SI Vault
 
LOOK SLOW AND BE SET TO GO
Hal Higdon
December 18, 1972
Malcolm's car seemed to be a real dog, but like all true street racers he was a crafty master of the oldtime drag-racing fundamental: always make them think they can beat you
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
December 18, 1972

Look Slow And Be Set To Go

Malcolm's car seemed to be a real dog, but like all true street racers he was a crafty master of the oldtime drag-racing fundamental: always make them think they can beat you

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

One night near the end of the summer, Malcolm began to get itchy. Business had slowed. There comes a point in each street racer's career when his reputation reaches such a level that nobody wants to risk money on a confrontation. So he must either race for fun, a highly unprofessional motivation, or begin to spot his opponents car lengths to entice them to compete. But giving somebody a head start in a street race can be risky, particularly if he takes more than his share of the road. According to Malcolm, "Some guys think they can run six-pound wrinkle-wall tires in all that dirt and sand. They start wiggling around out in front of you. I'll back off. I'd rather lose the race than get killed. If anybody's been drinking, I won't race them, because they're not going to endanger my life. There's a little bit of risk, but you watch your pavement. And your car has to be right. You don't race nobody with some junk that's all butchered up to the point where it might not stay on the road."

One night Malcolm loaded his Dodge onto a trailer and headed toward South Bend. He trailered the car since driving it even 30 miles on regular roads might damage the 5-13 gear as well as take the edge off engine performance. But using a trailer caused other problems. "If you come pulling up with a trailer you'll usually scare everybody away," Malcolm explained as he drove, "so you don't let them know you towed into town. You just tow it and park it. Every town has a place where they gather. In South Bend, it's Bonnie Dunn's. And they cruise up and down the main street and sit in parking lots. You wait.

"The bad thing about going out of town is you don't know the area where you'll race. You have to trust the other guys, but you don't know how much racing they do. You might be running low twelves or high elevens, and be up to maybe 120 mph at the end of the quarter and get in a bad part of the pavement. Then you're in trouble.

"You go out of town and the guys will have a quarter that's all set up. The quarter may be real short and they'll run a car with a big gear that can handle a short quarter. Or maybe they have a quarter that's a couple hundred feet long, so they'll equip their car with a higher gear, figuring they can come around you on the high end."

Malcolm pulled up in the parking lot of a factory and unloaded his Dodge from the trailer and cruised into town. He stopped at Bonnie Dunn's. Two local racers wandered by.

"Got a fast car there?" said one.

"Yeah, that's right," said Malcolm.

The second racer eyed the car and its driver: "You're Malcolm from City, ain't you?"

Malcolm admitted he was.

"See you around," said the two drivers, departing.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Related Topics
  ARTICLES GALLERIES COVERS
Jack Kniola 1 0 0
Michigan City 4 0 0
Chevrolet Camaro 9 0 0
Tim McCarthy 0 0 0
Indiana 1106 0 8