Okay, another post compels me to tell this story. Actually, it was a response in another post which compels me.
I'd driven up what we called the "Belt Loop" thousands of times. It wasn't really a finished 'Belt Loop' around our small town, but just the
beginnings of one. Then they ran out of funding and just stopped working on it. It sat that way for years. It started down in town and continued up
the hill we always referred to as the "The Pits" (a series of gravel pits on top of this big hill). After the last turn off the Belt Loop continued
straight to just past the top of the hill. We would always ride our motorcycles up there; it was a good half mile long section of concrete pavement
which transitioned onto a well graded gravel road. Nobody ever drove up there except for some guys who had some horse corrals back that way.
From the last turn off the Belt Loop was effectively 'closed', but the road was still there. Now, as you can imagine, a half mile long section of
abandoned brand new pavement made for a GREAT drag strip! Back then the cops in town were pretty cool about it and looked the other way mostly. They
knew if kids were up there drag racing, at least they were staying out of trouble elsewhere (or so they thought).
So me and two of my buddies hopped in the Trans-Am one night. It was a beautiful car; candy apple red, T-Tops, white leather interior, 350 high
performance V8 with Ram-Air induction. It was a week old, and it was my Mom's car (a gift from Dad). On the first day she had it she took it down to
the muffler place and had them strip all the smog crap off of it and fit it with dual straight pipe exhausts and Cherry Bomb glass packs. With 4 on
the floor, this thing was a HOT ROD (and a half!)
Note - For you car nuts, this was essentially the Smokey & The Bandit Trans-Am, but in candy apple red. WOW, right? (I know, it really was cool).
So I get permission to take the Trans-Am out this night. (a little more on this in a moment). I head out and go pick up my buddies. I'm sportin'
the nicest ride in town so you just know we're going to have to run the strip a couple times to check out girls. That was first on the list. Ran a
couple lights with some guys who thought they were fast; lit 'em up. Before long word gets out, and some of the older guys start showing up with
hot rods, and they wanna' full-on race! Well, everyone knew where the real Friday night races happened, and that was the Belt Loop. So
off to the Belt Loop we went.
Now, I didn't have any real visions of actually winning against any of these guys, but at least we could have some fun.
The hill leading up to the Belt Loop was about 3.5 miles long and it climbed about 1,500 to 1,800 feet in elevation over that distance which was
pretty near the top. The last turn off was about half mile (maybe 3/8ths) before the end, and about a quarter mile to the top of the hill. The races
would run uphill to the crest of the hill and then use the rest of the downhill part to slow down so you didn't run off into the gravel (and get your
Speed limit was 55mph going up the hill, but there was no one out that night. Let's see what this baby can do, right?? So I mash the gas and up we
go. We're gonna be the first ones up there. Cool! I think was going about a buck-twenty when I crested the hill, which was pretty damn good for
pulling an 8% grade with two other occupants in the car!
I felt the car get light at the crest of the hill, but no worries, plenty of big wide, empty, road left, just keep it straight and we're good. To my
utter shock as soon as I crested the hill I saw them...two giant 8' wide orange "ROAD CLOSED" barriers across the roadway!! (These had never been
there before that day!) HOL-EEEY S######!!!
There was room to swerve around the barriers...IF you had enough traction to do so, but I was going way too fast. No time to turn. I turned the
wheel, but all that did was make the car just rotate on it's axis ... right around backwards! Prior to turning I had centered up between the signs
thinking I might be able to squeeze between them (if I was lucky), but then I chickened out and tried to swerve. (Keep in mind, this is all happening
in a split second). When the car touched down it sounded like a 747 landing (good thing I had the clutch in). I looked in the rearview mirror and
saw we were still pretty well centered between the signs. I knew better than to hit the brakes so I just closed my eyes and held on hoping for the
best. I was just waiting for the big **CRASH** sound when we hit the barriers.
You know, it's pretty amazing all the stuff which runs through your mind at a time like that! It really is! I had calculated that we would likely be
fine, but the car would be badly damaged by the sign debris. I had calculated that we were going fast enough that whatever happened would be quick.
We would survive the crash, but I would later be executed by firing squad of my parents and sympathizers after having been beaten into a puddle of
goo. But hey, at least my friends would live!
It seemed like an eternity going backwards at 120mph, really, it seemed like hours. The big **CRASH** I was waiting for never came, there was just
one small **thud** on the right door panel...and the next thing I knew we were spinning out in the gravel!! I kid you not! We had somehow,
miraculously, managed to split those two signs almost perfectly. The only part of the car which actually hit the barricades was the tip of the
passenger's mirror. When that happened one of the boards on the sign shattered and put a tiny little dent/scratch down just behind the mudflap on the
right front wheel well.
When the car came to a stop in a cloud of dust I was shaking so badly I couldn't get out. When I did finally get out I could barely walk, my knees
were like jello. There was no sound. The radio was off, and the car was just sitting there idling. There was this giant cloud of dust everywhere
and my headlights were shining off of it. My friends were still just paralyzed in the car like they were frozen in time. It was spooky! I walked
around to the passenger's side expecting to see the right side of the car destroyed...but it wasn't! Just one scratch on the mirror housing and the
tiny dent/scratch down by the wheel well. That was it!
Now, remember the part earlier about getting permission to use the car that night? The one where I said there would be more later? Well, here it is.
Mom was pretty cool about giving me permission to drive her cool hot rod Trans-Am, and she really had given me permission to drive it that night.
BUT, there was something special about that night too. You see, it was the very FIRST time she'd ever given me permission to drive it. AND, the
reason she'd done so was because I had passed my Driver's License test earlier that same day! It was my 16th birthday!
(Now granted, I had already been driving for a while, and I hadn't just gotten a regular driver's license either, but rather my CDL license to drive a
commercial truck, and I'd taken my test in a cab-over 15 speed Mack semi tractor, but still it's a pretty miraculous story, and VERY LUCKY, and VERY
edit on 7/6/2019 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)