The First Night Prowl
It was a Late May evening sun just going down – Coolness was
in the late spring air.
Most of the delicate pink peddles had fallen off of the Tulip tree
in the yard where Jacques kept the New Yorker caged, the ones that
were still clinging on were about to be vibrated off!!!!
My best friend Jim was over, he and I walked to see Jacques who
was doodling under the hood of his rocket. He popped up his head
when he heard us approaching. I should have notice that wicked grin
that held the butt to lips that he was up to something. “Hey
you Hoodlums ” Want to go for the shake down cruise?
To me it short of sounded like something I had read about in a
naval book about sea trials. In this case it was sounding more like
the "Great German Battle ship Bismarck" that was much
feared in the early years of World War II going for its first shake
down cruise, to test out its main battery of Big Guns ! Jump in!
“Light My Fire” by the Doors was playing on Radio Station
WABC through the New Yorker’s Mopor AM Radio Sound System
which was turned up to "High Volume" status.
Just before I could jump in the back seat, Jacques shouted an order
to me! “Give the Beast Its “Nitro Cough Medicine"
Jacques had me squirt a full dose of Starting Ether into the Air
Cleaner of the big AFB Carter Carburetor.
“ Light My Fire”
Time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire
Try now we can only lose
Try to Set the Night on """FIRE"""
“Ignition Sequence Start”
Jacques looking serious placed his thumb on the Start Button on
the Master Control Panel
\\ Mashed It //
The Big Hemi snorted it and stirred to Life
Immediately the torque flexed the chassis side to side flexing
the Torsion Bars in the front suspension proclaiming it was alive
I closed the massive hood and realized that this was the moment
Jacques had been waiting for these last 4 weeks and Jim and I were
now going for the first real ride in his so called Super Car?
A Hazy Green Blue Glow came from the Dash Boards twin circular
clusters housing the vital needles that vibrated oh so slightly
from the explosion detonations resonating from the massive cylinders
churning from the engine room…..
The Smile on Jacques face became more cynical now and he took a
long drag from the Winston perched at the corner of his mouth and
let it out in a smooth long cloud ending it with a POP! Sound.
(A quote: from the Movie Top Gun comes to mind “I Feel The
Need for Speed)
Jacques Punched in the first command via the Push Buttons on the
Command pad situated on the left side of the dash.
The Command was immediately sent to The “Torque flight Transmission”
– “First Gear – Take Off”
The Torque was then transferred to the posi-traction rear end that
distributed the torque equally to both axils shafts connected to
the big Firestone’s. The explosive power distorted both tires
by the rapid transferring of power, which cause them to flex under
great strain and releasing the rapid turning power to the ground.
A violent flurry of loose gravel sprayed outwards like the thrust
coming out of a rocket’s exhaust, digging a twine trenches
in the parking lot floor as the big Car lunged forward towards the
gated fence. Jacques quickly hit the brakes and stopped inches from
going right through the gate!!!! I guess he was just checking his
reaction reflexes that he will be needing later on that night!
I was sure impressed as I got out again to swing the gates fully
opened to let the lion out, the back part of the yard was full of
dust and smoke from the pre launch. WOW! I thought to myself looking
at the twine furrows that were just dug up, this beast can really
chews up the pavement, What Power!
The Car leaped with the slightest touch of the gas pedal as Jacques
pulled it totally out of its slip. I quickly closed the gates and
jumped into the back wondering what the owner of the yard would
say when he sees his yard and the trenches next day?
With a Quick Flick from the suicide knob on the steering wheel
Jacques aligns the Bow of the New Yorker to it’s destination
heading North towards Central Ave!!!! Now on 11 Street black top,
The Firestone’s Chirped with a twin Clean Burn of black rubber
as a signature of our departure into this night.............
I was feeling a bit uneasy as we sped to the first stop sign at
the end of our street. (Jacques never had the Seat Belts installed
as I wanted them to be – That was Jacques Philosophy “What
Stopped….. Cleared the first Stop sign and on to the next
longer block that seem to beckoning to apply more speed.
As we were all being pressed into our seats by the forward thrust;
Jacques blurted out “4000” (“4000” was Jacques
code word when he was about to lose all sensibility)
We went through the remaining blocks leading to Central Avenue
like a Rocket going through and shedding its booster stages.
Each block was jettison faster and faster ---
It was going to be a wild ride – My Stomach was getting that
tight nervous feeling ---
The “Granny Syndrome” had fully taken over my nervous
Jacques Started cruising the Ave.
I tried to strike up a conversation to settle Jacques down.
All of a sudden Jacques sees something ahead.
He starts waving in and around slower traffic ahead of him.
(Sort of like a Cheetah weeding out the heard looking for a kill)
I spotted it a half a block ahead, slowing down for the changing
It was a Sleek Low to the ground fully decked out 1960 White Pontiac
Bonneville. This thing looked wicked and loaded with all the right
do-dads, Rear fender skirts – Twin Antennas on the back trunk
- Side Pipes, Spinners on all four wheels and the Lettering Flanking
the front quarter panel in Black reading RESPECT!
Its Gloss white Paint "Glisten" in the Florescent lights
from the Ave.
It was the “Millennium Falcon Star Cruiser”
To Myself I said NO! Not this car!! It going to make Jacques ride
look like a "Hay Wagon"!
It’s gleaming shinning profile, it’s low to the ground
grouse and the sweet sound resonating from it’s twin side
pipes had me convince that this car might be too much to take on.
I then looked at Jacques to see if he did not notice this challenge.
Jacques went from a mild manner Clark Kent to this Street Gun Fighter.
A serious look came to his face – His Thick Black rimmed glasses
looked like Phase Array Radar that had locked in on the Bonnie.
As we pulled up right next to the Bonnie door handle to door handle
I looked at my buddy Jim – acknowledging It was on!
The Challenge was being pressed on to our opponents in their Shinny
Bonnie on Central Ave
Before going on here’s the perspective
The two black gentleman in the Pontiac, I’m sure did not
expect to be challenged in Newark on Central Ave, by a white boy
and two young punks on a Friday night! Mind you these two cars were
full size blue collar behemoths Both were from guys from a hard
life section of town – each with their own attitudes!!! Unlike
some young rich white suburban kid whose Daddy bought him a brand
New GTO or the like.
(Sure! A New “GTO” would have eaten these two cars for
This happening was happening in a city that had months left to live.
Probably the last time a young white kid from the inner city faced
down a black man who was just trying to make his mark in his new
town, before all hell broke out in July of that Summer.
The Gentle man in the Bonnie had his arm sort of resting on the
edge of door. "Thinking" I’ll blow away this joker
and my shinning Vista Shine Paint job will never see the reflective
image of this faded blue Bomb next to me Again! His bring it on
looks convinced me that he might be right!
Jacques Now became JACK – His every move was orchestrated
for the show down.
Lock and Load / Lets Rock
The Big Chrysler had it’s tires planted and locked as Jack
fed the big four barrel fuel and held down the brake pedal. The
revs from the Hemi embraced and flexed the whole body
---------- GREEN Light!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I Looked at the Bonnie as it was stepping out, then like a Navel
Jet catapulted from a Aircraft Carrier, The New Yorker unhooked
and lunched with full ferocity…………………………………..
Jacques had a Slight grin like he knew his car would trounce that
hyped upped Bonny like a Cheetah running against a Bob Cat. No Contest!
Jacques Punched in each Power Shifts from the Push Button command
Each Shift felt like an other stage of the rocket was firing –
“Jolting” and bring in more “G” forces of
accelerating Thrust of Power
I was being pushed against the back seat hard from the “G"
forces being generated by the Big Hemi. I had ridden on a lot of
fast roller coasters in my youth, but never had I felt the accelerating
G’s like this, that this sled was producing.
The New Yorker was doing its thing just like a Good Hunting Dog
would do for it’s Master No hesitation, Just a Go Get em attitude!
My head swung back as I saw the big Pontiac giving it’s all
but fading and falling away fast from the New Yorker’s Rear
wayward angled Big Red Back Tail Lamps ………………………………………………………………………….
When Jacques left his challenger in the dust he applied the brake
to scrub down the G’s thus reeling in the Big New Yorker down
and descending like a twin engine high tail naval jet compressing
down on a flight deck of a Carrier for a landing. The Heavy Front
End eased back down and the torsion bars on the suspension did their
job and leveled it out back to its normal motoring stance. The Big
Hemi spooled down and “Purred” like it was satisfied
We all “Screamed” like school boys at a Prep rally
-- “We Smoked Him Soundly”
Borrowing a Line from Tom Cruise from the Movie Top Gun Yaaaaahoooooooo
What a Ride !!!! ”
Victory Number One and I was a believer.
Jack was happy and like a fighter pilot having shot down his first
foe he decided to bring the New Yorker back to its base camp.
We stayed up most of the night smoking and just reliving the first
encounter. We retold it over and over just as you would rewind a
film and relive it again and again.
Deep down inside I knew in a couple of days I would have to under
go another life treating operation and not knowing if it would be
my last. Thinking back to this first race I think my brother wanted
to have me experience something real exciting before I went in for
my operation. It certainly give me a will to look forward to go
through with it and come back to enjoy more adventures in the New
Yorker on the streets of Newark. It was certainly something that
helped me be brave and go through with it.
One thing was clear, all the attributes (The some of all its parts)
of the New Yorker that Jacques had bestowed on me the very first
day he got it, all worked. – Just like the Famous Austin Martin
DB5 Car did in the early 007 James Bond Movies.
Werner Von Brown: The Father of the US Space Race would have stated:
It was" A Perfect Launch".
Being with my brother Jacques was like going on an adventure with
Errol Flynn never know what to expect and having a blast. Something
I could never have done with out him.
You might have had faster races in your life but to me That Night
in that Time In That City with That Car my brother and my best friend
it is one of those treasured moments that made youth so special
in remembering then…………………………………………………………..
John Desranlesu is a Car Show Photographer.
You can view his work at: