I’m starting my A to Z blog challenge with a tribute to an old friend, who passed away last week.
I’d been wracking my brain for a topic when I heard the news, and then I knew.
Alma Gates was a retired educator from Phoenix. Arizona. I met her for the first time in person in spring 2000. I’d been chatting with her off and on for a few months in a car audio enthusiast chat room.
You see, it’s a niche hobby – car audio competition. Originally fostered by manufacturers of speaker and aftermarket audio equipment, and retailers. Enthusiasts would compete to see who had the cleanest or loudest stereo system, classed by similar power & experience.
I always loved music, and use to help my dad work on cars- so when my ex introduced me to the combination I was hooked.
Alma came into it a different route. Her then teen son, Patrick, idolized one of the hobby’s champions. After taking him to a show, and trying to get the guy’s autograph, he was completely ignored.
Like most momma bears – that wasn’t kosher with her.
But unlike other mommas, she decided to beat the industry icon, and teach him a lesson about basic manners.
She built “the Beast” – an old Ford Bronco. Not only did she defeat the fella, but set new world records. The Beast became the first vehicle to record sound levels over 170 decibels.
In addition to setting the 12 volt world on its edge by setting records and dethroning prior champions – she set a standard for sportsmanship.
She also pioneered what is now known as the “hair trick” found in many YouTube videos — a sound frequency played loud enough to make long hair bounce and vibrate. The visual became her signature.
Alma became the first lady of 12v. Opening doors or other female competitors (including myself), and promoting camaraderie over rivalry in the lanes.
She greeted everyone – manufacturer, shop owner, or fan, with the utmost respect and kindness. She was known worldwide as “ma”, with a warm quality that made everyone happy to be around her, the “sweet old retired teacher.”
Not all of her lessons were in the classroom. Her legacy will live on in the car audio competition lanes.
I was lucky enough to call her mentor and friend.
Alma Gates was a force of nature. Something the likes of which the world, and especially the 12volt world, will be lucky to ever see again.
RIP – Alma Gates. 1935-2012.