It’s been ten years. The statute of limitations has expired. I can now begin telling stories that could not previously be made public. To wit, I give you one of my very best stories of the 2004 Bullrun USA, guaranteed to shock and offend. Enjoy.
“Do you know today’s date?” said the matronly woman whose ID badge read Dr. Julia Mathers, Psychologist, Kingman County Jail.
I was standing in the Prisoners Waiting Area in the Kingman, Arizona County Jail, dressed like a German Police Officer, my uniform replete with German flags that said “Germany”, Polizei patches from Ebay, and a fake badge and nameplate I’d ordered online that said Alexander Roy, Bullrun Polizei 144. I had handcuffs, a flashlight, police-issue Randolph grey-tinted sunglasses and—on my two-inch thick police-issue leather gun belt, a six-inch long sheathed Maglite—a holster stuffed with cigars and a U.S. band police walkie-talkie complete with a coiled handset clipped to my left shoulder. I looked as authentic as one could, if you believed German cops dressed like doormen at a Bavarian S&M club. One of the two cellphones in my pants pocket vibrated incessantly. It was probably the owner of the supercharged black Mercedes I’d borrowed and painted as a Stuttgart AutobahnPolizeiInterceptor, my money-grubbing, husband-hunting girlfriend of one week, one of the girls I’d been flirting with at the Mandalay Bay Vegas checkpoint the night before, one of the slower Bullrun drivers wanting to know if there was a police roadblock ahead, or my mother wanting to know when I was getting married.
My walkie squawked with police chatter.
Dr. Mathers’ eyes darted to the radio, then to the lipstick on my cheek.
Beads of sweat ran down the back of my cleanly shaven head.
This looked bad, but not as bad as the last time I was in jail.
I’d left the police radio on so I could listen to them talk about me as I was transported, shackled, in the back of an unmarked van, from the middle of the desert to the middle of Kingman, a barren town in the middle of Arizona, best known for its speed traps and the annual midsummer brushfires that render dozens of its residents homeless. My jailhouse neighbors had also been discussing Kingman’s vaunted In-and-Out Burger, just barely visible through the bars in the jail entry hall just a few minutes earlier.
Dr. Mathers leaned forward to inspect my badge and nameplate.
The situation was rapidly deteriorating.
I’d been arrested an hour earlier for 158 in a 55 but, amazingly, I’d been uncuffed as I was taken out of the van and released into the prisoners waiting area. Somehow I’d been mistaken for some kind of visiting official, for now that the arresting officers were out of sight I’d been allowed to roam freely through the fluorescent-lit white brick halls. I put on my sternest face and peered into the cells at the drunks and prostitutes who, in the belief my uniform was real, cursed at me from their cells.
I prayed, in increasing order of likelihood, for two possible outcomes: first, that the Kingman authorities would let the black-clad visitor from the Stuttgart Highway Patrol step outside for “eine cigarreten” somewhere near the fake German Police Car parked nearby or, if not, that they would give me something orange, striped and inconspicuous before tossing me into one of the cells.
Nicholas Frankl, my sarcastic, half-English/half-Hungarian, ex-Olympic bobsledding, film producing, sports-car reviewing copilot, had pointed out the bright side as I was pushed into the police van.
“Herr Roy!” he exclaimed in the face of centuries of Hungarian pessimism. “The Kingman Jail isz in the same direction asz the checkpoint! If they take efveryone in, ve’re still in firsht poszition!” Neither Frankl nor I speak any German, but we’d learned to speak English with a heavy German accent, which we’d found very effective in avoiding arrest and entertaining each other.
Frankl was right about positions, and not just this time. The Ferrari Modena and BMW M3 Convertible right behind us had been stopped as well, and I had the honor of sharing shackles with legendary English rally drivers and scotch drinkers Jamie McCloud and Joe Macari. Both were preoccupied with whether the shackles would scratch their watches, and with great delight they used their camera phones to shoot each other’s wrists in a tableau of gold, silver and Swiss engineering.
McCloud was a handsome, boyish Englishman in his thirties resembling a fraternity President who’d gained fifteen years and twenty pounds. He had a penchant for entering rallies in the best Ferrari made at least eight years earlier, and this time he’d brought a bright red 1996 Ferrari F50, a barely street-legal race car known for its enormous rear wing, lack of air conditioning, mandatory noise-canceling aircraft-style headsets, and the discomfort felt by every owner’s impressively-bosomed girlfriend, who invariably complained and ended up in an air-conditioned SUV by lunchtime. It was after lunch.
Macari was a forty-ish ex-race car driver whose right hand bore the burn marks of the disastrous accident that ended his career. Built like a retired linebacker, Macari was the bulldog that dreamed of being a man, and whose wish was granted. Now Macari owned one of the largest used Ferrari dealers in England, which meant he knew enough about Ferraris to bring a BMW M3 Convertible on the Bullrun instead.
I knew both superficially from the 2003 Gumball 3000—my first—and they were considered authoritative veterans. The two men giggled as we bumped along in the back of the police van, and I was deeply relieved to be in such good company during my first arrest. As long as I was released first—and the police forced the slower rally cars to pull over and wait at the Kingman roadblock—Nicholas and I would remain in first place. I could barely conceal my delight when, upon arrival in Kingman, McCloud and Macari were handcuffed to the jail wall while I was left to find the water fountain unescorted.
My uniform bought me about 15 minutes of purgatorial freedom. I was somewhere in between 30 days in jail and winning the second day of the 2004 Bullrun USA, as I was about to explain to the Kingman Jail psychologist, unfortunately.
“The date,” she asked, “don’t you know what day it is?”
The first of my problems, and I could see a lot of them coming, and this was by far the worst one to start with—especially when in jail, still uncuffed, 10 feet from freedom and faced with a jail psychologist—was that I didn’t know what day it was.
Stay tuned for the ongoing adventures of Team Polizei in our next installment….