A Night In Denver

Discussion in '1979 - 1995 (Fox, SN95.0, & 2.3L) -General/Talk-' started by madmike1157, Jul 14, 2013.

  1. I lived in Denver Colorado from 1970-1976. I turned 13 the year we moved there, I was 19 when I moved to Omaha. I guess you could say that Denver was the town where “I came of age.”

    When I was old enough to drive, and after I went through the obligatory slasher duty in my first 18 months of learning to drive, I graduated to real car status. I was 17 and a half, and had saved until I was able to buy my first real car. The car I truly wanted,….no,..... lusted after…….a 1969 mach 1.
    I bought it from a dealership, off of their used lot for the then “reasonable” sum of $1750.00. . It was some pale shade of yellow, kind of a cream color,…(Ford called it Meadow Lark Yellow) It had black reflective stripes, w/ a black hood. It had a 4 bbl 351w, an FMX auto trans, and of course a 9” rear, all w/ only 44k on the speedo.
    It was in great shape, and had no rust, no dents. I was also the second owner of that car, and at the time…….the envy of my group of gearhead wannabe friends.

    Of the said group , two of them were so inspired by my car, that they had to have their very own versions of the same,…Joe Torpey had a Candy Apple Red 351 car,…..and Erik Skramstead was fortunate enough to come upon a Anti-Establish Mint Green 390/C-6 car when it came time for his.

    Now that we all had three mach 1’s, we decided that it was only appropriate to show them off at the cruise circuit,….maybe check out the local illegal street racing scene later that night.

    We all lived in Aurora actually, a suburb of Denver. Joe lived out in the sticks in east Aurora, it was so far out there,...it probably was not even in the city limits,…..but for whatever reason on this night,…we decided that we would meet out there, and go from his house, to downtown Denver to participate in the cruise we had heard about.

    At 9 PM the three of us were all grouped up, and we headed out. I led the procession, and turned from his driveway, out onto Chambers road. Since it was a right turn,…I took advantage of the fact that I had an open differential,…and lit the right rear tire when turning out of his dad’s drive way. Joe in turn did the same,…and Erik followed suit. We turned onto the entrance ramp of I-70 west, nailed the gas, and ran all three cars up to about 100 mph before we finally slowed down to the then legal speed limit of 55 MPH for the remainder of the 20 mile drive to get into downtown Denver city center. I looked in my rearview to see the other two Mach’s right behind me………….. I just knew it was gonna be a great night.

    Unfortunately there were two things that I didn’t know at that time:

    #1. A car resembling mine had been reported stolen some time ago.

    #2. There were two Aurora police cars sitting in a darkened side street w/ full view of all three cars smoking their right rear tires when turning onto Chambers road, then flying down the interstate at what had to be close to double the speed limit.
    The next time I checked my rear view,…I was spooked by the sight of three A.P.D. cruisers flying up right behind us. Simultaneously they came around, and all three cruisers slid in behind us, each of our cars now being tailed by it’s own respective cop car,… seconds later, the red flashing lights came on.

    We all pulled over, and as soon as we were stopped…. I opened my door to get out…, No sooner had I put one foot on the ground, I get blasted by the cop car PA: “DRIVER!!!! EXIT THE VEHICLE,….PUT YOUR HANDS ON TOP OF YOUR HEAD…AND WALK TO THE REAR OF THE VEHICLE!!!”

    I gotta tell you,….I was pi ssing all over myself.


    Now I’m panicked,…they do this to you for going 100 MPH?

    When I was “in position”,…. two officers emerged,…..cautiously approaching my bad self. I choked out the question and asked what I had done, and they responded w/ the typical request for my license and registration. I was so shook up by now , I was blabbering,…HHHeeerrres my LLLIcense and my RRRRegistraaasionnn………………….

    Was in the trunk,…in a green plastic zippered bag my parents wanted me to carry all my “important papers” in.

    It was like I was on autopilot,…..w/o thinking, the key to open the trunk was already in the lock, and once turned the trunk sprung up like it was a jack in the box.

    You can probably imagine that this in turn startled the two cops as well:

    “WHAT ARE YOU DOING????“The one cop yells,…the other has upholstered his gun now, and it is pointed straight at me….“I’m getting my registration sir” I responded, now on the verge of tears. “WHY IS IT IN THE TRUNK??” he yells
    “Because that’s where my dad wants me to keep it” I replied, in full panic mode by now. Once we get past the surprise my overly sprung trunklid had in store for Auroras' finest,.Cop #1 tells me they were witness to our little escapade on Chambers road, and asked if we had seen them sitting back in the parking lot of the closed office building? “NO SIR,…..I didn’t, I said,….I certainly wouldn’t have smoked the tire if I knew you were there” I assured the cop

    He takes my license and the registration, and he and his partner move back to their ”office” and proceed to check me out. “DON’T MOVE!” was the last set of instructions he barked at me before he turned and walked back to his car.

    I was positive I was gonna be the victim of some mutated form of justice gone seriously wrong,and was starting to come to terms that I may go to jail this night…..After what seems like forever the cop car door opens, and he and his partner walk back up to me,…only this time they have a much more human look on their faces.

    “We pulled you over because we thought you had seen our cars back there and were trying to run,……..A car matching this car’s description was reported stolen last week." He informs me. "I’m sure you can understand our concern that this might be that car“. The officer explained. “Where are you going in such a hurry?” he added.

    “We were just messing around sir. We all have plans to check out the downtown cruise circuit.”. This was followed by each of the two officers looking at one another,….a significant silent period,…and officer #1 says:
    “Look,……Here’s the deal. We’re gonna let all three of you go tonight, because we realize we probably caused you all a good bit of anguish. Do yourselves’ a favor and don’t let me catch any of you doing anything stupid tonight,..or I’m gonna remember all of this.”

    I was so thankful, I woulda hugged the cop, but thought better of it. Instead I relegated myself to just shaking their hands,….and repeating over and over how I appreciated the break,…and assured them that they would not be seeing anymore of me that night. Thankful for the break, as well as not having to toss anybodies salad in the county jail that night,….I got back in my car,…and headed on towards the downtown cruise festivities.

    Once back up to speed,….Erik pulls up alongside,…rolls down his window and yells…….. “What a bunch of Dicks”………I just rolled my eyes……smiled at him and thought “Dumb Phucker…..but for the graces of three sets of decent cops, he doesn’t know he narrowly missed being somebody’s b itch for the night“.

    Once we get to our destination however, our imagined perfect world “American Graffitti” style cruise scene was soon smashed into oblivion as we become witness to what could only be described as a traffic jam, 10 blocks long.

    The “cruise night” in downtown Denver was 6 lanes wide, bumper to bumper, and filled w/ carloads of teenagers in mommies’ cars and daddies’ cars. Peppered in between the multitude of pick ups, sedans and wagons were the stuff of legends,…Camaros, Chevelles, Chargers, and Cudas, Fairlanes, Cyclones, and of course,……..Mustangs. The “cruisers” would creep along,….going from stop light to stop light for the equivalent of about one mile on 15th street, cross over one block,….and return the exact same way down 16th. All of the Parking lots that lined the streets were jammed w/ even more cars that had decided to take a break from the slow motion cruise,….either because they chose to,…or the car forced them to because of overheating.

    It took exactly one trip up and down the “circuit” before the three of us decided to pull into one of those lots to take a break from the “excitement”. The decision to do so, yielded huge benefits, as far as people watching goes,..because after parking the cars, and getting out,….standing in that parking lot was equivalent to front row seats at the circus.

    What happened over the next 90 minutes in that parking lot is a whole ‘nother story,….one I’ll pick up next time when I continue. Suffice it to say that what had happened to us up to this point was mediocre by comparison, considering it was about 10 PM at this point,... and on this night my head wouldn’t hit the pillow till after 3AM. But like I said,…..I’ll leave that for another time.
  2. Cool story!
  3. I would have called it a night and been glad to not have the exibition of excell. and speeding tickets. I hate driving in that part of Denver. Even in the day. At least Omaha drivers usually k!ow not to speed up and cut you off when you signal a lane change. In Denver, too many road rage fools think cut off the lane change is fun on the interstates.
  4. when you going to write a book??
    stangboy and 88LX5.Oh like this.
  5. Mike, I write for a few websites, iRacing.com mostly and I must say your writing style is very unique. You can get the person reading in your head which is great. I'm ready for the second part of this story. Most don't like to read a lot of words but I'm all for it.
    LarsD likes this.
  6. I agree
  7. Good story... Needs some music to read by tho... :chin


  8. you have a way of writing that I instantly can see in my head what I am reading
    stangboy likes this.
  9. Love reading the stories mike !
  10. Thread derail - Man, I used to be on Iracing. I want to get back in, but with the kid (soon to be kids) I never have time to practice. Turns out that I don't really have fun if I can't be competitive.
  11. How do you start that and not even go into the night?? I thought it was gonna really go some where.
  12. Good so far, I'm ready for the rest!
    stangboy likes this.
  13. What he said ^^^^
  14. The parking lot was a side show in of itself. Not only was it a perfect venue to watch the slow motion spectacle 6 lanes wide only 10 feet in front of you, but the parking lot was full of all kinds of whackos as well.

    We had a Monte carlo w/ two drunk, rowdy long hairs, and their drunk, rowdy girl friends, hurling out insults at the cars that slowly passed by. We also had a pickup w/ a bed full of guitar strumming hippies smoking dope and singing songs of love and protest,
    (Despite the fact that the Vietnam war had ended). Homeless dudes milled about, telling us their tales of woe, hoping it would be worth a donation to add to the evenings’ fifth of Wild Irish Rose fund. In retrospect, it was actually more fun just to be there than to be sitting in that traffic,…watching the temp needle edge ever higher towards the “H” marking on the gauge. On that note, we decided that it would fine just to sit here, as opposed to wasting the gas out there,.....so we spectated.

    The sh it hit the fan for the second time this night when one of the D-R-L-H's hurled the wrong insult at the wrong car. The targeted Mexicans in the jacked up Camaro, evidently didn’t take kindly to being told they were Mexican, or that their car was a rolling piece of sh it. They made their way over as best they could in the traffic,..made a right turn at the corner, and before you know it found a way into the parking lot. Some little mexidude about 5’5” confronts the long hair, a yelling match ensues,…. and soon enough it escalates into a fight,….All of us swarm over to the commotion to get a better view of the impending calamity.

    What we watched was this little Mexican just kicking the sh it out of one of the loud mouth long hairs. After several well landed blows,..the much taller loud mouth long hair was now laying on the ground, literally getting the rest of his sh it kicked in. The other Mexicans were holding the other male long hair down, all while the two drunk girl friends screamed insults at the Mexican maulers, while at the same time demanding in their best drunk bi tch-ese that they (The Mexicans) stop, and leave them alone.

    It must’ve worked,…because sure enough,…within a minute they stopped. They walked back to their hideously jacked up Camaro,…climbed inside, and pulled back out into the traffic,…making no attempt whatsoever to “get away”.

    The Mutilated Monkey Meat that used to long hair #1,… miraculously managed to get back up,….and w/ the help of his significant other,…attempted to patch up the train wreck that used to be his face. He was bleeding from his mouth and his nose, his long hair was all matted with blood, and to me, he looked like holy hell…But as with all drunk ass holes,…the alcohols’ numbing effect lessened his perception of how bad he really was. When 15 minutes passed,…and we had grown tired of watching the ladies try to figure out the puzzle pieces that used to be their boyfriends faces, everybody had all drifted back to the areas where our cars were parked. I watched some of the bums dance a little jig to the hippie music, clapping to music that wasn't supposed to be "clapped to," work the crowd as they pushed for the final funding for their respective bottles of rotgut. Everything had settled back down to a relative state of normalcy all things considered,……I guess it had been about an hour.

    Just about long enough for the Mexicans to complete one lap of the circuit.

    By now the mangled D-R-L-H was back in full insult mode. To my amazement,…he must’ve said something to the Mexican because they were back on their mission to get into the parking lot. Between me and my friends, we wondered what the hell he must’ve been thinking after the beating he just took,…and as the Mexicans came into the parking lot,..opened the doors and headed at them at a almost run,..long hair #1 reached into the passenger side of the car, and produced a gun, which he promptly fires into the air.

    Now you have to understand that this was 1975. Hand guns were nowhere near as accessible as they are today. If you had one,….you were the hardest of dudes,…and when that shot rang out,…I figured it was the first of what could be many,…and as messed up as this guy was,…I wasn’t gonna be standing ringside for this fight this time.

    We scattered like roaches when the lights are turned on.

    We all took cover behind our cars,…and cautiously looked around when the gunfire we were anticipating,……didn’t happen. Once brave (or stupid ) enough to stand back up to see what was happening, I was able to watch the little Mexican hand drunk dude his final blow in the form of some kind of Chuck Norris wannabe round house kick. This time mangled dude was down this time for the count,…and the Mexicans were satisfied that they had thoroughly beat the hate outta these guys. I didn't ever find out what happened w/ the gun,..mainly because we were all hiding behind sheet metal after the first shot was fired. Somebody in the crowd said that it was actually a starter pistol. It could've been that, no more bullets, or a number of things, So I actually don't know what it was that put the Mexican back in control of the situation,.....All I knew was the gun was out of the equation,...and little dudes foot was back in. It ended when Both of the males were laying crumpled on the pavement, the & women were wailing,….It was like a cage match pay per view,…only for free.

    They Mexicans left down a side street.

    The gunshot was also all the DPD needed to flood the parking lot w/ several cruisers,….actually coming up the sidewalks to get around the traffic. The sight of all of those red flashing lights served as a chilling reminder of my experience of two hours earlier, and was all the incentive I needed,.. I and my two friends quickly got in our cars,……pulled back out onto one of the adjacent side streets,…and left the downtown cruise scene as quickly as we legally could. We didn't hang to see who got arrested,..I didn't care. I just wanted to get away from the red,....flashing,... lights.

    It was now close to midnight. A second experience in as many hours that should’ve served as a fair warning to just call it a night went unheeded. It was after all only midnight,…besides that we had yet to check out the local digs for some street racing action.

    We headed back east to Stapleton Drive where there had been street racing happening there since the 60's.

    It was also conveniently enough, on the way back home.
  15. So long hair shot a gun into the air, yet the Mexican still managed to get in one more roundhouse kick to the face??
  16. Now we gettin' to some meat, ....more popcorn please!!
  17. Aw, man, I know how this is going to end... Mike's gonna get beat by a Fairlane with a blower and a straight axle, thus starting his weird perversion for Futura Foxes. :rlaugh:
    stangboy likes this.
  18. Yeah,...I realized that I left that "important tidbit" out of the story.

    I didn't ever find out what happened w/ the gun,..mainly because we were all hiding behind sheetmetal after the first shot was fired. Somebody in the crowd said that it was actually a starter pistol. It could've been that, no more bullets, or a number of things. I don't know what it was that put the Mexican back in control of the situation, but the gun was out of the equation,...and little dudes foot was back in.

    So Just to make sense for anybody else reading it, I cut and pasted the above back into the story.
    Consider this is your "special excerpt" Just for you Scott.:nice:

    I guess you'll just have to wait and see Husky.;)
  19. And now for “the rest of the story“.

    I learned about Stapleton Drive from an old guy that lived up my street. (He was like 30 something at the time) He had a custom painted 66 Chevy II that I loved, and I had stopped by to compliment him. It was during the ensuing conversation that he told me he used to go there in the 60’s. Upon learning about it’s existence, I sought the place out, and had been going there every Saturday night for about the last year.

    It was no different than any other street racing destination for many of you,…..a warehouse district w/ a stretch of two lane black top long enough to run a full quarter mile and still have enough room to slow down after shutting down.

    Well,…….that isn't exactly correct……….The “two lane black top” at this particular racing venue just happened to be a frontage road that paralleled I-70.

    It wasn't uncommon for anyone traveling west on I-70 to look over on any given Saturday night and witness two cars traveling at about 100 MPH flying past them on that frontage road. In retrospect,….I’d think that must’ve been quite a distraction……but (again to my knowledge) there was never any related accidents on the interstate,…so in the moment none of us doing the illegal stuff thought anything about it.

    The cultural mix at Stapleton Drive was heavily weighted black to white. I’d say between 60/40 - 70/30 depending on the weekend. That was no big deal really,…everybody was cool, as we were all down there with the same purpose,….to race. There really wasn’t any “fast cars” by todays’ standards……..and if there was ever a “money race” it was always for 20.00 or so. The altitude was the killer. At a mile high,…most of the cars there would be lucky if they could click off a mid 15 second ET. I had become familiar w/ a lot of the cars that frequented the place,…and acted as a race pimp for a few of the regulars, when ever a new guy showed up.

    All of the cars weren’t that slow,..there were a couple of exceptions that regularly frequented the place:
    A bright red 440 6 pak Dodge Demon ( the one that had the little “Hot stuff” devil decal on it’s side)
    A pink ( yes,…I said pink) 1970 351 Cleveland Mach 1. Aptly named “The Pink Lady.”

    ( What can I say,……it was the middle 70’s…….people just weren’t right back then)

    I pimped races for these two guys whenever something new showed up,…..occasionally there’d be something that gave them a run for the money. Most of the time though,…..New dude got his money taken. I was even trusted w/ holding the purse,..( all 40.00 worth!!! ) All of this goes to say:
    It isn‘t like I was special or anything,…Just that I was recognized when I arrived.

    On this night,..the procession of mach 1’s did get noticed. I led the group, followed by the red car, w/ Eric's 390 green car bringing up the rear. Since we arrived so late,..the front lots were jammed,…so I went deeper down the street to one of the first parking lots that were empty at the back. We parked,…and walked around a bit to give the cars a chance to cool down . After talking w/ some of the folks, and after potential races were discussed,.... we gathered back at the cars and devised “our plan”.

    The plan was to see if Erics car was “All That” given it had the big block. Both Joe and I had raced each other before,..and neither car was especially faster than the other,..and this was the first opportunity to see if Eric could beat one of us. The plan was for him to just barely beat me,..and see if we could make ourselves some money, after all of the spectators sized him up.

    Our race was flagged by Joe,…and went exactly as planned. Since this was almost ¼ mile,..it was difficult to see who won,…so there had to be some adlibbing by me after we got back to reinforce that I got beat. He didn't have to fake anything really,...the 390 in Erics' car was walking away from me in high gear,..I was hoping that he hadn't blown our chances to make his car look not all that much faster because of it.
    When we returned to the parking lot I swung my car into the lot turning left and stopped it at what would be 2:00 O clock on the dial. Joe’s car was already parked the other way,…and oriented at about 10:00 O clock,….and the green car came in straight at 6:00. All three cars facing each other, forming kind of a equal leg length “Y.” We did this,.because I had two honkin’ aftermarket back-up lights fixed to the underside of my hood, switched off of the battery,,,and everybody could benefit from the light that was pouring out from under my hood.. Eric had asked me if he could borrow my cheese bag 3” velocity stack,….which I was more than happy to allow him to use.

    ( Guess we figured that his motor needed all of the thin mountain air it could breathe,..so anything we could do to help it out………..) Truth was, between the three of us at that time in our lives,…the stuff we knew about making a car go fast wouldn’t cover the back of a match book, So when compared to the stock snorkel air cleaner,…a velocity stack looked like it had to be good for some extra horsepower, so we passed that thing around between the three of us..

    Stapleton Drive ran perpendicular to the frontage road. It went under the interstate, and had a traffic light regulating the cross traffic from the cars that normally traveled down that frontage road that was now our drag strip. If you came under the interstate, and turned left at the light,…you’d be right at the starting line of the drag strip. Because of that, nobody ever turned left. Instead everybody went straight through the light, down the street lined w/ warehouses and their parking lots now filled with spectators, participants, and their cars.

    What happened next happened in all of 10 seconds:

    We heard what sounded like an engine rev,…a clutch get sidestepped,…and another car taking off for a solo test run down the track. This noise of course, causes all three of us to look up and take notice,…so that by doing so we could all see what was actually happening,…The car we were hearing wasn‘t going down the frontage road though,…it was coming down Stapleton drive......very fast. He came flying down past hundreds of people into the crowd. He realizes that he is going waaay too fast for what is a very congested area and panics,….stands on the brakes and begins to lose control The driver overcompensates for a skid,..and now the tires are screeching and smoking, the car is bucking and starts on some sweeping arc that was now heading straight towards us.
    He is now sliding full broadside,..probably at 30-40 MPH,... and does a reverse T-bone right into the back of Erics green car. It pushes his car 15’ and barely tags my hood. Joe’s car gets away completely unscathed.

    How each of us managed to not get sandwiched between at least one of those cars, I’ll never know. Matter of fact,…nobody got hurt. Scramsteads’ mach 1 was now folded up like an accordion,…..the entire rear a total mess. The Malibu that did all of the damage was completely trashed on the passenger side. My hood was rolled down about an inch at the point of contact, and Erics’ car and mine were still touching when the dust settled.

    After he had a minute to process what had just happened, Eric lost his s hit,…and started spewing all sorts of racial slurs targeted at the black driver of the Malibu. I took immediate notice of this,…as the crowd that had now gathered to see what had happened were all black as well. Eric,…in the heat of the moment was oblivious to this,…so I intervene,…put my left shoulder to his right shoulder,…and in my quietest spoken voice offer him this advice: Eric! STFU,..and look around. You need to watch yourself before you end up looking like your car.
    He’s still inconsolable,…..but I manage to get him calmed enough to go through the information exchange process w/ the guy in the Malibu. The info from the guy in the Malibu?


    Needless to say Malibu dude was not interested in an exchange of any kind,…and actually left the scene,…leaving his bent assed car behind.
    Scramstead’s new worry now turned from getting his car fixed,….to how he was gonna tell his father that he was in fact drag racing his car. He frantically was trying to figure a way to re-stage the crash at a completely different location,……an idea bubble that I quickly popped when I simply asked if he was gonna pay to have both cars towed to some other location,…pick up all of the glass, plastic and paint fragments, somehow scrape up all of the tire rubber the made a beeline straight to the ass of his car,…and scatter all that and reapply it somewhere else?

    He quickly though better of it.

    I advised him that I was leaving to find the nearest payphone ( I know right?) so I could call the cops so that he could get an accident report filed, and a criminal investigation started against his hit and run driver,…..(A plan that was not met w/ favor by anybody else standing around that heard me) I left nonetheless.

    After I made the call,..Joe and I waited with him until the cops came…( fortunately this was Denver,…not Aurora) I convinced Eric to give me his dads number, and I left again and called his dad and informed him that Eric had been in a wreck. ( His dad didn’t like me,…he considered me a “bad influence” on Eric) By the time I got back, the place was being flushed out by the presence of the DPD,…..Joe left as well.

    I stayed w/ Eric until I saw his dad pull up,…and I took my cue to leave at that time too.
    I drove the 15 or so miles home,…..going back the way I’d came,….careful to drive at exactly 55 MPH once I entered Aurora’s city limits. I got home at 2:30,…..got read the right act by my mom,…who by now had been contacted by the circle of parents.

    I never went back to Stapleton Drive after that, it was late in the summer, and there weren‘t too many Saturday nights left there to miss anyway. …Scramstead’s father had the car repaired,…and sold it in one fell swoop.To my knowledge Eric never bought another muscle car again.

    When it comes to cars,…you either are, or are not a car guy. Some people think they are, but just as quickly are done w/ the hobby after the one experience.

    I tell my wife that you are actually born that way,….that nothing will change that.

    Not even the threat of arrest,……the risk of getting shot,…or crushed to death by an idiot in a Malibu.