Growing up

why i’ll never again drive my car on a BMX track


It was Friday, March 13, 1992, and Chad and I had 30 minutes to kill before Trey would clock out at Kroger.  Next door lay Drakes Creek park, where I used to ride my blue Mongoose over the BMX track a few years prior.  I looked at that chunk of hilly, curvy dirt and knew The Digger had to go there.  I said nothing; I just stomped the gas and headed for the finish line.

The Digger crossed the finish line, went through a banked turn and then ascended he large table-top jump that would normally signal the conclusion of a hard-fought race to a bunch of pre-pubescent bikers.  When negotiated backwards in a 1980 Buick, however, it signaled the conclusion of an adventure for one 16-year-old idiot.  We were stuck.

Reverse didn’t work.  Forward with the steering wheel didn’t work.  I was screwed.

Chad volunteered to run back to Kroger and call for help.  I stayed behind.

There were no lights around the BMX track or in the park this Friday night, and no cars were coming or going.  Except one.  A big car.  Possibly a Crown Victoria?  Yes.

It was the fuzz.  A searchlight mounted on the driver’s side window illuminated the baseball fields and miniature golf course as the patrol car slowly traveled across the parking lot towards the bike track.

The searchlight came towards my car.  I dove behind a dirt ramp as the light passed over the reflectors built into the front and rear turn signals.

The cop parked next to the track and got out of her patrol car.  She pulled out a radio and told dispatch what she saw and read out the license plate.  At this point, I stood up from behind the jump and meandered towards the car.

Cop:  “Is this your car?”
Me:  “Um…yes ma’am.  I…uh…”
Cop:  “Where’s your girlfriend?”
Me:  “He went to the Kroger to get help.”
Cop:  “So y’all were back here ‘parking,’ hmm?”
Me:  “Um, no.  I just thought it might be fun to drive on the bike track.”
Cop (walking toward the car and looking underneath it):  “It doesn’t look like you did any damage; that’s good.”
Me:  “It’s a tough car.  American made.”
Cop:  “No, I meant the dirt track.  The Parks Department would certainly be charging you for any damage.”
Me:  “Oh, yeah.  I guess it’s fine.”
Cop:  “So, do I need to call your parents or a tow truck?”
Me:  “Tow truck.”
Cop:  “You got enough cash?”
Me:  “I….”

Headlights approached the park.  Then, another set.  And another.  Within five minutes, ten cars were parked next to the bike track.  Doors were opening and shutting.  My classmates were filing into the grandstands, whooping, hollering, clapping, and doing “the wave.”

Trey had not called for help.  Trey had called a couple of house parties.  Now everyone was coming to Drakes Creek BMX track to see The Digger and await the tow truck’s triumphant entry.

When the wrecker came and chained the Digger to its rear, the crowd erupted as if Dewayne Dotson had scored a touchdown for the Commandos.  I passed an Alabama cap through the crowd to collect the $40 fee.  I was feeling pretty good about getting away with this incident when Jerry Becker asked the cop, “So, are you going to give him a ticket?”

The cheers stopped.  My smile became a grimace.

Cop:  “I don’t b’lieve I will.  I think he’s been through enough tonight.”
Me:  “Thank you.  Thank you very much.”
Cop:  “What year are you anyway?”
Me:  “Junior.”
Cop:  “That’s great.  You’re going to have a fun year next year.  Look at all these friends!”
Me:  “Um, these folks came to laugh at me.”

The next Monday at school, the senior class president, whom I’d previously never met, stopped me in the hall.

“Aren’t you the guy who got his car stuck on the BMX track?”

Yes, I was the guy who got his car stuck on the BMX track.  But at least I didn’t have a mullet or take “standard” classes.

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  1. Pretty Bride

    I still can’t believe you tried to hide. From a chick cop.

  2. Where’s your girlfriend?
    He went to the Kroger.

    I used to off road in my jeep back in the day. Only got stuck once. It didn’t end as interestingly as this though.

    Miss’s last blog post..Weekly Winners [Dec28/Jan03]

  3. I remember you briefly mentioning this story before and now we finally get to hear the whole thing. It was worth the wait.

    “Um, these folks came to laugh at me.”

    We always do and we never go away unsatisfied.

    unfinishedrambler’s last blog post..My (adopted) sister doesn’t like ketchup

  4. I think it’s great that your cops take the public humiliation factor into account when determining whether to write a ticket. I don’t think they do that here… I’d probably rather take the ticket anyhow.

    Theresa B’s last blog post..Movie Review: Ironman

  5. Your friend rocks. I would have done the same thing.

    SciFi Dad’s last blog post..Buddy At Three Months

  6. avatgardener

    delusional dork destroys Digger down (at) the dirt. Dozens deploy, deride, deify. Dude!!!

  7. PB, I didn’t know it was a chick when I first hid! Only when I saw her silhouette.

    Miss, Chad was not a good girlfriend that night.

    UR, Good memory! I mentioned it in my “100 Things” post, I think. I figured the “rest of the story” needed telling.

    TheresaB, At the time, I had very little money and feared my parents, so I was happy with the humiliation.

    SciFiDad, Oddly enough, I still talk to Trey and Chad, friends I made in the mid-1980s as a boy. Maybe they do “rock” after all!

    AvatG, “Dude!” is right. Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking. But, I’m glad now that I did it.

  8. Mullet and standard classes. Classic.

  9. He so had mulletude. Saw him recently- not aging well.

  10. JimBob, Where are you from? Tennessee?

    Gin, Sorry to hear that. We actually became friends shortly after the conversation in the hallway. Not everyone can age as damned gracefully as I am, though.

  11. Hey, your friends are still laughing at you–you just can’t hear us in the blogosphere.

    prefers her fantasy life’s last blog post..If I’m a Hippie, I’m a Hi-Tech One

  12. Ah, the nostalgia of reading the love story of a young man and his torrid affair with his cars through High School..

    I love stories like these..

    Reminds me of some of the ones I’ve written on my blog..

    Great story!

    Jormengund’s last blog post..More tales for the New Year

  13. Go ahead and tell them Rat! You were in that dark park with another standard class taking boy….slumming it seems. I know you can’t resist a letterman’s jacket and “oatmeal” colored stocking cap (or was it an Iowa Hawkeyes Cap?). Might as well tell them that the two of you juveniles also stole a couple pints from Baskin’s Robbins after devouring two footlong meatball subs from Subway. You whore! You never even thanked me…ahem…I mean “him” for running all the way back to Kroger.

    The Figurehead’s last blog post..2008 Ironman Hawaii

  14. PrefersFantasy, For reals? And I thought y’all were laughing with me all this time. Poop.

    Jormengund, Clearly, I’m going to have to catch up on your highschool “car” stories then. Glad you could identify!

    Figurehead, Um, thanks for running to Kroger that night! And I can’t believe you brought up the stolen ice cream.

  15. ah, yes.. the dreaded Crown Vic…

    hey, at least you didn’t get a ticket. 😉

    You did bring back some great memories.. ah, the BMX track.. watching sweaty teenage boys ride around and show off.. without shirts. and of course sitting out behind the track with my friends while they hid in the bushes and smoked joints.. good times. Jr High was RAD.

    ChurchPunkMom’s last blog post..10×10 Things Tuesday.. My 100th Post!

  16. Awesome story! I do have to admit though, I wanted to hear more about the Moongoose. Did it have a Rotor on it? What about ODI mushroom grips? Axle pegs?

    Matt’s last blog post..Maybe It Aint All Bad

  17. ChurchPunkMom, Why is it that your stories always seem to upstage mine? Of course, I get to tell mine, while you only have enough space in the comments to reference yours!

    Matt, Thanks…maybe another post. I actually did not have any of those cool upgrades-it was a factory model. It was light, though, and fast.

    Jim, A cornfield? What were you thinking?

  18. Well, at least you didn’t damage the car.

    Ah, the wonderful things we used to pull with cars. I still remember trying to drive across a cornfield…

    Jim’s last blog post..The First Kiss and Other Stuff Too!

  19. “but at least I didn’t have a mullet or take “standard” classes.” Ouch.

    SSG’s last blog post..And a Happy New Year….

  20. Great story! And you must have been a total cutie to catch such a break from the cop. She didn’t call your parents or give you a ticket! That rocks.

  21. “It was the fuzz.”

    Do I even have to comment? hahaha

    Chris C’s last blog post..Dubious Distinctions and Other Awards

  22. I still can’t believe she didn’t give you a ticket!

    Hey, remember the car switcharoo at Beaver’s? I was not a happy camper when, as we all ran to different cars, you dashed for my car. I tried to follow you and then you lost me when you drove off into the fields behind the school! Until that day, I hadn’t realized that my Pontiac Sunbird could handle off-roading like that! Bastiage!

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