EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 racing | Baghdad By The Bay

Posts Tagged 'racing'

The Purple Mile

The Purple MileI think you kind of have to be kind of old to remember slot cars from the 60’s and 70’s, but our own Playland at the Beach had a famous track built into the original location of Topsy’s Roost that many of us old guys who were kids back then remember.

The Sovereign 220 [The Purple Mile was it’s nickname] was to slot car racers what Mavericks is to surfers. Slot cars were sort of like hot wheels on steroids. They were bigger and had a little pin that stuck down into a slot that received electricity from a hand grip that you squeezed. The tighter you squeezed the more electricity would go to car making it go faster. There were several tracks you could buy for home, but it was never the same as the Sovereign 220. I remember going in their with a friend of mine somewhere between 1965-1969 which was probably towards the end since I would have been about seven when it closed. I remember the smell to this day. Now I know it to be the smell of ozone as the electrons were splitting the oxygen in the air and making it recombine into a not very safe gas.

The track was big. It was the largest slot car track ever built and being a small kid I could barely see the end of it so you’d sort of lose track of where your car was on the track. I can’t remember how much it cost to run your slot cars on the track, but being seven I didn’t really care about money back then. I was still having adults pay for the penny candy I was eating all day long to fuel  me up to run around like a madman.

Unfortunately slot cars were starting to be old news by the late 60’s just like Whitney’s Playland at the Beach. It was closed down and the track was sold to someone in Texas and it was sold again and probably again until it wound up being bought by a hobbyist in Ashland, Massachusetts who restored it to it’s former glory. I managed to find a video of the track as it looks and operates today which isn’t much different than it was back in the 60’s now go grab some electrical wire and a 9-volt battery to click the wires together to make sparks so you can get that same smell in your room just like the old days at the slot car track.

Whitecaps: Barbabos

Yes, this isn’t about San Francisco, but remember it’s my wild weekend where I get to talk about anything and today I wanted to talk about Whitecaps in Barbados. I have a couple of close friends who have purchased a three bedroom house there that when they aren’t visiting they rent it out. They needed a website to best display the house so who do they come to…me of course.

I have never visited Barbados, but from the looks of the pictures, I definitely will one day and I will be staying at Whitecaps. I was given a tour via skype of the house [yes, the house has wi-fi] and it is pretty spectacular. I could hear the waves crashing on the beach because you’re literally about 50′ from the beach. Barbados is definitely geared for tourists which if you look at the photos in the gallery you can see that there are many shows that go on for free at the local plaza that’s within walking distance.

The food is very inexpensive there and fresh the fish and Barbados goats are all over the place so chances are good that it was alive a few hours before you purchase it. When you bring it back to the house you simply hand it over to Waple who is your personal chef that will cook all your meals. You also have a personal concierge who will help you arrange your site seeing trips around the island. In the evening you don’t have to work as there are two security guards that will make sure the house is secure. You also have your own maid service so you don’t even need to worry about making your bed every day.

Just to give you the full blown what you get for your money, allow me to cut and paste from their website:

  • Three bedrooms for a total of six guests
  • Three private bathrooms: two with tubs, one with a walk-in shower
  • Wet bar
  • Flat-screen TV with Bose sound system
  • WiFi internet access
  • Your own personal chef
  • Your own maid service
  • Located on Mullins Beach
  • Lovely shaded garden area for entertaining

Whitecaps is right on the beach halfway between Mullins Bay and Gibbs Bay — a mere stone’s throw from the highly regarded Mullins Restaurant and Cocktail Bar on Mullins Beach.

There is a 24-hour convenience store within a five minute walk to the north and a fabulous little gift shop, the Shell Gallery, a fifteen-minute walk to the south.

Further north lies Speightstown, a picturesque old town with a historical museum, an art gallery, a small supermarket, shops, a four-star restaurant (Mango by the Sea), banks with ATMs and a fish market, as well as farm stands offering the freshest tropical fruits and vegetables. It is about five minutes away by bus or taxi. To the south is Holetown, a larger community with high-end boutique shopping, a large supermarket, cafes and gift shops, banks with ATMs and a number of four-star restaurants. It’s ten minutes by bus or taxi.

While there are regular buses to and from Bridgetown, and taxis can be reserved for dinner dates, most guests will rent a car to have full run of the island, including the night life of St. Lawrence Gap and the many historic and scenic points elsewhere.

Note that for what us Americans consider a time to take a vacation is considered the off season and is $345/night. If you get another couple or two to make trip with you it becomes downright affordable. It’s pretty much always in the 80’s dropping to the upper 70’s at night so you won’t have to bring a heavy coat. I suggest lots of tank tops and shorts and maybe an eye patch if you want the total Pirates of the Caribbean vibe.

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The Day I Bought A Burger

Looking back in time I thought I be a bit nostalgic today. There was a time many years ago when I finally got my first car. It was a 1979 Silver Anniversary TransAm. That was some car to have as a first. I was 28 when I was able to get it. A friend of mine worked on cars a lot and he fixed this one up and tricked it out in every way. I had just broken up with my girlfriend of six years so I kind of considered this a good consolation prize.

I hadn’t really driven before because it wasn’t really necessary in San Francisco and I just figured that anywhere I needed to get in the city would take me about an hour on Muni. Things were about to change for me. I could date outside my neighborhood for one. Hell, I could date outside the city even. It took me a while to realize that. Since I wasn’t used to driving even though I got my driver’s license at 21 I mostly just drove around the neighborhood. Then about a week after I had the car I drove and bought a burger.

It wasn’t really much of a trip and I wasn’t even really that hungry, but I drove the car across the park the Richmond to the Jack in the Box on 11th and Geary and bought a burger and fries. I sat in the car eating them and just realized that I had the ability to do something as stupid as hop in the car and drive 10 minutes to get a burger. Not an hour on Muni, but 10 minutes. The world suddenly got smaller. I kind of had a feeling like Mel Gibson in Braveheart where I wanted to stand and scream FREEDOM! [granted in the movie he had just been castrated and disemboweled, but I’ll leave that part aside.]

Soon I worked up the courage to drive on freeways and suddenly I was driving to friends houses in South Bay or Marin for parties. Why I actually got so good at driving that I was pulled over on Mission street at 4am and had a cop screaming at me for going 75mph. I didn’t get a ticket that night, but did realize that I was letting things go to my head a bit.

I dialed things down a notch and started getting better gas mileage. I remember being outraged at having to pay $1.39 a gallon for premium gas. Times were good back then. There was less to worry about we all had jobs and money and I could drive all over the city to buy stuff. I miss my TransAm, but I don’t miss having to wonder if it would start in the morning or having my head under the hood changing the spark plugs every couple of months [the car had 139,000 miles on it when I bought it.]

The car lasted me only about eight months before it became too much of a burden and I had to sell it after getting a toned down 1984 Firebird. It wasn’t turbo-charged like the TransAm, but it still had a lot of muscle. I still have fond memories of that first car and it’s huge ass tires and how I learned to drive it slow so I could get girls to stop and look at me. Those were good times, yep, good times.