Published in the July 2021 issue of “Die Porsche Kassette”
Ⓒ2021 Technolab / PedrosGarage.com
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Recently, checking my social media accounts, I came up on a question that got me thinking about the past and brought memories of times gone by.
The question was: “On which car did you pass your driver’s test?”
Let me tell you a story. It’s completely true.
I was truly excited that morning as I recall.
It was finally going to be official; I was getting my driver’s license if I passed the test. I had had my learner’s permit but now I had just turned 17 which allowed me to obtain my driver’s license if I passed the written and driving exams.
I knew how to drive, and the actual driving part didn’t worry me since I’d been driving with my Dad for some years now, competing in AXs, Gymkhanas and even piloting his rally car with him as co-pilot in the Dominican Republic (DR) where we were living at that time.
My worry was more about the written part with all of the specific laws and regulations, you know: At what minimum distance should you follow a car on the highway?, What’s the maximum speed on a two-lane highway?, etc.
My appointment was for 2:00 PM that day.
I don’t recall the exact circumstances, but I remember that when I asked my folks if one of them could drive me to the DMV in their car so that I could take the test, something had just happened and they were all stressed out about it. After some tense silence, my Dad just said: “Take the rally car … and be careful!”
Wow, the rally car… to the DMV … for my exam! … Gulp!
This was a really cool and scary at the same time.
The rally car that Dad and I have competed in about half a dozen times was a white exterior with red interior, 3 year old Porsche 912 that was fully prepared as an off-road rally vehicle. A very light car, ultra competitive and with a powerful (modified) 1.6 liter engine and a 5 speed transmission, beefed up suspension, harnesses, and half a roll-cage. It was also very loud since it had a straight-tuned exhaust with no mufflers.
Right after lunch, I couldn’t wait any longer and took the car out to warm it up and after a few minutes, drove off to the DMV office. It wasn’t very far, probably less than 10 miles and I arrived quite early. I then went to the reception desk and signed myself in. The attendant told me that an instructor would be assigned to me and that I would be called when it was my turn, so I should just take a seat and wait.
It was just after 1:00 PM. The waiting area was hot and full of people waiting to be called for their test or other DMV-related issues.
I decided to not sit. I was too anxious and just stood by one of the windows to catch a little refreshing breeze.
After just a few minutes of waiting, one of the solid-wood doors to the multiple little offices that surrounded the reception lobby burst open with a loud bang and a rather large guy who I immediately recognize as the older brother of my close friends, the twins, shouts out: “I need help!” … “Can anyone drive me to my house NOW? It’s a life-or-death emergency!”
I instinctively raise my hand so he can see me and say: “I can drive you home Tony”. Tony rushes over me. I remember that his face was really red and swollen and he said to me in a raspy voice: “I has just stung by several bees … and I’m very allergic … and I don’t have my adrenalin shot with me … please take me home as fast as you can!”
I said: “Sure, my car is right outside”. I run over, unlock it and we both jump in. Tony is looking worse by the minute. Also being allergic to bee stings and other stuff and having recently been through an anaphylactic shock myself, I know how he’s feeling and also know that time is of the essence, so I need to get him home as fast as humanly possible.
Some of you may be asking yourself: “Why did this idiot leave home without his EpiPen and why did he not call 911?”
This happened in 1969. Neither 9-1-1 nor EpiPen existed yet and we were in the DR where ambulances were a gamble if you could find a phone that worked and a phone book to search for the number because dialing zero would get you nowhere.
Luckily, Tony and the twins didn’t live too far away. Probably about 8 Km (5 miles) or so. We were also lucky that it wasn’t 2:00 PM yet, when traffic would pick up again.
I was driving inspired and on a sacred quest. I was sure that it had been destiny that put me there with the rally car at that precise moment when Tony needed a fast getaway car. Thinking about it now, it’s kind of blurry, trying to recall all of the details. I know there were a few red lights run, multiple STOP signs that flew by as if they were painted green and said GO, and lane changes galore. Maybe even a couple of blocks up the wrong way just because it was shorter and would save time. I do remember a street vendor throwing a tomato at me when I scared the bejesus out of him as I drifted around a corner, missing his cart by inches. The sudden loud roar of the racing engine as I appeared around the corner must have been nerve racking for him. He must have been a baseball pitcher at some time in his youth because he hit my rear window square in the center with the splattering tomato as I sped away.
The ride was over quickly, 6 or 7 minutes since we’d left the DMV but Tony was really struggling. I turned into his driveway honking the horn and revving the loud engine. Tony’s Mom and Dad both came out as I was helping him out of the car. They took him in right away. I hung around to see if Tony would be OK. About 10 minutes later Tony’s Mom came out and invited me in. Tony, who now was much better after taking an adrenaline shot and some other medication, had told her that I saved his life. She was in tears and couldn’t stop shaking. Tony’s Dad also came downstairs with Tony who now looked and talked fine.
After a couple of minutes of thank you’s and hugs Tony said that we should get back. He assured us that he was fine and said he had a lot of work pending.
We got back in the car and made our way back to the DMV office at a much slower pace and taking another longer route so no one would recognize the car that had just made such a racket. I was also really concentrating on driving correctly and respecting the laws and signage as best as I could.
Sometime during our return to the DMV I mentioned to Tony that I had been at the DMV for my driver’s license tests and asked if he knew who my instructor would be and if he could help because I had probably lost my place in line. He said: “I was the instructor assigned to your test, and I seem to recall that you broke every single traffic law in the book … during a time when I must have been delirious, because I can see that you drive very well and you are very respectful of the laws and regulations. I am also very thankful that you were there, willing and able to help me. I’m pleased to tell you that as soon as we get back, I’ll fill out the paperwork and you’ll be an officially licensed driver”. That made me feel very happy.
Tony and I saw each other occasionally after that day but we never talked about our experience again. I had practically forgotten all about it until that question on social media brought it all back.
Well, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
As I said, the story is true, I just changed the names to protect the innocent.
Tony’s real name is not Tony and the rally car was not a ’66 white Porsche 912 with red interior, it was a ’66 white Alfa Romeo Giulia TI with red interior (there had to be Porsche content in the story, sorry).