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 June 2005 Feature

Cars and What Holds Them Together

Guy Avellon has been seriously involved with cars and the little objects that hold them together for most of his life.

“Much to the chagrin of my parents, they told me that my first word was ‘car,’” says Avellon, a recent ASTM International Award of Merit recipient. He has been a member of Committee F16 on Fasteners since 1980 and an auto racing enthusiast for much longer.

Growing up in Mansfield, Ohio, Avellon’s first experience in the racing world began when he became a member of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Club. He earned his Sports Car Club of America competitive license in the early 1970s and raced Formula V, single seat open-wheel cars. Avellon found the experience to be exhilarating. “When you’re sitting in a car, about two inches off the ground, you really focus on what you’re doing,” Avellon says. “You’re constantly trying to improve yourself, trying to become one with the machine.”

Because Avellon enjoyed writing as well as racing, he began to work as a reporter for the SCCA newsletter. Covering races gave Avellon the opportunity to meet many of the racing legends of the day, including Mario Andretti and the late Mark Donahue.

“Looking back on this, I was part of the scene, and never even thought to ask for autographs,” says Avellon. After meeting Phil Hill, America’s first Formula One champion, at a wine and cheese reception 10 years ago, Avellon began to get more serious about collecting autographs of the drivers that he had met during his reporting days.

Avellon’s fascination with racing affected his career, as his growing interest in what held cars together led him from working in metal coatings to fasteners. As chief engineer at Bowman Distribution, Avellon began to meet with various NASCAR racing teams that Bowman was sponsoring. He traveled to various racers’ shops, giving seminars on fasteners and safety, with an emphasis on the nuts and bolts that safely keep cars together, and in making sure that certain parts used in critical applications were not reused.

Among the racers that Avellon met during this period was an American folk hero in-the-making, Dale Earnhardt. “His shop was impeccable,” says Avellon. “You could probably eat off the floor of it.” Despite Earnhardt’s iconic reputation as “the Intimidator,” Avellon says he was actually quite personable. “Of course, in race mode, he had to be the Intimidator, but to fans or to people he worked with, he was very pleasant.”

In 1986, Avellon and his family (Linda, his wife, and their children Guy Jr., Kimberly and Kelley) faced a crisis: Kimberly, then 16, was diagnosed with a fast-spreading form of cancer. Thanks to a treatment protocol created by several children’s hospitals, Kimberly recovered, but Avellon was very affected by the time he spent in the various hospitals and wanted to find a way to help. “Going to a children’s hospital and seeing special wings devoted to cancer is an eye-opening experience,” Avellon says.

Avellon and Guy Jr. found a way to help by participating in the 1991 One Lap for Kids, a cancer-fighting charity event that is part of the annual One Lap of America, the race that has developed from the infamous “Cannonball Runs” created by Car and Driver senior editor Brock Yates in the early 1970s. During the 3,000 mile (4,828 km) Wednesday-through-Saturday trip, the Avellons and other One Lap for Kids racers visited four children’s hospitals, giving out stuffed animals and arranging for some of the kids at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis to take a few spins in the cars at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Having just endured his daughter’s experience, Avellon particularly wanted to provide encouragement to parents dealing their children’s cancer.

Avellon began his association with ASTM International in 1980 when he joined Committee F16 on Fasteners, though it was a few years before he became active in any subcommittees. He has been very involved since 1985, when he became secretary of Subcommittee F16.01 on Test Methods. He served as chair of F16.01 since 1988 and is also the user vice-chair of F16. For his longtime service to ASTM International, Committee F16 presented him with the Award of Merit on May 16, during the committee meeting in Reno, Nev. Currently, Guy Avellon is working on his own consultancy business (see his Web site) and maintains a strong interest in both cars and what holds them together. “Fasteners literally hold the world together,” says Avellon. And racing? “It would take about a New York minute for me to get back into racing again.”

 
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