The Last Flight of the New Yorker Part Ten

by John Desranleau


Highway to the Danger Zone

Revvin' up your engine
Listen to her howlin' roar
Metal under tension
Beggin' you to touch and go
Highway to the Danger Zone
Ride into the Danger Zone
Headin' into twilight
Spreadin' out her wings tonight
She got you jumpin' off the track
And shovin' into overdrive
You'll never say hello to you
Out along the edges
Always where I burn to be
The further on the edge
The hotter the intensity
I'll take you
Right into the Danger Zone

The New Yorker can be seen daily in one of the Garage bays of the Esso gas Station on the Corner of 9th street and South Orange Ave.
Normally the New Yorker was on a lift slightly off the ground with its hood opened and wires running inside the engine bay that were attached to the Sun Tune up Dialysis machine. From the street the green mini vacuum tube monitor can be seen displaying the engine vital signs and Jacques like a laboratory scientist bending over adding parts and doing adjustments to the Hemi.
It became an obsession with him, tinkering and testing getting the engine to its optimum calibration of getting every ounce of power that could be had. He installed the very best parts he could get.
Points – Rotor – Cap - Spark plugs, oil and filter were changed weekly.
(Brakes shoes were replaced every two weeks)
He treated his car like a corner man took care of a prizefighter. He used special fuel additives that boosted the already high-grade octane gasoline to even higher BTU rating of power. (Today it’s called juicing the engine – short of Rocket fuel that produces higher horsepower and cleaner burns) – Jacques always thought outside the box. He was a genius when it came to automotive machinery.
All this was preparation for street racing – making sure the New Yorker was ready for any challenger. Jacques had made friends at the station and got total privileges of the service bays and tools. The New Yorker was getting faster and more powerful by the week.

He was now racing mainly on the side streets of Newark late night / early morning after returning from his job at Tuscan Dairy. Like a known gun fighter he had lots of challengers – there was not a night that he would not find a willing contestant.

I would often hear the Hemi roar from my bedroom late at night when Jacques was taking on another challenger on one of the side streets by our house. It would always give me that nervous feeling of not being there with Jacques so I could be his conscience telling him not to take so many chances…..

When he would race down our street he always beeped his horn on the flyby by our house and I always listened to hear if he made it safely down to the end of our block.
I think today that is why I still have a nervous stomach!
Every morning I would go down to his bedroom in the basement and listen to make sure he got in. Then I would go outside to check on the New Yorker to see if it was in one piece. Their was never a dent on it – some glazing glance marks were on the side of the front bumper probably from scraping close to a parked car during a hot side by side race. Jacques relied on his driving skill more than he did on his brakes.

We lost one of our protégés, James Connelly; he went down the shore for the summer so that left just us two.
Jim had gone with Jacques solo several times and witness some pretty crazy street racing – all of them Fast – Wild and Unforgettable

(I guess that’s where Jim got the bug to Street race in Newark around Grove St in the early 70’s with his own Chrysler Product-- the potent 340 Plymouth CUDA)

The weeks go by. Now it’s Late June
By then Jacques lost his parking rights in the Coral – I knew it was just a matter of time – he apparently, one night, on a power take off test crashed right thru the gates which caused the owners hunting dogs to run away – that was it – that was Jacques! Now he had to park his prize either on the street or at the Esso Gas Station.

My Last Ride

One night Jacques asked me to go to work with him at Tuscan.
We did the Mr. Tuscan Truck in record time and we were heading home around 3 am – I was real tired. Jacques jump on the Parkway – He was cruising at a petty good clip but staying under 70. All of a sudden (Yea! you knew this was coming up) a dark green 67 Chrysler Newport pulls right along side us!The Parkway was empty. The guy in the Green Newport now pulls ahead, Jacques stays even with him. Now we are doing around 85 and it becomes a race to see who had the Faster Top Speed car.

Neck and Neck this race is going-- Jacques New Yorker is steadily pulling away One two three four ten cars lengths now and still pulling away.

All of a sudden Red lights come on blinking from the challenger grill Oh O – it’s an unmarked State Trooper Cruiser! Jacques is surprise but still keeps accelerating and had all the intention of out running him and getting off the next exit. – Like Robert Mitchum in Thunder Road

Being that I (Granny) was with him, I convinced Jacques to obey the law and to pull over…….

The State police car pulled in back of us, out jumped this young trooper who looked like Barbie's boy friend Ken and goes right to the front of the car and asked Jacques to step out and open the hood. The Neatly dressed officer was a real trooper kidding around with Jacques saying “I could not believe this bomb could out run me What kind of motor to you have in this crate?
Jacques educated him about the Hemi and he was totally impressed and let us go with out even a warning – a real great guy!

One note: The State Trooper’s Newport had 440 Police interceptor engine and still the Hemi Won - at high speed it was unbeatable – just ask Richard Petty

I was so glad that the Trooper did not give us a ticket and this would be the big excitement of the night. Good-- now we can go home to sleep – (I was not a night person)This was not in Jacques plan since this was his normal waking hours and the night was still young and he wanted more action. He starts going up and down the side street of our neighborhood.
I said to myself if he goes by our house that’s were I’ll get off.

Not so quick, he spots a Red 65 Buick Wild Cat on the corner of our block 11th.
He quickly pulls up to the Wildcat – Come on I said lets just go home! – For-Get-About-It! Jacques goes into the Jack mode and signals the guy in the Buick” you want to go for it look”. The heavyset middle-aged black guy nods and looked forward meaning let’s go! Both take off heading down 11th street cars are line up on both sides of the street making it a real tight frightening race. I was frozen with fear as the race went from mild to wild and there was no letting up. Just the sound of two powerful engines exhausting out rumbling thunder into the night air was scary enough not to mention the parked cars on either side that formed a deadly steel wall with about 6 inches of space clearance!!!!
I felt my life was about to end if the slightest mistake was made as we were now going about 80 MPH down this canyon of death heading for the intersection and stop sign at the end of the block. The Buick made a good account of itself – but in the end the Hemi ruled. Both cars barely made the full stop at the corner and push on toward the longer block ahead of us this time Jack left the Wildcat pawing after us but never catching our tail fins..
We turned down off at the next intersession.

Street racing was not a long drawn out race it was over in a matter of minutes if the other guy car pulled away from you after giving it your best shot, you lost – its over

I said to Jacques let me off here I’ll walk home –(Very bad area) I was willing to take my chance cause I never wanted to be in a car race like that again – It was the hairiest race I’ve ever been it – not because of the speed but because there was no room for error and racing with object (parked cars) flying by you as if you were being shot out of a cannon was more than I could take - never again!

Jacques like the thrill of racing, he got off on it and not even showing the slightest bit of fear he always had the smile of victory as if to say one more down and calmly lit another cigarette and asked me nonchalantly well how did I like it? Like are you ready to do it again – NO!He got his Adrenaline Rush and I was ready to be admitted to Graystone

That was the last time I rode in the New Yorker

Late June Now
My family had gone to Canada for Vacation

Jacques and I were to guard the house while they were away – little did they know that everything was about to change forever……………………….
Now I was working every day to support myself selling Pretzels – to me it was great now that I could buy food I normally did not have at home such as real butter. I’d come home at around 5
I would wake up Jacques around 7 if he were still asleep so he could go to work.
He was not racing as much anymore – he told me one night he was racing a guy that had a 58 Chrysler Windsor (A step down from the New Yorker) that also had a Hemi and that race ended with the Windsor failing to made a stop at an intercession and it ended up in a very bad crash

July 11 – The Last Flight

Got home everything was normal. Jacques was still asleep. I tried getting him up around 7 but he wanted to sleep some more so I planned to wake him up at 8:00 I went outside to check on the New Yorker as I normally did, because I hadn’t done it in morning.
Normally he parked it on the street near our house I walked to and from the corner – no car. Ah it must be at the Esso – although he hadn’t taken it there for weeks now that he had beat all the cars around and the street racing was not an everyday pursuit anymore..
I checked anyway – nope - I then walked around our block checking – no car. I got home and ask Jacque where did you park your bomb? He said groggily near the corner’ I thought maybe I missed it and went out again to both corners. I came back and said it was not there.
WHAT are you sure - Yes I said as he stormed out to see for himself. He came back with a disturbed look it’s gone. I said call the Esso maybe you parked it there and it is behind the garage – called = no.
Jacques now called the police – they were over pretty quickly. The two officers were taking down the information when one of the office asked again What color was your car? Jacques answered Blue and white. The officer said that an accident was just reported that just happen on South Orange Ave. Jacques was very upset and could not believe it and had me get him the bottle of aspirin, which he then swallowed about 10 of them!!!! The officer was very cordial and said they were sorry to be the barer of bad news.

I quickly went out and ran up the avenue to see if I could find the scene of the accident.
I saw red lights swirling and people standing in front of the Blue Ribbon restaurant that was right across the street from the Pabst Brewery. As I got there Jacques Car was not to be seen – could this be the accident the police described? Looking at the carnage, one car was crashed right into the front of the restaurant and had pushed the front counter almost into the back wall in front of the place. A second car with both its rear and front end totally smashed in was resting on the side walk, a third car was being hooked by a tow truck looked like it was also part of accident. Several parking meters were bent to the ground like they were plastic straws. Glass was everywhere so was the tire marks and various car fluids spilled out in front of the joint like bloodstains of a crime scene. I asked a bystander what happened; he said a big car slammed in back of a Pabst beer truck and then crashed into the park cars sending the second parked car through the front of the restaurant. He then said the driver of the blue car pulled away with his badly damage car and left the scene. All my body hair was now standing on edge as I looked around at the whole picture, it looked like a scene from a Godzilla movie after he had paid a visited Tokyo. One thing was for sure the New Yorker Limped away – seeing all of the damage it hardly seem possible that it was still drivable I left total shaken and feeling very sad for Jacques. I ran home and told him what I had seen He just replied F---- it! and left the house to go I presumed to work. Jacques was not an emotional guy no matter what happen he just shrugged it off. I too did not think about it and just went to bed – sleeping a little bit soundly knowing Jacques was not racing tonight.

The Next Morning July 12 was a sunny day I walked up South Orange Avenue to meet up with my boss JR on Speedwell Avenue. As I got closer to the scene of the accident I tried to piece what happened that caused the accident, I saw long black tire skids heading toward the restaurant presuming it was the New Yorker trying to stop from hitting the Pabst truck? More skid marks on the sidewalk and stains from engine coolant and transmission fluid. It was like walking on hollowed ground and with a gasp looked at it again in the day light. The Blue Ribbon restaurant was closed and covered with greenish gray heavy canvas sheets with the Newark Police insignias printed on them. I peered behind them and saw the smashed counter and there was still glass on the floor. Again very eerie

This was almost like a premonition of what was going to take place on all the avenues of Newark this coming night. Newark was also going to crash!!!!!!!I went and sold pretzels all day blocking the sorrow of losing the New Yorker – living in Newark at the time you never focus on the negative because there was always so much negativity that was going on all around. I had enough to think about just trying to survive on the streets and staying alive.

The next day (the morning after the first night of the Riot) I was rescued by my boss JR the pretzel man and saw my entire city trashed, many Cars were crashed into the store fronts to gain access to the bounty. Glass and debris smoke and fire – horrible – I had enough.

The little joy of the New Yorker while it was king of the street only temporally masked the problem that was going on in Newark prior to July 12 and that was gone also

I washed everything that had to do with Newark out of my mind and spent the rest of the Summer in beautiful Canada/Vermont – God had saved me.

In September returning home I talked to Jacques for the first time since the night of the accident, he said that the New Yorker was found abandoned a few blocks from the scene of the accident and ended up in Dewey Police Garage wreck pen down Neck. The mounting storage fees were not worth paying to recover it. Jacques had gone down and looked at his prize, throw down the bill of sales like a death certificate and just walked away – closing out this chapter of his life in Newark forever. Newark was dead and so was the New Yorker. July ‘67 was both their last flight..

I think maybe the New Yorker was heading West that faithful night just trying to get away like most of the other inhabitants had done over the years but failed even with all its mighty thrust it couldn’t brake free from the grips of Newark ,,,,,,cause maybe it belonged there.
It died from its mortal wounds next to the cemetery on Grove Street.

Jacques left New Jersey and is now living in peaceful Seattle Washington, Gone from him are his Days of Thunder on the Streets of Old Newark. He’s just a mellow guy now but mention Newark to him and the cynical grin reappears from the glory days long time ago…………………….He’s My Brother

Legend has it if you go down to 11th and South Orange Avenue late at night just before the dawn in late June you can still hear the Rumble and the Roar of Jack’s Old Hemi going down the side streets of old Newark

Who knows where all the metal from Jacques Car ended up. Maybe the pen you’re holding might have some of it recycled metal in it – you never know.

God Bless You All


John Desranlesu is a Car Show Photographer. You can view his work at:


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