It Was One of Those Days - Pt 46


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It Was One of Those Days – Part 46

And so it went for about another hour or so, at least until we got tired of waiting to see more and decided to head home. Actually, I think most everyone was already in for the night.

Kelly needed to get up early for work and even though I had a rare day off in the middle of the week, I had a lot to do so we decided to call it a night.

Well – at least that was the plan.

We had just pulled out of the parking lot and were headed south on Reynolds, doing about 30 or so past the Meijer store when we rolled up to the light that had just changed to red. I don’t recall exactly what we were talking about but the traffic was light and the stereo was down low with Kelly leaning back in the bucket seat with her eyes closed, about ready to nod out.

It was just then I saw another set of lights coming from behind – regular headlights with a set of fog lights below in what had to be the front fascia. We were still in the inside lane - about 2 more lights up we would be turning onto the Trail to head over and catch the bypass.

I didn’t really think much about what the other car was, really. By this point it was pretty late and I certainly wasn’t looking for any action. But as we sat at the light, the car that was at first directly behind us and slowing to stop suddenly moved over to the right lane and then pulled up alongside.

I glance over to see what the car was mainly because it had a fairly healthy exhaust note. As I did, I notice that it’s a late model Mustang but it has a different hood on it from most I had seen around town. It had a set of twin air intakes up near the front and what looked to be vents of some sort towards the rear of the hood. I couldn’t see the markings on the side of the car due to its closeness to us but just then, Kelly stirred and set upright, the Ford’s exhaust note like an alarm clock.

‘What is that Kel – can you see the fender tag?’ I asked, craning my already stiff neck.

‘Steve, I believe it’s a Super Snake, and it does sound good’. Kelly has as good an eye for cars as I do, if not better, and her attention to detail never ceases to amaze me.

“I know you can’t see it from where you are sitting Steve but the hood has locks, it is definitely a KR or Snake hood, and it’s got that weird looking spoiler on the back along with some shiny Alcoa rims on it. I’m guessing it’s a late model Super Snake – that isn’t a stock sounding blower on there either - and listen to the cam noise...’

It looked very similar to Brandon’s GT500 but was even more muscular looking.

Just then, the light changed and the Mustang lurched out ahead of us. Now, it’s dark, there isn’t any traffic to speak of but you really have to watch for the local constabulary in this part of town. However, the Pony driver either was from out of town or didn’t care because just as I was pulling about even with him, he floored it after clutching it and then dumped it.

The car – black as the darkest night and with a single thick satin black stripe down the center and a narrow stripe to each side of the thick one – jumped sideways as the enormous horsepower tried to melt the rubber from the rears. The tires didn’t hook but it was one impressive sound and sight to see it when it did and it left what looked to be at least 12” wide black, swoopy ‘S’ shaped marks on the pavement.

I didn’t take the invitation. Well, at least not that one – I’m just not anxious to donate money to the local policeman.

The light up ahead was changing and I saw the brake lights of the Shelby glow red as he slowed to a stop, obviously waiting for us to pull along side.

‘Steve – are you thinking what I’m thinking?” she grinned.

‘Well, I think so – why don’t you roll down your window as we pull up and see if he’s got anything to say. That tint is so dark on his car I can’t even tell you if there’s a driver in there!”

Kelly laughed. ‘I was thinking the same thing’ as she hit the switch and her window s-l-o-w-l-y made its way downward. (Is it me or do these Turbo Buick windows move the slowest of any EVER made?)

The Shelby’s exhaust was very lump and the whine of the blower was easy to hear as we pulled up. It was then we saw the driver’s side window down and when we looked in, I must admit that the both of us were really surprised.

Expecting to see some kid in daddy’s new toy – or ‘daddy’ himself - driving the car, we were shocked to see it was – a damn good looking young woman! And, beside sat what had to be her twin!

“Hi!” she waved – “How do y’all like my car?”

It was all Kelly could do to keep from laughing. I wasn’t sure if it was from surprise or from the thick southern accent but either way, it struck her funny.

“I like it a lot” I said. “Is it a Super Snake? We didn’t see any badging…” Kelly added.

The passenger was leaning over so we could see both of them easily now. Definitely twins – and hot ones at that, both of the smiling with the whitest teeth I had ever seen this side of a tooth paste commercial!

Holly spoke – “Yeah, I just got it about a month ago. I sent my car out to Vegas to Uncle Carroll’s place – he’s my uncle in case you didn’t know? – and he fixed it up really nice. It’s an ’11 model so it’s got the aluminum block – hey! Is that a Grand National you’re driving? We LOVE those cars!”

‘Uncle Carroll’? Surely she wasn’t talking about Carroll Shelby himself but it sure added up – Vegas, ‘Carroll’ – it had to be. My mind raced – who were these two? It was then the passenger spoke up…

“I used to have a GN myself, well, actually it was a WE4 but I sure loved it. I sold it last year and bought a newer Z06 to go with my GT-R. My sister here – her name is Holly and I’m Molly (another big toothy white smile!) – and I are what a lot of people call big motor heads. Do y’all wanna race? And who are you two?”

Wow – nothing like getting right down to it, I thought. Kelly was chuckling again but it was obvious those two were looking for some good, ol’ fashioned fun.

“Tell us about your car – I’m Kelly and this is my husband, Steve” grinned Kelly as we waited for the light.

“Well, it started out as the 550 HP GT500, but Uncle Carroll told me he had something very special for my car when ever I got one. I’ve wanted one of these GT500s for a long, long time and when I saw this one being unloaded off the transporter – I was just driving by one day and there it was! – I knew I had to have it. I traded in my 2010 GT on it and got a really good deal. Oh look – the light’s a changin’ – wanna pull over for a minute and talk?”

“Sure” said Kel, “pull over there in that parking lot”

The light changed and we followed the Snake in pulling alongside under the glow and buzz of the mercury lights.

Now, I’m not a huge Mustang fan but I’ve got to tell – that car was sick. The twins hopped out as we pulled up and OMG, they were easy on the eyes too!

The driver – was it Holly? – was already loosening the hood hold downs and raising the hood before I could get out of the GN. Kelly beat me to the front of the Mustang, obviously as interested as I was.

The Modular motor was still idling – if you can call rump-a-rump-a-rump,rump an idle – and the blower was whining like a banshee. God, it sounded awesome…

“What did you uncle do to this? Kelly asked as I admired the gleaming power plant. “And, just for clarification, is your uncle Carroll Shelby?”

They both looked at each other and burst out laughing! “No silly, but you didn’t know that, did you? No, our uncle’s last name is Stone and he’s our Mama’s brother. But – he works for Mr. Shelby in Vegas and that’s who did the work for me!”

“What did he do?” I asked, still not sure what to expect.
“Well, it’s actually a secret that very few know about but this car now has the 2013 GT500 motor in it. Have y’all heard about it?”

Had we? Probably the worst kept secret was that the 2013 Shelby was going to be a Camaro ZL1 killer – bone stock – and that it would have well north of 600hp.

Well – it was WAY north of 600. 650 to be exact. And – the Bowtie Boys’ ship is sunk before it even gets out of port…

“So you’ve got 650 HP – or more?” Seeing the huge black blower sitting on top, I knew it wasn’t stock either, 2013 motor or not.

Holly grinned but played coy. “Well – what’s your names again? – it’s got a little more than that. That blower right there? It’s an experimental TVS that Mr. Shelby got for my uncle – it’s supposed to be bigger than the biggest Whipple, use less Horsepower to drive it, but make more power. The only downside is the noise – my lord, it whines more than Molly does!”

They both laughed at the joke and so did we.

Kelly asked ‘So, did they dyno the car?’

‘Um, yeah… and uncle Carroll said I really shouldn’t say how much since this new blower isn’t on the market just yet. But I will tell you this – with this new 5.8 liter block, the tune that uncle Carroll did, and the blower/exhaust and cams – y’all knew that exhaust isn’t stock too, right? – it’s nearly a thousand horsepower. I love this car! See those back tires? Those are 345’s - and are an experimental size drag radial made special by M&H for Mr. Shelby - and they barely fit! But - uncle Carroll got ‘em mounted on some modified Alcoa rims for me. I don’t remember the back spacing but they just barely fit.”

I was already walking around the back side of the Snake as Kelly and the girls kept talking. I kneeled down to look at the rear tires from behind – my God, they WERE wide! But they fit nice and snug within the wheel wells so they looked good. I noticed a few thin ‘tread’ lines in the tires, a design I had never seen before. Barely DOT street legal but I’m sure they met the letter of the law…

The car looked awesome. Looking over at the GN, it looked sinister as always but this car looked even more so. And I bleed Turbo Buick blood.

As I came round the passenger side, Kelly turned and spoke – ‘Steve, the girls want to know if we want to race?’

“Sure – why not?” I chuckled. “I don’t think we can do much against this monster but I’m always up for a good race. Do you guys have a favorite spot or do you want to follow us?”

Molly shrugged. “Do y’all want to follow us? We’ve got a private place – it’s our daddy’s private air strip - we like to go to that’s off the beaten path but very safe. Actually, we were heading there when we spied your GN and wanted to say ‘hi’ so, yeah, just follow us, ok?”

“We’ll be right behind you!” laughed Kelly as we all began to get back in the cars. I hadn’t realized the GN was still idling – the Mustang was so loud I never gave it a thought.

“This should be fun – oh well, so much for getting a little more sleep!” laughed Kel. “But I want to see that Mustang run’ she mused…’I will be stunned if it can get that much power – if it truly has that much – to the ground!”

“I agree babe. But, the suspension on that car might be worked a bit too so you never know. Either way, we’ll give her a go.”

We ended up out in the country, south of town about 10 minutes. As we got closer, I could see the glow of some lights that looked like you see on any fall night when a football stadium has a home game.

We pulled in to a wide concrete drive and waited for just a moment as the wide security gate was activated and swung open. Off to the left, we noticed two deer near the fence, staring at the rumbling machines but not afraid of them. As the black iron gates parted silently, we followed the Snake in and I could see the gates shut again in my rear view mirror.

The house and buildings sat back off the road about 500 feet. There were three (maybe four?) large buildings and it was obvious that at least two of them were big enough to hold an airplane - or two. It was funny – Kelly and I had been out on this road many times but just never noticed the place.

We continued on past the huge house (we found out later it was over 6000 square feet) on the left of the drive, noting the attached 4-bay garage and the detached 4 bay garage – all brick of course. Plus the other buildings (hangars?)

The glow we saw in the sky moments earlier? Not from a football game of course - but the pro-stadium quality lights that were flooding what must be the runway and adjacent taxi-way were all on. You could do brain surgery on the pavement, it was that well lit.

The Super Snake slowed to a stop as we pulled up to a wide white line on the tarmac strip. Off to the right of us sat two light aircraft, tied down, and – OH MY GOD! – one of them was a P51 Mustang! Next to it? A Vought F4U Corsair with the wings folded! Holy crap – these people clearly had some deep pockets.

Kel and I pulled along side of the Shelby – to its right - and I rolled my window down, my eyes had to still be bugged out.

“See those planes over there, guys? Those belong to our daddy – he loves to fly! And that Mustang is my favorite! Daddy normally keeps ‘em inside but he was up flying earlier tonight and he’s taking them both up again tomorrow morning so he left ‘em out. Neat, huh?”

I noticed the nose art on the P51 that was typical of WWII planes. The bright aluminum airframe nearly glowed in the dark and the words ‘Hun Killer’ were easy to read. Nice – and it even looked like the .50 cals were still in the wings! Well, at least the openings and barrels – real or not – were there. I also admired the exhaust ports of the huge Merlin engine and noted the underbelly radiator. The P51 turned the tide of the air war over Europe back in the day and had it not come along, the war might have gone on much longer and maybe even turned out differently. The bomber boys will always tell you those Mustangs saved the day for them; the Nazis? Well, they feared them and with good reason.

And the Corsair? It was pure Navy – deep, ocean blue paint with the checkerboard tail pattern. The huge 4-blade prop glistened in the dark, its yellow tips contrasting nicely, just waiting for the big radial engine to come back to life. Both canopies were shut but being the WWII buff I am, I knew I had to come back soon to look inside both and hear and see these war birds take flight. Both planes had visible hard-mounts beneath the wings for drop tanks and weaponry such as bombs or rockets. They were both period correct.

“Y’all ready to have some fun? Watch this…” Somebody’s voice snapped me out of the trance…

Molly walked over to a small console between the two paved stripes, pressed some series of buttons, and the entire panel lit up. She then hit a large yellow button and immediately we heard the whine of electric motors and the sound of large metal objects being moved.

Just in front of us, two metal plates that I hadn’t even noticed parted and out from the ground rose what had to be an NHRA-style Christmas Tree right in the center of the pavement At the base of it were the transmitters for the pre-stage and stage lights which was when I noticed the receivers at the far edge of either side of the pavement. Wow.

“Neat, huh, guys? Look down yonder too!”

Our gaze looked on down the strip and it was then we saw 1320 feet away two large timing lights just like you see at any professional drag strip. They were now illuminated with enormous red digits, all zeros.

“Our daddy loves to race too, maybe you’ll get to meet him some time – I think he’s already in bed right now though… but daddy sure loves his drag racing…”

“We sure would like that!” I said a bit too loudly but dang, those planes! And this place! Who has that kind of coin around here – and, that I had never heard about? I was wondering what other aircraft this guy had…

“Y’all are familiar with drag racing with timers, right? I know you are, silly me! I’ve got a remote starter in the car – it’s like a garage door opener, sort of, hahahaha! – and I can use it start the tree once we both are staged. Y’all ready? Molly likes to ride and I like to ride with her or do y’all want to just do drivers only? I’ll beep the horn before I hit the start button so y’all be listening, ok?”

“Sounds good – but I need to let some air out of my DRs so give me a minute, ok?”

Molly laughed – “Oh, I almost forgot that too!” I saw her pull a tire gauge from the center console as I was adjusting the air pressure in the rears, she did the same.

“Now, let’s have some fun” I laughed as I finished, slid into the seat, and pulled the door shut. Kelly was already in the car and I doubted if I could have got her out of it anyways. We were both still in shock and awe at this place. I reached down and tripped the solenoid for the cutout. The GN’s exhaust was now dumping straight out beneath the car via the 3” opening and while it sounded good, it wasn’t a V8 sound.

Hell, I didn’t care. It STILL sounds damn good! I also checked to make sure the alky injection kit – progressive of course – was armed. It was and I knew the tank was full.

Holly was already pulling up to the line. It was then I noticed the dashed white stripe going down the center of the tarmac provided a perfect lane divider.

The timing tree glowed silently and a quarter mile away, the timing boards sat silent with their large red zeros glowing angrily in the night. The night sky was bright anyhow with a nearly full moon making it hard to see the stars.

I eased off the foot brake a bit and on into the lights.

The prestage bulb lit. Molly tripped hers right after.

Molly then tripped her second yellow bulb – she was now staged and already was bringing up some rpms. The monster 5.8’s rough idle was gone and in its place was a very loud and foreboding growl as the engine speed began to climb.

I tripped the second yellow and then hit the transbrake button, simultaneously pressing down the throttle to bring the motor up against the converter. The Turbo hissed and the car began to strain against the transbrake, eager to loose itself of those forces holding the V6 back.

My finger was on the release and the boost was already over 10 psi. The Snake was now roaring beside us and I could hear it easily over the angry hiss of the GN… Like two fighters on a carrier deck, straining against the release to seek flight, both cars were now armed, locked, and loaded.

I could barely hear the horn of the Shelby – BEEP! - but we were ready. Then - the ambers begin to drop down…

The GN was now in its element. All it was ever built for, despite what many might think, was to do battle machine versus machine. Like so many that came before, it’s only true purpose ever was to beat and humiliate any other mechanical opponent to death. In 1987, it was the quickest production car made and it has always worn that badge with pride and honor.

And no matter what it may have looked like to anyone else, in spite of having two cylinders less than that black monster to our left, I knew we had a chance. And, a damned good one I felt.

Because this GN – just like its big freak brother Frankie back in the garage - wasn’t stock either… remember?

I was staring intently at the lights as was Kelly. Funny, but at that moment, all went silent… I didn’t hear anything, I didn’t notice anything… I was only waiting for the third amber to light.

And it did. And that’s when my hearing returned…

In a small fraction of a second, my brain sent a signal to my finger and the surly bonds of mechanical restriction were loosed as I heard the soft *CLICK* of the switch being activated.

BAM!!! The Transbrake loosened its hold and the monster V6 screamed violently upward in rpm. The Buick absolutely leaped off the line, pulling like a freight train, hard and fast… the nose lifted just a bit but the suspension did its job and the car was planted like a 100 year oak.

To our left, Molly had also dumped the twin disc clutch perfectly, the huge 345’s biting like a pit bull - Kelly later told me that she was certain the car nearly pulled the front tires off the pavement. She wasn’t sure only because the launch of the GN shoved her violently back into the seat and she couldn’t see the Shelby anymore!

Just like that, both cars were off like two hell hounds in the night.

BAM! The 1-2 shift hit violently, only a nano-second after I heard Molly grab second in a full power shift.

“Damn! That girl can DRIVE! And man, can she shift!” I heard Kelly yell… my mind barely had time to mentally agree. Yes. She definitely can.

By now we were nearly mid track and the 2-3 shift was imminent. I saw a solid 28 psi on the boost gauge a second time just as we slammed into 3rd, Molly’s black stallion bellowing in the night air with her shifts perfectly executed. I swear, it sounded like she was driving a built automatic – she was that good.

Does time seem to slow for you when you’re racing? Do you feel things shift to slow motion? They do for me, especially in a tight race… even if Kelly is with me and talking, it’s like listening to a 45 RPM record being played at 33 1/3, the voice sounds s-l-o-w. And, d-e-e-p…

The lights race by but it’s kind of a blur… everything under the hood and in my opponent’s lane seems to slow down.

We’re nearly at the 1100 foot mark and it’s still too close to call. BAM! We’re into 3rd and the boost gauge barely moves. I think to myself “Thank God I’ve got a drive shaft loop”… I’ll get odd thoughts like that sometimes…

I know Molly is now in 4th. We’re well over a hundred mph already. Kelly’s hand is on my arm, squeezing tightly as she leans forward in an attempt to see where the Ford is….

“Steve?” I hear her slowly/deeply say… ‘You aren’t going to believe this…” as we cross the finish…

I back out of the pedal, the blow off valve hissing like a demon…

“What did you say, Kel?” I had no idea who won. I just knew it was close. Damn close.

“I don’t think we beat her Steve. I think we lost…”

To be continued…