It’s a warm, clear evening in Southern California, circa 1955, the stuff of pure chamber-of-commerce rhetoric for the chumps out there in Snow Land…and not at all unlike the beginning of a grade-B horror epic. Palm fronds clack rhythmically in the soft, balmy air…ripped wide open by the frightful whine of engines frantic. Teenage miscreant Hank Bechtloff is behind the wheel and he and his pal, Danny Tomich, are doing what their immediate culture demanded. It’s around midnight and they’re banging gears down Imperial Highway in a 1940 Ford coupe, running three-wide with a Jaguar and a motorcycle at more than 100 miles an hour. Just as suddenly, a couple of cops down range and heretofore invisible in the darkness and Hank’s red mist, crank up their gumball machines. Just as quickly, the lads throw out anchors. The motorcycle rider and his passenger flee the scene unopposed. The kids’ parents were not in the least bit amused, but at least the kids don’t go to jail. All these years later, Hank was somewhat philosophical about it: “The ’40 was a killer car until the ’55 Chevy came out. I could get them off the line, but then they’d come by… Read full this story
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