Sunday, September 06, 2009

A quick-shift kit and the near end of Blue Origin

In the early 70's, my friends and I used to take our cars to a mechanic named 'Cheater' for his 'super tune ups'. He also installed a quick-shift kit in my transmission. Cheater was a drag racer so we were sure he knew how to tweak our rides.

I hadn't remembered the name for quite a while. Today, Google yielded an entry from the El Paso Times history blog, Tales from the Morgue. I think this is he!
Cheater Bella came to El Paso with the military as a young man and earned his nickname, he said, by racing cars on the East Side. If you beat other drivers, they figured you were cheating...
I knew he was a helicopter pilot and had heard stories about several of his colorful exploits, but had never seen anything in 'print'. The linked article recounts several of said exploits but focuses on a helicopter crash near Alpine, TX in 2003. He had several passengers including Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon the new-space company Blue Origin (site seems to be off-line so the link is to Wikipedia). Alpine is kinda in the same neck of the woods as Blue Origin's test facility north of Van Horn so I can only assume this was a Blue Origin scouting mission?
Bezos might have been in West Texas looking at property.