How difficult is it to flip a car? Success at this dubious endeavor might best be achieved with training. You don’t want to depend on happenstance in such matters.
However, I once climbed to the crow’s nest of the pirate ship in Tampa Bay, just in time to see some guy lose it on the Bay Drive. I’ve never seen a better triple flip, even in the movies. He was airborne. I wished I had a camera. Nothing bounces quite like a car. It was spectacular.
And amazingly, everyone walked away from it. Pretty good, for an amateur.
Then, the time my boss’s daughter wrecked the company van. She hit a telephone pole, twenty feet above the pavement. How did she do that? Luckily, she was unscathed.
They always call it an accident, but I think you almost have to be trying. It isn’t that easy.
Driving on ice takes a particular skill. In high school, a friend hit an ice patch just as we entered the first bend of a dog leg at the base of a hill. That ’58 Caddy spun 180 degrees and miraculously didn’t collide with anything. We just drove back up the hill, turned around, and tried again.
What a way to wake up. I rolled onto the floor in the back of the old Buick. All I could see was a spray of mud, sod and uprooted trees flying by.
We slid to a stop. Upright. We didn’t flip. Life is full of surprises when driving 70 mph, in a snowstorm.
Just hours out of Minneapolis, heading east, it was Easter break. My friend Paul and I were accompanying our high school buddy, Jim, to New York City for an acting audition. Paul and I had no agenda, except to not get arrested, or killed. So far, so good.
Jim got the car going again, slammed it into drive and, followed by a rooster tail of mud, we made our way off the grassy meridian and back onto the freeway.
It’s embarrassing to go careening off the freeway like that. I didn’t sign up for a demolition derby.
When we got to Newark, we stopped at a pay phone to call his cousin Ed for directions. Jim repeated them, I wrote and read them aloud, as we drove. We turned right and passed a cluster of young scholars, stripping a car.
We were driving in circles. We passed the group again. They watched us as we drove slowly by, watching them.
We were lost, and the natives did not look friendly. The third time we drove past, the car was abandoned. That club of Future Mechanics of America didn’t know who they were dealing with. Hah!
We found our way to cousin Ed’s three story townhouse. Bars were on all the windows, including the third floor. One of us guarded the car as we unloaded. Ed also had us remove the car’s battery, and bring it inside. Ed was not paranoid. It’s hard to steal a car with no battery.
Before taking the train into ‘the city,’ Ed’s wife fried up a monumental breakfast of pancakes and eggs. Every time I cleaned my plate, she doubled the serving. Our trio must have consumed two dozen eggs and at least as many pancakes. She only stopped cooking when we left the table.
The park near the subway station was festooned with graffiti, compliments of a group identified as the ‘Pythons’. I don’t think they were the ‘Monty Pythons’.
That night we saw a concert at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East. Emerson, Lake & Palmer headlined. The bands, It’s a Beautiful Day, and Curved Air warmed up. Amazing show.
We got back late. Ed picked us up at the station, saving us a walk through ‘Python Park’. He took us on his personal tour, indicating the points of interest in the historic city of Newark; where a politician’s body was found, the mob bar, the front, the bridge built with inferior concrete, where so-and-so was murdered, where what’s-his-name was kidnapped… All the touristy spots.
We hit the road again, north to Montreal, a most beautiful city. We re-entered the U.S. at the upper peninsula of Michigan with only a small hang-up over having no proof of citizenship. Who brings birth certificates?
A week into the trip, we were on two lane blacktop. Paul drove while Jim slept in the back. Spotting a gas station, Paul hit the gravel drive too fast and lost traction. We yelled “Hang on!” The car slid sideways and landed in the narrow ditch, hung up at each end by the bumpers. All four wheels hung free, like in a cartoon. With no ladder handy, we had to jump to the ground.
But we didn’t flip the car.
Occupants of the nearby tavern emerged to offer advice on our predicament. “Looks like you overshot the turn.” “Could you do that again?” “Planning on staying awhile?” “You can’t park there, you know.”
With the tow truck driver paid, the gas tank filled, and the car undamaged, we resumed our journey home. No one died. We kept tires on pavement, the rest of the way home.