Dateline: Feb. 20, 2001; USA cable channel: episode of "Walker, Texas Ranger." On this Tuesday evening, I learned something about myself. I'm not saying that Choice Chuck (Chuck Norris) is educational, but this particular episode was an eye-opener filled with ironies.
I was channel surfing and came upon "Walker, Texas Ranger" mid-show. He was in a small town, walking down the street with the local lawman, when he most astutely spied a suspicious vehicle sitting outside the town's small, backwater bank. It was a Buick Grand National. I don't get excited over many things, but yelled to my wife, "Check out this Grand National on TV" the moment it appeared on the screen.
The show cut to the driver and I said, "I'll be damned. It's Tony Becker at the helm." I went to high school with Tony Becker. I didn't know him personally when we were at Hollywood High School in the early '80s, but did know he drove a mid-'70s, two-door Blazer, lived in the hills and was on TV, even in high school. His big break, as far as I know, was with a Vietnam TV series entitled "Tour of Duty"-he was one of the guys who survived every episode.
Anyway, back to "Walker, Texas Ranger." When they cut to Tony, I saw the interior and realized the car was the real McCoy. And I quickly shouted, "Tony, you better not crash that GN in some stupid car chase." I had never seen a GN on screen and Tony on TV these days is pretty much a rarity of Super Lotto proportions as well, so this was quickly turning out to be quite a situation-if only I had some popcorn at the ready.
Back at the bank, Tony's accomplices came out of the building and chucked a bag of loot in the Buick just as Walker and company announced their presence. Tony boned out in the Buick as the betrayed bad guys were left to fend for themselves. Bad Tony! As he gassed the Turbo 6, my disappointment with the producers climbed quicker than the boost, as the black Buick emitted decidedly V8 tones. Come on, is nothing sacred?!
If they wanted serious sound bites, unhook the exhaust and let the turbo spool, but interjecting a V8 rumble, what a dis. Luckily, they showed good taste by not putting the GN in a car chase, as it was used for a quick getaway and a quick vehicle transfer-into a beat-up station wagon, of all things. So with a screech of the brakes and a cloud of dust, the Grand National's 15 minutes were over.
The other bad guys got away, vowing vengeance on Tony, who double-crossed them, of course, for family reasons-to save the family ranch, a child who needed surgery, whatever. Things were looking bad for Tony in the rest of the episode, as I saw a real tear-jerk ending on the horizon with Walker saving the day and the family.
With such an emotional roller coaster-and the fact that the Buick's bit was over with no chance of return-I resumed my regularly scheduled channel surfing.
As I worked the remote, I realized I really do have a thing for Turbo Buicks. I like and appreciate all performance cars, but don't talk to the man when one of those GNs hits the small screen. This is a good thing, because having a true passion for something so closely related to my job reaffirms that Turbo is produced by insiders who walk the walk and talk the talk-and aren't afraid to show it.
I don't wrench as much as tech editors Robert Choo and Gary Castillo, but I bet I wrench more than most journalists in the scene. Hopefully, this passion and commitment to hands-on tech and in-person event coverage helps make Turbo a more educational and entertaining experience. I hope it pushes the right buttons with you. Until next month, peace.