In an effort to stem the nearly 17,126 deaths caused by alcohol-related traffic crashes last year, a unique High Performance Driving School in Colorado offers motorists a new slant on the American pastime of having "one for the road."
Dodi Farquar, founder of the Denver Academy of Drunken Driving (DADD) met with me, at Farquar’s other enterprise the Pork & Stork Outlet a combination Barbecue Shack and Baby Furnishings warehouse outlet.
"I am but a humble Muslim, " stated the portly entrepreneur, "so the alcohol is not a problem for me. Indeed, given my people’s preoccupation with female genital mutilation, fundamentalist self-flagellation and designing car bombs, already I’ve got, what you call, a full plate."
"Shuggie", as Farquar likes to be called, came up with the idea if a Drunken Driving School while recovering from elective rhinoplasty last Ramadam. "From the hospital morphine drip I was, how you call it, `woozy?’ So on my way home, driving, by a Highway Patrol Officer, I was stopped and tested. I was arrested by the cop driving my car"
"Shug", a nickname Farquar likes even more than "Shuggie", had had only two previous arrests: one, in 1995, for throwing his Mother from a train, a kiss, and the other in 1996 when he hired an immigrant janitor and had his warehouse mopped by the old man, with a long white beard. Shub said, "I was confused when my mind wandered to a vacation in Greece!"
"At DADDS we teach driving skills that can help save your lifeand your license. Did you know that every 32 minutes someone dies in an alcohol related accident? So, use your head. Drive for 30 minutes, stop, have a drink, then get back on the road for another half-hour."
"Shu" a nickname Farquar likes the most, went on to state that statistics show 1 in 13 drivers is drunk (BAC of .08 or more) every weekday night from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. , but between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. on weekend mornings, the ratio is 1 in 7. "People who drink rarely are sober!"
"Obviously, it makes more sense to leave a bar later, regardless of what condition you’re in, just to get in that larger pool of drunken drivers. The cops will have their hands full and that leaves an open road for you to weave on. Last call, free-for-all."
After a delicious lunch of baby back ribs, barbecue beef and coleslaw, I had a couple of icy HeiferWhizzes. We strolled through the bassinet and hamper departments of "Pork `N Stork" before leaving in his `98 Ferrari Testarossa for the DADDS test track and skid pad in Denver.
"There’s only so much you can learn from a book," he announced while we passed bumper-to-bumper traffic by racing along the unpaved shoulder of Hwy 36. "You can’t make the omelet without denting some fenders."
We arrived at the DADD torture track just before "Happy Hour" where Donny Spillage, the Academy’s head instructor, was doling out large cups of Jack Daniels and helmets.
"Okay people, we’re about to start working on the high-speed handling skid pad. Is there anybody who doesn’t have half a bag on yet?"
One woman in her mid-forties raised her hand sheepishly. Donny poured a big splash into a styrofoam cup and held it at arm’s length. "Here's one for the road, Sugarbear."
Donny picked up a bullhorn. "People, you’re fooling yourself if you think you can score high here without being good and juiced. Now, drink up and lets get behind the wheels!"
Other workers placed cardboard cut-outs of school-kids, senior citizens and house pets at intervals around the track. The skid pad was littered with cardboard Highway Patrol cruisers and stand-up State Troopers.
Shu pointed to a man in his late twenties who was staggering toward one of the bright orange high-performance Mustang 5.0’s. As he approached the door he retched, wiped his mouth on his Old Navy Fleece Pullover and dove into the window.
"That’s what we call "throwing off the scent." Most cops don’t want to smell the breath of someone who has just vomited, much less have them ride in the back of the patrol car on its way to the station. This kid is going places!"
And that’s just what he did.
Diving through the open window, his hand hit the gas pedal and the muscle-car screamed into a long spinning burnout. With a loud crash the kid ploughed his bumper into the driver-side door of Farquar’s Ferrari..
"INSHALLAH!" cried the rotund businessman, "Someone call a cop, and see if he's drunk!"
And, as another alcohol-related accident racked up a huge loss, I checked my watch.