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I'll never forget the very first time I got to go for a ride in a really quick car. Sure, I had been in quick cars before, but I was always with my dad, and somehow I knew he would never put me in harm's way. I never felt like something could ever go horribly wrong. But that all changed when I turned 16. I had my very own driver's license and my own car, and I could get into all kinds of trouble with my friends. There was this group of guys about my age that all had muscle cars and were headed up to one of the popular cruise spots in San Diego. They invited a guy who worked at the local dune buggy shop to tag along. I was dune buggy guy guy, by the way. They were in the shop buying some racing fuel, and I mentioned that I hadn't been to that particular cruise spot before, and one fo them said I should join them.

Well, there was a good reason I had never been to this particular area before, because it was the place to go if you wanted to get yourself into a street race. I ended up riding shotgun in a Nova that would launch so hard it would carry the left front tire most of the way through first gear. I got to ride in that car as it made three "passes" that night, and when i got home I remember being so amped up on adrenalin that I coudn't sleep. I just lay there starting up at the acoustic ceiling thinking what i had just experienced. It was a feeling that was indescribable. I was scared, but at the same time I didn't want it to stop.

I think that scared feeling is something that a lot of peoplehave felt in their hot rods. Especially in the early days of hot roddingwhen everybody who drove a modifiedcar was looked down uponas a scofflaw or a hoodlum. Heck, there are even movies dedicated to just how dangerous "hot rod gangs" were! Of course, hot rodders were just the social outcast group of the moment, and eventually Hollywood moved on to back to scaring themselves and the occasional little old lady.

- by Courtney Halowell