A Race With The Police
I’ve told the story of my first car before… It was a 1955 Chevrolet that I bought over the border from a gentleman named Jesus. During his ownership, he had his name etched into the back glass and most of the trim anodized gold.
Rather than spend money on the aesthetics of the car, I spent everything I had on the motor – a warmed over 388-inch SBC backed by a Rock Crusher sourced from Jesus. By the time I turned 16 and could drive legally, the old car was making 13-second passes pretty consistently. The announcer at Penwell Raceway called me “Flying Jesus.”
But the day of my 16th birthday, I was driving down Wadley Street in Midland, TX with my good pal Chris in tow. We were met at the Midkiff intersection by a red light and a white late-model Ford truck. As I put the 4-speed in neutral and sort of shook the shifter around to confirm, the man driving the Ford truck revved his motor and flashed the stink eye.
“He wants to race?” asked Chris.
I wasn’t about to wonder. Instead, I just brought up the revs and dumped the clutch as soon as I saw green. The old Chevy was gone in a cloud of smoke and I didn’t see the Ford truck again until I stopped at the next light. That’s when the driver rolled down his window and flashed his badge.
“You dumb ass kids stop acting like dumb ass kids – ya hear?” Then, he hit his lights, rolled the red, and was gone…
I was petrified and couldn’t wait to get home and tell my dad what had happened. I guess most kids would have kept the experience from their parents, but dad and I were a little different. Shenanigans in cars were something we shared together.
I expected my old man to find the experience comical, but instead… he turned red in the face, grabbed his keys and left the house in a rush. A few hours later, he returned home followed by a white Ford F150.
This is probably a good time to mention that my dad was the physician on staff for the Texas Rangers and knew every cop within a 500-mile radius or so. It’s also a good time to mention that my dad took birthdays VERY seriously – especially birthdays that grant a driver’s license.
“Hey Ryan,” the young cop said sheepishly. “I apologize for calling you a dumb ass kid on your birthday.”
He then went on a longish diatribe about the dangers of entrapment that I didn’t really understand. In fact, the whole experience was a really confusing one for me at the time. My dad was pissed in a way I hadn’t seen before.
I’m a parent now too… and my daughter turns 16 today. She’s at the DMV right now with my wife. And suddenly, I totally get it.