Wednesday, 26 March 2014 07:18

Car Craft Street Machine Heads

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Car Craft Street Machine Nationals were coming to Springfield, Illinois and a friend invited me to head up to automobile paradise. Well, that is what I thought the whole scene was gonna be about. We were to partake in viewing Muscle cars galore. I couldn't possibly imagine the visit was also gonna have an element of Dukes of Hazzard mixed with Mardi Gras. But you get a bunch of loaded guys with fast cars; you'd expect something would happen. What I never imagined was that my friend would get us kicked out of the town before the sun was down. My friend was a big guy who occasionally liked to raise hell. Lets just say his name was Bill. He loved muscle cars and was fiercely loyal to the Mopar brand — mainly late ’60s Dodge's and Plymouths. On occasion, raw power and a wild streak helped Bill to get himself on the wrong side the law.

We arrived at the show in the late morning and walked around a vast park filled with all kinds of muscle cars. Men stood by their immaculate machines as we gawked at the pristine paint, vinyl and chrome. Acres of beautiful cars that were soon to have prices rise to outrageous prices. Back then you could pick up a decent late ’60s model for a couple grand, restore it and have yourself a street legal race car. After a few hours, we strolled through the bounty and made our way to the main drag. At the edge of town, an endless procession of cars, trucks and assorted beaters rolled along the masses. Lined along the road as the afternoon wore on, a large group of guys were getting themselves inebriated. On the street, driver after driver pulled up, stopped at a random spot, revved their engine and floored it. In a couple seconds they were gone, leaving only smoke in the air and black marks on the pavement. Heat, smoke and alcohol kept the crowd fired up. Girls were also prominent in the procession and motivated the curbside guys to request more than just burnoffs from the drivers. Although the drunken cajoling didn't find anyone who was willing to expose their covered anatomy, the lack of success didn't stop the persistence of the gauntlet of partiers. As the temperature in the afternoon rose, members of the crowd became interested in finding better ways of getting the cars to do "proper" a burnoff. Dumping ice and water on the hot asphalt yielded limited success, so Bill came up with a solution. He noticed a garden hose that led to a hot dog stand. He took out a knife and sliced through it. As he stood there pouring water on the street, the proprietor barreled out of the concession stand and plowed straight into him. Unfortunately for Bill, the proprietor was equally as large and the pair began a shoving match with their arms and bellies. The dispute reminded me of one of those animal shows where a couple of beasts square off for a female. Before it got real ugly, the cops showed up and asked what was going on. Within five minutes we had the police escort us out of town.

I suppose cuttin' the hose wasn't the smartest thing in the world to do. Most of us did our share of stupid things when we were young. What was amazing was that the police turned a blind eye to all the crazies tearin' up the street. The air was thick with burnt rubber, but Bill went too far. He was messin' with a local's ability to make a buck.

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