Paul Berg Factory Five Completion
On 21 March 2009, we received this email from the Utah Cobra Club to all members:
3 years ago Paul Berg received his FFR Roadster. For the last three years he has been building a beautiful car. It is a work of Art.
He has also been battling Cancer for those three years and now we find out that the cancer is winning.
We need your help. There is a punch list of about 20 items that need to be completed in the next couple weeks. The guys that are going to finish it have never worked on a Cobra or FFR. Thats where we come in. Hopefully the body will be ready then.
Any questions call me
How can Kirkham help?
A few minutes later I replied again:
Ok, I just read the article.
We can offer Kirkham's shop and personnel. Perhaps we could get the car done quickly.
Paul's own charitable giving made a powerful impression in my mind. We have all heard the phrase, "No good deed will go unpunished." I was determined that would not be the case this time.
I gave Roy a few minutes to answer and when he didn't call back, I went on a search for some phone numbers. I looked for Paul's number and couldn't find a listing. I contacted Joe Weight and asked him if he could find anything out. He directed me to this thread
I looked for Paul's number in the thread, but strangely, I didn't see it--even though Paul had already posted on the thread. I did, however, find Shane Turner's phone number and I gave him a call. Shane Turner, who lives in Paul's neighborhood, somehow got wind of Paul's situation, put the world out, and rounded up some friends to help put Paul's car together. In speaking with Shane, I quickly realized they were not Cobra Kit Car guys. I knew they had good intentions, but they were in over their heads--95% of the work is finishing the last 5% of the car. Six weeks previously, Paul had been given 3-24 months to live. In my mind, I watched as Paul's sand waned through his hour-glass; I committed to staunch the flow. I told Shane I was going to pick up the car the next day. I didn't give him an opportunity to object.
Early the next day, Sunday, March 22nd, I woke up uncharacteristically early as I could not sleep. So, I started to play Chopin's Nocturne 72.2 on the piano. It is an extremely emotional, powerful piece. I believe Chopin wrote it after his sister died of tuberculosis--the disease which would ultimately take his own life. While playing, I couldn't get Paul out of my mind--I felt I had something to do. (Interestingly, Paul is a pianist and a piano tech). I felt like he could use a visit and what better way to do it than in a Cobra--even if it is, just a replica. I called Shane, and told him I needed to meet with him. He told me he was at a church meeting, but he'd step out when I arrived.
As, I drove into work (to pick up my Kirkham car) I felt like I needed to call my brother-in-law (and co-worker) Dave "Sandwich" Cindrich to help me out. He is my go-to man in time of need. He didn't answer after 5 calls, so I picked up my 427 Kirkham from the shop and then drove to his house and reved up that 600 horsepower, big block alarm clock. With the windows in his neighborhood rattling, Dave came to the door. I told him, "Let's go; it's time to ride." As usual, he didn't say anything, he just got dressed and followed me up to Lehi. I'm convinced he'd follow me through the gates of hell if I asked him to. He is the best friend a man could ever have.
When we arrived at the church in Lehi, Shane came out (didn't need to be called :) ) and I asked him where Paul lived. He then jumped in and we drove over to Paul's house. It was still quite early in the morning, but I went up and knocked on the door anyway. I introduced myself and asked him if he wanted to go for a ride. His face lit up and he said, "Sure!" He then went up stairs to get ready. We stayed downstairs with his wife and Shane told her about the new plan to finish Paul's car at our shop. She wanted to keep it a secret from Paul, and we agreed.
Then, we took Paul and his wife Tiffany out for a ride up Provo Canyon. Canyon drives in a Cobra are one of life's true joys.
Paul and Tiffany blogged about the ride here:
Then, that evening, I got the trailer and took my twin 12 year old boys up to Salt Lake (in one of Utah's famous spring snow storms) to pick up Paul's chassis. Over the next week, we worked on the car to get all the myriad odds and ends tied up. On Tuesday the 31st of March, Paul was scheduled to go in and have 4 more tumors removed from his neck. I had to go up to Salt Lake that day to do an interview on the radio (more Tea Party stuff) and I brought with me a signed poster of one of our cars to give to Paul as a "Get Well" card. I just barely missed him.
After the interview, I dropped by Paul's house to say "Hi" and to give him the poster. I brought a Chopin CD with me and asked Tiffany and Paul if they could listen to a Chopin's 1st Ballade. I explained to them it is a piece I am working on (it's on my bucket list) and that I wanted them to hear it. Right when you think the piece should end, Chopin launches off into an amazing "coda." "Coda" is Italian for "tail." Chopin is renown for his codas which at times rival the very piece they are attached to. Then I took out the poster and showed it to Paul. On the bottom it said, "Here's to a rockus coda!" I told him there is no reason the coda of his life couldn't be as beautiful as the beginning.
Paul then pulled out a Pine Wood Derby (Cub Scout Race Car) and asked me for some advise. Anyone who knows my brother Thomas and I knows we are certified Pine Wood Derby fanatics. I was so excited. I told him about potential energy and kinetic energy and PE=KE and how it is all about conservation of energy and...and...and...on and on. Then, Paul asked me if I could stay to help him finish the car with his boy... It broke my heart to tell him I had a prior commitment that I couldn't get out of. But, before I left, I invited him to a "tour" of Kirkham Motorsports with the Utah Cobra Club the next day at 4:30 pm.
I drove back to the shop as fast as I could. Shane was delivering the body to our shop at 6:00 pm that Jeremy Weller had so graciously painted for free. There was less than 24 hours to pull this off. Paul's wife, Tiffany, had invited all of the TV and news paper reporters to meet at our shop at 4:00 pm the next day for the reveal! We were very fortunate many members of the Utah Cobra Club came by to help us as we had never put together a Factory Five. Shane Turner, Mark Williams, and Dave Berg (Paul's father) all came by to help as well.
Everyone arrived at 4:00 pm and Paul and Tiffany arrived at 4:30 pm. We told everyone we were going to do a "tour" of Kirkham Motorsports and that at the "end" I was going to say, "There's one more car!" Then, we'd open the garage door and show Paul his new ride.
When we opened the garage door and Paul saw his car, he was dumbfounded. He had no idea that could possibly be his car--only 2 days earlier he saw the separate body in primer at the paint shop. Now the driver's seat was beckoning him to slide in. He had to ask me a few times if that was really his car--it was April Fool's Day, after all. In the video, you can see me lean into him as he hugs me...there I told him, "Now you know why I couldn't help you last night...I was working on a full size Pine Wood Derby."
Now, I encourage you all to go out and become a 912er! America needs you. Here is a video of Paul--right as we open the door (top of page).
You can read a news article here.