Now, listen to this…While searching through a popular magazine several months ago, I found an advertisement that struck me as peculiar, though there was nothing noticeably odd about it. The ad featured a photograph that I can still remember. It was a racing car driver, a real “Speed Racer” type. He was wearing a crash helmet so that only his eyes, cheekbones and nose were visible.
After seeing that ad, I immediately thought of Deep Purple’s 1972 heavy metal classic “Highway Star.” I always loved the part of the song that went, “Nobody gonna take my car, I’m gonna race it to the ground, nobody gonna beat my car, I’m gonna break the speed of sound…”
Other songs came to mind as I hummed the melody of “Highway Star” over and over. First, it was Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road,” followed by Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” and The Beach Boys’ “Little Deuce Coup.”
That’s when I stopped for a moment. The racing car driver in the ad was wearing a crash helmet. He didn’t look like anyone from “The Fast and the Furious” movies. Not only that, Springsteen and the others were singing about street racing, not the NHRA, NASCAR or Indianapolis. Nobody wears crash helmets in street racing.
But all of that didn’t matter. I had an overwhelming need to join Deep Purple’s “Highway Star,” one of my favorite songs, with the image in the advertisement, but why? Why “Highway Star?” Furthermore, why did I find the helmeted man in the ad so compelling?
Could it have been that I associated organized car racing with my late father. After all, he was an amateur driver with professional aspirations and capabilities that were never realized. No wonder car racing and men in helmets were so close to his heart and naturally mine. He probably would have gotten a kick out of Deep Purple’s “Highway Star.” If only I had the chance to discuss it with him.
I took out a pad and quickly sketched the plan for “The Racer.”
If you enjoy reading Paul’s work, you can subscribe to this blog or follow him on twitter.