For about two hours, Bobby Curtis was a rock star. A crowd of gapers had gathered as soon as the engine was killed, headers tinking and fan still spinning, to get a peek at the source of the rumpity rump fairground noise and shimmering pool of light.
We were sucked in, and waiting a bit too long to get to the driver conjured worries that we might not get a shot at all. He had a line of photographers shoving cards in his hands and trying to lure him elsewhere for a shoot. Everyone could tell this car was fresh, never seen, and barely dry. It's a magazine hoard's finest prize. Bobby looked amazed.
It wasn't his first time in the limelight; Bobby used to race flat-track motorcycles in the '70s when he was just 15 years old at Castle Rock Race Park in Washington state. And he was good. He competed on the clay oval with a Bultaco or a Honda 350 for years then switched to open-road racing on a Honda Interceptor, all the while collecting wins in Portland, Seattle, and up into Canada. Then one day in 1984 while he was sitting on the starting grid, he thought once about his newborn daughter; he quit that day with a 20-point lead in the championship and hung up the leathers.
The miracle here is that he somehow managed to stay married and fight the speed jones for nearly 20 years using a lucrative motorcycle repair business, a job at Boeing, and finally part ownership of an Infiniti dealership in the Seattle area. It couldn't last forever. In 2002, he wanted to know if he still had the salsa brava, the mustard, the ability to fling a bike on one wheel around the oval, albeit in the old-guys' class. "I don't remember it hurting so much after a crash," he mused, "but I learned that I still had what it takes to win." Bobby picked up a couple of wins and suffered a nasty high-side wipeout. The next season, he just didn't want to go back.
Sure, he'd stopped racing, but he still wanted to go fast, so he started looking into something for the street. Maybe musclecars. "I remember seeing the red-and-black '69 Mach 1 when it first came out, so I went looking for one of those."
He started looking at Mach 1s with the red-and-black paint, 428s, and shaker hoods. "At the time, I didn't know the difference between the '69 and the '70," he said. "Then, as I looked, I began noticing the head- and taillights and the locking ignition, things like that. The '70 had fewer scoops and looked sleeker than the '69." He liked the '70 better because it was more subdued, and he wondered if you could still buy them. Like the rest of us, he consulted eBay for a possible impulse buy.
He probably looked amazed again after realizing he'd just bought the '70 Mach off eBay sight unseen for a wad of cash. He was sitting behind the computer at work and made the decision with 30 seconds left to bid. "I sat back and wondered, 'What the heck did I just do?'"