A Driver's Story

If you've ever wondered what it's like to drive a high-powered, ill-mannered car near its limits for the first time, read on.  Daughter Michelle submitted this story to satisfy her English class assignment.  She got the only 'A' in the class, in fact the only 'A' grade this teacher had ever given... and it was on the FIRST DRAFT, no edits required!!

For maximum effect, read it out loud with feeling.  It will put you in the driver's seat.

  Michelle Stowell

Professor Renee W.

English 100

16 August 2010

Some People Skydive


            Some people skydive, some people climb Mt. Everest, while others may lie on their taxes or simply take a different route to work.  We all do something to satisfy that need, to pacify that primal urge for excitement and adventure.  We all cheat death in our own way; live to tell the tale, and enjoy the natural high such harrowing adventures yield.  Me, I do this…

            Pre-flight check: 4 tires with sufficient air…check, ample amount of fuel…check, two famously uncomfortable seats…check, five-point harnesses circa 1965…check, 514 cubic inches of sheer madness…oh yeah…check, sunglasses, rain gear, driving hat, and a change of shorts - just in case…check, check and check.  Let’s roll.

            I reach out with my left hand to find the small unassuming key that, with the slightest turn, unleashes untold furry.  Don’t forget to breathe.  Click, 40lbs of pressure in the fuel rail… here we go.  In an instant, the peace and quiet is shattered and in its place is the rhythmic, unsettling rumble of 765 horses trying to idle in unison. 

The smell of fuel fills the air, an intoxicating reminder of how absolutely intimidated I am by the violent tendencies of this motor.  She takes perfectly good parts and annihilates them!  Hardened steel axels…child’s play, twin disk ceramic race clutch…boring, not even the backbone of her motor is safe.  She cracked a forged billet steel crank in half just for fun.  And here I sit mere flesh and bone, boldly poised to control this beast.  God help me.

            As I depress the 100lb clutch, my right hand heaves the shift leaver into first gear.  I roll into line behind six similar monsters, followed by two more.  Nine of us creep our way down Main St. of a sleepy little New Mexican town, headed for the freedom of the back roads.  Oh who am I kidding, we roll onto Main St with a roar, spitting fuel and fire, rattling windows and causing chaos and unrest in town, on our way to the freedom of the back roads.

            Finally free of the restrictions civilized towns place on their motorists - like speed limits - a labyrinth of asphalt lay before us.  Graceful patterns meandering around mountain sides and diving between canyon walls.  Beautiful scenery the driver never really gets to see.  The lead car downshifts with a thunder and darts out of sight.  There’s our signal, “Drivers, this is why you are here.  Unleash your beasts.”  

            The first turn is a beautifully banked sweeping right, followed by a nicely angled perfectly spaced left.  Like a venomous serpent, we wind our way up the mountainside as though ravenous and in pursuit of prey.  The twists and turns start coming faster and I’ve lost sight of the cars in front of me so I mash the accelerator into the straight to close the gap.  I see the lead car crest a distant ridge, and stupidly unafraid, I take chase.  I am nearly blinded by the wind striking my eyes as it rushes over the windshield and behind my sunglasses.  Suddenly a sign catches my eye; it has an arrow bent into a peculiar curvy shape along with the numbers 3 and 5 on it.  I am way too rapidly approaching a 35mph turn.  I feel my body go cold, I take a deep breath, crush the clutch and force the transmission down two gears. Please hold, please hold, please hold.  The sound of the tires as they grip and slip and grip again around the turn was all I could hear over the popping of unspent fuel exploding in the side pipes.  As I accelerated out of the turn I realized something, 35mph was merely a suggestion, 73mph works just fine too.

            Racing through the canyons is deafening.  The walls rumble and echo the menacing tune of our motorcade.  As those canyon walls fade away and the mountain tops level off, a straight roadway reveals itself.  Every driver’s right foot suddenly gets heavier for the next 3 miles before a winding decent begins.

            Funny thing about mountaintops though, strange weather brews and latches onto the terrain up there.  This can be a good thing of course; however in this particular instance, it certainly is not.  Rain the size and density of stones begins to fall.  Just as the road starts to offer up those once exhilarating twists and turns, the rain erases the lanes.  Death grip on the wheel, I ease this 2500lb brute into the first of many wet turns.  There is no longer the alternating sound of slip then grip.  The popping of the fuel in the side pipes is still there, along with the sizzle of water as it vaporizes on contact.  However, most notable is this new sensation of floating.  Turns out that hand grooved race slicks in the rain have the gripping power of a freshly waxed wakeboard.  Nobody ever mentioned that to me.

            Eventually all rain stops and the roads dry out, leaving only one question in any rational persons mind; “how fast do you think we can get back to the trailers?”  As though God himself had fired the starting gun, we were off!  The smell of fuel, hot rubber and asphalt again fill the air around me.  I am completely terrified and totally mesmerized by the acceleration this car puts down in every gear, I am hooked!

            At the end of the day, with the beast safely back in her cage, I realize I have an unusual sensation in my gut.  It’s unlike any other feeling on earth.  I have been to the gates of hell, looked deep into the reapers eyes, tickled his nose and said, “not today.” I have cheated death, and survived. I have indeed satisfied that primal need for adventure, excitement and all things awesome.  I feel alive, and if only for five days out of every year, I am satisfied.  I may never jump from a plane, or climb mighty Everest, but I will forever be a Cobra driver.