a mid-1960s charity performance in the Downtown Bullring, Tijuana: the place is
packed at premium prices. It's for the Orphans Organization, and the performer
is Mario Moreno, Cantínflas.
Parnelli Jones was the big dog at the time, earning his reputation for lack of patience with slower entrants he overtook on the course. I heard several of the recipients of his teachings describe how he would emerge from the following dust cloud, look around either side of the student's vehicle, and if there happened not to be sufficient room to pass, he'd apply a bumper in a degree of force and angle sufficient to create that room. There was understandable resentment, but not as much as I'd have expected. The principal complaint was that in the current race one or several of them had been assigned to a position of eventual victimhood by the draw for starting times. Leave before Jones, reluctantly expend inordinate attention on the rear-view mirror, as a matter of survival.
Technical inspection on the year I'm struggling to remember was conducted in a kind of walled bowl near the starting area, a wide spot in the road leading south out of town, but near downtown and the "strip" of hotels servicing tourists on weekends, and midweek, when such races were held, this monstrous crowd of participants and hangers-on. It was quite a sight after sundown the night before the race, looking from outside and above what I guess must have been the site of some form of animal abuse like bull- or cock-fighting: bare bulbs created bright highlights and deep shadows on the assembled hardware and patch-laden inspectors and participants.
Some of the absolute greatest off-road machinery and drivers were there, including those factory Fords and AMC machines and dozens of specially-built privateers like the "Bullfighters", Andy DeVercelli and Tom McClellan. These latter, consistent winners in Mexico, had acquired their nickname in one of the very first Baja 1000 races when they hit a bovine near the finish but continued to win the class and maybe more. Andy, it was said, had to have his head suspended in one of those bolt-to-the-skull apparatuses for several months.
I was standing and peering into the bowl, wondering if it would be worthwhile to feel my way to a gate in the wall and slide down the sandy bank to circulate among the crowd packed shoulder-to-rollcage and knee-to-knobby, when Garner appeared next to me. He was elated, high as anyone on the premises on the excitement. He perused the crowd and bellowed, "Parnelli! There you are, you sonofabitch! Hey, Parnelli!"
Just about everyone there heard him, judging by the number of faces that turned his way. His place in the regard of the people in the bowl was not as high as his actual location above their heads, judging by the eye-rolls and subsequent backs-of-heads presented to him. Parnelli was one of the few who did not turn to look. Garner did find his way into the bowl, and I watched his progress as he bulled his way through the crowd in pursuit of the sonofabitch. I noted how the largest of the jacket patches were turned to him as he approached. He did catch up with Parnelli and throw an arm across his shoulders. Parnelli did not alter his course or speed, near as I could tell, or respond in any way other than a slow glance at Garner's face when he was first overtaken.
I didn't think very highly of Garner after this incident; however, what I have learned of him since has changed that. It seems to me now that he is a respectable craftsman in his field, and a much better than average example of celebrity behavior in general. Your mileage may vary.
Copyright 2000 TwinkleInMyEyeProductions, Frank S, Proprietor
"What genre of photography appeals to you least?"
like the way the question is phrased. All photography appeals to me to some degree,
voyeur that I am; however, I have to say my least favorite to look at is
sports-action photography, even though that is one of my most favorite to be doing.
Copyright 2004 TwinkleInMyEyeProductions, Frank S, Proprietor
E-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org