A Ride To Remember………..#58 (the 50’s)

1957 Chevy

Gary was ready to call it a night at Fletcher’s Signal Station having finished his sweeping of the service bay, putting the product displays inside’ waiting for Ted to balance the cash draw and place the receipts in the stations hiding place so owner Ed Fletcher could open in the morning.  Ted was just about finish when a new red and white 57 Chevrolet pulled up to the pumps,  ‘oh well’  thought Gary,  ‘one last customer’, having yet to turn off pumps or the outside lights.  Walking out to the pumps  Gary thought he recognizing the driver, it was Gary McArthur who had graduated from Castlemont in January,  McArthur having been a member of the Bishops, a high school service club composed of quasi-car enthusiast.  The school putting the club on probation and finally disbanding it the following semester, it was rumored it had something to do with after school hubcap activity.

Alan Roemer, Gary McArthur & Bishops Club President Jim Pratt

Gary looking closer at this 1957 shining example of craftsmanship, its polished body gleaming in the soft glow of the stations lights,  standing  poised like a thoroughbred.  It was identical to the 57 Chevrolet posted on all the billboards across the nation and TV as the one entering and winning the competitive Pikes Peak Race,  the annual 12 mile, 156 turns,  prestige’s run up the Colorado Peak.   Gary couldn’t believe what he heard next from McArthur, ” This is the car that was in the race”.    He went on to explain,  the company he worked for, Bruce’s Tire Company, had purchased the car from Chevrolet for display and advertisement purposes,  also saying with a tone of indulgence, he would be taking it to the competition at Vacaville.  Gary was aware of the drag strip at Vacaville and the planned new raceway soon to be constructed.

Stock model competition

Ted joining the two, the hood being raised, it was the first time Gary had viewed a Chevy 283 fuel injected engine, it was Chevrolet’s first year for  fuel injections.  McArthur continuing that he would enter it in the stock classification but in reality it wasn’t strictly a stock model, Chevrolet having changed the rear end gear ratio, but manufacturing enough models with that gear ratio to justify a stock designation.   Gary walked around looking inside expecting a plush interior,  but stepping back,  discovering the  interior was stripped of all normal seats and fitted with a framework of welded steel forming a roll cage that encompassed the interior.   A single seat occupying the space behind the steering wheel, the a stock dashboard remained but with specially mounted cluster gauges.   The young teen was taken aback,  this definitely wasn’t  a car for cruising.

57 Chevy fuel injected 283 V8

“Get in”   were the words spoken by McArthur to teen and without hesitation the Gary open the door and then hesitated.  Nowhere to sit,  no seats and nothing to grasp or hold onto in the front.   McArthur motioned towards the back,  saying to “hunch down and hold on to the roll-bar”,  the youth grasping the metal bar traversing across  behind the driver’s seat.   Gary squatting on the back portion of the floorboard,  raising up enough to see over the dash and have a good view of the road.   The car progressing onto Mountain Blvd.,  the youth  reflecting on his surroundings, the adrenalin flowing as he absorbed the aura from the inside this icon of a car.   For an instant he wished that this moment could be captured for visual prosperity,  to be persevered for the agnostic to see.   The car idled down Mountain Blvd. to Holmes Ave,  making a  U-turn and came to a stop.  The distance between Holmes and Shone  on Mountain Blvd was known as the teenagers designated quarter-mile.  Gary was savoring the moment,  the tires screamed and the Chevy exploded forward, he grasped the roll bar as the G-force was ever-increasing.  McArthur shifted into second gear,  the tires squealed again, the force grasping him in its clutches, pulling him backwards.  He glanced at the speedometer as they blew through the intersection of Shone, it was registering over 90,  the car continuing to rocket down the highway.   He watched  the needle max-out on the inscribed 120 mph speedometer.  With compression backing the car down, Gary felt like a hundred pound weight had been release from pulling him  backwards, their journey lasting less than a mile, the McArthur making a U heading back to the station.

Getting out,  Gary was speechless,  the ride may have ended,  but one thing for sure, the memory would remain.

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