My name is Dave Giovanni, and I've been interested in Mad Max since I saw The Road Warrior so long ago. To me, the movie had everything; the reluctant hero in black, the powerful vehicles with makeshift weapons, the post apocalyptic theme. In no small way, The Road Warrior became a defining part of my life. My first car was a Ford truck, and I drove it like I was Max. Many nights were spent with friends out off roading, hitting construction barrels, the usual trouble teenagers get into.
My first truck
When I turned 19, I joined the Marines, and went through quite an ordeal to get the Military Occupational Specialty I wanted, namely TOW gunner. I wanted to be in the Infantry; as it was the 'real' military. But I also wanted to ride everywhere, so I didn't have to carry everything on my back.
The TOW gunner was the way to go. The TOW itself is an anti-tank missile system mounted on HUMVEEs and other vehicles. They are paired with Heavy Machine gun teams, also mounted on HUMVEEs. So I also gained proficiency in machine guns.
Cpl. Giovannini with the TOW and M240G Machinegun
I started as a driver. I got to be quite skilled at driving HUMVEEs. Specifically, I was noted for driving them fast. You learn quick when you have to drive a 7,000 pound Hummer across broken desert terrain at 50 MPH. My radio call sign was 'Road Warrior.' My reputation grew, and I was acknowledged as the best driver in the platoon.
A Marine and his HUMVEE
When they needed a few good men to be trained in urban combat driving, my name was at the top of the list. The State department came out to train us in dignitary protection, and I became certified in J-turns, ramming techniques, power braking, and pit manuvers. All the while I tried to drive like Max would.
Mad Max, Marine style
When my enlistment in The Marines was over I bought another old Ford truck. I drove it into the ground, and had many, many adventures in it. At one point in time it was leaking every fluid it had, (including gas) its exhaust headers were falling apart, and the front brakes barely worked at all. I knew I had to buy a new truck. The truck I drive now is a 2003 Dodge Ram. And do you have to ask if it has the Hemi? Yes, it does.
My second truck
But before I parted ways with my old truck, I wrote it a eulogy. You can read it here.
A Death In The Family
In the time since I became a civilian again I had decided to become a firefighter. A stepping stone to this end was to work as an EMT in an ambulance service. Again, I got to drive as fast as I wanted. It gradually dawned on me that I preferred driving large vehicles to sports cars; since all of my experience was with larger vehicles. This continued in EMS. My reputation continued to grow here as well. I set a new time record for the driver's training course. I was the only driver who could get an ambulance to spin its tires. I got my ambulance totally airborne more than once. I know it sounds crazy, but I never endangered any of my patient's well-being. Most of the 'creative' driving was done while getting to a scene.
Then, I was hired as a firefighter.
Driving a fire engine is the greatest feeling. So much power, and they are quicker than you might think. I would lose my job if I crashed into anything, and I have gotten most of the crazy driving bug out of my system. But I still live off the thrill of driving fast, as I think Max would.
I had been making military models since I was very young, and I somehow got the idea of making models of the Mad Max vehicles. Back then, we had no Internet and no DVDs. Getting good pictures of the vehicles was difficult. I started with the Mack truck. I went to a hobby store and bought a semi truck; a Freightliner because I couldn't find a Mack. I didn't think it would matter. Ah, the silliness of youth. I built the Freightliner and painted it like the Mack. I saw that it wasn't going to work and I needed a Mack truck. So I found and bought one, but I couldn't summon the willpower to start from scratch. Then one day I saw the Metallica video for 'Enter Sandman.' If you've seen it you might remember the part where the big truck smashes through the bed just as James yells "Boom!" I saw that and immediately went down into my basement and got to work on the Mack.
Another one of my hobbies is making Mad Max type costumes. I have put together a very accurate Road Warrior costume. I spent quite some time (and money) tracking down the various rare items he wore and putting it all together.
Dave as The Road Warrior with Amelia as a Road Wench
I've made many different Marauder type costumes. I brought one to a sci-fi convention and a girl there wanted to wear it. A very cool girl by the name of Amelia. She couldn't go ten feet without being stopped for pictures, and I was quite proud that it was my work that people wanted to see. Well... maybe it wasn't my work after all...
Amelia the Marauder
Just last weekend I returned to the sci-fi convention and would should be there than none other than Virginia Hey. You can read what I wrote about my meeting with her here:
Meeting Virginia Hey