It Was One of Those Days - Pt XII

Raven

Here - watch THIS!
As we walked back to our cars, the setting evening sun cast long, early spring shadows on the ground. The air was still calm but the sights and sounds of a busy drag strip were all around us; the smell of burning rubber and race gas exhaust, the intoxicating odor of alcohol/gas mixtures, charcoal grilles with everything from hot-dogs and burgers to steaks and chicken being whipped up, hoods up on cars, people under cars working on dropping exhausts cut-outs or tightening up collector bolts, people talking and bench racing – it was all out in full force. The announcer’s voice still filled the air with colorful descriptions of what cars were running and mini-bio’s of the drivers… out in the parking area the sounds of cars being started, tuned, shut-off, moving, and more filled the air….

Having to cross through the pre-stage area netted a great view of many of the cars there that night. Tri-County has 8 separate pre-stage lanes with the outer two being usually used by the full-bore boys. This night, they were being used for bikes – hot, fast and nasty bikes were there in great numbers. Busa’s, Ninja’s, R’s, and RR’s, Hondas, Kaw’s, Zukes – they were all there. Bikes that ranged from pure, off-the-showroom-floor stock to turbo’d and Nitroused street killers were there. Usually, the car crowd would complain about having to wait for the bike crowd to get their turn but tonight, everyone was in a good mood. While the bikers were tearing up 10’s, 9’s, and even some 8 second ET’s, this gave everyone a chance to peruse the rides in the pre-stage lanes.

As we passed through the 8 lanes of racers, one car after another caught my wondering eye… one that I had hoped to come across was the Graphite ’08 Viper that we saw rip the ‘07 Z06 a new one. Yet, it was nowhere to be found… huh, perhaps it was back on some trailer already… We continued on across the 8 lanes, enjoying the moving car-show of sorts that we watched as the owners either started up-moved-parked-shut down as the lines moved forward or, were pushed each time they had space to move up.

At Tri-County, they kept them moving. The Staff in the white shirts/pants with the red hats and red belts were everywhere and kept the pace moving quickly. Unless someone broke on the track, it’s not uncommon to get at least 4-5 runs or more per T&T night. Tonight looked to be no exception… so, we headed on out of the pre-stage area and across the pit/parking area to our cars, continuing to our cars…

This is kind of what it looks like at Tri-County on a busy night. That's me in the GN on a late summer's evening... ;)

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We saw the Black and white striped Shelby of Mira’s but it was parked over in the pit area and she wasn’t around. Parked next to it was the red SRT-8 that we saw run earlier but it, like the Shelby, was locked up tighter than a drum and while the racers weren’t nearby a LOT of onlookers were either looking over the cars, trying to peer into the windows, taking pictures or just talking and pointing at certain features on the cars. Even B and I stopped by and tried to get a good look at them but it was hard to see in with the dark window tint on both of them. We COULD see that the Shelby did not have stock wheels after all and that the SRT-8 looked to have a non-stock interior – Cobra Daytona seats sat where the highly bolstered SRT-8 seats were previously and as best we could tell, the entire interior of the big, bad Dodge had been pretty much stripped down to sheet metal. THIS car was obviously a serious player…

Ironically, our cars were just a few more rows back from where Mira was parked. We didn’t see Tom’s Z06 anywhere but by now, the lots were full and it was hard to see much of anything unless you were right on top of it with so many trailers, tow vehicles, and even enclosed trailers taking up space. Numerous areas had been staked out just as we did ours and tire/wheel combos were stacked on some pads, axle stands/jacks, and even tool boxes were nearly everywhere. Some resourceful racers might bring generators to run power tools or even air compressors – the sounds and sights were everywhere!

Nearing where our cars were parked, we could see quite a few people standing around B’s Shelby and others looking over my GN as well as Kelly’s GTO. Now, if you remember, Brandon’s Shelby is all black but without stripes which was pretty unique. We had yet to see another Shelby (even on eBay!) that did not have stripes. As Brandon and Stacy neared his car, he was almost attacked by interested Mustang fans and general car enthusiasts. When Kelly clicked the fob to unlock her GTO, a few people came up to her and began asking questions about the car. It continues to amaze me that these LS monsters were not any more popular than they are – they are solid low 13 second cars bone stock, have an interior that is BMW quality and run very, very well. Yet, it turned out that Kel’s goat was the ONLY one there that night of the new body style.

A few people were circling the GN, also talking and even a couple taking pictures. That’s one thing I’ve always loved about the Turbo Regals and especially the GN’s WE4’s – they garner attention anywhere you go. The stealthy look, the ‘take-no-prisoners’ stance and their bad-ass reputation make them a car that will definitely bring out the genuine car guy or gal.

Given all the onlookers, it took us a few minutes to finally get free (without being rude of course!) and begin our race prep. First, tire pressures were adjusted – Brandon was making his first pass or two on the stockers while Kel and I had to lower the pressure in our DR’s. I climbed beneath the GN on the passenger side and opened up the gaping dump tube off the Terry Houston D/P. I guess I’ll just have to end up buying the electronically operated Cut-Out myself since Santa missed the boat at Christmas!

In a matter of a few minutes, we were ready. Tire pressures were set, levels checked (including the alky tank in the GN), hoods were closed, helmets were readied and were placed on the passenger’s seats, and the evening’s racing for our little group was about to begin. Stacy headed back up into the stands with the cameras – we had brought both a couple of digitals still cameras as well as a new JVC direct-to-computer digital Camcorder – we wanted to have as much reference material to review as possible. Stacy, being an accomplished photographer, was happy to do the duties plus it gave her a great view of the track from up in the stands rather than leaning on the fence down at track level.

As I reached down to open the door of the GN, memories came flooding back as they always do each time I even look at this car... I usually think back briefly to the first time I saw a TR…

********---------********

My motorhead brother-in-law (who, like me, was always looking for something to fix his need-for-speed fix), having just sold his ’86 Trans-Am, brought over a rosewood intercooled TR to my house one sunny afternoon in early ’87. He told me about having bought the car and how fast it was – and that the V6 in the car would have absolutely no problem beating the shiny, white IROC Camaro I had that had the L98 350c.i. V8 in it.

I laughed at his statement. First of all, I couldn’t believe he had dumped his wicked T/A for THIS. But for him to say that THIS car would whoop my IROC’s ass? C’mon!!!! I laughed in his face!

Actually, I laughed HARD! I asked him if he was serious – how in the hell could a V6 powered, ‘gramma-looking’ boat expect to even hang with my IROC, which was no slouch as a performance car back then.

“I’ll show you. Let’s go for a ride - YOU drive… you’ll see what I mean. If after we drive and you want to race, I run you for what ever amount you want to race…” he said.

I could have sworn I saw a little grin on his smug mug right then…

So, I opened the door of that Rosewood Turbo Buick – just as I was doing at the present, noting how huge and heavy that door is – and got behind the seat of his new car. Bill slid into the passenger’s side seat.

The first thing that caught my eye was the lack of instrumentation, at least in comparison to my IROC.

Here's what I was looking at:

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“Bill, you can’t be serious… this car only has an 85mph speedo and essentially no gauges. Sure, it’s got a couple of cute little bar graphs there on the lower right-hand side (– is that supposed to be a TACH? -) but big deal. And THIS car is supposed to be street player?”

“Just don’t worry, Steve…. Start ‘er up…”

I STILL remember laughing and shaking my head in amazement. I figured that Bill had finally lost it…

I buckled up the seat belt, noting that at least it was easier to get the buckle to latch a lot easier than in the IROC. Turning the key, I was pleasantly surprised with how easy the LC2 (didn’t know it at that time) started and had to admit to Bill that I DID enjoy looking out over the broad hood with the power bulge in the middle. “3.8 SFI TURBO” proudly displayed what was beneath the hood, another feature that I had to admit I liked.

“But Bill – this car is only 3.8 liters? That’s what – around 230 Cubic Inches???? And this is gonna kill my IROC?”

Bill just grinned at me like a fox watching a cocky rooster crow his last crow…

I just shook my head again as I reached down, snicked the T-bar transmission lever into “R” and backed up to turn around. Pulling the lever farther back two clicks, the 200-4R was in “O” and out the drive we went. The first thing I noticed was how quiet the car actually was as well as the odd exhaust note. Now, I have to admit something I’m not really proud of – obviously, I had totally ignored what Buick had been quietly doing with their V6 Turbo cars back then. Like most motorheads, I was wrapped up with V8 performance – I had no clue that Buick was building the most evil wolf in sheep’s clothing that ever prowled the streets.

And at that moment, I still had no idea how much ‘car’ I was even driving. Although, I was pretty sure (and definitely wrong) that Bill was smoking some of the good stuff. (Ok, he was known for smoking the good stuff but that had nothing to do with the car!) We drove down a couple of miles and turned on a side road. The engine was up to temperature, there wasn’t any traffic on the road (an advantage of living out in the sticks), and so we rolled to a stop after making the turn.

“Steve, you have to build some boost to launch this car right.”

“Boost? What are you talking about, Bill?”

“Just do what I say… first, pull the shifter back out of “O” and put it in “D”. If you had a better feel for it, I would have you shift it manually but I think for now, this will get the message across…. Just begin to power brake her, watch the boost gauge and you’ll probably have trouble staying put without smoking these skinny-ass tires…”

There was that grin again.

Rather than laugh any more, I decided to do what he said. “Smoking the tires” on this V6 boat? OMG… what a riot!

Ok… tranny to “D”. Foot on the brake pedal... Right foot on the gas… and I began to apply the pressure to the go-pedal.

Right then and there, the entire attitude of the TR changed. No longer was I behind the wheel of gramma’s grocery getter… that was clear.

As I watched the ‘tach’ begin to light up some of the cute little lights, I felt the car rise up against the brakes. An odd and menacing “Ssssssss” began to emanate from up front somewhere… the little lights for the “BOOST” gauge began to glow…

It only took a second – I didn’t have enough pressure on the brake pedal (assuming that, really - how much would I actually need to hold back a VEE-SIX???) and the tires got looser than a twenty five cent hooker! Before I realized what was happening, white clouds were rising beneath the tires! I let off immediately – with what had to be a VERY shocked expression on my face. An odd ‘turkey-gobble’ sound came from beneath the hood… what the hell was THAT???

Bill was patient.

“Just do it again, Steve. This time, put some 'umph' into that brake pedal. Remember? I tried to tell you…”

There was that damn annoying grin again…]

Ok… let’s do this again. This time, I pressed HARD against the pedal… more gas, no tire smoke… the RPM’s began to build a bit… the boost ‘gauge’ began to indicate… this time, the tires held their place..

“Ok Steve – just a bit more boost…”

The boost gauge read about 3-5psi – it was hard to tell exactly what it was…

“Let her go Steve – and hang on…”

With those words, I passed from the unbelieving to the absolutely stunned.

The second I let off the brake, the back tires broke loose in vengeance… white smoky clouds billowed as we pretty much just sat and did a free-standing burnout. I was floored! I couldn’t get my IROC to do this on the BEST of days! And then, just as quickly, the car began to slide a bit sideways – I corrected the wheel…

We moved forward… the tires still spinning as if they were on ice… smoke still billowing and beginning to drift across the road… glancing down in the driver’s side rear view mirror I couldn’t even see past the rear fender… the tires bit and we were OFF!

The V6 SFI was SCREAMING! BAM! First-second shift came and went and my neck was jerked like it had never been snapped by a stock V8, much less a little old vee-six! We were TEARING down the road… the engine’s previous noise – Sssssss – was now gone; in its place was a banshee like whistle of death…

BAM! The 2-3 shift came and by now, the little 85mph speedo was buried! I finally let off it and let the Jekyll and Hyde car slow back down to ~60mph…

I looked over at Bill… I was speechless…

He just grinned again… “Still wanna run this with your Camaro?”

I just grinned back this time. I was now a convert.

“Nah… why waste my gas. I have GOT to get me one of THESE!” Less than a month later, I bought my first GN – a new ’87 hardtop, just like the one I drive now. The rest is, as they say, history…

*********------------*********

As I pulled the door shut on the GN, listening to the sounds of the race track get muffled, and as I put the key into the ignition, I smiled to myself. EVERY time a Turbo Buick fan gets in his car, he is reminded of how he came to know what these cars are REALLY all about… this was no exception…

I fired the LC2, watched B pull out with Kel in tow and away we went, heading for the Pre-stage area. Tri-County’s driving lanes are all paved so dust isn’t a worry. Pushing the tiny tab on the door to lower the driver’s window, the sounds and smells came racing back into the car. I watched Kel’s GTO weave down the lanes behind B’s Shelby… off to the side I noticed that other cars were heading to merge into our lane… drive, turn… weave around… notice that there looked to be a gray Viper behind that old Malibu back there (?)… was it the ’08?... finally… we’re at the pre-stage lanes…

The traffic is stacked just right so that Kel and I are opposite each other. Brandon was the next row over from Kelly and just as we shut down to wait for the lines to move, I saw Tom’s Z06 pull up opposite B’s GT500…. Ah… this should be fun to see (if I can!)… a new Z06 versus B’s Shelby… just then, I look up into the rear view mirror and notice the low, snarky look of a sports car glide in and park right behind Kelly, the sound of its V10 burbling and spitting like a nest of angry snakes…

It’s dark and gray… it has a scooped and slatted hood… yeah, it is THE car… the 600hp Viper is right behind Kelly’s Goat… DANG! Now, neither B nor I would be lined up right opposite this guy… oh well… maybe the next run…

Or… maybe – just maybe – sooner?

To be continued…
 

DaJoker

DUMB QUESTION MEMBER
I hate reading ...but I come back daily just on the chance that the next chapter will be here. If anybody around here knows a filmmaker he just may be able to make one HELL of a movie out of this-and if he does I WANT A CUT!! Awesome job Raven!!;)
 

Quiky One

Active Member
I hate reading ...but I come back daily just on the chance that the next chapter will be here. If anybody around here knows a filmmaker he just may be able to make one HELL of a movie out of this-and if he does I WANT A CUT!! Awesome job Raven!!;)

I will be something in the movie...:biggrin: I work for cheap

Jason
 

DaJoker

DUMB QUESTION MEMBER
I will be something in the movie...:biggrin: I work for cheap

Jason



Gimme the cash F--K the fame!!! What good is money if you can't lead a normal life..ie going to the store, out to eat you know the everyday stuff. Just ask Steve Perry from Journey (for those old enuff to know who he is) He couldn't handle it and I probably couldn't either.
 
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