Owner: Ernie Camp
Ride: '88 Mazda B2200
Hometown: Munford, Alabama
Life has a way of throwing us curveballs when we least expect it. In Ernie Camp's case, it was a curve that he wasn't able to rebound from. A sudden brain aneurysm left Ernie lying on his shop floor with a burning torch in his hand. At the time, there happened to be other people close by in the shop who were able to come to his aid quickly. The paramedics said Ernie had already beat the odds just by being alive when they got there. Ernie would live for several days after having surgery before dying. Those last few days will be days that we'll never forget and be forever thankful for. We hardly ever get the opportunity to appreciate our friends before they are taken from us, and we did, at least, get that. I'd like to share with you a little piece of who Ernie was and why, once you met him, you weren't likely to forget him.
Ernie's shop, Evil Concepts, opened shortly before Ernie passed away and was on the fast track to becoming one of the best places in the Southeast to meet your custom. Given enough time, Ernie could take almost anything and turn it into something great. Not only could he fabricate the back half of a frame, complete with custom suspension, but he would make stuff like mini choppers or potato cannons that hooked up to an air tank and would shoot objects clear across the highway in front of his shop. He was always one to tinker with stuff and push the limit with it. It was easy to know how Ernie got so good at what he did. Ernie's business card was his own Mazda. People would be drawn to it with its custom touches, 19-inch wheels, and 4x4 sheetmetal. People had to come over and look at it. Once they got to looking and talking, it would be Ernie's knowledge and personality that would make one stay. Ernie had been partners in a couple of other shops before breaking out on his own. Once the doors opened for the shop, people poured in, wanting everything from body-drops to complete buildups. On a side note, Ernie and his shop saved my truck from destruction, after it spent some time at a shop in Texas.
To know Ernie personally was to know someone who liked to have fun, spend time with his kids, and live life to its fullest. Living out in the country gave Ernie plenty of options to have fun. We never knew what he was going to come up with next, from creating his own demolition derby course in his back pasture to jumping a two-lane road in an old body-style Toyota station wagon. Going to Ernie's house was always a trip you took knowing you needed to pack for just about anything and knowing you might need to bring a helmet.
People say friends come into our life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I think when it's someone like Ernie, it's all three. Ernie's season here has ended, but I firmly believe that he came into our life for a reason, stayed for many seasons, and will live in the hearts of those of us who called him a friend for a lifetime. Rest in peace, brother, and drag some streets of gold for me.