Maybe you saw the story titled – Racing the Guy in my Chevy II.
If you did then this is the next story about my antics in the Chevy II. This story showcases 4 mistakes I made.
Sometime in mid 1977, I met up with some friends of mine at a skating rink in Gaithersburg Maryland.
I had my Chevy II all cleaned up, the wheels shiny and rubber blacked out (I think I used Transmission fluid back then to black the tires.)
I had my best silk shirt on, tight jeans and my best going out on the town shoes. I topped it all off with my green army jacket. On the back of the jacket I had one of my friends embroidery, ok, are you ready, here goes, “The Duece”. Hang onto that picture girls, it’s a good one.
Anyway, I was going to meet up with my buddy Eddie and we were going to race our cars in the street in front of the skating rink. Mistake # 1 of 4
Let me set the stage a little more. This place was full of teenage girls. There were a bunch of guys hanging out waiting to see some cars race, and a bunch of younger guys hanging out with the girls. Why did I decide to be one of the former, I will never know.
I pulled up in front of the building and there was my buddy Eddie, without his car. I can’t remember what kind of car Eddie had, but I do remember it was a good race car, as far as race cars went for 18 year old guys with no money back in 1976.
There were some other guys there with Mustangs, Chevelles, Chargers and some other hot rod wannabes.
I had the only Chevy II and I knew it was not going to be the fastest car there.
I may have had a little to drink that night, but I do remember racing at least one guy and I beat him. I think it was some guy in a Mustang with a stock 6 cylinder engine in it. I don’t think I actually won any money, just lots of back slapping and laughing at the other guy.
We had to be careful because the cops cruised this area trying to keep the rowdy guys away from the skating rink. When we saw a cop car coming down the street we would shut down and get out of our cars. This is where I made Mistake # 2 of 4.
When the first cop car came down the street, I got out of my car with a beer can in my army jacket pocket and I walked up to the front of the building where all the teenage girls were watching us.
As I talked to a group of these kids, all of a sudden I got grabbed by a cop who had walked up behind me.
I found out later on that the manager of the skating rink had called the cops and told them that there were a bunch of guys racing their cars and he specifically told them who to look for. The Deuce being one of the guys he mentioned. Remember, I had it on my jacket.
If all I had done was race my car on the street he would have given me a warning and sent me home. But, as soon as he saw the beer can, it was all over. He had to arrest me. He handcuffed me and shoved me into the building where he wrote up the police report on me. No one else got arrested that night, likely because they were beer free when the cop showed up.
Now, when the cops showed up, lots of people came running out of the skating rink. Everyone wanted to know what was going on. I could tell you that I was a well known Icon around town, or possibly a living legend driving the baby blue Chevy II. But, I best not stretch the truth so much that it smacks me in the face. However, the teenage girls in the crowd thought it was pretty cool that The Deuce was being arrested. Sort of put me in the “Bad Ass” category for a while, if I must say so myself.
The cop had to get some information from the manager of the place, so it took a long time before he took me to his car to take me to the police station. While waiting he did tell me that the worst that was likely to happen would be a $25 fine. That would be $25 that I did not have.
So, I asked Eddie and some of the other guys there to help me scrounge up $25. In the crowd was a guy named Gary, who was actually not a friend of mine at all, but we knew each other well. For reasons that I am not sure of, Gary started asking the teenagers to donate to help get The Deuce out of jail. Eddie and Gary walked thru the crowd and somehow or another, got together $25 for me. It was in dimes, quarters and a few $1 bills, but it was enough. Gary handed me his hat with the money in it just as the cop put me in his car.
Here is where I made Mistake 3 of 4. Again, I am not sure why I did some of the things that I did that night, but I gave Eddie my car keys and told him that if I did not get back by midnight to take my car home.
The cop drove me down to the police station, took me in the building and handcuffed me to a bench. He made me wait about an hour before he came back to me. When he got back, he took me over to a table and had me do the finger print thing.
While getting printed another cop told him that he did not need to fingerprint me. So the cop tore up the papers and threw them in the trash. Think about this; I almost had my fingerprints on file. This could have changed my life forever, especially if I continued down this path of getting caught doing criminal activity.
He gave me the police report to sign and then asked me for the $25. I gave him the hat. I thought he might count out the $25, but no, he scooped it all up and put it on the table. I know there was more than $25 in the hat. Maybe not much more, but at least enough to buy another beer or two.
The cop was actually pretty cool. He asked me if I wanted a ride back to my car or to my home. I politely thanked him for the help and asked him to take me back to the skating rink. Really, I would have hated having him take me home. That would have been bad in many ways.
We got into his cop car and this time I got to ride up front. The cop lectured me on the ride back and I promised him that he would never catch me drinking in public ever again.
Now here is where discovered Mistake 3 of 4.
By time I got back to my car it was well after midnight. The skating rink was closed and there was not a soul around. I thought my car was gone, but the cop spotted it at the far end of the street.
Fortunately the car keys were on the floor board. Eddie was nowhere to be found. He must have gotten a ride back to his house with one of the other guys.
I got in my car and did what I always did to start the car. Put the key in the ignition, pressed the clutch and grabbed for the gear shift. It was gone. I looked down on the floor and saw where the shifter was supposed to be. It was broken off. I looked around and found the broken shifter lying on the passenger side of the car. I had no idea what had happened, but the cop was gone by this time and I had to get my car home.
I figured out that I could shift between 3rd and 4th gear, but I could not get into the other gears or reverse. I pushed the car back from the curb, put it into 3rd gear and with the engine racing hard, I slowly let the clutch out until it got moving fast enough to let off the gas and let the clutch all the way out. I knew it was chewing up the clutch plate, but I had no choice, unless I wanted to call a tow truck, and remember, I had no money.
I was real lucky. It was 1am and there was no traffic on the road. I managed to get going fast enough to coast when I needed to slow down at stop signs, look all around for traffic (that did not exist) and scoot thru the intersections without stopping.
I remember that I also cut up my fingers pulling on the shifting mechanism in and out of 3rd and 4th gear. But I got my car home, no one the wiser of what had happened that night. At least, this is what I thought.
Sometime later that week Gary told my brother Fred about me racing, drinking in public and being arrested. Gary took the story even further by demanding that he be reimbursed for the $25 that he gave me to get out of jail.
I only barely remember talking with Fred about this. Somehow or another I thought he had told my parents about this. Again, the memory is very spotty here, but I figured that Mom & Dad did not think it was a big deal since they never said anything to me about it.
OK – Fast forward 30+ years. I went to visit my parents in Anderson SC. My mother and I were talking about raising kids and how proud she was of her children. She said that she was very proud that none of her kids ever got arrested.
Mistake # 4 of 4 – I replied, “yeah, except that time I got arrested for racing and drinking in public.”
You should have seen her face. She did not know about this. Fred never told anyone.
For the past 30 years I had considered this minor criminal activity as a merit badge of sorts.
My Mom thought it was horrible. Fortunately I did not get fingerprinted.
Another story shared by Teddy Burriss. I hope you enjoyed it.