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Hagerty Employee

Never Stop Driving #5: Pure Terror on Four Wheels

Happy Friday, I've never been so scared sitting in a car as I was this past January in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Was I in Christine, you ask, the famously psychopathic Plymouth Fury from the Stephen King novel? No, it was a similarly devilish car known as a midget.

I have a friend we like to call AJ Jimmy as he was just one of those guys who could get in about anything and win.

First time he drove a stock car he won the main feature. Won in front engine rails and even took a 120K mile 1969 GP and won the weekend drag race event.

He had his chance to help with an All Star Spint car. For helping they decided to let him go out and run hot laps in practice. He was doing real well even coming off the corners with the front wheels in the air. Then it happened.

AJ got caught in a rut and the car high sided. Due to his skill he got it back on 4 wheels and drove it back to the pits. He at that point said I am done.

He was not so worried about crashing but he did not want to pay for the wing on the top and other damage a roll would do.

I have always said if I had a car that needed a driver he would be the first one I would call.

Hagerty Employee

Yeah to me those flips can be dangerous. There's just no crush zones in the cars.

It is not the flips but the stops like a pole that get ya. 

Flips in general are pretty tame. I have seen guys flip in practice and still make the main feature. 

Intermediate Driver

This perhaps a little off topic as far a midgets are concerned but not to apprehension/fear. Back in 1964 when I was 21 I took up an offer to act as a passenger on a racing sidecar outfit. Although we turned up for our first meeting trouble with the bike meant we were merely spectators but I was all fired up still. Two weeks later at our next race meeting everything was fine until we were in the assembly area waiting to pull out onto the track. Sitting on the chair surrounded by all the other machines blipping throttles with their drivers and passengers apparently completely unperturbed I was consumed with fear for what I was about to do and how dangerous it potentially was, particularly for a totally inexperienced novice such as I. At that moment I had a real longing for something mechanical to go awry so that once again we would not make the grid but I would have the opportunity to save face and not have to admit to being just plain scared.
However it was not to be and the marshal waved us all out on track and with a big gulp I grabbed the bar and we were gone, part of a jostling pack of screaming machinery, and I loved it! I did it for another four years until moving on to cars but I never lost that initial moment of apprehension before a race although later it was of not doing my best not of fear.
Hagerty Employee

That's next level crazy, lol. Can't imagine the trust you have to have in your partner.

Great story! Keep ‘em coming!
New Driver

Awesome. Reminds me of the first time I went rock crawling - scared but stoked to give it go. We did it by the light of moon to ensure it would truly be a white-knuckle experience.

Cars, have played a huge part of my life, like it has in yours. My kids are not crazy about cars but at least my eldest's first memory is blasting along in our e36 M3 listening to 'Music Sounds Better With You'. That Dakar Yellow II car now lives near you...keep your eyes out for it and keep up the great stories!
Hagerty Employee

Send him my way. I've got a four-door. Mine is silver.
New Driver

I have read a few of your articles and enjoyed them! My son and I have done road trips all over the country for the last 12 years so I understand some of your experiences. My son recently graduated from college and has a real job so his spare time for road trips will be more limited. He purchased a nice rust free BMW on one of our trips to Colorado (we are in rust belt Michigan). He has already put on a coil over suspension and is currently saving for and researching his upcoming LS swap into the BMW. I currently have a supercharged CTS-V with a few tweaks. I am a test engineer at GM and have been able to use some fun cars for some of the trips (Corvettes, CTS-Vs, etc.). Keep up the enjoyable stories! Thanks