Car he learned to drive in
Growing up in bucolic Exeter, Maine, Craig learned to drive at the precocious age of 10 in a 1978 Jeep CJ-7, which had what he calls "a really temperamental" four-speed manual tranny. The family used the CJ-7 to go hunting and fishing.
Craig helped his dad handling long stretches of back roads. Driving in harsh Maine winters and on muddy roads gave rise to lessons that would help him later in life. "It was awesome -- that might have been the birth of my line selection and general life skills, since we'd be driving on terrible roads all the time in the woods. We did some aggressive four-wheel driving."
There was another car Craig drove back then -- the family jitterbug. "You basically take whatever variety of auto parts you can find and throw them at each other. If they can produce something that moves and you can haul wood with, then you've got a jitterbug," Craig explains. On weekends, they would chop and sell wood from their property for extra cash.
The jitterbug was a two-ton truck chassis that had a four-cylinder Datsun motor with two transmissions, giving it about 25 gear ratios. "Between the Jeep and that thing, that's what I learned to drive in," Craig recalls.
The jitterbug was used just to haul wood. "It had no body or anything. There was one seat -- a padded kitchen chair that was bolted," Craig laughs before collecting his composure.
"That kitchen chair didn't work, so we found a seat out of a school bus so you could ride with two people. There weren't safety belts, you just held on and would have gotten killed if you fell off. It had a dual rear-wheel axle, like big double truck tires, and there were basically like bulldozer tracks, but lags, that went over the tires. They were these big rusty, nasty metal things. If you fell off you'd immediately get run over by one of those and you wouldn't survive. The thing actually rallied pretty good," Craig chuckles.
There was also a winch on it to haul wood. But the two transmissions were a piece of work the young Craig handled well. "If you have a super low gear range, you put one transmission in first gear all the time and then just run the other one through it. When you were trying to go fast and hit jumps, you'd put the second tranny in fourth and go like that because it also had a winch that ran off the second transmission."