When I parked it, the Turbo had been pristine. Now it looked like the car from Dukes of Hazzard after a chase through the southern backwoods. Stunned, I surveyed the damage. The hood was raked with gouges, the top of the right front fender was flattened, and the driver's door (which is made from aluminum to save weight) had taken a beating. Worst of all was the rear fender, which had hit the concrete door frame as the Turbo launched itself into the alley - it looked like a giant blacksmith had smacked it with a sledge hammer.
Like a man surfacing from a deep dive, I slowly returned to reality. I yelled at my son for a minute or two. Then it was time to make some phone calls. Will stood in the garage, quaking. I dialled Rick Bye, a professional race driver who manages the Porsche press fleet. The day before, he had been with me in the Turbo at Mosport, teaching me the fastest line around the track and making sure I didn't destroy his car. After decades of racing and dealing with idiot journalists, Mr. Bye has seen almost everything there is to see in the car business. But as he turned the corner into my alley, he was greeted by a new first: the nose of a $180,000 high-performance car projecting halfway into the lane, with a shattered garage door draped over it like a curtain.
Mr. Bye quietly surveyed the scene for a minute. Then he walked over to my son. "Stuff happens," he said. "We're glad you're okay. This is only a car. You don't need a lecture. You already know."
Now Mr. Bye and I were both on our cellphones. He was talking to Porsche's insurance company. I was trying to find someone who could get the garage door off the Turbo and get my garage closed up for the night - it was filled with mechanic's tools and my homebuilt airplane project. If we left it open, we'd be picked clean by the morning.
I found three companies that advertised 24-7 emergency service. That was a joke - none of them could come within the next two days. Then I remembered my contractor, Marty Edge. Six years ago, he rebuilt my house. Now he works full time for David Thomson (yes, the one you're thinking of) on his properties around the world.
Luckily, Marty was in Toronto. An hour later, he was at my garage, along with a door expert named Frank Dyer. The cavalry had arrived. I was starting to feel a little better. Frank used the remains of our ruined door to close up the opening. Will had never used power tools before, but Frank put him to work driving screws.
As the dust settled, my wife and I confronted the parenting issues that attended the disaster. What was the appropriate punishment for a boy who trashes a car worth $180,000? Friends were flooding us with stories of costly child screw-ups - like the son who flushed an action figure down a toilet, creating a deluge that caused more than $100,000 damage to their house. A colleague told me how she damaged her parent's brand-new van - she got distracted and rear-ended a truck filled with huge stones (driven by two women who were starting a rock garden project.)
I recalled a childhood friend who rolled a bowling ball off a garage roof (it seemed like a good idea at the time) only to have it land on his father's newly restored Porsche 356. Another had totalled the family Mercedes by taking it out of gear and pulling off the handbrake - he jumped out as the car began to roll, and watched helplessly as it headed down their steeply sloped driveway, across the street, and into a ravine.
Will's ride through the door was getting around. I got an e-mail from a partner in a Bay St. communications firm: "Congratulations on your son's Ferris Bueller moment," it read. " It's all over town. There must be just a touch of parental pride that he has the sense of adventure, the stones, and the good taste to give it a try. That will be a wedding day story. Hope you got photos."