Sunday, December 7, 2014

Racing down the Alzheimer Highway

I know a thing or two about racing down highways.

Or at least I used to.

I've owned a lot of cars in my time, and at least a handful could manage a good honest 150 mph.

But the Alzheimer Highway is another matter.

Around this time of year the extended family likes to get together in Waterloo for a Christmas Party of sorts. We eat lots of East European food and we sing Christmas carols. We gather at the home of an esteemed professor who used to deliver lectures at universities in Heidelberg and Tubingen and beyond.

The professor was not in attendance this year. He is now ensconced in a nearby critical care facility where he may or may not be tethered to his bed, depending on whether he is having a "good" day or not.

The first car I ever took over 100 mph was the family station wagon, a 1967 Chevrolet Bel Air. The folks would take the other car in to church on Sunday morning, and I, having by then lost my faith, was left with the keys to the second car, wide-open highways in all directions, and no supervision.

The fastest looking car I ever owned was a 1973 Trans Am SD. Amazing torque, but that puppy was totally winded at 120 mph. A bit of a disappointment.

Had a '67 Chrysler New Yorker that came out of the family stable, with the old high-compression 440 in it. That was a car that would, if you had enough reasonably straight road, pass 6,000 rpm on a flat-out top-speed run. That was over 150 mph in something that weighed well over two tons and had the aerodynamics of a shoe-box.

Then there were the 340's. If memory serves, I had at least four versions of that gem. In the high compression days (before '71) they'd rev to 6500 and beyond, on their factory hydraulic lifters. Couple that with 3:23's and you were good for 150 mph easy. Do the math.

The craziest of the crazy-fast cars had to belong to my cousin Johnny. He had a beauty 383 Super-Bee that he picked up cheap at Weiland Motors in Kitchener, before the Weilands landed the Ford franchise.

Took about two weeks of abuse before a rod went through the oil pan. So we scrounged up an old drag car, a Plymouth RR that had been running SS/F or something, and popped that drag race motor into his street Bee with the 3:23's.

Ya, you know what happened then!

Scary shit!

You hook up a 500 hp motor that will rev to 8 thou with a 3:23 axle...

I haven't done the math, but that had to be good for somewhere around 180 mph.

It is only due to the grace of God that no one died while we were testing that theory out.

Forty-five years later, things are all fucked up. All the way down to Waterloo and back I'm sure I never got more that 10 kilometers over the speed limit.

But there's no speed limit on the Alzheimer Highway.

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