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...failure to communicate
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
if you are gonna bitch about the length, then just don't read it... :)

About 4.5 years ago, I bought my car from a local guy named Don. He and his son Brian built the car together and it was primarily driven by Brian. He got his NHRA license in the car at only 16 years old.

When it went up for sale, I jumped on it for a great deal (as Don was known) but the best part was that this too would be another Father-Son project with me and my Dad (like the 2 other street rods we had built before.) Don especially liked that part of the sale.

One year ago yesterday, Brian's life was cut short at only 21 years old. A few months back, Don told me he wanted to do a tribute to Brian and asked if I could be ready for it and if I wanted to. That's part of the reason for my thrash lately to get the car ready. Plans and ideas changed a few times, but about 6 weeks ago, he decided that he wanted me to take Brian's ashes on one final ride down the 1320. There was no question that I'd be happy to do it.

Tonight was that night. All of Don's family was there and so were my parents and my daughter (who is 6.)

It was pouring down rain all over the city and I really thought it would be cancelled (plus it was 100* with a 123* heat index - no kidding) I'm sure it was even worse in the asphalt jungle of the track too. But I loaded up and headed out that way. It was heavy downpours everywhere EXCEPT the track! Lightning and heavy rain all around, but not there. The rain also cooled things off considerably.

Almost no one else was there except ironically, some local heavy hitters...
John Kolivas, Jeff Swanson, Sonny ? (the white Mustang Bridge Racing built that Joey Bridged raced earlier in the year). Pretty crazy to see some big names there on a day most would think was canceled. Certainly odd for Memphis.

Anyway, when I pulled into the lanes, they shut me down at the burnout box. The track announcer read a statement Don had prepared for him. Something like this:
"In memory of his son, Brian *****, Don ***** has asked us for permission to make this solo pass. One year ago yesterday, Brian died at the age of 21. The car making this pass is owned and driven by Jay Schwarzmann but was originally built by Brian and Don as a Father/Son project for Brian to drive when he turned 16. Brian was one of the few teenagers to earn an NHRA license and did so in this very car running a 9.42 @ 142 mph pass. He loved drag racing and, in his words, 'any car fast enough to do something stupid in.' Jay will be taking the cremated remains of Brian for one last pass on the anniversary of his death."

He then asked everyone in the stands to stand up in tribute. The starter gave me the go sign to fire it up and I did a nice long burnout and staged the car. Launched and as shaken up by the words as I was I short shifted it and also clicked straight from 1st to 3rd. I legged it on out and dropped the chute at the top end which was something they really wanted to see. It was a horribly crappy pass, but at the same time, probably my best ever.

I'll tell you though, I've never been so emotional on a pass thinking about them and their family but also the times I've spent with my dad doing these things and the time I've had so far and for years to come with my kid enjoying this as well. Damn hard to drive straight when your eyes are welling up after listening to the announcer read what he prepared. Kind of glad it was a soft pass because my mind really just wasn't there anymore.

Don was waving his arms and cheering as I came up the return road so I gave the requisite revs back at him. The family took lots of pictures and video too that I can't wait to see. When I got to the pits he was crying and unbuckled the box with Brian's remains and gave it a big kiss and told his son he loved him. He reached across the car and gave me a big handshake and hug before I even got unbuckled. Just as I was soaking in his emotions with his son, my daughter came over and opened my door and gave me a big hug. I just lost it right then - thankfully I still had my helmet on. ;).

They thanked me many times tonight, but I thank THEM for allowing me the privilege of doing this - it was an awesome experience and one I'll never forget.

Never hit Newbie Thread
10,394 Posts
I was going to go to bed, but felt I needed to come back to YBc for one last glance through the posts... Im glad I did....

Awsome post....

Those of you who know, I made the runs in GMC's truck a couple weeks before his friends death.. This Saturday we are headed back out... And with some luck and some help from above, we are going after that 4-second pass....

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