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A hard lesson to learn.
Twice a year the muscle cars of the 70s gathered informally for a bit of bravado and one-upmanship.
The owners of Chevelles, Roadrunners, GTOs, Challengers, Cobras, Mustangs, Chargers, Olds 442, and Baracudas came from all around the State to show off their pride and joy. Anything from the 21st century wasn’t welcome.
The brotherhood of muscle car owners was tight and they all knew how to play the game. They sunk a lot of money into their babies and cared for them as a father his kids.
The events occurred in May and October, the second weekend in each, but no one really knew for sure where it would be until a week before. When the location was chosen by a majority of owners, 70 or more cars would show up in the mall parking lot with a thousand people to witness. No social media coverage beforehand, just legacy word of mouth advertising.
These shows were different from typical weekend auto shows because money and pink slips often changed hands at the end.
Ted Lambert entered the Parade of Muscle with his ‘69 Ford Mustang Boss 429 with stock tires and spares in the trunk. He brought the spares because he knew he would need them. Even with 20 cars ahead of him and another 40 behind, he revved his engine and began his tire burn out.
Thick black smoke poured out the back of his tires and enveloped his car. He wasn’t making any forward motion but was merely swaying side to side as more smoke filled the air. The crowds cheered him on even though he couldn’t see them through the smoke of burning rubber.
The change in the crowd’s cheer went from cheers to “Fire!”, so he let off the gas. Lambert had burned through the driver side rear tire and was down to the rims. It only took six or seven revolutions of the rims to spark and the entire rear of his car was on fire. He had never used his fire extinguisher before, but it was laying on the floor of the passenger front seat. Grabbing it, he was out the door, but the entire trunk was already in flames. He sprayed it but the fire had spread so much that he was out of repellant within seconds. The parade stopped several cars in front of Ted and completely behind. Four more extinguishers came out from four different cars and they attacked the flames too, but by then the entire car was engulfed, including the tires from his trunk.
Then the police siren chirped once. The officer got out and was radioing someone, perhaps the fire department. Ted’s hands were clasped behind his neck and he was just shaking.
“You own this thing?” the officer asked.
“You know it’s against the law to lay rubber like you did, don’t you?”
By now everyone had cleared away a hundred feet as they watched the Mustang go up in flames, helpless to do anything meaningful.
Ted look at the officer and scrunched his nose. “You’re kidding!”
“Wouldn’t do that, Son,.” the officer said writing out a citation. “Sorry, forgot to ask. Are you okay?”
“Sure, except for the lecture and ticket I’m getting.”
“Neither of those can be helped. If I were you, though, I’d make sure you called a tow truck A.S.A.P. lest one of my more intolerant colleagues cites you for non-permitted fires and burning tires within the city limits.”
“Non-permitted fires and burning tires?”
“Yep. I don’t think you’re from around here but we have laws about that.”
“So I gather,” said Ted.
“Anyhow,” the officer said as he tore off a ticket from his clipboard. “Best of luck in getting home. Trust you learned a lesson.”
“I did,” Lambert said, not really revealing what that lesson was, nor would he ever in this town with this police department.