Friday, March 25, 2011

Drag racing, history, Joe's Story and Teenagers

From the very first page it is clear in "Joe's Story: The Book of a Lifetime" that in the not too distant past, the word freedom had a slightly different meaning. As one exuberant reader put it: "Those of us over 50 will know those things happened all the time. Those who are under 5o will wish they had enjoyed the same adventures." Joe's Story is often a really enjoyable bit of U.S. history.

Automobiles were a sign of passage for most all young people but most specificaly for men. Squealing tires, burning rubber, loud "Cherry Bomb" mufflers, straight pipes and "Lakers." Rag tops, Lead Sleds, Reverb radios, Spinners, slicks, Continental kits, fender skirts, Frenched headlights, cams, carbs and solid lifters all added to the cruising experience. Of course, those hopped up cars were hopped up for a reason, and it was usually drag racing. I did my share of drag racing right along with most other guys I knew. I spoke with one of those guys the other day and we reminisced about a race we had that never really got off the ground. He had a "64" Chevy with a 409 engine, I had a "64" Pontiac GTO with a 389 engine. He had Dual Quads and I had Trips for carburation, We both had 4 on the floor transmissions. Those muscle cars were made to drag race. We went way out on a country road around midnight and squared off side by side. A friend stood in the middle of the road and dropped a handkerchief flag us to start. He took off like a shot, so did I. The problem was he went forward but I went backward. I had mistakenly left my car in reverse. He went to the end and came back demanding his $20, for that was what we were racing for. I asked if we could do it over, it was simply a mistake on my part. He said fine and we squared off again, the handkerchief dropped and tires burned and squealed. He went racing to the end, one of my tires blew out and went flat almost ruining the rim before I could stop. He went to the end and returned, again demanding his $20. I asked if we could do it once again, double or nothing, no excuses. He like the idea of possibly going home $40 richer. I changed my tire, we squared off, engines revving, hearts pounding, the hankerchief dropped, clutches popped and we both took off like bullets from guns, side by side, banging into second gear at literally the same time, engines screaming and tires squawking announcing the added power neck and neck, his transmission almost exploded and he lost three gears while I continued to the finish line. I returned, oblivious to the fact that his transmission was junk and asked very nicely for my $40. He gave me a barage of verbal abuse worthy of a boot camp sargeant. After he explained about his transmission I apologized and told him I had no idea and he cooled off. Then he set off to go home driving in 3rd gear, the ony one that worked, at 25 niles an hour with me right behind him in case it broke again. Luckily he made it home and I helped him fix it over the weekend. So much for that race that never really happened.

Yeah, stuff like that happened all the time. That's the way it was during that time. Not everything turned out perfect then either. But, it sure seemed like a lot of fun while it was going on. I'm sure you'll enjoy reading all about them in Joe's Story and sometimes it will take your breath away.........................Joe

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