The Legend of Backyard Burns

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While growing up or maybe in our early adulthood, there are situations and places that endear in our subconscious for one reason or another. The reasons for that endearment may be because of an event or a memory frozen in time because of the circumstances surrounding the times that created it.


Back in the late 1980's and early 1990's the friends I spent time with used to hold court in American Fork on downtown's Main Street. A social medium that was in the last stages of its time created by our parents, and maybe grandparents, of lapping Main on a Friday and/or Saturday night. It wasn't all that uncommon to be downtown as well on a weeknight as there was action to be had then too. Today that has now been replaced with cell phones and social media for our young people. As for the weeknights and late nights we were much younger then….

On the outside of town friends discovered an old farm road near the lake that had a slick pavement surface that cried for a little spinning of tires. "Boiling the hides" was another term my father used when discussing the practice. This stretch of road was affectionately referred to as Backyard Burns as it was as much a fun activity as much it was a psychological release to go down there late at night and lay down a couple hundred feet of the vulcanization process. It wasn't a good street racing road as it was narrow and slick but we did have one helluva great time down there late at night "laying a patch" and heading back to town.

The biggest issue with many of our cars then was Utah's climate made it difficult to keep the muscle cars rust free because our winters then being much grander than they are now. So rusted quarter panels and trunk floors were the norm in a few of our rides then. One time one of our friends had a '65 Chevelle that we used to terrorize downtown with. The problem here is the floor near the rear wheels had some rot which meant that a hundred foot patch at Backyards required the act of pulling over to air the car out; an entirely different version of "hot boxing" as it were. I am amazed none of us have any lung issues from this kind of activity.

Although most of our activity at Backyards took place late at night there were some instances of daytime exhibition that occurred. One in particular became part of local folklore. In part because of not only the act being committed but how it was dealt with and how our lives were impacted by it.

Sunday, October 18, 1992 began like many fall days for me. The '66 was a year and change from its transformation as a running field car to a car I could take to a cruise night and car show and not be embarrassed at its appearance. I was battling a head cold that day but it wasn't cold enough yet for me to cast shorts aside to wear long pant regalia just yet.A phone call and a gathering of a few of our crew and we were off to Backyards to lay some rubber and have a few laughs while doing it.

Looking back if we had just done that and been happy all would have been well. But later a couple more friends joined us and by this time, as it was suspected in the pre-cell phone era, that someone on the way home from church called the law about our nefarious activities. The fact that we were videotaping our escapades for the archive didn't help our situation as we would find out later….

As we approached the railroad tracks entering town we were greeted by several sheriffs and city police and detained on the spot! My heart skipped a beat or ten when I watched a sheriff's deputy walking back to his patrol vehicle carrying a VHS cassette tape in his hand! Needless to say those officers were "entertained" by our exploits. A fact made clear as most of us met these officers in court and admitted to being amused for our exploits. Thankfully all of us implicated in the "crime of the century" were slapped on the hand after several months of lawless activity and went on with our lives. It was as much of a life lesson as it was an eye opener for me on how the big machine really worked…..

Several weeks ago Casey, my brother from another mother who was there with a vehicle that day and I, returned to Backyard Burns for the first time in many years. In a quarter century the surroundings haven't changed as much as I thought they would have with the advent of progress. Trains still run on the tracks to the north. Horses reside in fields to the east. Aside from a fairly fresh pavement surface to 21st century standards and a few more dwellings closer than I would be comfortable with we could have recreated a quarter century flashback that day.

Today is the 25th anniversary of that event. It's one of those life experiences that I catalog for not only of what happened to us that day but because of the fact that it opened my eyes to the real world. The details and the like are not important but what is my takeaway is those that it bonded me closer to, my logic of the real picture and how much damn younger we looked in the video!Gotta keep things light hearted folks.

A little snapshot into a life experience of mine I hope you got enjoyment out of. If not maybe this will. The YouTube link to our jurisprudence can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjhgFe8Q-QQ

See you out and about…and keep the rubber side down.
Cheers. 

​Twenty five years later. Casey and I enjoying nostalgia out at Backyards back in September, 2017. Photo courtesy of Casey Averett.

Pic from October 18, 1992. We came, we saw and we had fun...but it cost us...

Copyright

© © Cover photo by Casey Averett. All other photos, unless otherwise stated, © 2017 Jay Horrocks Jr.

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