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GRAND PRIX driver and R&T contributor Innes Ireland was larger than life. He was also a good friend, even before I cleared his name with the City of Needles, County of San Bernardino, State of California. This was where Innes got busted for, of all things, speeding.
Indeed, you might as well imagine the whole story. In April 1985, Innes was on a cross-country drive of a Porsche 944. Not just any Porsche 944, but one prepared by Brumos Racing, a legendary race team headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. His complete tale, “Free-Spiriting Across America” can be found in R&T, September 1985.
For one stint of his trip, tired of a boring Interstate 40, Innes opted for Route 66. The Bobby Troup song provides the itinerary, winding “from Chicago to L.A./More than two thousand miles all the way.”
“Flagstaff, Arizona/ Don’t forget Winona/Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino.” To which I add Needles, on the western banks of the Colorado River, about a third of the way between Kingman and Barstow.
It was in Needles, back on Interstate 40, that Innes encountered a person he later described as “the best looking woman I’d seen for a month.” Unfortunately, she was wearing a cop’s uniform.
Neither Innes nor I thought anything about this speeding ticket until a few months later with a frantic call from England. “I’m coming to the U.S.,” Innes said, “and I’m fearful customs will block my entry because of that speeding ticket.”
“Didn’t you just pay it?” I asked.
“No. The paperwork got buggered in all this mess and I forgot all about it until now.”
I got what details he remembered—Needles, Brumos Racing Porsche, speeding, the best looking woman he’d seen for a month. I phoned the Needles Justice Court and shared at least part of this information. A kind and understanding Deputy Clerk took a while to discover that indeed there was an outstanding speeding citation for “Robert MacGregor I” living in Kiln Cottage, Wickham, Newbury, Berks.
I explained, as a pretty flimsy defense, I grant, that maybe the mail never got to him, what with the incorrect last name of MacGregor I. I also noted that Innes Ireland was a valued contributor of R&T, an internationally recognized auto magazine. And, if we could clear his name, I’d promise to send her a photo of me with a famous person.
The Deputy Clerk responded with a cordial note enclosing a copy of the ticket. “Does he have two names?” she asked. “This citation has not gone to warrant. The case has been referred to Judge Massey. The bail of $34 is due by 7/8/85. If a receipt is requested send a self-addressed stamped envelope.”
I responded with a note (opting to misspelling McGregor so as not to muddy the water further) and attached a personal check for $34 identified “Ireland Ticket.” And, as promised, I included several photos from R&T’s day at Willow Springs International Raceway with champion race driver P.L. Newman, known to his friends and movie goers as Paul.
Mary (we were friends by then) responded with another note. “Thank you for the photographs,” she wrote. “I have them posted on my bulletin board by my desk. So many times people write or say they will send photos of someone of importance and they never do. Thanks for keeping your word. P.S. My brother-in-law subscribes to your magazine.”
Do you suppose her reference of “someone of importance” referred to both P.L. and me? I doubt it. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2016