Thursday, June 23, 2011


This is for James who thinks he wants to be a cop so he can drive fast.

My first chase occurred in Plumtree, North Carolina. It’s several miles north of Spruce Pine on US 19e which is, as so well said by a local guy, “Crooked as a barrel of fish hooks.”

I was sitting in my 1972 Chevy Nova at Junior Vance’s Store talking to a local bootlegger who was the current night watchman at the Tar Heel Mica Company. Clayton was quite a character that I really ought to tell you about. As we sat side by side in our cars, a load of Toe River Boys drove past us in a souped up (tricked out to you young guys) Camaro headed north on 19e. They went into the curve at the bridge over the North Toe sideways. Clayton cursed them and I spun my Nova around flipping the blue lights on, clearing the bridge just before their tail lights blinked out of sight in the next curve.

We were smokin’ in the curves and I was driving with all the skill my buddies in the State Highway Patrol taught me. I dropped my right wheels off the pavement to let them track around a left curve and straightened out multiple curves by driving right down the center of the road. My siren was screaming and I was smelling rubber.

I squalled around a curve just in time to see them head up Powdermill Road and I spun the rear around making the left onto the road. It was paved and by this time I was almost on the bumper. We ran out of pavement and spun onto gravel. The raised rear end of the Camaro slid from side to side. Even with the sexy wide tires, the gravel stole the power of the huge V8 under the hood.

The Nova crept up on them and we ran out of gravel. I heard the high grass on the mound in the middle of the tracks slapping the undercarriage and could barely see the Camaro for the dust. Then, without warning, the Camaro’s front end dipped, and the car ploughed through a creek. My little Nova dove in after them. We were out of road all together. I could see that the driver had to slow way down because the lowered front end was hitting rocks. I dodged them by weaving back and forth to ride the tires up on the rocks and stone ledges to keep the oil pan and transmission safe.

Finally, at a tiny ramshackle cabin with a bare bulb for a porch light, the Camaro driver hit the brakes, the doors flew open and they looked back at me with utter amazement on their faces. I ran them out of road as fast as they could go in a Nova 6 cylinder stock family car with lights, siren and radio installed by the sheriff. In all those steep curves, that fancy car was at a disadvantage because they messed up the suspension by changing it to make it look hot. The weight of the huge V8 was a hindrance on the rocky path and no help at all. But what the heck, what does thinking have to do with speeding? The whole thing didn't go quite 4 miles and lasted about 5-6 minutes. I'd say we never went over 50 miles an hour on those mountain roads. Big deal.

Wanna know why the fools ran from me to start with? One of the guys in the car was AWOL from the Army. I cuffed him, put him in the back of my little family car, backed all the way out to the gravel very carefully avoiding rocks and tiptoed the car through the creek, turned around at the school bus turn-around and headed for Newland earning 50 bucks from the Army for catching the little stup.



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