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Bent Metal

I'm not an aspiring writer, I'm a dedicated reader. Rant brought back some great memories and I knew I had to put them down somewhere. Chuck said after Fight Club, people claimed they had been the origional fight clubbers, I'm not saying that. I just know my friends and I had alot of fun crashing our cars on the streets of Denver in the early nineties. We were fresh out of high school and we were all motorheads going to motorhead trade school. Officially it was Denver Auto and Diesel College, DADC. But to us it was the Drug Addicts Daycare Center.
After Xmas break two Long Islanders returned with an early 80's Ford Festiva or Fiesta?. It cost nothing and was alot of fun, E-brake skids, jumping, smashing shopping carts. So my roommate Billy bought a $100 VW rabbit. Donny got a "78 Dodge Monaco and Andy already had his International Scout. Then I paid $150 for a beautiful ' 73 Ford four door Galaxy 500. It was dark green with a black vinyl top and a 400 cid Cleveland engine, The weak link was the auto tranny, it was dying. it would lunge through first gear, get second, then rev, ...and rev, then I would let off, coast for a second or two until several rotating pieces found their place and it would settle into third.
Once we were all armed, the fun began. A typical start to our mid morning break would be two cars side by side at a light, both cars full of passengers, engines rev, gestures and heckles fly. A bystander at the intersection might think " those two heaps are really going to race?". But when the light turns, so do the steering wheels, and both cars kiss at the fender and roar down the road each trying to squeeze the other over. I remember being in the right lane with the Rabbit smearing my paint and tires rubbing on my left, Clearly I had girth rights so with each foot we went forward I was shoving them closer to the suicide lane and then towards on coming traffic. Of course I let off. That tended to be my weakness, having mercy. Mercy ends up hurting your car, it's all in the physics.
A good example was another bout with the Rabbit. We were down on some side industrial roads near school, trading jabs in quick skirmishes. Then a "spotter" announced that the Rabbit wasn't moving. The sound of a starter whining confirmed that he was stalled behind us. Rolling forward about 20 mph I threw the column shift into R and stood on it. Always one of my favorite moves as the tire lights up and smokes as forward inertia succombs to rearward traction.( This is rough on a tranny but you have to commit, don't put it in R and keep coasting forward. once you shift you mat it so the tire starts spinning) Now I've got a half ton of angry iron headed backwards at the dead Rabbit. I can see Billy press his greasy long hair to the head rest as he braces for the impact.As I got closer it came to me that this hit would probably kill the Rabbit, smash it's radiator, and what fun would that be, so I jam on the brakes.
In your car notice how the nose dips when you hit the brakes, and raises when you hit the gas. It's worse if you have bad shocks and it makes a big difference as to where bumpers will line up in an impact. Well my bumper ended up lower than his and I got a destroyed truck lid and the Rabbit got nothing, so I learned about physics and mercy.
Another Time we looked in the rear view to see the Scout closing fast . When he hit me his bumper road up over my bumperettes, ( the little pieces that go vertical) and we were locked together. Then I discovered that with the weight of a Scout on my ass I had lost steering. So Andy did the natural thing and sped up. As we hurtled down the road, I was turning my wheel side to side but getting nowhere, then he let off and my tires grabbed and we went spinning off to the side luckily in a gap between light poles.
In a late winter snow storm I took on the Monaco. It was the closest car to my size so I hoped for an exciting fight but Donny wasn't giving it to me. Each time we where set up for some clean hits he swerved away. Finally I got some contact, but it was pretty weak. We ended up nose to nose head on just pushing each other, a disappointing stale mate. So to get things going again I tried to break away by pulling a TJ Hooker. A fast reverse to 180. I pulled away in reverse and cut the wheel to spin, but right as I got broadside there's a Dodge grill caving in my driver's door! Oh! I was pissed what a cheap shot by a pussy player. So that ended it, we both headed back to the apartments and riders where hanging out talking by the idling cars. I discretely positioned the Galaxy on his passenger side about a car length behind. I watched his passenger get out and as he looked at me he knew to get out of the way. My tires squeeled as I headed for that open door and folded it into his fender. Ha! one cheap shot deserves another. It took two guys to shut his passenger door, and then it was like a loaded mouse trap, just touch the inside handle and this huge door would launch open like a catapult!
You never knew when the game was on, Once as I slowly cruised through the school parking lot the Fiesta shot out of a spot and into my drivers back door. We all laughed as the bumper tore off the Fiesta and spun around in the parking lot like a spin the bottle These cars where our own experiments. Anything we had ever wanted to try we could. Other guys at school had really nice expensive or fast cars, but they were jealous of us. We had fun cars. They wore the paint streaks and bent metal with pride. I painted the Flying Tiger Grinning Teeth up my front fenders. Naturally these cars became cop magnets and the tickets started adding up, but if they had only known half of what we were doing.
I don't remember any time traveling or social corruption, we just did what seemed natural at the time. I am definately alot more confident in a car because of it. I know I won't panic if a car begins to drift and spin, because I have initiated that motion so many times on purpose.I know what forces can cause an axle to break, and I know that a Scout can still do burnouts with only the front driveline intact. I guess I'm writing this to reinforce the notion that Chuck's books reside alot closer to non fiction than anyone should ever let on.

Tim