By Christy Strawser
ROYAL OAK (CBS Detroit) There are fish stories, and then there are Woodward Dream Cruise stories, with tales running as thick as exhaust about exploits in the free-for-all days when a stoplight look was all it took for a story to start.
One of those stories belongs to Rex Vesaw of Lenox Township, who entertained his pals in their Woodward lawn chairs with a story that topped them all.
“It’s true, I swear,” Vesaw said about the tale that had his buddies in awe.
It all started on a hot night in 1966 when Vesaw, then of Birmingham and fresh out of high school, stopped at a light in his 1931 Ford three-window coupe.
The guy in the next car gave him the eye, but Vesaw said a law had just been implemented to cut down on rubber peeling on Woodward — drag racing was a $500 fine.
“He said ‘you wanna race?’ and I said, ‘No, I can’t afford the ticket,’” Vesaw recalled. “He said ‘come on …’ and I said ‘OK.”
They sped off, and the next thing Vesaw knew, the guy in the car next to him pulled out a bubble light and put it on top of his car.
“He was a cop!” Vesaw said.
He pulled over and recalled his drag racing foe saying, “You have two options: take a $500 ticket or
sell me your car.”
“What?” Vesaw said. The cop repeated it.
“I didn’t have the money, so I thought ‘I guess I have to sell him my car,’” Vesaw said.
The next day, the officer pulled up at his house with $800 cash — and Vesaw exchanged it for his pride and joy.
And he makes do with an annual trip to the Dream Cruise and the Gratiot Cruise, which he helped create, to tell his story and re-live the days when Woodward Avenue was a place where dreams were made — and sometimes lost.