Remembering Custom Hot Rod Master Rick Finn - Rick's Last Cruise
Losing The Brother I Never Had
Many of us grow up without siblings. Sure, we all have school buddies and teammates, but no true brother to talk to and have those brother-to-brother conversations. Your brother's the guy who always gets your back and will stand up for you, against all of the odds.
Not until later in life did I find a close friend who was like a brother to me, Rick Finn. Rick was an Irish guy who grew up in Covina, California. After high school, he cleaned windows, and later on he opened his own window-cleaning business for the rich folks of Huntington Harbor, California. After commuting three days a week to Huntington Beach, California, he decided to move there and save the 40-mile commute each-way. Rick was rooming with his brother, Mike. Luckily for Rick, he had God's gift as an artist and his expertise was hot-rod art, as Rick loved cars. He was known as a horse trader of cars specializing in old-skool iron from lead sleds and customs to hot rods. That's what Rick was all about, after all, he owned over 200 cars.
I met Rick about 20 years ago, at a small donut shop called Adams Donuts, in Huntington Beach. It was a gathering spot for a couple of local car guys that met religiously on Saturday mornings for coffee and donuts while checkin' out each other's cars and doing some bench racing. Some years ago, the name Donut Derelicts was given to these car-crazed individuals who flocked to this spot every Saturday morning. Rick began displaying his custom car artwork at the donut shop where it became very popular. Later, he started offering his work on the backs of T-shirts, jackets, and hats as his Donut Derelict's contribution. Over the years, the donut shop became a hot-rodder's dream, a sacred ground to about 300 customs, hot rods, lead sleds, trucks, and even a few sporty cars that cram into the parking lot from 5:00 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. each week.
Then, the guys 'n gals would roll out and cruise to their sacred diner for breakfast somewhere along Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). There's nothing like cruisin' the SoCal shoreline, during a picturesque morning sunrise. Rick and I would cruise to one of our favorite breakfast stops that dotted PCH, in either his or my latest ride. We also cruised to numerous custom car shows and drag races. Rick's favorites were: Paso Robles, The Hot Rod Reunion, The March Meet, Labor Day Cruise, Cruise For A Cure, Mooneyes, John Force Show, Oakland Roadster Show, L.A. Roadster Show, and Out Riders' Gathering.
Rick sold his Donut Derelicts lifestyle-wear company a couple of years ago and introduced a new line of hot-rod artwork and a clothing line, known as Hot Rod Life. His new company was more than just an artwork and clothing line; it told the story of hot-rod life and how it came about. Rick's company quickly gained horsepower. Rick Finn and Hot Rod Life were known worldwide, and Rick became a true celebrity in the hobby. Many of his close artist friends included the late Von Dutch and Ed Roth, as well as Darryl Starbird, Steve Stanford, Tom Taylor, Chip Foose, and Ken Youngblood.
On September 23, 2006, the hot-rod community lost one of its own. Rick was known for his incredible hot-rod art and lifestyle apparel, but more importantly for being a great person who cared for others. Rick was a giver, never a taker, and a guy with dignity, love, and appreciation for others. He was an artist and a very creative writer and poet. He was preparing for another custom car show, Cruise For A Cure, at the Orange County Fairgrounds, in Costa Mesa, California, where he was going to display his Hot Rod Life artwork and apparel. Ironically, he was taken from this world while preparing for another hot-rod show. Rick was survived by: ex-wife Robin, mother Priscilla, brothers Mike and Steve, sisters Karen and Stephanie, nieces Kim and Kristi, and nephews Mark and Preston. Rick never had children, but he cherished his little nephew, Mark, now 12 years old, to the point that he willed his custom '47 Chevy Fleetline and a '53 Ford Panel truck to him.
I will greatly miss my beloved friend, Rick, who was the brother I never had. He had a curious smile, a great sense of humor, a loud voice, and was never shy to voice his opinion. Rick was a rebel with a cause. He lived life at full throttle with no intentions of ever lifting. Every time I roll on a cruise, I know my buddy is riding shotgun with me for every mile.