The race to end all races?


My first car was a 1958 Chevrolet Biscayne. It was a two-tone baby poop brown and white 4-door sedan. It had a 283 cubic inch V-8 and an automatic transmission. There was a push button AM radio and an overly large steering wheel.  As was typical of the day, it drove and handled a lot like a boat.  The back seat was spacious enough to put an old Volkswagen Beetle in or (more preferably) one girl and me. And….that’s all I’m going to say about that.

                Now, I had this car for about a year before the transmission took a nose dive on me. I think it was about late 1970 or so. I had the wild and absurdly fanciful idea that this car was fast so I looked around for somebody to “drag race” with. I don’t remember the guy’s name but I do remember his car. It was a yellow 1966 Ford Mustang with a 289 under the hood. A car guy would instantly recognize this as a questionable idea on my part. A Mustang versus a Biscayne is kind of like, oh, I don’t know, maybe a racing thoroughbred versus an old mule. I would have none of the ribbing I got from the guys at school when I pronounced that my Biscayne (aka, old mule) would soundly trounce this upstart pony car.

                Off we went to Soncy Road. During the day, Soncy Road served as an informal race track for people like me. At night it served as a place where young people can go where it’s real dark and they can “visit” (this was when my Biscayne and its very spacious back seat far outshined most any other car with the possible exception of a Buick Electra 225). Well, anyway, I had arranged to meet my adversary on Soncy Road after school.

                We met at the head of the longest stretch of the road and spent the next fifteen minutes sitting in our cars and insulting one another. You know, insults like “I can’t believe you actually showed up in that piece of crap,” or “I can run faster than your car.” You know – real original stuff. We got through the preliminaries in one piece and a couple of the guys that had come along to judge positioned themselves.

                The countdown began. I stomped down on my brake while revving the accelerator at the same time. So did the Mustang. The count got to one and we were OFF!! I let off the brake and my old Biscayne thought about things a minute and then decided to ease on down the road. Then it saw the Mustang jump out ahead and decided it didn’t take to being beaten by a Ford. All of a sudden, the transmission took hold and it was off to the races. About the time I was coming up alongside the Mustang, I hit a curve. That meant the race was over. I had lost. My old Biscayne was too tired. The owner of the winning car did a lot of bragging that day and for several days after.

                I thought about it a bit and finally decided that my old mule, though slow, was by far the better car. You know, spacious back seats are a wonderful thing…

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