Has it been 50 years? What a great trip I’ve had

Selective blindness of the Third EyeLately I’ve been driving my 350 SBC-powered (4-bolt block, steel crank and rods, LS heads, headers, Holley carb, Isky hyd. cam, and a Zex 100hp nitrous system) ’68 Buick Skylark hot rod a lot. I’d forgot just how much fun driving a car with some real horsepower can be. I’d forgotten how much fun it is driving a car with fat tires, and good shocks on all four corners. I forgot that the Buick will now chirp the tires on the one-two shift.

So driving the Buick around the neighborhoodgassing the throttle once in a whilereminded me that 50 years ago this year the state of Texas, probably to their (and certainly my dad's) eternal regret, issued me a driver’s license.  The very first day that Dad let me drive his car I got into a crash with a VW bug (but that’s a story for another time).

One of the first things my next-younger brother and willing partner in crime, Dick, did was take dad’s car (later my own and my brothers' cars) out to Ernie Walker’s Amarillo Dragway and hot lap it. Whenever one of us got a new ride that was one of the first things we did with it. I’ve been hooked on fast cars, drag racing, and dragstrips every since.

Oh sure there were periods when I was on the no drag racing wagon like when I spent six-plus years of my life working on Boeing B-52 and KC-135 aircraft in the Air Force. But when I got my discharge the first thing I did was take every cent I had and bought a tire smoking 406/fourspeed equipped ‘63 Ford Galaxie. 

Soon my brother and I were “flat towing” the Galaxie out to Amarillo Dragway like junkies looking for a fix. For a drag racing addict it doesn’t matter how long you are away and “clean,” one sniff of racing gas, alky, nitro, or tire smoke and you're hooked again. At least that’s how it’s always been for me.

Since I’ve started driving the Buick again I’ve discovered that I don’t give a damn about gas mileage or how much gas costs. As far as I’m concerned, whatever the cost it’s a bargain. My old man once told me, ‘Son, good food, good liquor, and fast cars are a bargain at any price.”  He was right then and now.

In the course of returning to the seat of my Buick I’ve discovered that I have a valve-train “tick”. I can’t tell exactly where it comes from, so when I drove up to the Phlegm Building and parked in front of the hairdressing salon downstairs a while back, I revved the engine up to three or four grand a couple of times (did I mention I put a pretty loud Flowmaster exhaust on the Buick?) to see if I could pinpoint which lifter on which side of the motor was clicking. I then turned the engine off and ascended the stairs to the plush penthouse DRO offices.

The next day I parked in about the same location and as I got out of the car the door to the salon swung open and an older lady motioned me over. I walked over and she proceeded to chew me out royally for revving the Buick’s engine in front of her shop, which both scared and upset her hairdressers and their customers.

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