What a rush!
By BRET "The Hitman" HART -- For The Calkgary Sun
Last week I was off to Toronto for the Molson Indy. I've become a great racing enthusiast so it's fun to be invited and participate.
Getting to see my loyal fans in Toronto was a highlight of the trip. I can tell, from your letters, that quite a few wrestling fans came out to get my autograph and ended up getting turned on to racing while you were there and that's cool!
Another high point of the trip was when I got to drive around the track with Mario Andretti. I felt like a little kid on the best carnival ride -- except that it was way, way, way scarier than any ride ever invented! We strapped ourselves into a Toyota Supra pace car and Mario, skilled professional and all that, drove like an absolute maniac at speeds over 130 mph! What a rush!
The white knuckle ride made me think back, a few years, to when my brother, Smith ended up driving me and Andre the Giant to the airport, with only a few minutes to make the flight! A city policemen tailed behind us for the last few miles, cherry light blazing! We took the airport ramp on two wheels, squealing! Andre's eyes got as big as tires and he didn't even talk to me or Smith for a couple of years after that -- and I didn't blame him! Eventually he sort of forgave me. I guess he realized I'd been hanging on for dear life the same as he. Or, more than likely, it had to do with the way, years later, I took his side when he and Big Jim The Anvil Neidhart had a 'polite debate' in a little bar, just outside of Kalamazoo, Mich., about who were better athletes -- soccer players or football players. They both looked at me to solve the debate and my viewpoint was soccer players never need oxygen when they're on the sidelines. For Andre, that was the correct answer.
Anyway, if Andretti ever needs a back up driver, maybe he might consider my brother, Smith! But for a maniacal driver of unequaled parallel that dubious distinction has got to go to Jim Neidhart!
He's known for being unpredictable in the ring but that's nothing compared to what he's like behind the wheel. Our plane had gotten in late and we were rushing down Highway 59, just coming out of downtown Houston, when Jim overshot our exit. He proceeded to try and back up in the middle of this huge freeway!
Even though it was 3 in the morning, it still didn't seem to me to be a good idea. I was especially convinced of that when Jim slammed on the brakes, booked it and lost control of the car so we did a complete 180 and ended up facing the wrong way! Did I mention there were two huge trailer trucks barreling towards us?
Well, I just remember hearing a voice coming from my mouth on auto pilot, 'For God's sake, Jim, don't move!' And we sat there like the scene out of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles -- frozen like two skeletons!
The semis parted, air horns blaring, and whizzed by us that close on both sides!
It got pretty quiet after that.
In all fairness, one of the best drivers in all of wrestling was my brother, Wayne. When people think of the old Stampede Wrestling, it's usually Bruce, Keith, Owen, and myself that come to mind, but Wayne is one of the great unsung heroes.
He did a lot of the really hard behind the scenes stuff -- like driving. Wayne was the driver. When all the boys would pile into Stu's Greyhound bus the saying was, 'I don't care whose driving as long as it's Wayne.' And it was a hard earned compliment for Wayne, often driving 500 miles per day, impeccably well disciplined and careful, through some of the most intense weather anywhere -- black ice, blizzards, blinding rain. And we were always either freezing or burning up.
Ah, the good old days! It's fun to think back on the stories of my early Stampede days and in fact I just might do that a lot this week and share some more good-spirited highjinx with you next week. Till then, stay cool -- and wear your seatbelt.