Car Chase: The Ups and Downs of owning a Unique Car.

By Michael Satterfield
I have had many unique cars over the years, but none has ever garnered as much attention as my 1969 Austin Mini Cooper. The car is far from perfect, having never been restored, but it has a way of creating universal smiles that many cars just can’t compete with. However, the other day I had a strange encounter with a man who, in his own way, was trying to connect with me, because of the Mini.
I had just turned northbound on Haven Ave, when I noticed a red sedan tailgating me; the guy had a strange look in his eye. Now I have had some run-ins with crazy people when I worked in the car business so I knew the look well, he was not waving, or motioning, but he was following pretty close. I assumed he just wanted to get a better look at the diminutive car and would pass by, giving the typical thumbs-up. He didn’t, instead he tailed me from about a car length behind, every lane change, even when he could have clearly passed me by and continued on his way, or at least pulled up beside me to motion to me.
A million thoughts began to flash through my head; Did I cut him off? Perhaps I had offended him when I was selling cars? Was this that same crazy guy that thought I looked like the guy that ran off with his wife in Oklahoma? I did not know what the motivations were, but it was clear this guy was following me. He got closer and I made eye contact through the rearview mirror, he looked like Michael Douglas in the movie Falling Down, he had that same hair cut and the short sleeve dress shirt with a tie. I thought, He is making eye contact, why doesn’t he motion to me to pull over if that is what he wants. Then I remembered that in the movie Michael Douglas’s character would violently lash out against people. Clearly, it was decision time. Let’s just make sure he is following me.
I grabbed the gearshift lever and downshifted to third gear, cutting across three lanes of traffic and taking a right on Inland Empire. Surely, he wouldn’t try to keep up…then in my rearview his car came viciously into frame, he was following me, and following has now given way to chasing. Well hammer down, it was time to really go for it. The Mini was screaming as quick as it could, darting through traffic, and my pursuer was doing his best to keep up, even passing people on the right. What could he want that would drive him to chase after me so feverishly. A red light… oh man, this could get ugly, “screw it” throttle to the floor, no cross traffic to be seen, I take the red light. Unless there is going to be a fight at the end of this chase I doubt he will blow through the red light. To my surprise he did without even slowing down, on the long straightaway his car was gaining, I needed more turns. With a flick of the wrist, I darted up Ferrari Lane, without pause he followed… his car a mid 90’s Chevy was swerving all over the road. I on my way to meet a friend for lunch, if I could just get to the restaurant near the mall I would at least have some back up. So I need to just keep heading towards the mall.
Hard right through a yellow light onto Concourse and a quick right, I duck into the back parking lot of an industrial building, making my way back out to Ferrari Lane. I think I lost him…. but no sooner did I think that then I see his car turning back on to Ferrari Lane from Concourse Street. Left back on to Inland Empire and almost to the mall, if I can just get to the mall, but, NO there is traffic! It’s a red light….I am boxed in. I glance around looking for anything that I can use as a weapon, if he wants a fight, I’ll give it to him. Nothing, no tire iron, no bat, nothing, just an empty Rockstar can and an IPod. His car pulls in behind me, I am completely boxed in, trapped. So here we go…but he is just sitting there looking down. What’s he doing? After a few seconds he gets out of the car and starts walking toward my passenger side window, my seatbelt is unbuckled one hand is on the door lever and the other on the shifter, if the light goes green I’ll take off if it stays red I have to be ready for anything. He gets to the car and I start to open the door. “HELLO” he shouts in a British accent, “I just wanted to say, I like your car, I had a Mini myself back in England and my son has one he is restoring. If you ever want to chat about Mini’s here is my number.” I was dumbfounded, and just took the scrap of paper he had written his number down on, and said something profound like “ok”. He waved in a nervous and almost geeky kind of manner, walked back to his car, the light turned green and we both just drove off. When I got to the restaurant my friend was waiting and asked why it had taken me so long, I told him I would tell him over lunch.
Now I have been in car chases before, most of the time I know why the villain is chasing me. However, this chase will have to go down in history as the strangest encounter I have had in the Mini…as of yet.