I saw a recent advertising campaign for the new 2010 Mustang. It featured a gentleman that had lost his sight years ago in an accident. One of the things he missed most was the thrill of driving, so Ford created an opportunity for he and a few other vision impaired people to drive the new Mustang on a private strip with former Mustang Trans Am racer Tommy Kendall. It’s a terrific advertising campaign (click here to view all of the videos), but it did get me thinking: what if you couldn’t drive? Specifically, what if you could never again drive your muscle car?


One of the things many automotive fans love is the ability to slip behind the wheel and connect with a machine. It’s a stress relief. It’s exciting. It involves all of your senses (unless you’re a lousy driver….but if you are, you are not likely reading this anyway). When it comes to older muscle cars the challenge is even greater. I once was listening to legendary test pilot General Chuck Yeager compare flying a modern day F-15 to the WWI-era P-51. Chuck said (as only Chuck can) that the F-15 was relatively easy to fly…..but you had to be careful with the P-51 or it would jump up and “bite” you. I think the same thing could easily be said for 1960’s and ’70’s muscle cars. They take a little more conscious awareness to manage than a modern muscle car, which does not make them better or worse, but different. But what if, all of a sudden, you didn’t have the ability to drive any more?

I love to drive. When I daydream, I dream about driving. Driving my Chevelle. Driving race cars. Driving the General Lee even (which I swear I will do some day). During my younger days I had more moving violations than I can remember – and I lost my driving privileges 3 summers in a row as a result. The first 2 times I was able to get the privileges immediately reinstated in exchange for probation…but was not so lucky on the 3rd offense. Oddly enough, I was never caught driving in the triple digits (luckily) – it was always for something silly like a 10-15mph speeding ticket, or rolling through a stop sign. I place all of the blame on me…and a little on my Chevelle.

The experience of losing my driving privileges was a terrifying one though, which is what made the Ford advertisement hit home for me. Being unable to drive ever again would not merely be an inconvenience for me – it would be somewhat akin to going without oxygen. I only hope the day will never come when I can’t get behind the wheel and drop the hammer, and I honestly thank God for the opportunity. I know that I’m not alone in that sentiment!

Here’s to happiness behind the wheel. Drive your muscle car. Enjoy it. Be thankful for the experience – because it could be gone in the blink of an eye!

================

-Robert Kibbe

The MuscleCar Place – Great Muscle Cars for Sale

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Comment by Robert Kibbe on September 30, 2009 at 4:37pm
Hi Gary,

Thanks very much - and thank you for sharing your story!

-Robert
Comment by Gary Faules on September 30, 2009 at 4:30pm
I just came back to let you know I finally found it way down there and to say thank you. What a great job you do.
Comment by Robert Kibbe on September 30, 2009 at 3:52pm
Hi Gary,

There is a little 'Play' button towards the bottom of the page (it says "Listen to podcast of article").

That should get you there!

-Robert
Comment by Gary Faules on September 30, 2009 at 2:51pm
Geeze, I feel so blond. When I go to that link there is no place to click to listen to a podcast. Am I wrong... am I supposed to read it or listen to it?
Comment by Robert Kibbe on September 30, 2009 at 2:39pm
Hi Gary,

This week's podcast is out and ready to go! I read your response. Here's a Direct link to the posting:

http://www.themusclecarplace.com/the-musclecar-place-podcast-episode-17-featuring-racing-legend-chris-kaufmann

Thanks!
-Robert
Comment by Gary Faules on September 28, 2009 at 1:38pm
Let me know when it will air... I would enjoy listening.

Gary
Comment by Robert Kibbe on September 28, 2009 at 10:41am
Gary,

Fantastic reply, and thanks so much for sharing. I'm going to include your response in the weekly podcast we do for The MuscleCar Place!

-Robert
[email protected]
Comment by Gary Faules on September 26, 2009 at 12:33pm
Great post and what a go FORD for helping make that a reality. This just happens to a subject which I am intimately familiar with and have personal experience on the subject. When I was a young teenager I suffered a freak accident which left me blind and like many other teens from the heydays of the muscle car era, cars and hot rods where high on my priorities list. I have total recall as to the exact moment my doctor sat with my parents and me and he said, "Gary will never see again." You could hear a pin drop.

During that "dark" period of time in my life not once did I ever feel sorry for myself nor did I ever wonder what I was missing out on. Quite the contrary I had the time of my life. My biggest fear during those 4 and half years was not wanting anyone to feel sorry for and the deep concerns which my parents understandably had for me. But thanks to my parents never giving up hope they found a doctor who was able to perform what at the time was considered a miracle procedure which in fact gave me back my eye sight.

One of my fondest memories from those dark days was the times my buddies would take me out for a drive by telling me which way to steer, brake and gas. Several times we drove all over the small rural area I was from including around town but the funniest of all was the time a cop pulled us over to let us know we had a tail light out. Can you imagine his reaction had he asked me for a driver's license let alone finding out I was blind. One night I was doing over 100 on a long straight.

The bottom line is, when someone becomes handicapped, all of the others senses become more developed to overcome the loss. But the most important lesson here is to never feel sorry for anyone with a disability because pity is the very last thing they want from anyone. What they want to be treated just like anyone else and it's very important to remember, they will always have the dream of hoping that some day they will be normal just like everyone else.

I have been very blessed in my life time and a lot of it had to do with the fact that my friends and family treated me just like anyone else during my dark time and it was that sense of respect and love that gave me the secure feeling and hope that helped me make a go of life. Not only did I regain my eye sight but in fact I went on to be an Olympic Skeet shooter and still hold numerous records and fortunately I have enjoyed a long and successful racing career to boot.

The story of how I became blind and got it back is one of the stories in my book "I SLEPT IN AFRICA" which is on the Forbes Book List and all the profits go to women's breast cancer research.

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