Life as a Washington Supreme Court Justice has its lighter side too.  Here at the Temple of Justice, we have a little monthly newsletter called “Temple Tidings.” Responsibility for its preparation rotates among the justices and departments.  It was my turn last month and I solicited car stories from my fellow employees.  One, “A-Sort-of Car Story,” by Amy Bailey was so good, I had to share.  I am also including my submission, “Hole Shot,” so that you don’t think we take ourselves too seriously. Sorry, no heavy thinking this time, just a little fun.

A Sort-of Car Story – by Amy Bailey

When I was dating my husband, we often would go on drives in the countryside  due I’m certain to the fact that the “other” love in his life was his red sports car (Datsun 280ZX).  We had been dating for about eight months when he called and asked me to make sure I kept Valentine’s Day free because it was going to be a very special day.  The rest of the week I was eagerly anticipating the day, and what was going to be so special about it.  Thinking he was going to pop the question, I carefully planned my wardrobe choices and tried to be patient until the big day.

Picking me up, he was almost giddy with anticipation.  He refused to tell me what was going on while driving up to the Capital Peak area, but I saw he had his camera ready.  I kept pestering him to tell me where we were going, but he said he wasn’t sure.  “How will you know when we’re there?” I asked.  “I’ll just know, and you will too,” was his cryptic reply.

Stopping suddenly at the side of the road, he announced, “This is it!”  I was almost afraid to breathe.  He picked up the camera and looked at me.  Thinking this was “The Moment”, I waited and smiled.  He took my hand, looked into my eyes, and said, “I wanted you to be here for this – my car just turned over 100,000 miles!”

Then he took a picture of the odometer.

 The Hole Shot – by Tom Chambers

I pleaded not to write.  Most of my car stories are unprintable and none are flattering but I was told that since it was my idea, I had to contribute.  In 1963, I was an aspiring race driver.  Neither my talent nor my budget matched my enthusiasm. The car was a 1950’s souped up jalopy.  The Pictorial History on this web site has a photo of one of my old racers.  I had stripped all unnecessary weight including the floor.  I could see the rear axle and wheels through the roll cage; the better to see if the brake drums were getting red hot.  The track was a half mile circle of asphalt laid in a cow pasture between Sunnyside and Grandview.  It was called Sunny Grand Speedway and has long since yielded to the needs of urban sprawl.

Going into turn four my car was hit, sailed off the track, crashed through a barn wood fence, and spun merrily on the slick grass outside the fenced track.  I put in the clutch and feathered the gas to keep the motor running.  My experience at spin recovery was rewarded with pistons still purring and eager.  But I was on the outside instead of the inside of the race track where I was supposed to be.  But wait; there was a hole in the fence.  It was my exit hole.  I was a race driver in a race car still running.

As I blasted back though the hole more wood splintered.  I spun my tires as I worked through the gears.   I re-entered the fray a half lap behind the pack.   I could see the crowd on their feet cheering and raising beer cans in salute to the racer who had roared back onto the track though a hole in the fence.  But I had a problem.  I had removed the windshield and placed a piece of Plexiglas in front of the driver, but there was nothing but a big empty space on the passenger side.  A big piece of fence board was wedged from under my seat though the windshield open space and it was pounding up and down from top to bottom.  I finished the race a half lap behind the rest of the cars waiting for that board to kick loose and slam around inside the shell of the car.  I was also wondering about the wisdom of rejoining the race through a hole in the fence.

I had better cars and better days at the track and became mid-season champion at Yakima and Sunny Grand Speedways in 1965.  I made enough money racing to pay for much of my undergraduate schooling and sold my race car when I realized law school might be in my future.  I have followed motor sports for over 50 years and I can honestly say, I have never seen or heard of anyone else goofy enough to crash back onto a race track though an exit hole.