2nd Chances Come in Candy Apple Red: My Favorite Memory of a Mustang

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 17:19
Today’s post comes from Robert Arthur. Check it out:  Sometimes the best stories begin outside ourselves… And sometimes, memories become even stronger and sweeter when we are given a place at the tale. My part in the story begins when I was working with a non-profit organization that gave those little brave ones a much-needed adrenaline rush on an Atlanta racetrack,  and that’s when I ran into a man and his candy apple red 1969 Ford Mustang: a duo I will never forget.  But that’s when I turn the clocks back to a decade ago… The Lost Wheelman His name was Jimmy, and he had been out of prison for four years.  I never asked about his history, but even if I had, I don’t think he would have told me.  He wasn’t much of a conversationalist when I met him. While he might not have been much of talker -the guy could drive- and for that matter, so could his ‘69 Mustang.  The man was a master behind the wheel. During the day, Jimmy was a professional dirt track racer in Beckley, West Virginia and had taken the state championship on more than one occasion.  During the night, he and his car often found trouble; lots and lots of trouble. He was known in the crime world as a wheelman, or basically the guy you’d call when you needed to get away from a crime scene in a hurry.  What brought his career to a screeching halt was nothing short of a miracle. You see, five-year-olds have a way of chasing after their favorite kickball… even if it rolls into the street. This little kid came out of nowhere, and when Jimmy saw him, the wheelman had to make a choice.  The swerving skid marks bear the signs that the Jimmy had made the right call.  The kid was shaken up, but alive.  Jimmy was unconscious and barely alive.  The candy apple red Mustang was wrecked with its front bumper buried in an old Walnut tree by the road.  Jimmy, the wheelman, would spend his next decade behind bars. A Racetrack Redemption Jimmy eventually made parole and wasted little time in tracking me down.  We met for coffee one afternoon, and I was speechless when he offered to volunteer as a driver. When the wheelman told me the story about the day this little five-year-old kid became his ultimate life-altering roadblock, I couldn’t help but take a leap of faith. Jimmy had only one condition: if I track down his old ‘69 Mustang, then the wheelman would fix her up again… …then our bravest youngsters can ride shotgun on a wide Atlanta circuit in a donated hot red Mustang alongside the best driver south of the Mason-Dixon. As for my memory of this Mustang? I remember a car and her driver, both of which had been given second chances… I remember those telltale ‘I’m-having-the-time-of-my-life’ giggles coming from the passenger window of a candy apple red blur, and the wheelman who found redemption in the driver’s seat of his baby once again.

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