Sunday, May 24, 2015

Jay Smith at Univ of Maryland

Earlier this month we celebrated the 50th Reunion of the High Point High School Class of 1965.  It was great seeing so many friends.  One classmate, Jay Smith, who attended the University of Maryland with me, reminded me of an event that took place between classes.  Here is Jay's story:

It was 1966 and Cary Thomas and I were both students at the Univ. of Maryland. We both had an interest in drag racing. I had a 1964 Chevy Impala with a 327 engine and Cary had his red super fast Corvette. I did not know exactly what mechanical skills Cary had. I assumed that like all teenagers in that era who were into drag racing that we did most of the car modifications at a local gas station. I did most of my engine modifications at Woody’s Flying A gas station in Greenbelt and Cary did his at the Beltsville Shell station. I did not know that Cary had just put 2 four barrel carburetors on his corvette engine and installed new linkage on the four pumpers. I’ll bet he followed the instructions in the manual that came with the carburetors. There are a set of springs that are involved in linking the 2 carburetors together such that when one lets off the gas the secondarys close down and only the primaries are open. If this linkage connection with the springs is not done properly, both carburetors will remain open after you get hard on the throttle and the engine will remain at full throttle.

I saw Cary walking to his car in the Univ. of Md. parking lot and asked how he was doing. He said to me “ Want to go for spin in the Vette”. Who could say no? We headed out onto Univ. Boulevard which ran outside of the Univ of Md. campus. This road was one the main access roads to and from the campus. We turned left onto Univ. Blvd going uphill and Cary got on the gas about half way. The engine sounded good and the acceleration was impressive. At the top of the hill we turned back onto Univ. Blvd going the other way and a little downhill. There were no cars in front of us or behind us. There were also no Maryland State troopers in the vicinity! Cary got on the gas very hard and soon were doing about 100 mph. I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Cary looked concerned. His foot was off the gas but we were still accelerating very hard. A number of things run through your mind at speeds over 100 mph and it appears the car will not stop accelerating!. At that point I saw Cary kill the ignition switch and shut off the motor. We slowly decelerated and pulled off to the side of the road. Cary said – “ I think the linkage got stuck” . Cary was right - the linkage had not been installed exactly right. We almost took a trip together into the hereafter. That’s about as close to death in an automobile that I have ever experienced. It was close – but Cary’s quick thinking saved the day. We both lived to tell the tale. 

Jay, we will have to add this story to the second edition of Beltsville Shell: You are What You Drive!  Thanks for sharing!

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