december 1998 - 5.14.1999

home | 'Teg index | mods list | gallery | r.i.p. story

R.I.P. 1994 Acura Integra LS ('Teg)


Learning the Lesson of Racing Comes With A Price...
(written in 2000 for a college class)

Black vs. White. May 14th. 1999. 11:30PM. Route 50 heading towards Falls Church, Virginia. Between 60 and 110 miles per hour. God I hate Ford Probes... After leaving Georgetown in Washington, D.C., I found a contender to my bad Acura machine. A black Ford Probe GT, lowered, factory chrome rims, two people in the car. There were three people in my car, my two best friends that I've known since preschool and myself. "Its on now," my friend told me from the passenger seat. My other friend riding behind him wasn't so sure. "Man, don't do it, they're not worth it." Why didn't I listen? The two in the Probe kept up as we went over the Key Bridge that links Washington, D.C. to Viriginia. They were older than the three of us, but I had more racing experience. Obviously, not enough of it.


While leavingGeorgetown, the punks in the Ford Probe began flashing his high-beams at me to move faster. Well move faster I did. I had him the whole way, that loser, thinking he could compare to my Integra. Did he NOT realize I had spent $6,000 on my car? Please... We were driving so recklessly, I couldn't believe I was actually driving like that. I had never been such a menace to society before in my life, but I didn't fully understand the dangers of high speed until that night... until after it was too late. We were cutting off people and missing them by mere inches. People were honking at us the whole way, and I'm very surprised there weren't any cops on the road. Now that I realize what I've done, I wished there were cops just waiting for us, because getting a racing ticket (which is more costly than getting reckless) would have saved my car's life; after spending all my hard earned money on paying off that ticket, going to driving school, and getting lectured by my parents for hours and hours, I would have figured it out. But by totaling my pride and joy, I learned the lesson the hard way.


We approached the fifth hill about 4 miles from Georgetown at amazing speeds, and I wasn't thinking about the consequences yet. What if there was a cop waiting just over the hill? What if there was a sharp turn just after the pinnacle? What if, what if, what if... Or what if there was a stop light at the bottom of the hill in which I couldn't see the cars waiting to cross the intersection until it was too late? The last situation became reality at about 80 miles per hour as I crested the hill. After I saw the green light at the bottom of the hill, I soon saw all the cars waiting for the first cars to start up. They did, but not in time. The cars on the other side of the road had already started up, and there was no way for me to go from the far left lane across oncoming traffic to the safety of the intersecting road (see depiction of accident below, its not that great, but you'll get the idea).

No Cars
Note the Church of Christ in the upper right hand corner, the green lights, and the whole layout of the intersection

My brakes had been giving me problems before, but this time was different. My Integra, with standard four wheel Anti-lock Brakes, couldn't come to a stop. In fact, there was no response from the front brakes. Usually I'd be able to feel them working, as normal ABS brakes would, but instead of giving me the standard lock-release, lock-release, the front rotors were completely silent. Just the right time for them to quit working on me. Driving a 5-speed car for as long as I had caused me to realize what I needed to do to bring the car down from 80mph quickly. I downshifted. From about 3 or 4,000 revolutions per minute in top gear to 2nd gear. The engine gave a final growl, and I lost control of the car. This is something I have been very good at controlling in the past, controlling the slip of the car to be able to zip around tight corners at exceedingly high speeds (can you tell I took full advantage of my $1,500 worth of suspension enhancements, such as 17" lightweight alloy rims - 19lbs per rim, Z-rated low profile tires, and 2" Eibach lowering springs?), but this time was different.


This time, there was no stopping the car. The one thing I didn't figure out to do in order to slow the car down was pull the emergency brake handle, which I learned to do since the accident. I had moved to the left a little bit prior to downshifting to consider going to the left side of the road, across the oncoming traffic before they reached my position on the opposite side of the road. By the time I had lost control, I had already been yelling at the top of my lungs "I CAN'T STOP! I CAN'T STOP!" My friend riding shotgun told me that going to the left side of the road would be a bad idea, and I agreed with him, so I turned the wheel back towards the road ahead of me as I completed the famous downshift. As I did that, I lost control of the car as stated above, and the roar of the engine was the last thing I remembered hearing for a few seconds. It went totally silent, and then I heard the sound of my tires slidding sideways, then the sound of me pounding on the rear bumper of a red 1991 Mazda Miata (a la the red paint on the front of my car in the pictures - no, I did NOT hit anyone, that is NOT someone's blood...).


After hitting the Miata, subsequently totaling it, my airbags went off with a BOOM! The Ford who was racing me who was in the far right lane, ran up on the passenger side of my Integra, and nailed it hard. I slid about 100 feet up the intersecting road on the right hand side (see depiction of accident below), and came to rest with my left front rim 10 feet over the curb. After it slid perpendicularly over it. Broken in half. The "C o C" in the picture below? That was the Church of Christ - the curb I ran up on was the curb leading to the front doors.... if God wasn't telling me something by letting us all come out of this accident safely, I don't know what to make of it.

With Cars
Note that the blue car with the R on it is my car, the red X is the Miata, and the white box with the F on it is the Ford. See where the car came to rest in regards to the actual pictures of the car? The blue streaks depict the front wheels of the car, see how it was turned around?

I opened the door to get the airbag dust out of my eyes, and if you've ever been in the car when the airbags have gone off, you know what I mean. For some odd reason that I haven't heard the exact reason for yet, airbags are loaded with a substance that reminds me of baby powder. It sucked to have in your eyes, that's all I know, because when the airbags went off when I hit the Miata, I couldn't see anything when the Ford hit me from the side. The only thing I knew was that I was hit, because the sound of the Ford hitting me was tremendous. I fell out of the car, saw the sign of the building that I had come to rest in front of (see picture below), and gave myself the once-over to make sure I still had all my body parts still attached, which I did. My first concern was to make sure that everyone else was okay. I helped my friends pile out of my once beautiful car since the passenger side door was hit so hard, it couldn't be opened. The Probe had smashed it with such tremendous force, that the metal on the body of the car had overlapped over top of the door, locking it shut for good. The only thing that had saved my friend riding shotgun's life, or at least the use of his legs, were the dual side impact beams in the doors of the Integra. Without those bars, and look for yourself, you can see them through the crumpled metal two pictures up, he wouldn't be able to walk right now.


The two older guys in the Probe get out of the car and say to me "Hey, you cut me off, what the %&*# is wrong with you?" Exactly not the right thing I'd like to hear from someone at that moment in time. My two friends pointed at the guys, and they backed up and quieted down. I went to the people in the Miata, who were a 60-something year old couple, and they were okay too. Everyone was okay, except for my car. There was nothing left, as you can see for yourself. The car was a "complete loss" as I was told by the insurance company, who later dropped me because of this. My parents came when I called them telling them I totaled the car, and were standing around me when the people in the Miata came up to me and said how "reckless and crazy" of a driver I was. People drove by the accident site and laughed out their windows. I was devastated. I couldn't believe what had just happened, I hoped that I would just go home, and then I would wake up from my horrible dream. But I wasn't that lucky.

The days that pasted were almost as bad as that night. The next day, my manager called to tell me that I won't be needing to come into work anymore. I had told them a week in advance that I wouldn't be in that next day since it was 'McLean Day,' a town-wide fair if you will, and I love going to it every year. Well, no need making money that won't be doing to support the 'Help The Integra Fund' that I had been starting since my car appearred in my garage back in mid-December. Then I spoke with my insurance company, who dropped me then picked me back up months later. And when it came to the police and my reckless driving charges, "I fought the law, and the law won." I was placed on SIS for one year, and if I got another moving violation, commit a crime, or something as ridiculous as not attending school or something, I would have faced serious penalties. I have since ended my SIS, and received only 2 speeding tickets since that day! But since I got my tattoo, I haven't even heard from the police. I have most definitely learned from my accident, and the speeding tickets were just enforcing the reasons why not to race or even drive fast anymore. I am pleaing to anyone that street races or drives fast constantly to give it up before they put other people's lives in jeopardy. It was a stupid, stupid thing to do, and from being a former 'Import Racer,' you know you can take it from me that I know what I'm talking about. Please let me know if you want to discuss anything about my accident in particular, or if you just want to tell me about your situation. I have been there, done that, and regret every minute of my time spent racing and being a reckless teenager. I have learned my lesson the hard way, please learn from it this way.


Since writing this for a class in college back in 2000, I've helped many young drivers learn the dangers of street racing from someone who has first hand experience. The only "life" lost in this accident was that of my beloved car, a slow Acura - these days, parents are buying $30K+ sports cars with over 300HP from the factory for their children, who then spend tens of thousands modifying them for even more power, without proper driving instruction from anyone with experience. I hope to continue being of service for those who don't know they need the guidance to control such vehicles before they become a danger to themselves or anyone else on the road.

Thanks for taking the time to read all of this...

Mike Garcia

Rest In Piece 1994 Acura Integra LS