Whirr2005-08-03
Hot rod




My cousin has the fastest car in Taft. This might not be saying all that much, as Taft is a small town in California with a population of 21,000 or so. It is in the desert, however, and so building race cars is a fairly popular pastime. They have their own NHRA certified quarter-mile drag strip, and monthly races. Their pretty serious about it, apparently.

My aunt tells me that when Cousin Clay was six, he told them that when he grew up he wanted to live with his parents and to drive his Dad's truck. Up until last Friday (when he bought a beautiful house just down the street) he was doing exactly that, although my uncle's truck is now wildly different.

He started modifying it when he was fifteen, and used it to teach himself auto mechanics. He chopped off everything behind the cab and replaced it with a bed that he built and designed himself. Over the years he has chopped it progressively lower and lower, until now the doors actually rest on the ground. In order to drive it, you have to turn on the hydraulics, which raise it several feet.

And then there's the engine. He was telling me about a boat ride he went on with another of his speed demon friends, and the boat was going over a hundred miles an hour over the water. Apparently Clay immediately found some way to trade the guy for his spare motor, and he put it in his truck. It is very large. I know nothing about car engines, but is 1200 horsepower a lot? (:

What he has now is a monster that goes from 0 to 130 in ten seconds. Ten. Seconds. Apparently the car is only made to drive to the racing strip, a quarter-mile down it, and back again. He says that if he tried to drive it to Bakersfield (half an hour away) it would over heat and die by the side of the road, but during that first quarter-mile he'd blow everyone away.

He took me around the block in it--very memorable experience. It took about ten minutes for my heart rate to drop down. It wasn't that the trip around the block was all that fast, and I doubt that the car ever got above 40 mph. As he said, that's not what the car does. It's just that every time he got it up to forty he'd slam on the brakes, causing the thing the fishtail wildly, and then rocket back up to forty again, accelerating so quickly that I could feel myself getting squished into the seat. That is what his car does.

The other really cool thing about Clay is that he's the chief mechanic at a local Federal Prison, and when he doesn't have pressing business there he's allowed to play Monster Garage with his choice of inmates. Apparently they took a junker Humvee out of the local scrap yard, and turned it into a fully functional all-terrain police cruiser. It looks pretty sweet, although I only saw the photos. They also converted a Coach Touring Bus into a prison transport.
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