FEBRUARY 21, 2011: STUPIDITY AND YOUTH-MY ULTIMATE DRIVING EXPERIENCE HAD BOTH

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There were a few influential factors that factored into my Rocky Mountain driving adventure from my mid-20s.

 

At that age, I was almost beyond the grasp of the ten feet tall and bullet-proof phase of life-but not quite.

 

Western Canada’s biggest summer playground is the Okanagan region of British Columbia.

 

Temperatures hover in the 90 to 100 (30- 40 Celsius) degree range all summer long. It is essentially a desert that borders on a large lake system.

 

An annual tradition that continues to this day is July and August long weekend free-for-alls for the young and restless.

 

At 24, I was dangerously close to old guy status in 1979, but the call of the wild weekend was still strong for me.

 

The year before, a couple of guys had shown up in MGAs and won the attention of numerous babes in our campground. It was a shallow and superficial gesture and it worked like a charm for the guys.

 

It may have been close to the last days of disco in the summer of ’79, but shallow materialism and image was still a winning formula in the social scene.

 

So I convinced my brother Bruce to give me his 1976 Triumph TR6 for the August trip. To this day I have no idea why he was willing to hand me the keys to his beloved car. I suspect it was an act of pity on his part.

 

He probably realized that I needed a racer’s edge in a game where I would be lightly-armed in adequate social skills for the mission at hand.

 

The trip from my place in Calgary to Penticton was about 416 miles (670 km) that usually took at least 8 hours with good traffic. I decided to make the trip in under 7 hours in the TR6.

 

Most of the road was in the Rocky Mountains on a tight two-lane route that peaked in a region known as the Rogers Pass.

 

 

My game plan was a simple Kowalski plan to get out to Penticton as fast as I could with an unrealistic arrival time. Kowalski didn’t quite make it in ‘Vanishing Point‘, but I was optimistic about my chances.

 

Only two cars passed me during the entire run. The first was an insane driver in a BMW that pushed by me on a blind 20 mph corner at roughly the speed of sound. That idiot reminded me of Springsteen’ssuicide machine”, but tramps like that were born to die in a horrific wreck-not to run.

 

The second was on a long and winding road beside a major houseboat lake. It was dark and the bright headlights suggested it was a police car. It was actually an El Camino and I re-gained the lead shortly after I discovered that valuable piece of information.

 

I managed to pull into Penticton in about six hours and fifty minutes-with car (and idiot behind the wheel) in one piece.

 

The car actually served me well as an ice-breaker during that weekend, but the highlight will always be that moment in time when I had my ultimate driving experience.

 

 

Just not my smartest driving experience.

 

Jim Sutherland

 

Happy ending part…The TR6 is still around and under restoration by my brother’s oldest son Angus at http://www.thetr6project.com/

 

COMMENTS

BOB:”Jim I tripped back to about the same time you made you mad dash. My 60 MGA and my 61 Austin Healey 3000 were long gone. I was running at high speed in an Oldsmobile when a lunatic in a TR-6 went by me like I was standing still, I said to my co-pilot ” that guys going to kill himself ” we caught up with them 10 miles later. … Yep crashed big time. Nobody was seriously hurt. That was a miracle! Another case of a member of the more balls than brains club being watched over by GOD ALMIGHTY”.

BERNARD“like the Kowalski with a happy ending spin on the story. Those TR-6’s were hot cars aesthetically and performance-wise.

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