My First Time
By Travis Perrenot
Here's a story that might interest you. It is everything that can happen to a kid -- good, bad, horrible. All in about five minutes. And unfortunately, I can testify that it's all true.
It's summertime, 1957, and life is good. My father, younger brother, and myself plus an assorted bunch of friends are running an A/GD. Cadillac engine, six Stromberg "leakers" on a home made log manifold, and a Cad/LaSalle transmission with low and reverse removed. My dad is driver, owner, crewchief, and us kids are gophers and such. Car will turn 128 to 135 mph just about at will. For the places we run, we are big frogs in a little pond. Today it's the Old Double Eagle strip in San
I had just turned 15 in February, and in Texas, you can get your driver's license at 15 if it's a "hardship" case. I am about as hard up as you can get, so I am the proud owner of a shiny new driver's license. Also the racetrack says you must have a valid license to drive a race car. I KNOW I am the greatest natural talent to ever come down the pike.
After our Dad makes a run at about 130+ (top time of the day), he turns to me and says, "Get in; it's all yours!" Now, I had studied every driver I had been around. I KNEW that I was gonna set the world on fire. I had sat in this car a thousand times. I can do this blindfolded, I told myself. I strapped in and felt the bump of the truck pushing the car down the strip. I turned around and pointed back towards the starting line.
Would I run 140? Heck, maybe I'll hit 160! This will be the run they talk about for years. Engine running, made the turn around, and stage. Brought the
R's up, LAUNCH, shift, my target -- top end flagman -- coming up fast, shut it down, and stop. Not near as far down the track as I expected. First time slip (which I have plans to gold plate) says only 77 MPH!!!
Footnote: They wouldn't let me hide under the pickup or in the weeds. Made me set in that thing and push back in front of the crowd. I seriously considered joining a monastery but couldn't find one. DARN.