars we build and the WAY we build them.
You can join this community whether you have a car or not. The Factory Five Forum is a great place to start talking to other FFR guys. Our Facebook and Twitter page is used to post fun news about the guys here and customers.
Let me tell you where I believe some of the traditions of fellowship in the FFR community came from.
More than 100 years ago my Great Grandfather John Smith, like millions of European immigrants, came to America with not much more than a few bags, his new bride, and his skills as a Blacksmith. John and Francis Smith settled in a small town in the Allegheny mountains of Pennsylvania. He would become the town Blacksmith and they would have six sons, the youngest of whom was my Grandfather Ted Smith.
As a young boy, I was raised listening to the stories that my father would tell of John Smith and his six sons and all their adventures. I remember one story where John Smith was summoned to help a stranded steam engine with a broken turnbuckle. Up in the remote mountains, without many tools, John Smith built a furnace and forged steel bands which he used to wrap bundles of fresh cut trees that were then used to splint the broken shaft… Strong enough to return a locomotive more than 50 miles to the station! Those days people had to innovate solutions, and their motivations were, at times, perhaps more serious. Still, from those stories I learned that we are, in many ways, living and repeating the lives of those who came before us.
From our family stories, I think my great grandfather was a realistic version of Longfellows poem, “The Village Blacksmith”. On Sunday after Mass, his wife would have him open up his shop to let the neighborhood women gather and bake bread in his furnace. The tradition lasted many years and while metal was forged six days a week, friendship and community was formed on the seventh day as folks gathered to bake bread and enjoy each others company. John Smith was known as a very honest and hard-working man and I enjoy thinking of the modest way he forged friendships in a small town a hundred years ago.
Within a decade or so of the turn of the century, the need for Blacksmiths was already fading. The advent of the Automobile would spell the end of my family’s traditional craft, and John Smith would tell his sons to seek other paths. Other than the name SMITH, the trade would be left behind for a three generations.
When my brother and I started Factory Five Racing in 1995, it was my father who reminded us that we were returning to our family tradition of Blacksmithing. The tools were different for sure… The bellows and furnace were now CNC cut steel and MIG welding machines… But Blacksmiths we were once again!
There are many parallels about what we do at Factory Five Racing, and what our Great Grandfather did a hundred years ago.
The fact that it was the Automobile which spelled the end of our family craft that had endured for so many generations, would be the very thing that would return Smith boys to the Smithing… That was one thing.
The community is another shared aspect of what we do. Friendships forged at my great grandfathers Blacksmith shop a hundred years ago, were made the same way we make them today, and this on-line forum is indeed an extension of that same fellowship and community. We work hard, no doubt, but just as important is the way in which we work.
As you get to know Factory Five, the most amazing part of the company is the community we’ve built and the stories shared by so many. There’s something special about building your own car and often times, the stories you make along the way become more important than the amazing car you built.
On behalf of the families, customers, suppliers, vendors, and friends of Factory Five Racing, I want to extend to you a warm welcome. Bring your stories, traditions, and skills and be ready to gather every now and then, between our work, to forge frienships and community.