One of the advantages of having our website, Facebook group, etc., is the opportunity it affords us to get to know other like-minded car enthusiasts better. Despite many hours at various car meets and shows with our interviewee discussing cars, I convinced him to submit to an interview to get to know him, the owner/driver, better.
What follows is my interview with Terje Treff, “BIG T.”
Tom: I was born in New York City, a large multi-cultural, multi-ethnic city; and I have to say that you are the first person I’ve met with the name Terje. Is it safe to say that either you or your parents were not born in the United States? Where are you/they from?
Terje: “Terje” is not a common name here in the US of course but where I’m from it’s pretty normal.
I was born in Norway in a southeast coastal town, the former whale hunting capital of Norway but now just a summer vacation town called Sandefjord (not to be confused with Sundfjord or Sognefjord, in other parts of the country).
I came to the US when I was 23 years old with the Norwegian Army stationed at the Defense Attache’s office in Washington DC at the Norwegian Embassy. I was supposed to be there 3 years but events unfolded that allowed me to stay permanently in the United States, including studies at the University of Maryland which I attended in the evenings while stationed at the Defense Attache.
Tom: What type of work were your parents involved in?
Terje: Here is a picture of my grandparents taken in 1931 with their brand new Willys’ Overland. My grandfather was 28 at the time. A big deal back in the day especially in a little town, in little Norway. He started out with a T-Ford in the 1920s, one of the first in town.
And here are a few pics of my father in various racing events from the 70s. I grew up with a motor-crazy male half of the family (my grandfather also lived in the same house as I grew up, on second floor).
The pic with the Beetle covered in snow was taking right after they had rolled over in the previous turn.
When I was a kid we would have the whole family at racing events, my dad racing, my mom operating the hot dog stand and my brother and I watching and making our mom give us free hot dogs.
After I moved to the US my dad and I would have hour-long phone conversations and my wife/girlfriend at the time would ask, “how is your family?” I would answer, “I don’t know, we just talked about cars.”
But my dad was an accountant, so his professional life didn’t offer him much in terms of his car interests. My mom was a homemaker, so we had a very traditional family setup.
One of the benefits as I saw it to moving to the US was that cars were much cheaper (and motorcycles too, which is part of the same passion).