Without warning, something that has consumed Vinnie Saviano for all of his adult years is actually happening as the words come out of him.
"This has been a dream of mine, especially being a dedicated car-magazine reader for the last 30 years [he's 39], so I feel it's a real honor to finally be in Chevy High. When I was about 12, I used to ride around on my bike looking at cars. I found a '69 Super Sport parked by the side of a gas station. I would sit on my bike and just stare at it and drool, dreaming of the day I could have my own.
"That day did arrive, in 1988. I was 21. My brother showed me a classified ad for a '69 Super Sport. When I pulled up and saw it, I couldn't believe my eyes. It was the very same car I'd slobbered over! It was basically stock. It had a few dents and some rust, but it was very solid. I became the third owner. At the time, I was heavily into drag racing and I was obsessed with the movie American Graffiti. I wanted to be John Milner.
That's what young guys (and a helluva lot of old ones) crave-the speed, intensity, and the squishy-gut fact that it's happening on a public road. Several places on the Island are perfect for this big-rush activity. Civilians are not a concern and sometimes the cops even look away. Nowadays, with wife and family responsibilities weighing as heavily as his conscience, Vinnie's speed exhibitions are confined to the dragstrip.
Regardless of how many '69 Camaros we've met, Vinnie's could well be the epitome. The stance is perfect. The car is clean and simple and does all its work strictly on the motor. If we'd put a label on this Camaro it would be street-and-strip. Though the car appears tame, it relinquishes even the most basic creature comforts in the name of hard-core, and it ain't no gutted lightweight, neither (3,660 pounds). There's not a shred, or scab, or open space anywhere, and the back seat is still in place. What with those shades-of-the-'60s Cragar S/S wheels, it vibes time warp, and without the lines of a rollcage disrupting the visual image, the thing looks almost stock.
Where Vinnie runs, the whole car/street/drag thing is most cultlike. Undoubtedly, the regional dialects and accents infusing New York Metro sound coarse and altogether unsophisticated to ears west of the Hudson River. Behind the toughness perceived by the rest of the world (even over in Jersey) are people with big hearts, a standard of pride, and love of hobby that reaches beyond the normal car interest-lifestyle doesn't even come close. Vinnie's very proud that he drives his Chevy to the track and that it runs so well through closed exhaust and on pump gas.