MOPAR Top Eliminator, Carlisle 2016
The ChallengerForumZ is Proud to Present our Member of the Month for April
I’m humbled by all of this and it really was much unexpected. There were many other great Z members nominated too and it was a pleasure to be amongst them. I tip my hat to each of one. I just love this forum because of the vast wealth of information that people have here and are willing to share simply because of their love of American Muscle and that tradition and heritage that comes along with it. What a great country we live in to have such a fierce desire to drive our cars and create many fond memories that can only be found when you’re parked at the occasional cruise-in, drive in theater, ice cream stand or favorite eatery on a warm summer night. Keep that tradition alive everyone and continue to pass it along to your children and grandchildren for all our sake.
I always run into folks driving their Challengers and will quickly strike up a conversation about their car and I always end by suggesting they look into the Challenger Forum Z for resources and friendly conversation about that great car. I proudly stress that they’ll find friendly folks with the same interest and commitment for enjoying their car and the culture of their car. A place where you can teach and learn from others but always a place where people respect everyone’s opinion and I stress that can be hard to find in other muscle car forums out there. I’ve watched over the years as many of you have kindled friendships from close and afar with one another but only a key stroke away from offering support at low points and cheering them on at high points in their lives. Your stories and photographs about your beautiful cars, your pets, and families, all those wonderful road trip stories are just another part of that car culture to me, maybe the most important part of all. Stop and think about that for a second.
My first car was a 1967 Olds Cutlass Supreme, I just loved that old boat and it was in near mint condition. A greenish silver color with a crisp black vinyl top it was the place where I kissed my first girl. I can vividly remember the first MOPAR I ever drove in, it belonged to my 16 year old neighbor and I was a few years younger. It was a ’68 Plymouth Duster and he would take me and his younger brother around town all the time. Cragar wheels, a jacked rear end with a racing exhaust. What great fun we had. However, my real love was old American motorcycles and that’s what I drove year round for 35 years, I even had the pleasure to that for a living for a period of time. My return to muscle cars came as result of unseen circumstances though.
One day when I was at work, in 2009, I was run down by a car while riding my Harley, it was serious. They took me to a nearby hospital and determined that I was in bad shape and four hours later they flew me to the trauma hospital in Baltimore. I arrived with a nearly no measurable blood pressure and with only one heartbeat per minute. They told my wife that I probably wouldn't live through the night; they gave me a 5% survival rate.
Later that night the internal bleeding was becoming worse so they made a decision to operate. This was my first of what would be 27 surgeries. I went through 13 units of blood during that operation and it lasted about nine hours. I remained in a coma for 34 days after that surgery I endured two other surgeries while in that coma. They told my wife after the initial surgery I’d probably not live through the week. That week passed and they told her it would be touch and go for weeks more. I was told that while in that coma I died three different times.
Toward the end of that coma period they told my wife if I lived I would likely never speak again, I had a tracheotomy; I would likely be deaf and unable to walk. I spent nearly three months there in intensive care. I eventually left the hospital and spent two more months at a live in rehab center. I remember leaving that trauma center with nurses standing around my bed, about half dozen, some crying, telling me that I shouldn't be alive. One doctor told me there was no medical explanation why I was alive. It was divine intervention he said and he was right. I spent my time in the rehab center learning to walk and do everything else. I only had the use of my right arm when I arrived.
One evening, just before leaving the trauma center, one of my surgeons, in fact he was one of the two doctors that operating on and saved the life of President Reagan when he was shot, he told me in front of my wife that I should never ride a motorcycle again due to a piece of my spine being broken off. When he left, my sweet wife looked at me and said with tears in her eyes, "would you please not ride a motorcycle again."
I can never resist my wife and one of her plea’s because I've put her through a lot of worries in our 25 year marriage, I've been shot, stabbed and broken my hands all at work, so I knew I had to make that sacrifice for her. So I smiled and in a barely audible voice I asked, "Can I have a fast car," and she kissed me on my forehead and said yes. She grew up in a muscle car family.
...and that's what brought me to my 2011 Challenger SRT and I haven't looked back. I may have as much metal in me as my car and I'm missing some of the things I was born with but you wouldn't know it if you saw me walking down the street or, blowing the doors off a "rustang!"
Thanks again everyone for your kind and thoughtful nomination and especially to all of those folks that voted for me along the way. So stay safe, be healthy and keep ever vigilant over the culture of our American muscle.