Bob Ida: A life lived one-quarter mile at a time

Bob Ida: A life lived one-quarter mile at a time

By Ray T. Bohacz:   By the time Neil Diamond’s single, “Brooklyn Roads”, made it to the Billboard Top 100 in May of 1968, Bob Ida was already more than a decade into what would eventually become a lifetime of automotive and racing legendary. His journey was inspired by a ’32 Ford hot rod. The one he saw on 79th Street when he was around 12 years old. The same Brooklyn Street that had spawned dreams of castles and kings by the young Mr. Diamond, filled Bob Ida’s mind with thoughts of “what if”: What if the Tucker Corporation had succeeded in business? Would this life of a first-generation Italian-American young man—the son of a Tucker dealer that was in business for only three days—be different? What if a blown 354 Hemi could be successfully installed in an Austin-Healey? What if the camshaft was advanced by three degrees? What if Ida Automotive fails? A modern Comp car throttle-stopping its way down the “thirteen-twenty” with fits and jerks seems a suitable metaphor for his life—even more fittingly, the days that comprise Bob Ida. Ida’s story is one of determination, passion, and talent with the requisite stumbling blocks, heartaches, failures and tears that were not viewed as setbacks but instead growth spurts on the road to destiny. It was America in the 1950s and ’60s where nothing was impossible. It was and is Bob Ida. Does the man make the car or the car make the man? The chance encounter with the ’32 Ford had been both inspirational and challenging, for when he looked at it, he recognized a profound lack...