I was a student at the Pennsylvania State University in State College. To that point, my exposure to automobiles consisted of my father's Rambler, a couple Dodge Darts and the 1963 Chevy Nova that I drove back and forth from home to State College.
I discovered that there was a Penn State Sports Car Club on campus. I went to a couple meetings, curious because I had never been exposed to car clubs growing up in a Pittsburgh mill town.
At one meeting I was extolling the virtues of Camaro's and Mustangs as usual when a couple members came to my table and said "OK, Come with us".. Crap I thought; what did I do now? They took me outside, lifted me up and plopped my butt into the passenger seat of a Triumph TR-3 that had a roll bar attached. Hands dove in and cinched me tight in a five point racing harness. What is going on here, and why are there F/Production decals on the fender?
The driver jumped behind the wheel and fired up the engine. The entire car vibrated in a dizzy host of off key frequencies. He looked over at me, smiled and said "Get ready for some fun". With that he started off slowly across campus. As he turned past Beaver Stadium and aimed the nose of the Triumph into the country side, he switched off the headlamps and switched on a massive set of Super Oscar driving lights he had installed on the front bumper. With that, he double clutched into second gear and nailed the throttle.
The Triumph came awake with a roar that sped us off into the night behind the huge cones of light thrown by the Super Oscar's. Every turn became a controlled four wheel drift, deftly controlled by the driver. The engine was groaning up and down the rev range as the throttle was used to steer the car. And every time he threw the car into a turn, I pulled my right arm further into the car, absolutely certain that my elbow was going to drag on the ground.
It only took a minute or two before I was grinning like an idiot and cheering as we slid into another central Pennsylvania roller coaster dip or turn. Man. What a rush.
That ride set the course of my automotive life ever since. What would have been Camaros, Mustangs and drag racing instantly became autocross, road racing and a love of Triumphs, MG's, Datsuns, VW GTI's, and now a Porsche 914.
And that rush continues forty four years from the date of that ride.