If you can believe it, there was absolutely nothing on my commute to or from work to complain about today. I mean come on! Just when I start a blog about Road Rage…there is nothing for me to road rage about. Anyway, with the lack of rage in the cockpit of my Corvette, I am left to ponder on what to blog about. So, while competing for position against a few fellow commuters this morning (it never fails for someone to try and race me when I’m driving the Corvette…anything from Honda Civics to Ford F-150s), I thought to myself…”I’ll write about speed…top speed.” Please note…that is not me or my car in the picture above…my Corvette can’t drive 55.
Now I have enjoyed going fast for as long as I can remember. I can recall, when I was three years old or so, standing beside my mom on the bench seat of her 1967 Plymouth Bevedere (no child seat requirement in 1976) as she barreled down the road chasing something or someone (I’m pretty sure it was my Dad) saying, “Faster Momma, faster!” From that point on…I always wanted to go fast. So, to my mom who has always told me to slow down, you can blame yourself.
I don’t want everyone to think my mom constantly put me in danger while driving she was driving as I grew up…matter of fact I think my grandmother took more chances than she did while driving. I never saw a yellow light that woman wouldn’t blow through! However, my mom did set the back seat on fire…while I was in it…by flicking a cigarette butt out the front window that flew in through the back window. Come to think of it…we actually pulled off the side of the road and put the flame out with some Coca-Cola that was left in the bottom of bottle that we just finished. And…she also hit some black ice on the way to work one morning that made her run off the road and hit an 18-wheeler that was parked in the emergency lane…in which I wound up in the floor board…again…no child seat. But anyway…I don’t recall her speeding with me other than that first time. You know what they say…once you go fast; you never want to go slow! Well, they don’t really say that. Anyway…I will begin with the next car I remember going really fast in…and continue on with each vehicle I have ever owned…finishing up with my current ride.
First…Wayne Hicks’ 1968 Pontiac Firebird:
It looked pretty much just the way the picture above does. It was bad ass! Myself and a couple of buddies used to take off with Wayne to Stratford Road to cruise after working at Captain Tom’s on Friday and Saturday nights. I remember going behind the McDonald’s on Stratford closest to Hanes Mall and having burn out contests…smoke and the smell of burning rubber would be everywhere! One night, on the way home, a 1989 or so Mustang GT got behind us and started messing with Wayne and his Firebird. I was sitting in the back seat directly behind Wayne when we pulled off on Highway 158. I started calling out our speed as we approached 100mph with the Mustang right behind us. One-hundred, 105, 110, 120, 125, 130, 135, 140mph! The needle on the speedometer wouldn’t climb any further…although I think it might have if it wasn’t for the three passengers and all the crap he had in his trunk. I look back and the Mustang’s headlights were about two car lengths behind us…able to keep up but never having enough power to get beside us or pass. At some point the Mustang turned off and Wayne dropped me off at my house. I knew then that I couldn’t wait for next weekend. At that time in my life…140mph was my top speed.
Next…my first car…a 1969 Camaro:
Straight up! This is about what my Camaro looked like…except it had headlights and a windshield. I don’t really recall going that fast in it, but it was definitely powerful. It had a 327 cubic inch engine pushing somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 horsepower. Unfortunately…or maybe fortunately…I hydroplaned one night and put it in the ditch after having my license for only two months. Bye-bye Camaro! My mom still doesn’t believe I wasn’t speeding.
My second car…a 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass (the bus beater):
That’s it in the picture above. I don’t really recall going to fast in it either…but I’m pretty sure the speedometer only went to 80mph. Besides…the tires were so big that they would rub the fenders when I hit a dip in the road, so going fast probably wasn’t in my best interest. I am pretty sure though that I buried that speedometer.
Next…my 1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass:
This car was fire engine red, lowered with low profile tires and very short-lived. You couldn’t even see the needle on the speedometer (it maxed out at 85mph) as I attempted to go through the curve at Kerner Road and Dean Road when I had to slam on the brakes for stopped traffic. I left black marks for at least 100 feet…only to come to a stop after hitting the trailer that Anthony Pike was pulling. The only damage was to my Cutlass though…it peeled the driver’s side of that car back like a sardine can. I had to climb out of the window to get out. Luckily no one was hurt…including my passengers Mike Shelton and Eddie Valez.
I then went back to the 1969 Cutlass and used it until I graduated from East in 1992. It was in the summer of 1992 that I got my first car that was less than eleven years old.
My 1987 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24:
It looked pretty much like the picture above. Mine wasn’t quite as low and I had mine painted 1993 Corvette Red…Torch Red to be exact. It didn’t have any kind of top end but man was it quick. I remember racing Mike Shelton in his red Mustang GT from Skate-World to West Forsyth one night and keeping up with him pretty good. Don’t get me wrong, my 2.8 liter multi-port fuel injection was no match for his 5.0 on a long run…but through traffic…he couldn’t lose me! I think I maxed that thing out one night at about 119mph coming home on Interstate 40…nowhere near my best of 140. Unfortunately…the Z24 was stolen in New Orleans while I was stationed at Fort Polk. They could have at least stolen it before I dropped $400 on a new CV-Joint!
My next car wasn’t a car at all…it was a truck…a low rider truck. A 1995 Nissan Hardbody:
It looked like the picture above except my wheels stuck out past the fenders. It was complete with undercarriage purple neon lights, two 15” subwoofers, two 6x9s, mids, highs, ten disc changer, three amps, and a top speed of about 104mph. Good thing it wasn’t fast, because it may have bounced me straight into the ditch at anything over 110.
After being beaten around the road for almost two years…I got my next car…a 1998 Pontiac Grand Am GT:
This car was not fast at all…but it would burn the tires off the front wheels! After a lot of smoke, catching second and moving through the gears…it topped out at 98mph. Hell…my Nissan was faster!
For my next car…things got interesting. A 1996 (yes, I traded a 1998 model car for a 1996) Chevrolet Corvette:
I bought this car for 18K and drove it off the lot with a smile so big I had to put my hand over my mouth…just ask my wife. This was my dream car! I owned this car longer than I owned any other. By the time I sold it I had completely restored it. I put a new LT1 motor in it complete with a LT4 hot cam, roller rockers, headers, custom computer program and aftermarket exhaust. It was putting 306 horsepower to the street and I won three of the five drag races I entered at the local track completing the quarter mile in 13.1 seconds at just under 120mph. It was in this Corvette that I reached my personal top speed…143mph…and that was before all the engine work! I sold it before I left for Iraq but still get visitation since I sold it to my then neighbor’s dad. I love it when he throws me the keys.
My next vehicle was another truck. I bought it after I did all the work to the Vette so I wouldn’t have to drive it every day. A 2003 Cadillac Escalade EXT:
I really never thought about how fast it would go. Then one night on the way to a Journey/Def Leopard concert in New Orleans…a friend of mine said, “How fast will this thing go?” I said, “You know what, I don’t know…let’s find out!” I pressed the pedal to the floor and off she went. It topped out at about 113mph…still riding like…well…a Cadillac.
While I was in Iraq…feeling bad about not only being away from my family and for just being in Iraq…I felt bad for not having a Corvette anymore. So…I bought and had delivered to my house a 2007 Corvette Z06:
This is by far the BADDEST car I have ever owned. You should have to go to a driving school to own one. It has 505 horsepower that put about 460 of those horses to the street. It packs 470 foot pounds of torque and does 0-60 in 3.6 seconds and tops out at 198mph. I once thought…before I drove it…that I might give it to my son one day…AIN’T HAPPENING! So…one day on the way back to Baton Rouge from Alexandria, LA, a friend of mine is riding along with me when we hit a stretch of Interstate with no one else in sight…minus the two slow pokes that rode along beside each other for about a mile. I slammed it into third gear and the engine roared. I shifted once I hit the red line and hit fourth. I was kept my eyes on the road and the heads up display that shined on the windshield. I quickly hit 120mph…125…135…145…150…154mph! I let off the gas and my buddy says, “Its official…that’s the fastest I have ever been in a car!” I said, “Me too, me too!” He and I must have told that story 10 times. It was my personal best…for a while. Then…early in the month of October 2010…I headed towards North Carolina and my home town for the first time in five years. It was about 2am when I approached Mobile, Alabama. A Jaguar Type Something kept messing with me…egging me on to go faster. So…I watched the navigation and waited for a stretch of Interstate that puts some miles between myself and the next exit…I didn’t want a cop to be sitting on the other side waiting for speeders like myself. When I saw an exit that was six miles away…I nailed it! I hit 100mph like it was nothing. I was at 120 a second later…130…140…150…155…”My personal best,” I thought. “I have to hit 160!” Very quickly I hit 165mph…still climbing…170…175…180…I’m starting to shake a little…184mph…I’M DONE! I let off the accelerator as I cruised by the exit at 112mph…still enough to go to jail. My heart was beating so fast I thought I might pass out. Maybe it was the speed…maybe it was the thought of being put UNDER the jail if I would have gotten caught. Anyway…I think my heart beat as many times in those few minutes as it would in a 30 minute cardio workout…I may have even lost a pound. I no longer saw the headlights of the Jaguar and he eventually caught back up with me thirty minutes later. We actual stayed alongside each other all the way through Atlanta. I made that trip that Google Maps told me would take 13 hours and 48 minutes in 10 hours 28 minutes. I guess Google does account for Nascar speeds.
To make everyone feel better…I have not come close to reaching that speed since that night. I’m pretty sure I will never attempt it again…I’m good with 184 as my top speed. To make everyone feel better…I even got rid of my CBR 600 RR and traded the 2003 Escalade in for a 2010 model. It has not yet seen 100mph.
The commute to work this morning at 5:00am was very uneventful. No accidents on the Amite River Bridge, no over-turned 18-wheelers in the construction zone, not even a Baton Rouge City police officer doing a morning “fly-by” to make it to shift change (that subject is sure to make it into a future blog). With that being said, there was a time in my life that I could guarantee that there was going to be some drama on the road in the morning.
To all my fellow East Forsyth High School Alumni…I am sure you will appreciate this. When I was in high school, first period began at 7:40am. That meant you needed to get to school no later than 7:00am just to congregate by the heater in the 400 Building…not to mention get your choice of parking spot. Just to clarify…I am writing this in reference to my junior and senior year when I was actually allowed to drive to school and park on campus…sophomores were not allowed to park on campus…and if you drove as a freshmen, then you had other issues. I did however manage to secure a parking sticker from an upperclassman my sophomore year and park on the hill…but that too is for another blog. Now imagine this, I graduated with 333 or so other students in 1992…so let’s pretend there were just as many juniors that same year, plus the faculty, staff and other students who came to school on the bus. However you break it down, that is a lot of people going to one place at the same time…not to mention there was really only one entrance. Face it, if you got to school late…you may be parking a half a mile from campus. That gets me back to getting there by 7:00am. So, if you drove in from the east to school, chances are your main route was West Mountain Street…and so was the route of MANY. Anywhere along this route, you were bound to come upon a school bus with the same destination…moving along at or below the posted speed limit, with some making stops along the way. You knew though, that further down the road, you would have your chance to pass them ALL. After passing through Talley’s Crossing (you know, by Skate World), there was a side road that you could take to pass all traffic, including buses, that were traveling towards East Forsyth via W. Mountain Street…the well known Pisgah Church Road (PCR). Now I say it is well known…but I think the only time I EVER went down Pisgah Church Road was to pass all these buses…so I don’t really know how well traveled the road was during other parts of the day. I bet it was relatively quiet though. Anyway, there were a couple of decisions you had to make before turning off onto PCR…the first or second entrance? If bus traffic was light…take the second…if it was heavy…definitely the first. If you were to stay on W. Mountain St., the route is 1.1 miles which takes you two minutes to travel (thanks Google Maps), and if you take PCR, the route is 1.2 miles which takes you four minutes to travel. Therefore, if you do the math, you MUST exceed the speed limit while traveling along PCR to beat the buses. I can’t remember what the speed limit was along PCR but I can’t imagine it being more than 35mph. What I CAN imagine is testing the limits of the suspension on my 20+ year old 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass that I drove while traveling down that road. I only wish I had my current vehicle to navigate down PCR back in those days…I would eat those curves for breakfast everyday…not to mention it wouldn’t have hurt my chances with the ladies. The Oldsmobile did have a huge backseat though…and front seat for that matter. The Olds wins that category! Back to the story…as I barreled down PCR with the V8 moaning, the suspension creaking, and the oversize tires occasionally rubbing my fenders, it all worked out at the end when I passed all buses and made it back to W. Mountain Street, successfully securing a front parking spot at school and a place to sit on the heater. You might be thinking, “Big deal…a shortcut…who cares?” Well…there was a big chance you took by taking the PCR shortcut…the morning train! You would never see the train before you got on PCR…because if you did…you would not get on it. If it did show up, it was always crossing the road you would take right before getting back on W. Mountain St. in front of the buses. Dammit! There goes my parking spot AND my seat on the heater!
So…the situation: my son is sick and had to be picked up from day care and taken to the doctor by my wife. He is diagnosed with pink eye and given a prescription for some medicated eye drops. On another note, my wife has to be at meeting at 6:00pm in which she has to leave the house at 5:30pm.
Now…the mission (that I received at 3:40pm from my wife): Leave work early, drive to Wal-Mart, pick up his prescription and a bunch of green bananas, and be home by 5:30pm.
Just like a good husband I say, “OK…on my way.” In my head though I say, “No f’n way!” It is a mere 18.6 miles from my office in Baton Rouge to my home in Denham Springs, LA , with Wal-Mart kinda in between…but not really (you take a left off the exit to go to Wal-Mart and a right to go to my house). Anyway…I digress. At 4:45am, my commute to work takes…at most…25 minutes. The trip home however…no less than 50 minutes due to traffic, and most of all…road construction. Today would be extra challenging in the fact that there is a steady rain…and if there is anything worse that Louisiana drivers…it’s Louisiana drivers in the rain. I do enjoy a good challenge though…so on my way out of the office I say, “I got this!”…literally…out loud. I mean I was driving the land rocket…the 505 horsepower Corvette Z06. I know with all the tangibles: rain, 3 miles of Interstate road construction (which usually backs up for 3 miles before it actually begins), stop lights, accidents, and most of all…idiots drivers…that it wasn’t going to be an easy task. Not to mention how it could go at Wal-Mart!
Anyway, I head out. I go through 10 stop lights before EVER getting stopped by a red one. Now this one I usually sit at for three cycles. However, it is nothing like the red light by the Baton Rouge airport that goes from red to green in TWO minutes. I used to think of a way I could take a nap during that time while traveling to work. I did fall asleep a couple of times…I know you’ve all done it…fall asleep at the light, only to wake up to a shocking and jarring “nap-jerk” right as the light turns green. Don’t judge me! Today though…ONE light cycle! I go straight through 5 more after that and get right on the Interstate. I think to myself, “No f’n way!” I jet east toward Denham Ssprings and barely have to shift down into second gear as traffic winds through the construction zone. In no time I am at my exit…no red light there either! I take a left off the exit and head towards Wal-Mart, hitting the parking lot without hitting any of the 4 lights in between it and the exit. Now I don’t want you to think I made it there in 20 minutes or something…I couldn’t have done that without breaking numerous traffic laws and possibly hitting the 198mph top speed of my Vette…twice. I did however make it in 40 minutes…unheard of at this time of day. I thought, “It must get bad from here.” Not the case however. I found a parking spot about 6 spots from the front door…walked in without being haggled by any fund raiser groups…saw the bananas at the edge of the “20 Items or Less”aisle…picked the greenest bunch…and headed for the pharmacy. Now this is where it all ended right?Wrong…second in line…45 second wait…it was my turn. I did however think it was over when a customer actually handed the clerk her cell phone so the person on the other end could give her their insurance information. I thought, “No f’n way.” Luckily…two check-outs were operating in the pharmacy today. So…I get up to register…the prescription is not ready. OF COURSE…here’s where it ends. The clerk told me to give her 15 minutes…that would make it 5:00pm. “OK”, I said…I can still do this. I take this time to go check out the bananas, knowing that the pharmacy would not have a scale. I went to the 20 Items or Less register and said to the cashier, “Wait…let me go see if these are the greenest bananas in the store.” She looked at me like I was crazy and off I went. I went to the produce section and sure enough…the original ones I picked out WERE the greenest in the store…so I went to check them out. Guess what? No one else was checking out at the register…”No f’n way.” I drop 1 1/2 bones and I was back to the pharmacy. I sit down on the bench and ponder what just happened. It wasn’t the fact that I only hit one red light along my route, it was the fact that there was no one driving slow in the fast lane, no one impeding traffic by talking or texting on their cell, no accidents and no 18-wheelers driving in the left lane in the construction zone. “NO F’N WAY!” So…at exactly 5:00pm the lady calls me up…the prescription is ready. Wait…they don’t have my insurance information! This was my first pick up after switching from Walgreens…this is where it ends! Nope…5:05pm…$12.00 later and I’m gone. On the way out the door I added a task for myself…pick up Subway! I mean come on…I still have 25 minutes. The Subway I like to go to is the only one that serves breakfast all day long. It’s located inside a truckstop which usually tales no less than 20 minutes to get your order. I say to hell with it and give it a chance. I zoom toward the truck stop through all the red lights that I went through on the way to Wal-Mart…all green! I’m number two in line with number one checking out. I order two subs…one for my son…and one for me. The sandwich artist was ROLLING! It’s like she knew I was in a hurry…and she even gave me a military discount! I rolled out…didn’t stop at ANY of the three stop lights between there and my neighborhood…because THEY WERE ALL GREEN! I pulled up to the house…backed all 505 horses into the stable and shut her down at 5:25pm. I walked…well, struted in…handed over the green bananas…the wifey poo said, “Sweet” as she gave me a kiss and rolled out herself. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
Looking back…I don’t know how it happened. I try to explain it to myself by thinking that, sometimes…stuff just works out. Like the time I took the ACT and walked away from that test feeling like an idiot. I made a 26. It just worked out.
Welcome to my shiny new blog, “Road Ragin’.” I’ve found myself road raging more than ever lately, grappling with concepts of road construction, stop & go traffic, horsepower, torque, and most of all idiot drivers. I’ve probably been talking about it way too much to my wife, mom, friends (including one who is a State Trooper), and employees…who probably feel obligated to listen to me because I out-rank them. Not to mention my wife has been hounding me lately to write a blog (as if I need something else to put on my schedule), so here it is! I am passionate about driving, and if you have to drive anywhere around Baton Rouge, you know the traffic around here provides ample topics to write about. So…with wanting to please my wife and to provide myself with a much needed outlet to blow off steam…my life as a blogger has begun. If you are looking for a place to find the meaning of life, how to be the perfect husband, if black holes really do exist, all free of grammatical errors…please continue to search, because this ain’t the place.