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Posted: 25 Dec 2006 02:21
by 510rob
Keith asked me to post this in it's entirety - here it is, just in time for the Christmas. I split it into three separate posts just for the sake of the Trilogy milestones being properly denoted.



ga-rage\ga-razh, raj\ :
* a shelter or repair shop for automotive vehicles.
* to keep or put in a garage.

What this definition does not include is that a garage is a wonderful repository of dreams, projects planned, failed creations, collections of incredible STUFF, virtual museums of our lives. For those of us that have been involved with cars for a good chunk of our lives, this usually means many garages and carports used over time. How many of us learned the fine art of vehicle maintenance, lying on our backs in the carport, on a hot, dusty August day, or freezing with the cold winds of December?
As I think back to some of those garages and carports I spent time in, some good, some bad, I wonder if we will ever have a generation of young people that will learn about their cars like a lot of us have? Step back in time with me now, the year is 1966. Ralph Nader is in the news, the U.S. military is gearing up in Vietnam, the mini-skirt is revealed and I turn sixteen!
My first “carport” is in Richmond, at the edge of what was then a new subdivision. My Dad has a 1962 Mercury Station wagon, 390 C.I.D., four barrel carburetor. I laugh at the people and their S.U.V.’s today, thinking this is all new. That ole’ wagon would carry four up in the front, four up in the back, plus six kids behind the rear seat. And there was still room for gear!! Occasionally, when we were cruising down the highway, Dad would tell us to hang on, he was going to “blow the carbon out!” He just loved an excuse to lean on that four-barrel. That car did not seem to care what the load was, it just picked up and motored down the highway, that deep intake moan drowning all other sounds. We would wheel into our open carport, filling the whole space with the smell of hot engine and brakes. My job was to check the oil. You almost needed an engine hoist just to open that huge expanse of red hood. It was immense, I had to lay across the fender, just to reach the dipstick, great waves of heat blasting my body. Our tools then were comprised of a hammer, plug wrench, vise grips, pliers and a motley collection of worn screw-drivers. I began learning the fine art of changing plugs with a worn out plug wrench, using pliers to get the wing-nut off the air cleaner to change the filter, and, making a Robertson screwdriver get a Phillips screw out!! Lining that carport was a mixture of old summer and winter tires, a cabinet, some deer horns and our failing bikes. The surface of the carport was covered in that classic miasma of old oil drippings, tranny fluid, and that white fluff from all the Cottonwood trees. Throw in a mixture of sand and dog hair, this was to be my learning ground for my first car…….a 1948 Austin A40, four door sedan.
The year is 1967, the Boston strangler is captured, Cassius Clay refuses military service, A.J.Foyt wins Indy, Che Guevara is killed and the War in Vietnam escalates with the Tet Offensive. My Mom and Dad have given me a car!!! It cost my Dad $25.00. Yep……25.00 dollars. As I was soon to find out, an English car is really something. For a country that built one of the best fighter airplanes, the SuperMarine Spitfire MK40, how could they make something this bad?! Don’t get me wrong, it is wonderful at the time, freedom at the turn of a key (when it started). This is truly the beginning of Mr. Gadget.
Lucas Electrics…. Most of us have heard of, or, have had experience with the “creator of darkness”. My first problem was with the turn signals. They were little “wings” on solenoids that popped out of the pillars between the doors. I stopped at a traffic light in Richmond (not many in 1967). The fellow behind me got out, walked up to me and started chewing me out, something about going in the opposite direction than I had signaled, and, not enough warning. Oh. Sorry! JerK!! A couple of lights, and turns later, this happens again. What the hell! I head home to check this out. I sit in the carport and push the signal indicator. Nothing. Rats! But what’s with the “going the wrong way”? I get Dad to follow me around the block. Seems even though I signal “right” as I turn the corner, the “G”-forces force the LEFT signal wing out! The solenoids have died and Mr.Electron has reversed himself. I can fix this!
I went and bought a tester and a ton of wire. Ever worked on cloth covered, nineteen year old wire with faded color coding? Neither had I. What also is confusing was the English decided to use positive ground. I forgot, only having one small fire. I re-wired the small parking lights to become the signals…..ha no problem. There was now a ton of old wire, solenoids and turn lights on the carport floor. As I had all this wire, and knowledge, it was time for SEX LIGHTS! The “Summer of Love”, 1967 remember!? You could sun-bath with all the lights I had on in that interior. This eerie red glow would light up the neighborhood, and run down my battery in twenty minutes if I left them on. The neighbors would be looking out through their curtains as I toiled into the night. I now had some good side cutters and wire strippers for my tool collection, and two dead batteries in the carport.
Next disaster was the clutch fire! My friend Evan and I were cruising through Richmond one sunny July day, feeling on top of the world, when we smelled hot oil and a funny burning smell. Two traffic lights later (there were only five) the car started to fill with smoke. At the third light we bailed. Right in front of a bus stop…loaded with people. Talk about the two stooges, trying not to get run over, trying to get the “bonnet” open, and grab a CO2 fire extinguisher that my Uncle had fortunately given me after my electrical fire. “You WILL need this some day”, he said. I could see a lick of flame coming out of the bell housing. I gave it a shot and it went out. I SHOULD HAVE LET IT BURN! Talk about embarrassed. There we were, standing in the middle of #Three road, smoke pouring out the doors, the sound of Rescue 1 coming, off in the distance. Rats!
I had the car towed home and the diagnosis began. The neighbor, who was coincidentally English, had had a similar problem. He suggested that it was the clutch. We jacked it up, blocked it, and began to try and dismantle it. This is where it got interesting. Seems the English used a whole different set of nuts and bolts called Whitworth!!! Not metric and not SAE. ARG! I could see the hammer, vise grips etc, were not going to cut it. The neighbor came to the rescue with his tools that he had brought from England. After a huge amount of swearing, hammering, and bleeding knuckles, we emerged from beneath the car, dragging one very oily transmission. We too were covered in oil, sand, Cottonwood seed and dog hair. Mom wouldn’t let us in the house. Here is the clincher……. The English, in their infinite wisdom, used a carbon faced throw out bearing! Imagine this wonderful mix of carbon dust, engine and trans oil. As it had worn to the metal it went nuclear ( red hot ) and ignited this beautiful barbecue starter mix. Oh, well. While we were at it we changed the clutch and pressure plate.
The carport now had all the old clutch parts, misc. bits left over, more wire from re-doing the brake lights and a steering arm that we noticed needed replacing. Mom was starting to make comments about losing her carport.
Next, in a long line of legendary disasters, came the “RUSSIAN TANK RADIO EPISODE”. This is still talked about during family get together.
Somehow, in our youthful exuberance, myself and another good friend, Jim, ended up with a WWII, fully functioning, Russian tank radio. This was too cool. To this day I cannot remember where it came from…….or…..where it went. But, we had it, complete with an eight foot whip antennae. Wow, lets put it in the Austin we thought. Going to need more wire, BIG wire. A bracket for the antennae. Lots of friction tape. Into the carport the Austin went, on a sweltering hot August summer night. “What are you doing out there?”, Mom yelled out the window. “Nothing, just installing a radio in the Austin!”, I yelled back. Little did she know. Yet. We were always scrounging stuff out of the dump, made sense we might have found an old “radio”.
This Tank radio was about two feet long, one foot deep and maybe sixteen inches tall. We slid the front passenger seat back as far as it would go, to build a plywood base on the passenger floor, to tilt the face of the radio up. We ran power wires, hooked up the antennae, and mounted the microphone on the dash. We toiled till 2:00 AM, Mom yelling at us occasionally to keep the noise down, the neighbors peering through the curtains yet again.
The next day we headed out, that youthful excitement ready to greet the day. The Russian radio was, of course, covered in Russian writing! We had know idea what anything did, just lots of cool knobs, dials, and indicator gauges. Even if it was in English, we would not have known! As I drove along, Jim started keying the mike, fiddling with the knobs, and asking if Mission Control was receiving us. As it was a truly simpler time in history, the twelve-year-old kids trapped in seventeen-year-old bodies, occasionally came out. Once in awhile we would hear something….. truckers….taxis…..maybe even more official sounding than that. Who new? The generator caused quite a bit of whine. We cruised all over Richmond, pretending to be Astronauts, or, on a search and destroy mission for the military. Or, just hoping to talk to someone. Little did we know!!!!! Jim and I drove around for a couple of weeks before the S..t hit he fan.
As maybe you can imagine, we would sit in the driveway, either before, or after a drive, with the engine off, to see if we could hear anything really intelligible. On that fateful day we sat there, taking turns fiddling with knobs, talking in the mike. It had been a great day, hot, the beach was wonderful. As we sat there, we could hear sirens off in the distance. Wonder where they are going we thought. Sirens in quiet old Richmond were cause for interest then, what car wreck they might be going to, or a fire. The sirens were getting closer! COOL, maybe it will be around here. Some excitement on this stifling, August afternoon. The birds stopped chirping, the motley crew of neighborhood dogs stopped their continuous din of barking and yapping, the fellow next door shut off his lawnmower. We could sense the excitement in the air. Wow, something was HAPPENING in our neck of the woods! As we climbed out of the car, a large white van, bristling with antennae ground to a halt in front of our driveway, followed by two RCMP cars. Oh, Oh….the happening appeared to be us. A very large, very angry looking man approached us from the van. “Where is the transmitter,” he asked. “WWHHAAT,” we said. By now ALL the neighbors were out, my Mom was exploding out of the house, and the dogs had begun their background din again. “ Where is the ILLEGAL transmitter?” he asked again. The light was beginning to come on for Jim and I. It turns out that our Tank radio was disrupting and jamming communications for a fifteen mile radius, every time we powered up the mike! Guess what is only four miles from where we lived……..THE AIRPORT! Holy good God, we had disrupted control tower to flight communications! AARRRGGG! It had taken the Federales two weeks to triangulate where we were hiding. Considering that 1967 was at the height of the Cold War, I think that they thought they had uncovered a den of Commie infiltrators. Instead, what they found were two kids hanging their heads in embarrassment, and one Mother about to come unglued.
They wanted to seize the radio right away, but, we had it wired and bolted into the car in a major way. After much discussion with the RCMP, the Feds, and my Mom, it was agreed that it would be removed from the car immediately. After a stern lecture from the Communications guy, something about planes falling from the sky, they left, shaking their heads. I did catch one of the RCMP officers laughing as he returned to his cruiser. The neighborhood returned to it’s sleepy August mode, after having witnessed the most excitement since my brother and I fell off the roof testing our twelve-foot stilts.
Jim and I retreated to the carport and began to strip out all our wonderful work. Onto the carport shelves went one Russian radio, two miles of wire, various brackets and some broken plywood. Oh well, in one fashion we did get “MISSION CONTROL”.
During that long summer of 1967 another project was underway in another friends carport. Only a few people ( Don Nimi would be one ) were in a certain motel room a number of years ago, at Knox Mnt., will fully understand the : “Ev had a Dodge,” line. My good friend Evan did indeed have a 1957 Dodge Mayfair, 318 CID, 4-door, pushbutton automatic. The engine had spun a main bearing, so Evan’s Dad had given him the car. Evan’s carport was freestanding, gravel floored, with sides only four feet high. The car was put up on blocks of wood, giving us all of two feet of clearance to work. The plan was to remove the oil pan, drop the crankshaft, replace the bearings, and be back in business. Now, for some more background. We had taken Power Mechanics in school and felt we were now QUALIFIED to build motors!! Ha! After all, our Briggs & Stratton in shop class ran just fine after being dismantled and re-assembled. Ev was also the first to have a V-8 powered car. We envisioned our-selves being able to boil the tires after school, heroes in front of our friends. To back this up, Evan had bought a huge, after market manifold, with TWIN, FOUR-BARREL, 750-CFM Holley carburetors, with MECHANICAL secondaries. This was obviously used by a serious drag racer, on a serious race motor. We really knew nothing then….hasn’t changed much, has it!
So, there we were, lying on our backs, hot wind blowing sand, dust, and the ever present cottonwood seed into the carport. First we dropped the oil pan and began the task of measuring the crank with plasti-gauge. Ever used that stuff? Diabolical! We must have gone through a mile of that stuff. The crank in and out, measuring, comparing, wiping dust from the crank, comparing thickness on that little paper chart. The battle with spiders was ongoing. Some of you know my fear of those little buggers….I think it started in those years in the carports. We would be lying there, sweating in the heat, me holding the crank up in place while Ev would bolt the mains back on. Suddenly, I would see a spider coming down from the engine compartment. “AAAAHHHHH…..SPIDER…..!!!!!!” We would bail from underneath the car, smashing heads and knees in our haste to escape. It was hell. But, we soldiered on, giggling and talking about how AWESOME this motor was going to be. It took us about two weeks in that sweltering month of August to get the bottom end done. We planned to have the car ready for the first day of school.
The next step was to change out the intake manifolds, thankful to be off our backs. The carport was littered with tools, empty soda bottles, oil soaked cardboard, left over nuts and bolts. We had hosed down the engine compartment with water, trying to drown those bloody spiders. We got the stock intake manifold off, laying open the guts of the engine. The continuous winds were always stirring the never ending clouds of dust and debris in the carport. Huge wads of cottonwood fluff would stick to anything remotely oily. We opened the hood the day we were to put the four-barrel manifold on and found our covering cloth had blown away. The galley was filled with cottonwood fluff! Oh well. We struggled and cursed getting that manifold on, wrecking two gaskets in the process. Finally, it was on! Fighting with the throttle linkage was another trial of patience, but perseverance ultimately paid off. The day of fire-up was finally upon us, one week till school……the heroes would be ready.
We must again remember, we had NO idea what we were doing, no idea about actual air requirements for an engine, and absolutely No idea about setting up a carburetor, let alone two. We were armed with excitement. We decided to wait till the next morning for the start-up.
I still remember that late August morning, no wind, hot, the dazzling clear sun, real blue sky that we do not see any more in Vancouver. The birds seemed extra loud in their cheerful chirping. A wonderful day. I had on my CLEAN jeans, new, RAT FINK t-shirt, ready to cruise. We only had to start the car, right? Ev’s Dad was to give us a hand. As this was Ev’s project, he got to start the engine. I remember opening the hood, those gleaming four-barrels staring at us with their implied POWER. I stood on one side of the engine compartment, Ev’s dad on the other. Ev slid into the drivers seat, beaming at the thought of driving this monster. The World was good, the World was as it should be! He put the key in and started to crank. RRRRRRR, went the engine. Nothing. “Hit it again! “ I yelled. RRRRRRRR, it ground again. Nothing. “Again!” RRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. Nothing! Rats! “Pump the gas pedal!” I said to Ev. Pump, pump, pump. “Crank it again!!! RRRRRRRRRRRRR. Pump, Pump, pump, pump, RRRRRRRRRRRRRRR, nothing. The sweat was starting to break out. Ev’s Dad suggested that we look DOWN the carbs to see if it was in fact getting gas. We put some old wooden Coke cases by the wheels and climbed up to peer into the carburetors, Ev’s Dad on one side, me on the other. “Pump it again,” we yelled. Pump, pump, pump. Yep, lotsa gas. As a matter of fact, these were double-pumpers! HUGE amounts of gas was being dumped into the engine on every pump. Imagine if you will now, that with all this pumping, there is likely two gallons of gas sitting in the manifold, the engine, and in the exhaust system!!!! We didn’t!!!!!!!!
As Ev’s Dad was peering around the engine compartment, he noticed that we had NOT hooked up the power wire to the coil! Wow….. there was our problem….. no Mr. Electron.! Being the Great Mechanics that we were, we had forget to check the basics… spark. Ev’s Dad took up his position again, as did I, peering down those monstrous four-barrel carbs. “Hit it Ev!” I yelled. He hit the key……….
Step back for just a minute here. Picture me leaning well over the engine compartment on the drivers side, looking down the rear carb, Ev’s Dad on the right side, looking down the front carb. Ev starting to twist the ignition key. It’s now about 11:00 AM on Saturday morning, neighbors out gardening, the birds in full song, all is as it should be. I have this next moment quite literally “burned” into my memory.
He hit the ignition key, and gave those carbs another pump. The engine likely turned about twice….. and Mr. Electron finally got through to the plugs!
CHAAA---WUUMPFH-----BANG---KABLOOIE---Booommm!!!. A great, searing, blue/yellow fire ball erupted from those mighty four-barrels. I can still see the four individual rings of fire coming up toward me. Individual, yet one. The blast hit me straight in the face, the heat searing, the concussion awesome, lifting me up and back, whacking the back of my head on the hood, and dumping me off the fender, to the carports’ rocky surface. You may have heard of the “Hand of God?” Well, this was the “FIST OF GOD!!” And I think He was giving the shade tree mechanics a lesson. The same thing had happened to Ev’s Dad. I sat there stunned for a minute, marveling that I was alive and could still see. I stood and looked across the engine compartment, at Ev’s Dad, now standing also. His eyes were as big as fried eggs, his mouth was moving, but I could hear nothing. As a matter of fact, the whole neighbor hood seemed to have gone dead quiet. The ringing in my ears was the only thing I seemed to be aware of. Ev’s Dad was also turning red, that terrible, I have fallen asleep in the blazing sun for five hours, red.
He also had no facial hair left and the front of his shirt had a slight charred look to it. His mouth was still moving and he was now gesturing wildly. He turned and stormed off to the house, in what appeared to be in complete silence. Strange, I thought. My face was starting to sting and I started to realize that if he looked like that…..SO DID I!!! AAAHHHH! I looked at Ev, who now had emerged from the car, his eyes too, as big as saucers. Then he appeared to start to laugh, but I could hear nothing, only the infernal ringing that was getting louder. By now he is doubled over with laughter. I bend down and look in the side-mirror. My God….my eyebrows are gone, the hair on my forehead and by my ears is a shriveled, wrinkled mess, my face and neck is absolutely beet red. To top it off my Rat-Fink T-shirt is charred and the Rat-Fink decal itself has melted together. Crap. My face stings like hell, I wrecked my T-shirt, and I cannot hear! Crap! Ev is on the seat of the car he is laughing so hard. So much for cruising I thought. I remember sitting on the Coke crate, wondering if I was ever going to hear again. As my face was stinging quite badly, I decided to head home for some first-aid. The start up could wait for the next day.
I greeted Sunday morning with a face and neck that looked like it was severely sunburned… and it felt like it. When I got to Ev’s, he was not looking too happy. Seems after I left, the neighbor had come over. What he had seen when the engine practically exploded, was about ten feet of flame come out the dual exhaust pipes. “Looked like one of those flame throwers in a WWII war movie!!!” he said. What Ev was not happy about was the two mufflers that had their seams opened up. It was my turn to start to laugh, must have been enough gas in that exhaust system to run a bus for a week! Ev’s Dad was just glad we had not burned the carport to the ground.
Ev had lowered the car to the ground and was ready to re-try starting it. He gave it one turn with the key and away the engine went…… straight to the moon! “SHUT IT OFF….SHUT IT OFF!!!!!” I screamed. Seems the carbs were not set low enough to get to the idle circuits!? We did not know! But hey, it sure sounded tough with those blown mufflers…HEH, HEH. Start, stop. Start stop. After much fiddling and adjusting we got it to KIND of idle. Spitting and coughing it went, but I was too afraid to go anywhere near those damn things when it was running! We got the timing light out. We found the timing was out a bunch, set it, and things started to smooth out. We could not get the idle down below 1,500 RPM.. Who knew? This car had a push-button panel up on the dash, for the auto-transmission. Ev and I were ready for the test drive….we thought. Ev pushed –R. Thunk went the transmission, the rear of the car squatted up as it engaged, some gravel spitting out as the wheels bit into the driveway. COOL. It sounded even tougher. We just about shot across the road when he released the brake, the idle was so high. COOL. Ev straightened the car out on the street, that immense hood pointed into suburbia. Ev pushed – N . Ev started to rev the engine………
Step back again for another frozen moment in time. There we sat, engine starting to rev, and getting quite loud. It is Sunday morning, truly a day of rest then. The neighbors had not even started their mindless pilgrimage to the garden. The noise of what is now a more or less un-muffled engine is now starting to get the neighbors attention. Evan and I are grinning from ear to ear….WE WILL BE KINGS.
Evan pushes –D, AND STEPS ON THE GAS MORE. A few events now happen almost simultaneously. The car leaps violently forward for a second, Ev and I are pushed into the seat, or, more importantly, Ev is pulled away from the gas pedal for a second. The car falters, Ev drills the gas pedal even more, we launch even more, Ev is pulled away from the gas pedal again. ( If you have ever been in a throttle oscillation situation, you know what this is like.) Yep, he drills it a third time…..and opens those four-barrels up. BAAA—WWWAAAA……….The rear end is now going through massive axle tramp. The whole car is shaking violently, dust, rust, and spiders are being shaken from the car, the poor old bias-plys are starting to shed rubber and smoke. The noise is fierce. We are actually only moving forward, and slightly sideways, at about ten miles an hour. The neighbors are out. The shaking is so bad I can hardly laugh. Now for the worst part. Between the back-fire (possibly it bent the throttles) and our wonderful throttle linkage ( now binding because the engine has torqued over with it’s soft old mounts) the throttles will not close. We now have eight holes feeding the motor. WWWWAAAAARRRRRR………..zing….tink…clunk…….wheeez…….silence. Two red lights glowing in the dash.
There we sat, in the middle of the street, one house yard away, a single solid black line stopping at a smoking tire, a trail of rust, dirt and fleeing spiders marking our passage. Crap. Something let go in the bottom end, spun a bearing again, who knew? Likely, with all the cranking with no oil pressure, dilution with all that gas, and more revs than Dodge ever counted on for a stock motor, caused it’s demise. The Kings were duds. We pushed the smoking hulk back into the carport. T’was a sad 1967 day that one was! Ev’s carport inherited ultimately, a short block, the manifold and four-barrels,
( he did sell them ) and more nuts and bolt from swapping out a wrecker engine. We went to school that last year in my Austin.

Stay tuned for 1968. Martin Luther king is killed, Soviet tanks invade Prague, Opollo Eight orbits the moon, Richard Nixon is elected…… and I get my 1958 Chevrolet Delray, straight six engine, three on the tree.

Keith law
March 1, 2000

RE: Keith Law

Posted: 25 Dec 2006 02:22
by 510rob


Thank you, faithful reader, for returning to the continuing saga of my automotive history.
As you may remember from the finish of the last episode, the year 1968 is about to begin, my Austin A40 is in its death throws! We have moved from Richmond to Fort Langley, to a new house, with even more carport space. I sold the dying Austin to that English neighbor, the one with all the Witworth tools. Seems he still had a soft spot for English cars. I thought he was mad as a hatter. At least my turn signals worked!
The year of 1968 started with the Tet offensive in Vietnam and finished in December, with the first manned orbit of the moon. It was also the time of my 1958 Chevy Delray, the only car to truly try and kill me on many occasions.
The new house prompted my Mom to “LAY DOWN THE RULE”, no “STUFF” in the carport!! Little did she know what was coming.
I, of course, needed a car. My Dad, at that time, had a customer, Al, who owned a towing company. Dad asked the fellow to keep his eye out for a cheap car for me. One day in January, the phone rang. Maybe we should have let it ring. Al had a couple of vehicles that just might fit the bill, could we come down to the towing yard? Off we went. I was excited; visions of V-8 powered monsters filled my head. After the Dodge Disaster, I thought this would be my turn for some power.
We pulled into Al’s towing yard; rows of shiny cars all backed against the fences. Which one is to be mine I wondered? “There’ round back,” said Al. The three of us waded through the usual three inches of mud and oil, to the back of the lot. There, in their entire splendor, sat my two choices. A 1958 Chevrolet Delray and a Studebaker Lark!!!!! OH, OH!!!
The Studebaker was just plain ugly. I was supposed to have a “COOL” car. The Chevy at least looked kind of reasonable. For those of you not familiar with this body style, this is the car that Ron Howard drives in the movie “AMERICAN GRAFFITI”. Why couldn’t it have been a 56’ or 57’? Rats!!
Going around the car I realize it has taken a major hit on the right front. (Little did I know how badly!) We pry open the engine hood……it’s a straight six cylinder, 232 cubic inches. Double rats!!!! Al says it would be no problem to just put another front end on, lots of these around in the wrecking yards. Al starts the engine, it fires right up! Sounds good. The interior is in good shape. It has a standard transmission, three on the tree. The trunk is monstrous, the back seat huge, even better! “O.K., how much for the cars?” we ask.
“Well,” says Al, in his best-used car salesman tone, “$300.00 for the Stude, or, a bottle of Scotch for the Chevy, and I’ll tow it to your house for free!” Again that youthful exuberance, and lack of any REAL mechanical knowledge, kicked in. “We’ll take the Chevy!”
I had never seen Al move so fast. He had that Chevy hooked up and on it’s way to that virgin carport in a blink. (One more piece of junk moved is likely what he felt)
Let’s step back for a minute in time here. After the carport in Richmond, which had amassed a truck load of junk, Austin parts, broken bikes, and other dead projects, my Mother had sworn this carport was to be kept clean and tidy. So, imagine now, this pristine carport, concrete floor spotless, walls clean, ledges bare. Imagine now, my Mother standing in the living room, looking out the window, all is well, all is good…….when Al grinds to halt in front of our house, Chevy in tow……and begins to back into our driveway.
Dad and I pulled up just as my Mom exploded out of the house….”NNNNOOOO!!!!!!” she screamed. “NOT IN MY DRIVEWAY!!!!” This was going to be a tough sell I thought to myself. Al comes to a rattling stop in the carport, a great cloud of dust stirred up from his exhaust. He is out in a flash, has the car on the ground, and pulls out before my Mom has time to concentrate her wrath on any one of us. I tell Mom it will be all fixed up in a week, and nothing will be left in the carport. Mom heads back into the house, whimpering. She KNOWS!
I can hardly wait to get to work, how tough can it be to get the front end off, and put a new one on? Wow, these old nuts and bolts are sure rusted on, let alone the ones that had been damaged in the accident. Darn. Day two goes by, the front end is still on. The carport floor is now covered in a fine layer of rust dust, old dried mud, and the usual hard grease and oil from removing parts. Some old boxes are filling up with nuts and bolts, the bumper and radiator are on the grass, and tools are everywhere. By day three I’m ready to pull the old body work off. With much cursing and swearing I start to lift and pull, the two fenders and grill are quite an assembly. I pull, and lift harder. It suddenly lets go, whatever wire was holding it broke, sweeping me backwards. The sharp, rusty edge catches the palm of my right hand, ripping open a two-inch gash! “HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, YOU F#$%&, DULL CRUD MUCkER &*%$#@ aaarrrgggg!” I instantly dropped the front end, flinging my cut hand, as we all do upon sudden injury. A small but steady spattering of blood swept in an arc across the roof and down the wall……..OH,OH. The front end finished its trip to the ground, crashing hard on my left Army & Navy sneaker. “AAAAHHHH, #$%&%@.” I thought I was going to die! The pain, the pain. Mom blasts out the basement door to see what all the commotion is about. I now have blood on the roof and wall, the carport floor and my shirt and jeans are acting as a sponge for the last two quarts. Mom is so concerned about me; she does not see the blood on her carport. Thank you, thank you. Some of you know how much I hate needles, guess what I was off to get, along with the stitches? So what if it was rusty! I was not too happy with the car on this day.
We are now well into week two, giving my hand a little time to heal. I cleaned the interior, put a carb. kit in, just fiddling with stuff with basically one hand. I also made some phone calls to the auto wreckers to find a replacement front end. Al was sort of right about lots of Chevys in the yards, just none with a good front end. It was after all a ten-year-old car. Finally, I found a potential in a small wrecking yard down off Scott Rd.. “$50.00 bucks and its yours.” He said. Off Dad and I went to check it out.
Wrecking yards have come along way since then. We slogged through four inches of oily water/mud/anti-freeze to view the front end. There it was, lying propped up against the fence…..and it was perfect. Life is good again. The yard said they would deliver it the next day. I hoped my Mom would not be home!
The next day found two front ends in the driveway, a hood, more tools, some anti-freeze on the carport wall, and a fresh oil stain on the driveway from the auto wrecking truck. When he backed down our slightly sloping driveway, the engine block he had on the back deck blorped an oily antifreeze mix out an opening. I scrubbed that stain with laundry soap for two hours.
Finally, it was time to bolt the whole thing back together. I had my friend Evan (remember the Dodge?) come to give me a hand. It was a cold winter morning when we headed out to the carport, ready for battle. Everything had a thin layer of frost on it. We had all the bolts cleaned up and oiled, other parts lined the driveway. Mom’s pride and joy looked like a wrecking yard. At least she was speaking to me again, even she could see that it would be mobile soon!
Each of us grabbed a side, walked forward, lifted, and set the fender assembly down over the frame and engine. It fit…..almost. Seems that the accident has distorted the boltholes. What did I know? Off came the jackets and gloves. You know how hot you get when you’re frustrated…..I was fuming! “GET THE HAMMER!!!” I yelled at Evan. I got Evan to push as hard as he could on the fender, the hole was within ¼ of an inch from being lined up! Success was near. I grabbed a screwdriver to jam in the hole to act as an alignment tool. Close, but no go. Levering harder, Evan pushing with all his might, I was breaking out in a sweat. I started to hammer on the screwdriver to help it pull the holes into alignment.
(More like I was distorting the hole) Wham, wham, wham, its moving…..wham, whaa,”HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, MOTHER F%$^&*#, DULL CRUD MUCKER, AHHHHH!” Yes, I whacked my left-hand big time with the hammer. The frost on the screwdriver had melted from the warmth of my hands, making it slippery, and causing it to twist. I exploded out of the engine bay, doing the incredible pain dance, around and around in a circle. The pain was incredible, bruising came up right away. I was done for that day, icing my hand for most of it.
It took Evan and I three more days to get the front end all bolted back on, the radiator in, and wiring hooked back up. We are ready to cruise. Mom has her carport back..
The next couple of months passed quickly, just driving to and from Langley, where I was building fiberglass boats.
Early spring found Evan and I getting ready for our first road trip. I had a new girl friend who was moving to a ranch at 93 Mile in the Caribou. We were going to be ranch hands, running the tractors to cut hay. Wow, were we in for it. We packed for two days. I got a 20-gallon drum to carry extra gas in the trunk! It was cheaper in Vancouver.
Our first trip out should have been recognized as for what was to come. We got out onto Glover Rd. started to accelerate, when I heard a slight squealing noise. Slight, but there all the same. We could not place where it was coming from. We stopped a couple of times, opened the hood, nothing. Maybe it will go away.
Now, picture in your mind’s eye. Here we are, two 18 year old KIDS, leaving town for their BIG adventure, in a car of unknown history and some very strange quirks. A 1958 Delray has drum brakes (which I never had checked) and vacuum operated windshield wipers! A Chevrolet engineer who must have been from Kansas developed this wiper system. He had never seen hills, let alone the Fraser Canyon! You will soon see why this was such a stupid system. So, off we go, excitement in hand, poorly set up brakes, vacuum wipers, and twenty gallons of gas in the trunk!
We left Fort Langley on a very sunny spring day, hoping to be at the ranch by noon. The slight squealing had disappeared, more likely from the road/wind noise drowning it out. As we got to Hope the clouds were building, rain starting to dot the windshield. Leaving Hope the skies opened up, heavy rain pounded down. Wipers on. Then…..We come to that first big hill out of Hope.
Step back for a second here. What does an engine see when it is just cruising around…..LOTS OF VACUUM. What does an engine see when it is under load…….NO VACUUM!!! What do vacuum operated wipers need to run…….LOTS, AND LOTS OF VACUUM!
As we start to head up the hill, the wipers start to slow down!!! HOLY CRUD!? What is this? More throttle, to maintain speed, and the wipers just keep on slowing!! With the load in the car, and that feeble 232 cubic inch motor, I’m finally at wide-open throttle to maintain speed…..AND THE WIPERS STOP! No vacuum, right. I’m also blind to traffic. LIFT, LIFT, YOU FOOL! I lift for a fraction of a second, get a sweep from the wipers across the windshield, then put the throttle to the floor to maintain speed. I have now slowed to the point where I can get down to second gear, the wipers go a hundred miles an hour again. O.k., we can handle this. Just a quick lift now and then on the hills and all is good.
I have also been noting that the car seems to pull to the right when I have had to brake. No problem. Driving along Evan and I start to think about that huge hill that leads up to Jackass Flats. Some of you know this hill. It has a good downhill run at it. Evan and I figure we’ll just scream down as fast as the Chevy would go, then maybe only have to lift two or three times to clear the windshield. Ha, No problem! It’s raining really hard.
Coming around the corner at the top of the downhill run, I start to floor it, just enough to keep the wipers going. Sixty-five, seventy, seventy-five miles an hour. The old car is starting to shake; the steering wheel has quite a vibration to it. Up ahead, on Jackass hill, are a few semi trucks spread out. As we hit the bottom of the hill, the speedo shows an indicated eighty miles an hour, warp speed Captain! Yehaaaa.
We start up, the two of us grinning, proud of our fearless speed attack on the hill. The car starts to slow….. Way to fast. Gravity, 3,400 lbs. Of loaded Detroit steel, and the aerodynamics of a small bus stop, are scrubbing speed. My foot, of course, goes farther to the floor, and, yes, the wipers start slowing down. We are also now just off the rear of the first truck, his spay is just fearsome, I cannot see! The wipers have stopped. Lift. Vision. Lift. Vision. I could kill that engineer! What an idiotic design. I get by the first truck, lift. Vision, hell, foot to the floor…. Blind. Here we are, likely down to fifty miles an hour, totally blind to what is maybe coming DOWN the hill. I finally, in what was only a few seconds, lifted to clear the window. “Holy crud!” there was a car coming straight at me, in my lane! He was likely as blind in the rain and spray as I was. I tossed, as much as you can “toss” a monster like this, into the right lane. Shear luck that I did not skid into the rock wall. There was a funny, juddering, feel to the car when I did this. “What the hell is THAT?”I remember Evan saying. The steering wheel had an even more pronounced shake to it. Oh, Oh.. We are now down to the same creeping speed as the trucks, bottom of second gear, lifting occasionally to get the wipers going faster. Finally, we crested the hill and began picking up speed. “Wow, that was close!”, we both said, practically in unison. We could not believe that those stupid wipers almost got us killed. I thought we better stop in Lytton to check out the shake. Just after the top of the hill the rain stopped and the road began to dry out! Go figure.
We were back up to speed, likely around fifty five to sixty miles an hour, if my memory serves me well. As we approached a left curve, not all that far from Lytton, the right front tire BLEW OUT! Bang! My surprise… and, lack of driving experience…. Caused me to jump on the brakes. (Which we know are not adjusted properly) This of course causes us to hang an instantaneous right turn….off the highway! Off the highway…right into the entrance of a paving crew setup. I can still see to this day: Evan’s eyes as big as saucers, the three workmen running for their lives in front of me, the two workmen going past Evan’s door at 50-60 miles an hour, and, the huge pile of paving gravel I am heading straight for. I’m sure my foot has gone through the firewall at this point! We came to a smoking, billowing dusty stop, at the base of the gravel pile, followed by a huge thump and bang from the trunk. “THE GAS, THE GAS DRUM, RUN,RUN!!!!” Evan and I bailed from the car. We are running AWAY from the car, and the paving crew is running TOWARDS the car. They are pissed as hell at Evan and I, we’re scared as hell that the car is going to blow up. (Seen too many Hollywood movies) Literally, when the dust settled, they calmed down, Ev and I calmed down, and the car did not blow up.
Upon inspection of the blown tire, it appeared that the toe setting was really out, hence the squealing noise we heard on leaving Fort Langley, compounded by a dead tie rod. More damage from the car’s accident that I never knew or thought to check. The shudder and vibration was caused by the tread starting to separate. It likely would have gone sooner, but for the rain keeping the tire cool. Once the paving crew saw that we were not some dope smoking long hairs, they got a truck and pulled me out of the pea gravel. Thank God for that pea gravel, just like Formula One, slowed us down fast! Also, what are the odds that that tire just blew then, any where else, and we would have smacked a rock wall, or, gone over a bank. Makes you think?
We opened the trunk to get the spare tire and jack. The fuel drum had crashed forward into the back seat partition, which now had taken on the shape of the drum, damn. It also busted our lantern, rats. No fuel leaking. The paving guys just walked away, shaking their heads when they saw the fuel drum.
Changing the tire, we realized that there was no way we could go very far with the ball joint that way. We decided to go slowly to Lytton, and see what the gas station could help us with. The fellow at the gas station was just great. The canyon was THE main route then; so, there were still lots of traffic and repair needs. He HAD a ball joint that fit! Two hours later, we were rolling.
Suffice to say the old Chevy continued to blind side me with a number of mechanical failures, terrible tire wear (even with the new ball joint), and even caught fire once. Over the spring and early summer we traveled back and forth to Fort Largely from 93 Mile, NEVER passing up-hill in the rain again.
Mid-summer found me back home, re-couperating from a slightly crushed heel. A mechanized hayrack I was operating got the better of me; at least it wasn’t the Chevy.
In 1968 you could still do the drive-in cruise circuit. Saturday nights were just like in “American Graffiti”, we would cruise through the A&W in Langley, down the Fraser highway to the Dog N’ Suds in Surrey, then down the street to the A&W. If you were too late, it was impossible to get a parking spot, all the big street rods and super cars would get them. Of course, the BURNOUT was the thing to do. Just try that with a clapped out, 232 cubic inch straight six…ha!!!! I would do my best. I learned that, just as I rolled up the speed bump; I would rev the engine and de-clutch, then on the down side, rev more and dump the clutch….chirp. Rats. I could see them laughing at me, their big thundering V-8’s stating the obvious. The Chevy finally got me, one hot August night, at the Dog N’ Suds. I was on my second lap of the Langley/Surrey circuit, it was a very warm night, around mid-night. My car was running hot from all the slow driving. I decided that I would like to get a spot, and a drink. The best burnouts and smoke shows were always later in the evening. I hung back around the corner, watching across the lot for a car to leave, my car was idling. (and getting hotter). Finally, my chance. Zooming around the corner, I made for the driveway, just as another fellow turned in from the other direction….damn. I was pissed, he made it in before I did. I was mad, revving the old six for all it was worth. I looped through the drive in and was ready for the burnout of my life when I hit the speed bump! Just as I dropped down the bump, engine screaming at 3,000 RPM, BLOOIE… the frigging radiator hose blows, a cloud of steam coming out from under the hood that would make Chernobyl pale in comparison. Was I ever embarrassed. I did not even stop! I quickly saw that no traffic was coming down the street, hung a right and floored it. The rear tire must have been covered in my own anti-freeze, for, as I floored it, it just started to spin, making that high zzzznnnnggg sound that cars usually make on ice. Finally, my own smoke show, the smell of burning rubber and anti-freeze filled the car. I reveled in the feeling of POWER. I pulled into the gas station in the next block, shutting the car off, the temp gauge well pegged into the red zone on the gauge. Oh, well.
September found me heading to the north end of the Island, I had a job as a deck hand on a tug boat. This was before the Island highway was paved, then, it was 150 miles, one way, of logging road, GRAVEL hell. It was on this road, that I started to learn car control…..and patience. It was this road that ate tires and brakes on my Chevy, as if they were free. It was this road that had me racing, as you will soon see, before I knew what racing was. It was this road that took its toll on my 1969 Datsun wagon, and prompted me to put the Datsun African Rally Suspension in my 1972 Wagon!
Stay tuned, if I have not bored you too much, for the continuing saga of GARAGES. It will be October, 1968. Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution is continuing in China, the Vietnam War is at its height. I have been working for a month, ready for my first trip home. I am at the gate, literally….and the green flag is about to drop…..almost literally!

APRIL 21,2001

RE: Keith Law

Posted: 25 Dec 2006 02:23
by 510rob


Thank you again, faithful reader, for returning for the third, but not final chapter of my automotive history.
I dedicate this chapter to my Dad, who gave me my love of long distance driving, better known as, “Road Trips.” I was born in Winnipeg, and, my dad’s business territory was all of the prairies, Winnipeg to the Rockies. When I was six, he would take me on some of those trips, driving for hours and hours across the great, golden oceans of wheat fields. I would sit in his lap and drive for huge stretches of time. On occasion, when I would ask, ”When are we there?” , he would just say, with a twinkle in his eye, “When we get to that horizon!” As you can imagine, the hundreds of miles would just roll on by, the horizon always at the same spot. In as much as I saw the prairies, my experience of the prairies was in the ten minute pee breaks we would have, stopping at old, depression era farm buildings.
But, I loved those “Road Trips”, the excitement of what might be over that horizon, stays with me to this day. The drive is the TRIP!

It is now October, 1968. The war is raging in Vietnam, the Red Army is in Prague, Jackie Kennedy marries Onassis, and I am sitting at the starting gate, literally.
Let’s step back a month here now. In September, I headed to Northern Vancouver Island, to be a deck hand on a coastal tug boat and work in a sawmill at Telegraph Cove. I had worked here for summer jobs since 1965. I have brought my 1958 Chevy, driving it up on the only way there, 150 miles on logging road, gravel hell. Before the Island highway was built, this was the only way to drive to Port Hardy from Campbell River. There was a hitch though, you could only travel after logging hours! The road was gated at both ends, manned by company people, who would open the gate at 5:00 PM, or, after the last logging truck was out. This was done for every ones safety, as the trucks up there carry HUGE loads, use the entire road, and cannot stop even if they wanted to. So, other than in the height of summer, this meant you were traveling at night for the most part.
I know some of you out there know what it is like to drive on those logging roads. The pot holes, wash board, parts of B.C. that stick out of the road, and dust, are part of the equation. They beat tires and suspension to oblivion. Then, there is the dust! Great, boiling clouds of it, insidious in it’s tenacity to get EVERYWHERE! Driving with lights on is mandatory, and convention or un-written law had it that, you were to follow someone a good distance back. Reality dictated that you had to do this anyhow, because you could not see anything, and the dust would fill your car as much on the inside, as there was on the outside. So, here I am, eighteen year old kid, about to experience the REALITY, of getting down island, for my first trip OUT.
I have now worked for a month and a bit at Telegraph, the Chevy not giving me too much grief. A couple of broken head lights, and a flat tire were all I could complain about. The nearest town was twelve miles away, on gravel of course, so I really did not use the car that much. The brakes were giving me a bit of a problem, not wanting to stop straight, but, when you have drums all round, that seemed the norm. I had use of a small, covered garage there, the back of it filled with old engine blocks, heads, and other mechanical junk. This kept the car dry for the most part, as it leaked in a few places. This winter of 1968 was turning out to be very cold.
I now thought it would be good time to head to Fort Langley to see Mom and Dad, and get my brakes looked at. I knew the regulars that traveled down on the weekends, always talked about getting to the “gate” first, like that was a big deal. I had, up until this time, not thought much about it. Glen, the mill’s sawyer, asked me on the Thursday, “Can you drive fast?” “SURE!”, I said, filled with eighteen year old bravado, plus, I had done all that driving to and from the Caribou, and, of course, cruised the A & W, Dog N’ Suds route. I was really excited about heading out, getting a bit of cabin fever up there, and, it was a road trip after all. Now, I knew we would be back early from a trip on the tug, to deliver freight to a floating logging camp, not all that far from Telegraph. I asked the owner if I could get off early so as to be first to go when the gate opened. “No problem.” He said, “Just BE CAREFULL!” I knew I could be at the gate by 4:30, thus beating all the mill guys that got off work at 4:30. I gassed the Chevy up, we had our own fuel depot at the Cove, and I was ready to go.
Now, let’s step back a moment in time here, while I tell you what I am facing. On the drive up in September, I came up on a Saturday, so the road was open. I was not in a rush, so, I really paid no attention to how long it took. I just marveled at the beauty of the forest, the lakes and rivers, scattered all through the middle of the Island. I went relatively slow, not beating the Chevy up too badly.
I am now sitting at the GATE, facing an all night drive to Nanaimo, to catch the 5:00 AM ferry. But, more importantly, it is what’s BEHIND me!
Remember, this is 1968, a different time, a different place. What I did not know, or, think of, was that the locals all have beater trucks, cars, and love their BEER. It was common practice to grab a beer(s) after work, and, pretty much finish a six pack on the gravel section of the road, 150 miles of gravel! By the time most of them got to the gate, they were well into their second beer. As I was soon to find out, this introduced a whole new set of rules (and downside for some of them) called…SURVIVAL!
So, here I am, at the GATE, first in line. Clean clothes on, showered, I even washed the Chevy. Dumb! Behind me, I can count at least 20 vehicles, people standing around talking, and, DRINKING BEER. At five minutes to five, the gatekeeper would announce to the gathered crowd whether the last truck was on time or not. As soon as he cleared Mile 1 marker, and dropped onto the lower road to the log dump, the gate would open. For my first trip out, the truck was on time….and the gate went up. I sensed that this was more than just the start of a trip, I could see Glen grinning in my mirror. A fleeting thought went through my brain…”He is going to try to pass me!”
Let’s step back for a moment here again. What I also did not know, that Glen the sawyer, who was directly behind me, in his Dodge Power Wagon 4X4, had driven stock cars…on dirt. He was truly a “Good Ole’ Boy!” I only found this out years later, when I took my 1972 510 turbo wagon up there. He had just bought a Toyota Celica. We had a great discussion on the merits of bottom end torque. We had a great race one day, when the local road was paved years later. He was all over me in the corners, but, I could pull him on the straights with the turbo.
The Gate goes up, and off we go, just like a Le Mans start! The Chevy had “three on the tree”, and, I had perfected my fast shifting. I was well into second gear, ready to just cruise along at maybe 35 MPH. It is about a three mile hill, relatively straight to the top, then a long five mile straight stretch, before it got into the twisty back road. Why I thought everyone would stay inline, and behind me, is a mystery to me, even to this day! What in idiot. As I hit what I thought would be a comfortable cruising speed, dust billowing behind me, I could see Glen coming…and coming FAST! You know how you feel when somebody is really close to you, that subtle pressure to go a bit faster kicks in. Well, this was more than subtle, so, I STEPPED on it. My heart is racing, I think I knew that this was a race of some sort. No way was I going to let Glen pass me. I am now about to exceeded the performance envelope of the Chevy. I shift into third and am likely going about 45 MPH. This may not sound fast, but, on that loose, wash board gravel, and floppy suspension I was at my max. . I remember to this day, thinking, “If I can hold him off to the windy bits, he can’t pass me!” Ha, as we got to the top of the hill, just onto the long stretch, which was quiet smooth, all I have are headlights in my mirror. I then remembered……”Can you drive FAST…..?” I moved over as far as I dare, ever fear full of catching the soft edge of the road. I had on occasion gone back up the road to retrieve some of the guy’s cars that had gotten “sucked” into the ditches. I now think that the beer had a lot to do with it. Glen was by me in a blink, SIDEWAYS, great clouds of dust and rocks peppering the car. No broken windshield, thank God. I had likely slowed back to my comfort zone of 35 MPH, when, I hear a horn…ARG! It’s the next truck, swerving back and forth to see through the dust. He passes, I am now in a fog of dust, I slow more, and more vehicles pass me. I’m blind now! “Holy Mother of God, you F*&%#@ Dull Crud Muckers &%*#@ ARRGGG!” By now, at least a dozen vehicles have passed me. I am now at the start of the winding road, and the real rough stuff. The best speed I can do is about 20 MPH, other wise the car feels like it is going to overseer right off the road, or, it is going to shake to a million pieces. The car is full of dust, I can taste it. I just had my doors blown off……even got passed by Linda, the camp cook from the nearby logging camp…waving and smiling as she blew by…like she was on a Sunday drive…CRAP!
Settling down, I realize that at this speed, it will take me the better part of 8 hours to get to Campbell River. Holy Cow! That makes it about 1:00 AM, then, that only gives me four hours to get to Nanaimo, just in time to catch that 5:00 AM ferry. Holy Cow! No wonder they were all giving it bullets. At least no one else has passed me at this point. It’s dark now, four hours into the drive, when…blam…flat tire. Flat tires would haunt me for years, as I traveled up and down that back road. You see, in 1970, my Mom and Dad MOVED to the North end of the Island to work in that very sawmill. So, it’s about 9:00 PM, and I have to change a tire. No problem. I get out and survey the situation. I get all the stuff out, and, the next car that was just cruising behind me passes, slowing enough to ask if I was ok, but, still leaving me in a cloud of boiling dust. It was another unwritten rule of the road that you ALWAYS stopped to see if that person needed help. It could be you next time. The bad thing was that it just kept the dust clouds coming, I could not breathe. I popped the hubcap off, and it was filled with dust the consistency of flour. It took me 20 minutes to change that tire. I drove even slower now, knowing that I had no spare.
I ended up missing the 5:00 AM ferry, caught the 7:00. By the time I got to Fort Langley and home, it was 11:00 AM. I had been traveling for 14 hours. I realized I would have to allow for that for the trip back, so, it only gave me Saturday to get everything done. Tire fixed, brakes checked, visit…therefore…no sleep. This trip remained like that for the North Island people until the highway was finally paved all the way through. The Chevy required a full brake job, so, my transportation was gone for Saturday. That was ok, it let me just rest and visit the folks.
The trip back was at least uneventful, but long. Over the years, the drinking before and during that drive out, caught up with a few of the folk. Killing a few, maiming others. On numerous trips, some one would pass me, hell bent, then, miles down the road, we would see the long skid marks as they exited the road. I learned to watch my mirror very carefully, so as to not get run off the road, and, learned to watch for the telltale signs of a big slide. We would always stop to check, and sure as hell, there would be the wreck down below the road. Why it always seemed to happen with a huge drop I’ll never know. I have dragged more broken bodies out of car crashes in those years, than I care to remember. The really scary part was, there was no help! We usually had to wait till some one in a company truck would come along, with a radio, to call for help. The call would go to the closest logging camp, where they would have to rouse the first aid person, and he would have to get the aid truck, and then drive to the crash site. The record for one of my trips on that back road was 12 hours. We had to wait, with some guys trapped in their wreck, broken bones, and in excruciating pain, for help to arrive.
Drinking and driving…NOT GOOD!
Over the next three months, the weather got colder and colder at the North end, and, as we will see, in Vancouver too. In that time too, I was driving the Chevy to Port McNeill all the time, so see a Danish girl I had met. The rains were huge now, the gravel roads turning into 80 grit sandpaper. The brakes on the Chevy, my brand new brakes, were getting worse as the miles piled on. HMMMM. I was now storing the Chevy in a small garage that was totally covered in. I had a 100 watt light bulb in the engine compartment, right next to the distributor, to help keep the dampness out, so it would start ok. I also had a small radiator leak, so, I was always adding water. Note I said water, not antifreeze. In mid December, we had a job that required us to take the tug way back into the hundreds of little islands scattered through out the Broughton Archipelago. The weather was horrible. On the way back, it got late and we got caught in a storm that came in very suddenly, as they are want to do at the North end. We had to seek shelter. This was before the days of cheap radar available to small boats. I had to go out on the very front of the tug, to watch for reefs, as we headed to a small bay to lie up. I must have been out on the front of that boat for an hour or so, frozen, wet, chilled to the bone. The short story is that I ended up getting very sick. As Christmas was around the corner, I decided to head for home, done with the North for awhile. The trip down was slow and snowy, sections of the gravel road were either frozen solid, or, drenched with that 80 grit sand. By the time I got to Fort Langley, the brakes were done. It seems everything was so worn anyhow, the grit just got into the drums and lathed everything to oblivion. As I was not well, I just had no inclination to check things out on the car, specially the radiator.
Arriving in Fort Langley the day before Christmas, it was -10 out. One week later, I tried to drive the car into Langley. I made it half way before it over heated. Seems that I had diluted my anti freeze with so much water, because of that slow leak I mentioned, I have frozen the block…and cracked it!

The year is 1969. Mankind steps onto the Moon, the Concorde has its first flight, Woodstock Music and Arts Fair happens, the Vietnam War protests escalate…….and I buy my first Datsun.
I had a local mechanic friend of my Dad’s put a beater motor into the Chevy, another 232 cubic inch straight six. It burned oil like crazy. Who remembers LUBI LUBE? It came in 1 quart glass containers, with the metal pouring spout. It sat in those racks right next to the gas pumps. Says something about how far engine technology has come. Every time I gassed up, I put two of those into the engine. The oil was costing me more than the gas. Other things were just grenading on the car, it was becoming a real liability. I was working at Delta Cedar products, making good union wage, so, I started thinking about buying another car. The final straw, that finally got me serious about a new car, was getting stranded one time after night shift. I was tired, the car was hard to start, finally going, but finally stopping for its last time half way home to Fort Langley. There was not enough compression in that beater motor to run it any more. Dead! Done! Kaput! I had put 35,000 miles on that car, really spent very little on it, and it had only cost a bottle of Scotch. Time for new, I had had it with old cars.

We are going to step out again for a minute. In as much as I had never had a real desire to hop up the Chevy, I was not ignorant of the cool cars that cruised the drive-in’s. The Chevy only got some mag wheels, a THRUSH muffler, STP decals, and a bunch of goo-gas’ for the interior. I never really had enough money to throw at it, so, it was just transportation. The late 60’s were the start of the Super Car era, basic cars that were just about going FAST! A very good friend of mine, Dave Richards, showed up one day at my door, with his brand new 1969 PLYMOUTH ROAD RUNNER..BEEP… BEEP! 383 cubic inches, 335 raw, thundering, horsepower. Does not seem like much now, considering what my Datsun does on a good day, but, back then, this “OH MY GOD!” stuff. Bench seats, no radio, no nothing actually. It was your basic factory street drag car. My first ride with Dave had me sold on it. Brutal acceleration, totally traction limited on those PolyGlass tires. Dave lived in Richmond at the time, where we had grown up. On Friday nights, we would stop at the Gulf station at #4 Road and Shell, gas up, at .35 cents a GALLON FOR PREMIUM 98 ( 7.7 cents a litre for you metric people!) and head into Vancouver for a night of drag racing. So was everyone else. First stop would be the cruise through the first MacDonald’s in Canada, #3 Road and Garden city, then on to down town Granville Street. That would be good for a couple of races. You could drive on Granville Street back then that was good for a couple of smoke shows, or races. Then we would cruise back down to the White Spot on Granville, then head out to FINN ROAD in Richmond, for the serious night drags. The odd, rare time Dave let me drive, I just loved that brutal, push you into the seat, acceleration. By the time we finished, one tank of gas was GONE! That worked out to 4-5 MPG on a good night. Remember this.
Now, I was ready to get one of these cars, thought I knew what I could sign myself up for. Anybody remember JOHNSON MOTORS? They were the Super Car dealership to deal with in Vancouver at the time. All those bright 60’s colours, glowing on the showroom floor, headers hanging from the wall, Super Bee and Road Runner decals everywhere. Plymouth paid Warner Bros, $50,000.00 at the time, to use the Road Runner cartoon. The place oozed performance. I loved the Red that they had at the time. That was the colour I wanted! It seems to have stuck with me to this day too.
I had already decided that I wanted more than just the base Road Runner, after all, if some is good, more is better. We’re talking horsepower here. After all, I wanted to beat Dave too! Must be that competitive thing, it was starting to rear its’ head. So, at the end of a hot summer, in August of 1969, I wandered into the dealership to talk about MY car. The salesman could smell the sale, taste the money, and see the 19 year old guy with money to burn. I was actually really nervous, this was big time stuff. Biggest thing I had bought before this, was my little 8” black and white T.V..
“Well son, which one of these gorgeous machines would you be interested in?” I thought, any guy that uses the word gorgeous for one of these BEASTS, I really do not want to deal with! He turned out to be ok, sitting me down in his office to see what I could AFFORD. He then said, that the 70’s models were coming early, or something like that, and would I like to pre-order one of those. Here is where it gets good. The cheaper alternative to the 426 Hemi, which was the only option after the 383, prior to this, was now going to be a…..A THREE-TWO BARRELS, CARBURETTED, 440 CUBIC INCH V-8, dubbed the 440 SIX PACK!!!! WITH AN AIR-GRABBER HOOD SCOOP!!!! I was drooling, I was apoplectic, and where was my cheque book? Holy crap, was I going to be KING. Dave was toast. This engine was rated at 375 HP and 410 foot pounds of torque. Compression was 10.3:1. It was a monster in my books. I remember going though the build codes with him, looking at all the options. The 69’ Runner just came with bench seats, no radio, no noth’in! It really was a basic car, which was what Plymouth intended it to be, as the lightest possible car for acceleration. With that in mind, I only ordered the radio, the four speed transmission, bucket seats, and, I think, whatever the widest tires were for the day. I remember Dave’s car could not really hook up. It would be amazing to see what some of today’s tires would have done for it. The car was about two months away he figured, and was going to cost me just under $4,000.00, a lot of money for a 19 year old kid. I had a good job, so it all seemed rosy. I left with a promise to come back with my $100.00 deposit, my mind fantasizing about laying blocks of rubber, the Grabber Hood scoop coming open, as I lay into those three carburetors.

One more time, faithful reader, we are going to step back, as a couple of things happened, almost all at once! Call it fate, call it luck (good or bad), or,……the cosmic forces unwound.

In early September, I decided to have a party at my place in Fort Langley. Mom and Dad were going to be out, and not back till the next morning. They said the parties cool, just don’t blow the windows out. One of the people invited, of course was Dave…and his Road Runner. The party went, as most parties do, and the windows were intact. Dave stayed over, as it was a drive back to Richmond, and we did not finish till early morning. Mom and Dad arrived back at 10:00 on that sleepy Sunday morning. After coffee, Dave asked, “Would Mr. & Mrs. Law like to go for a drive to see what my Road Runner is like?” “Keith’s will be like this too!” I had shown the car brochure to Dad. He had voiced some reservations, but, felt I was master of my decisions. My Dad was kind of a car guy, liked machinery, stuff that was “cool”. Mom, wanting to be part of the “youthful” group, said “Sure!”
So, we get Mom into the front seat, squished between me, and the floor shifter. Dad gets into the back seat, with my little sister. Dave fires up the car, gives the throttle a good blip. Those cars were loud, no interior padding, pretty free exhaust. This was NOT my Dad’s Ford Falcon. We head down the street, turn right onto Glover Road, and head towards the Albion Ferry. Now, in 1969, Fort Langley was VERY QUIET. We crossed the railway tracks…and Dave stopped. I had no idea what he had planned, never even thought about what a drive MIGHT be. Mom, being the direct person she is, asks Dave, “Why have we stopped?” In her quiet, Sunday morning voice. Before any of us can either answer, not that it even occurred to me, WHY he had stopped. Dave instantly revs the car to 4,000 RPM…and DUMPS the clutch. BAAAWAAAA ! All hell breaks loose! The noise is incredible, the tires screaming, and, we are all thrust back into the seat. In the next blink, Dave slams it into second gear, the noise seems even worse. My mother’s hands shoot out to the dash, which she cannot quite reach due to the acceleration. The car is also slightly going sideways, prompting a “WHOOAAA!!!” from my Dad in the back. I have not yet comprehended, that Dave plans to run it though all four gears…….WITH MY MOM & DAD IN THE CAR! Wham, Dave slam shifts it to third, my Mom actually getting to grab the dash, as the car goes forward for a micro second. I have finally gotten my mouth moving, thinking I have to yell, “NOT SO FAST!” Mom has lost contact with the dash again, and, is now about to have her left kneecap whacked by the shifter as Dave pounds it to fourth. What I though was still tire noise, I now realize, is my 9 year old sister screaming to STOP! We also have now travelled through the town of Fort Langley, and are thundering our way to the ferry, at about 118 MPH…AHHHHHH. I glance at my Mom, with a silly, I did NOT know he was going to do this look, on my face. Mom’s face just registers absolute terror. I’m dead, we’re all dead, I thought to myself.
I can see the end of the road coming, and, of course, Dave throws out the anchors. Four wheel drum brakes are bad at the best of times, and this was no exception. The car was as squirrelly as hell, thus finishing off my sisters screams from the back seat. Holy Crap, I’m going to kill him, I thought to myself. We came to a shuddering stop, with Dave saying, “Well, what do think?” My Dad is calming my sister down…and my mother is saying…..”Can we please go back slowly….please?”
We did go back at the speed limit, Dad making some light conversation, but, I knew he was pissed. It turned out, that he was not so much pissed, as concerned. Dad was no stranger to speed, being a ski jumper, and did some ice racing in Ontario, before it was called ice racing. Typical stuff young guys do. He could see the potential for getting into some serious trouble in a car like that. We had a TALK, him and I. He also had made a note of what terrible fuel mileage it got, and, how relatively expensive the car was, compared to other cars, He had actually figured out what it was going to cost me in fuel to drive back and forth from Ft. Langley to Delta to work. And that was not counting on full throttle stuff, which we BOTH knew was the attraction of those cars. My Dad was no dummy! I listened, took some in, but, was set on my path.

One week later, I was laid off from the sawmill! I was devastated! I called the Plymouth dealer, who, was incredibly understanding, and cancelled my order. They even gave me my $100.00 back. They could sell anything they had at that time I think, so it was not a problem. I think it really sunk in, that nothing is guaranteed. Dave also proved again, what a wild man he was. He was very hard on cars, almost killing us during an ill planed trip to go surfing at Long Beach (that’s another story). He finally did the Road Runner in. Sitting at a traffic light one day, he was so concentrated on racing the guy in a Cougar XR7 next to him, that he did not notice that the person ahead of him was making a left turn. He drilled the guy full throttle, in first gear! Wrote both cars off, and was charged with dangerous driving.
In the same time period, next to the garage of the fellow that worked on my Chevy and Dad’s Falcon, a new car dealership opened up……VALLEY DATSUN.

One week later, I had another job, this one I am still doing to this day, 36 years later. Wow, where did the years go. In the next blink, my Dad lost his job, and they had to move to Northern Vancouver Island, right back to the Mill that I had worked at there. Because I had a new job, and had to find a place to live on my own, I needed that new car. My Dad’s voice resonated in my brain, and I realized that something more practical and economical was in order.
I wandered into Valley Datsun, September 27, 1969. I liked the look of the 510 Wagon, very cool for the time, DISC BRAKES, wow! Overhead cam motor, WOW! Lots of room for camping stuff, carried four people, no problem. Nice red colour, radio, wow. “Should get you 25-30 MPG!” the salesman said. Wow. I crawled around it, marvelling that it was all painted underneath, suspension a nice shiny black. None of the hazy rust look of the American stuff. I took it for a drive around Langley. It was quiet, ran like a top, and it actually went well. Not a Road Runner, but, it sure was not the Chevy either. And it stopped….straight. It felt even better than Dad’s Falcon at the time. And, sure better than a Road Runner. The sticker price was $2,595.00 + tax of $129.75 + $10.00 registration. I put down a $5.00 deposit! Total price, out the door $2,729.75. On September 28, 1969, I took possession of PL510-831-577, soon to be known as the “Red Baron”

I put 105,000.00 miles on that car in three years! It never let me down, took me places I could have only dreamed about, and introduced me to the world of handling. Even though Dave in his Road Runner would leave me in the dust on the straights, I found I could be all over him under braking and on twisty roads. When Radial tires first hit the shores here, I swear I was one of the first to pitch those bias tires and put Michelin X tires on. The world changed then. I could out corner most car/driver packages. What fun. The long distance trips did not seem to be as long, because I could keep a higher rate of speed up. I think that is why the motor lasted so well, it just lived at 4,000 RPM the whole time. My mobile, stationary, engine. I really did learn to drive in that car, going faster and faster on my known routes, learning what worked best through different types of corners. I survived, that was the main thing.

In 1972, with 105,000 miles on my 1969 car, I bought a 1972 wagon from Brasso Datsun. As I had developed a true love of driving, and did very long trips, I started to want more power and handling. I had bought my car from a sales person who was actually road racing a 510, at WestWood, his name was ANDY FIELD. I was introduced to motor sport! A few dealers and businesses in Vancouver were starting to carry performance parts for the 510. I started to check into cams and carbs, suspension, etc. Then one day, a young fellow, who started working with me, asked if I had heard of TURBO-CHARGING. “No. what’s that?” I asked. As most of you local people know…the rest IS history! After a couple of weeks of research, I was pretty sure turbo charging was the way to go. I had found a copy of “TURBOCHARGERS”, by Hugh Macinnes, the first bible so to speak. The problem, in ’72-’73, was turbo charging was in its very early stages of infancy. Where did I go to get more info? As it turned out, Interpart was carrying the Crown Mfg. kit for a 510. Wow, was I stoked. I got the local dealer to bring me in a brochure, which listed the kit at $595.00 USD. That was a LOT of money even then.
I was just about to order that kit, when I heard about a local Vancouver company that was making a turbo kit for the 510. I could not get down there fast enough! The company was called Engine Air. The man who owned the business, Dick Garret, was a bit of a car guy and had a 510 and a Jaguar. The real business of this company was retro-fitting turbo chargers onto tug boats, thus keeping them competitive. I went down to see them. I can still remember my first drive in his turbo 510. I was asking him all about it, when he said, “Lets just go for a drive!” After having been around and going for some rides in cammed and carbed 510’s, I was really disappointed that the car was so quiet, idled like a stock car…..I thought, this was going to be lame. We cruised out to the Second Narrows Bridge, the car never bucking, quiet, felt like MY 510. RATS! Then, as we fed onto the ramp, he leaned on the throttle in second gear. By the time he grabbed third, the grin on my face must have been enormous. We headed over the bridge and up the cut. For those of you non-local people, the “cut” is an up hill, approx.8-10% grade that was a test for lots of cars as to what speed you could maintain. Dick hit the bottom of that hill in 4th gear…and the car just kept accelerating. Accelerating quietly, with just a hint of that turbo whistle! We peaked at about 105 MPH. That was FAST. I was sold! $550.00 CDN.. When we got back to his shop, I could not get the kit loaded into the back of my wagon fast enough. I had that kit installed in three days after I got it.
As a side note, any of the Crown kits that I came across in Vancouver, were horrible. The kit was not a kit. You had to fabricate, scrounge, so much stuff, it should have been criminal. And, no thought was given to controlling the boost! There was not one person that I ran across, who had not blown a head gasket or motor, with the Crown kit. With Dick’s kit, I bought nothing….everything was there. And, as he retained the stock exhaust and intake, boost stayed constant at 15LBS. Plus, being the engineer that he was, gave me that details about boost, octane, etc., that kept everything alive. The Crown kit gave you nothing like that. I wonder how things may have turned out if I had bought one of those kits ?
Again I hit the highways. I used to jump in the car right after work on Friday, drive to Salmon Arm to watch the drive-in Friday night, sleep in the back of the wagon, drive to the Okanagan Saturday morning, lay on the beach all day, drive home Saturday night, get up Sunday morning, drive to Pemberton and back on the Squamish highway. That was 700 miles under my belt, and I did that every second week…payday you see! Along with this came the development of suspension, but that’s another story.
Along with these drives of course, came the encounters with other vehicles of a sporting nature. I won’t bore you with the details of my conquests, but there were many. The wagon was a true “sleeper”, surprising many a so called high performance car, or European cruiser. One I will tell you about, because I still laugh about it, was my encounter with a 911 Porsche, in 1974. I was just past Spences Bridge, cruising along about 85MPH, when I saw this 911 ahead of me. He was obviously going pretty good because I was not closing on him very fast. We got into the twisty bits and I was pretty much right behind him. You know how you KNOW when somebody is starting to give it, I could see him look in the mirror, and felt the pace pick up a bit. He could not lose me, and I felt I could pass him on one of the steep long hills. Sure enough, I could out motor him on the next big hill and was gone. I could see he could reel me in on top end, but, I could stay ahead on the twisty bits. I put about a mile on him by the time I got to Cache Creek to fuel up. He pulled in on the other side of the pump. He rolled down his window and asked what the hell I had done to the motor. As I looked into his car, his right leg was in a full cast, and draped over into the passenger side, he was driving with his left leg! His lady friend was giving him a hard time about driving fast. He said he too loved to drive and that he was not going to let a broken leg get in the way! He could not believe that the “little Japanese piss pot” ate his Porsche!
As time went on, I came to think my car was invincible, out on the GREAT ROLLING DYNO, and, I was a hero driver! Little did I know. One day I spotted an ad in a local paper, inviting people out to an AUTO SLALOM. I had no idea what this was about, but, It said it was geared for novices. I figured I was a pretty good driver and that I would show them a thing or two about power. This slalom was to be held at what was our local road race track, WestWood. I arrived that sunny morning, all full of piss and vinegar. I had put more air in the tires as they had recommended. When I had phoned the fellow to ask what the slalom was about, he asked what kind of car I had. I told him it was a turbo charged Datsun wagon. He said, “Well, that should be interesting!”
Wow, there were REAL race cars here, and, cars that looked more serious than I had seen before! No problem! People were coming over to see this TURBO car, my ego stroked beyond belief. “This should be interesting!” they said. The slalom course was pretty much the full road course, with some slalom gates thrown in to keep the speeds down. This should be easy I thought to myself.
Away we went, my heart rate must have been at 210! Accelerate, brake, turn, toss, accelerate, toss, brake…oh my God, the hair pin…brake more, accelerate, toss, turn….brake hard and finish. What a star! I showed them! I pulled into the pits, no one came over to congratulate me or hoist me onto their shoulders. I went and looked at my time. Holy crap! This was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. Dead last! Even deader than last! I was so slow it was amazing. I thought I had just done the drive of a life time…and I’m dead last. But I was HOOKED! The gauntlet was thrown. The challenge was there. Some veteran solo guys came over, offered suggestions about tires, suspension changes…maybe a wagon was not the best solo car…seemed to be a lot of throttle lag……you know…THE STUFF!!!! Yes, I was hooked. 29 years later….The rest they say, IS HISTORY.
What really was the best part, was the community. During that day, no one came over and trashed my poor car, or my driving. What they did offer was suggestion, encouragement, and CONSTUCTIVE criticism. I joined the Columbian Auto Sport Club in 1976 and started slaloming full time that year. It was during this time that I started writing for the clubs newsletter. Back then, the Solo series also involved a lot of out of town travel. It was doing this that the “Tales From The Great Rolling Dyno” was born. Both from the fact that I used the great, rolling expanses of B.C.’s highways as my test track. My wagon was retired from solo use and the turbo was put into a 1972 2dr sedan, that car became the ROLLING DYNO.
The “Tales” part came from documenting those out of town trips. In the early 70’s, Car & Driver Magazine started their 1 LAP of America Race, or, as it became to known, The Cannonball. There was a core group of us slalomers, that used to do the out of town races. After a few years, the race became secondary! The EVENT, was the drive to and from the slalom event. The Cannonball. Not a race, but, just a high speed drive. It got so bad, at the height of the out of town events, that the line up for the “start” of the drive back, looked like the pre-grid of a road race. People were jockeying for position, so as not to be left to far behind. I would be getting my belts done up, ready to leave the parking lot, and everybody would be lined up behind ME. I laugh now when I think about it, I guess I did set the “pace” sometimes.
I was criticized heavily for organizing these Cannonballs! I organized nothing, they just EVOLVED. This was a very die hard group of motor sport people who loved to drive. Out of this came, “Tales From The Great Rolling Dyno” a documentation of the people, the drives, the events. As I look back now, I am glad I wrote a lot of this down. At 55 years old now, it is amazing what has become forgotten. The written record is just that, helps bring back those memories, the characters, and the incredible Fun that we all had. Some of the original “Cannonballers” are still around. Don Nimi, Richard Boyk, Campbell Carlyle, to name a few. All are still heavily involved in motor sport.
I hope I have not bored you with this. For me, it is something that I have been meaning to do, this little bit of history. We all have our tales and exploits, thanks for listening to mine.
And, as I used to end a lot of my stories with,


Keith Law,
October, 2005

Note to the ending quotation.

One year, at the height of the out of town slaloms, and Cannonballs, a group of us left for Vernon for a regional slalom. It was a great, sunny day. As there was a bunch of us, we naturally got split up. Our group had to stop in Princeton for gas, where as their group was ok to keep going. My group caught up with them, just out side of Hedley, B.C.. The highway had just been paved and was a wide, four lanes of fresh, billiard ball smooth pavement. No names here, IT WAS NOT ME, picked up the pace….. big time! And, there was no traffic. Well, away we all went. I can still see this one to this day, it looked like Daytona Speedway, on the first lap, ahead of me. A dozen or so cars, feet to the firewall and beyond, moving up and down in the bumps, like only cars at speed can do. After about two miles, of wide open throttle, a couple of us were leading. The pack was still tight, but, the pecking order had been established! We arrived in Keremeos in a heart beat.
This little “run” became legendary in it’s time. All of our Walter Mitty fantasies had been realized, if only for a blink of unreality. So, after that, that stretch became synonymous with the high speed drive.

RE: Keith Law

Posted: 25 Dec 2006 02:29
by rnorrish
shoot, i read this (when you emailed it to me) and forgot to reply (got wrapped up in reading it all). someone needs to proof read it... oh well.

you almost wonder if it wouldn't be easier to post a file and have people download it. long posts here are always hard to read.

RE: Keith Law

Posted: 25 Dec 2006 02:38
by 510rob
...just because you asked for it :)

RE: Keith Law

Posted: 25 Dec 2006 12:57
by jason
Thanks to Rob for posting this (without breaking it up into 3 months worth of newsletters the swine!) and Keith for writing it! First class stuff all the way Keith, please keep the stories coming.

RE: Keith Law

Posted: 25 Dec 2006 19:02
by bertvorgon
Thanks Rob!

Posted: 25 Dec 2006 21:46
by TerryHackman
The stories bring tears to my eyes...I enjoy Peter Egans monthy cronicles in ROAD & TRACKs Side Glances column. I thought his stories were interesting but yours were downright riveting! Thanks for sharing them.

Posted: 26 Dec 2006 08:15
by bertvorgon
I loved Peter Egan, he used to really crack me up.
As we saw with the start of your post Terry, everybody has a story, I just happened to write mine down.

Sorry it's so long Rich.

Posted: 26 Dec 2006 09:53
by datzenmike
Thanks for your present, Kieth, (sorry I forgot to get you one) I took my time and spent all day un-wrapping it. Not a few old personal memories were taken out of my 'attic', and dusted off. It's not too long....( how could it be too long?)

Posted: 26 Dec 2006 23:37
by rnorrish
i didn't mean this was too long...
it just hard to follow along through long posts here on the site.

hey, i read the whole thing in one shot last week! and everytime is always a treat!

Posted: 27 Dec 2006 11:35
by bertvorgon
My "other" stuff is'nt this long....promise!

Posted: 15 Jan 2007 21:45
by bertvorgon

I hope you all had a great Christmas and new years! I thought I should let you know what I did over the Holidays. These sort of admissions are hard to do, but, I would rather you heard it from the horse’s mouth so to speak. Over the holidays I decided to finally admit I have a DRUG habit and tried to check myself into the Betty Ford clinic for some rehab.
Arriving at the Vancouver clinic, I was greeted by a very matronly woman, a cross between June Cleaver and Mother Teresa. We proceeded to have the following Conversation:
“Good morning Mister Law, are you here on your own admission?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“Good, good, part of dealing with these problems is first admitting them to yourself.” She said.
“Yes.” I replied.
“Now, what is YOUR particular problem?” she asked.
“Well, I am addicted to SPEED.” I Said .
“Oh my,” she said, “This is serious. How long have you been doing this?”
“Twenty years!” I replied.
“My, you will be a challenge.” She said. “We like challenges.”
“Good, so do I. When I am finished speeding with my friends, I like a good challenge!” I replied.
“Gracious! You do speed in group situations?” She said, sounding slightly alarmed.
“Oh yes, whenever I can!” I replied.
“Really, do you have some sort of long term prescription, or do you get your speed illegally on the street?” She queried.
“Oh, I have a subscription to Circle Track, Car & Driver, and, I try to limit my speeding on the highway.” I replied.
“Whaaa…t?” She says. “Now, now, just what are your symptoms after doing speed for this long?” She asked. “We need to get a handle on exactly what your withdrawal symptoms may be like.”
“Symptoms? Hmmmm. A few days before an event I start to imagine the speed building up on the main straight.” I replied.
“Wow, you’re main lining your speed!?” She said, sounding quite alarmed.
“Whaaa..t?” I said. I was starting to get worried.
“Do you have the classic symptoms while under the influence of speed?” She asked.
“I am not sure what classic is.” I replied. My friends seem to get the same thing. Sweaty palms, excitability, butterflies in the stomach, blurred vision, shortness of breath, the love of feeling the G-forces build, as the car slides into a corner.”
“Whaaa…t!!?” She says. “You drive under the influence of speed?”
“Whaaa..t?” I said, truly concerned now. “How else can you experience true speed if not in a race car!?”
“Whaaa..t?” She says. “What the HELL are you talking about?”
“SPEED! SPEED! Hit the throttle, row it through the gearbox, battle inertia under the braking, toss the car into a corner, slide, more throttle, accelerate hard, up through the gears again…..SPEEEED!” I shouted.
“My GOD!!” She screamed. “You’re one of THEM!! You’re incurable. We have tried all sorts of therapy. Gardening, walking, books, sex, and, some even tried that unexciting sport of hockey. All failed. All went back to racing. We have no cure for you, Mr. Law.”
“But, but, now is a good time. I can’t race till spring. My car is on blocks. There is nothing I can do. PLEEAAASSSEEE!!! HHeelp!!!”
“Out! Or I will call a cop!” She spat at me. “You’re ALL the same. The race schedule comes out and the days are all marked on the calendar. Then, the car preparation. Then the new tire purchase. Then that last minute, feverish countdown to the race. Give up, admit defeat, you’re doomed!”
I left. I tried. She’s right.
At least I’m not going down myself. See you in the spring, side by side, flat out in
Fifth gear…… SPEEDING….. AAHH!!!

This was written in December, 1994 for the 510 Club of B.C.’s January 1995 newsletter. I think that with spring just around the corner, this is appropriate
for us all.

Posted: 15 Jan 2007 21:49
by 510Freak
I remember that issue,spring around the corner LOL,Is this wishful thinking??specially where we are going(me and the family) at the latest june.

Posted: 15 Jan 2007 22:31
by jason
Hey Keith, I'm going out to Slush 5 next month, wanna come and freeze and soak!