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Hagerty Employee

Lou Rawls, "Tobacco Road", and the night my father crashed the SS Chevelle | Hagerty Media

The song was "Tobacco Road" by Lou Rawls, and in those Saturday afternoons before Dad crashed his '69 Chevelle SS 396 convertible in a street race, he'd leave it on the record player to spin again and again. We started every weekend by cleaning his car inside and out.
Intermediate Driver

Enjoyed the story. Hope we get to read part 2 some time.

I grew up in a small town outside of Youngstown, Ohio. We also had a white street racing scene and a black street racing scene, but I think we mixed a lot more than the bigger cities. Unfortunately for me, most of the fun ended before I was old enough to drive and by the time I owned a car worth running, all of the folks involved were long away from the scenes. I'm definitely interested in seeing more of these stories.
Pit Crew

Great story telling, bring on more!
Intermediate Driver

Great story

The photos make it even more real. Beautiful people in beautiful clothes posing beautifully with beautiful cars.

“Betty would pour the men VSQ brandy into tumblers, never more than two fingers’ worth at a time, and they’d sip it slow.
I don’t know how exactly Dad totaled that Chevelle.”

I wonder...

Great story; glad he survived to add to it.

Great story with a good history lesson! How quickly times change. Thanks for enlightening those of us who couldn't get in on things like street racing!
New Driver

Hey Douglas, read your story over here in Germany and loved it. Even though we do have a lot of trouble in the moment with irresponsible street racers here, I think it must have been a great time over in the US then. And Lou Rawles was always a favourite of mine. Had him on the 8-track all the time then - but the car was a 1200 beetle bright orange. They had told me it was the right colour for student who had just gotten his license ... I'm too waiting for part 2 of you story.

Great story, thanks for sharing your memories of your dad! I look forward to your next article.
Advanced Driver

Just like the "two fingers of VSQ brandy", your story has fired a thirst that requires more "fingers, LOL"! I really enjoyed reading it!! 🙂
Intermediate Driver

Fantastic memoir-ette, Douglas! Our love of cars ties all of us together, nor matter our social or cultural background. But you tell it like it is, too; and only a fool would pretend that the racial divide wasn't (and still isn't) a hard thing to cross--no matter that what mattered to all of us--black brown or white--was our love of the Detroit muscle scene of that wonderful brief and vanished era.

And kudos to you, Hagerty, for your thoughtful publishing of these articles by and/or about African Americans in the car scene.

Maybe--maybe--someday, it really won't make a difference what the color of our skin is.

Thank you for reading, and for your kind comments! There's more on the way.
Pit Crew

Those were the days Oh Yeah At 19 a new 69 GTO was my first car (drove my dad's 66 Beaumont before that) It went well back in the day for a small V8 but the Goat took the cake. Rule was take it easy in town, If you want to go fast, stay in the country. Many a night we toured out the county road to the local 1/4 mile. Got away with it for a few years until somebody squealed and the cops started parking out there. Back then we had lots of events for young folk, not like today. Didn't know how good we had it !!!!!!!!!!!! Best night was when I whooped my buddies Ram Air Gto 3 times out of 3-----(tricky when I had no positraction and he did / with a 3.91 gear) Don't think my GTO came the stock cam. He traded his a month later. Ha Ha Those were the days
Intermediate Driver

Love the story! And the pix remind me of old family pictures as well. Thanks so much for sharing!

Nice pix. And Lou Rawls...what a voice that man had! Your dad sounds like mine was, about keeping cars clean. Dad would even wash his car in the winter when it was under freezing, by washing the side in the sun, then turning it around.
Pit Crew

That was a great story and Lou Rawls' Tobacco Road gets much play in my vehicles today! I especially like the monologue that precedes it. Loved the pictures by the way!
New Driver

Back in the late 60s, my Dad and a friend of his had almost identical red 67 Chevy II Novas. One was a 2 dr post and the other was a hardtop. My Dad's had a 283 and his friend's had a 327. They used to cruise the local strip in our hometown in my Dad's car and elicit drag races. They then would go get his friend's car and proceed to kick some butt. My Dad told that story all the time and that was his favorite car of all of the ones he owned in his life. He was dating my Mom at the time and one night he put it in a ditch while she was with him. He had it repaired but it was never the same, so he sold it. My next dream car is to find one and make a replica of the one he had with pictures I have of it. My first dream car that I finally got 9 months ago after wanting one for 27 years is my 69 Chevelle SS396 L78 coupe with factory Winters aluminum heads and intake. My Dad knew about this dream but never lived to see it to fruition. He would have loved it. I definitely got my love of Chevy/GMs from him!


Thank you for the well told story Mr. Madden .

Back in 1969 I was just another kid on a farm, I had saved a rusted out 1959 Ford F100 pickup and made it road worthy...

How I envied those who could afford real cars ! .

Please share more of your stories .

Pit Crew

Great story, I was 10 in 1969 and a car guy just like my dad! We didn't have the money to invest in any kind car except 4 door family cars (1967 Olds Delta 88 4 door hardtop, great car and my first one, too?) our family car, but dad drove about 25 miles one way to work every day, so he tried just about everything one could imagine as our 2nd car. He had a 1973 Datsun pickup, a 1955 Ford 4 door with a straight six and 3 on the tree, but my favorite 2 were a 1964 Corvair 110 with a 4 speed (not fast but my dad had the "cool car!") and he bought a 1974 Subaru, bright yellow and it was front wheel drive (unheard of back in 1976!) It was super fun to drive, had A/C and I drove that thing hard, even "drag raced" it a couple of times! I grew up in a small town in SW Oklahoma, we had one sheriff SO we teens would make sure we knew where he was and go out to the "Quarter" which was no more than about a 1/4 mile of asphalt a couple of miles out of town. Those were the days!! Miss a lot of our former cars and my COOL DAD! (in fact one of my bucket list items is to find a comparable '67 Olds 4 door hardtop with that sweet running 425! By the way, I drag raced that one a lot, too!

The family had some cool cars. It was a nice story. Love to hear more.

Here, here on waiting for part two!