Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Cars etcetera and more Cars Part lll

Ken, while working at the gas station, had met this guy that was really involved in drag racing. As a trio, Ken, Dan and myself loved going to Lion's Drag strip in Long Beach; the premier drag strip in southern California. We went every Saturday we could as that was the day that you could buy a pit pass, enabling you to wander around among the contestants and their cars.

Back to the guy that Ken met. We all went over to his house one morning and we woke him and his room mates up. It was around noon. We were invited in. These guys lived a little bit differently than we did. There were a lot of beer cans scattered around. The furniture was minimal and the drapes were bedsheets. But they were into cars! One of them was rebuilding a Chrysler Hemi. In the kitchen dining room. All the parts, including the pistons, were carefully stored off the floor; on the kitchen table. There were assorted carburetors and magnetos scattered around the living room and among the many beer cans. Outside there were half a dozen vehicles in various state pf repair or abandonment. This included two 'rail' dragsters. One was minus an engine and the engine was the one being rebuilt inside. All in all, we were in heaven! Car lover heaven.

Despite their quirks, they were all very nice and they suffered all of our questions with good humor. It was obvious that they were at least ten years older  and they could have told us to get lost, but they didn't. They even helped me rewire my Austin Healey overdrive so that I had 8 forward gears and 2 in reverse? That project came from their own imaginations. They knew that I loved to go to the drags and run my car. It was just a four cylinder with a 3 speed transmission. I had installed a 'hot' cam in it with the hopes of securing a trophy in my class, 'E' Sport. For some weeks now I had raced and beat everything in my class except for a Porsche Speedster. He would always show up late in the morning, just late enough to drive in, beat me in one race and take the trophy. I'm sure he delighted in it.

I tried out the newly rewired overdrive the following Saturday. I made two runs and had beat all the competition. And then, just before the drags were over, my nemesis rolled through the gates. He made one run and beat my time easily. That was the end of drag racing for me.

Many years later, a curious thing happened. My best friend was showing me a new book. It was a small coffee table book with lots of photographs in it. It was all about Los Angeles. I was going through the pages when I noticed a photograph that was titled "Racers at Lion's Drag Strip" I looked closer and I spotted myself! I was in my Austin Healey and was waiting my turn to race; just a car back from the focus of the photo. Most of my car was obscured by another, closer. car. But I couldn't help but recognize my dark horn rimmed glasses.      

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