Pass It On is a new, bi-weekly peek inside the heart and mind of Francis Pass…


Click the play button to listen to Francis Pass tell this story.

I’ll never forget when my parents pulled into the driveway in a beautiful blue 1965 Ford Mustang.

It had a 289 four-barrel engine with a three-speed transmission on the floor. It was our family car. And I couldn’t wait for my mom to come home from work so I could it take it out cruisin’.

Of course, I wanted to see just how fast it could go.

The Dongolians and Ulinites would run up and down I-57. But it wasn’t the I-57 you know today. Back then, it was still being built. So it served as a great dragstrip.

I don’t want to brag… okay maybe just a little… but I was turning out to be a pretty good drag racer in my parents’ family car. My little three-speed would beat ’em all. I never lost to another Mustang.

Drag Racing in parents car

Then, one day, I got a little big headed and took the family car to the dragstrip in Marion. Old timers like me remember that the dragstrip was located at the intersection of 13 and 148. In fact, when I look out my office window here at Big Yellow Shop, I can see where it used to be.

I went for the trophy run. But a Chevelle with a 327 beat me. Not by much, but he beat me nonetheless.

For my second appearance at the dragstrip, I was a little more prepared. A friend of mine named Phil Campbell loaned me a pair of drag racing slicks. These were special tires that got a better bite on takeoff, particularly on asphalt.

Once again, I made it to the finals. And I kid you not, it was a rematch with that same dadgum Chevelle.

We lined’em up. He looked at me, I looked at him. We inched toward the starting line. I just knew those slicks would give me the traction I needed. The light turned green… and…

Lining up to the starting line

He beat me. Again.

The following weekend, I drove over to Harrisburg, and guess who was there. Yep, the chump in the Chevelle.

I wish I could say that the third time was the charm. Nope. He beat me. For the final time.

Oh, well. Always the bridesmaid. Never the bride.

But, to this day, I still love to go fast.

I think I first discovered my love of speed in my dad’s old ‘57 Ford Fairlane 500. It had a 312 police interceptor engine and a speedometer that said 120. But I could bury that needle in nothing flat.

57 Ford Fairlane

Dad’s car had a front-end problem. Every time I’d build up speed, it would start wobbling. It was a little disconcerting. But if I stayed with it and kept accelerating, it would pass and everything would be just fine.

I think that’s a lesson we can all use right now.

Life moves pretty fast. And sometimes, things can get awful wobbly. But don’t give up. Just keep pressing on the gas. Eventually, you’ll get past the wobble. Then, my friend, it’s nothing but open road.

Thanks for readin’…

Francis Pass.

P.S. – The fastest quarter-mile time of 3.58 seconds was first held by a rocket-powered funny car named Vanishing Point. Man, I’d love to take that thing out for a spin. Then maybe… just maybe… I’d finally beat that dadgum Chevelle.

Vanishing Point Funny Car