Have you ever noticed that some driving moments even after countless years remain fresh and crisp in your memory bank. Often these moments lasted for a few minutes, which at the time seemed much longer.
If you are of a certain age, you perhaps remember that Renault had a modest assembly line in St.Bruno on the south shore of Montreal. If by chance back then you were commuting to the south shore of Montreal the 30 (autoroute 30) was in the process of being constructed. But the stretch heading west from the 20 to St.Bruno and Chemin Chambly was completed at the time.
Stretch of highway going nowhere, hardly any traffic at any time, and no urgency to clear snow in winter.
On winter mornings that it had snowed, going from the 20 to the 30 was an interesting experience, of finding the 30 not cleared yet, with literally a tire trail in the snow and a wide expanse of white. It was simple, follow the single tire trail in the snow, and stay a good distance from the vehicle in front of you, while driving in a cautious, safe fashion.
Driving a GM product the tire trail was right sized, driving a Renault the tire trail was slightly wider than the Renault.
There is an appealing aspect to driving in a good amount of fresh, fluffy snow at a reasonable speed, some will blow over the hood, while there is a cloud of snow behind the car.
This particular morning...with fresh unplowed snow on the 30.
There is a Renault in the 30 on ramp in front of the GM car, on the 30 as the cloud of snow behind the Renault is distancing itself from the GM car. The individual in the Renault is gaining speed perhaps to increase the momentum to overcome the narrower track of the Renault or just to have fun.
The Colonel in the GM car gathers more speed to keep up with the cloud of snow of the Renault in front of him in the tire trail.
The thought process:
Going reasonably fast in a tire trail, no other vehicles on the road, stay a distance from the cloud. If anything happens to that narrow tracked Renault in front of you that you can't see, ideally you don;t want to hit it.
As this thought process is evolving, suddenly the cloud of snow in front of The Colonel gets appreciably bigger.
Something happened to the Renault in front of you, get off the gas, don't even think of braking, you have no clue what is under this snow, stuck on a deserted highway in the middle of fields is not much fun.
Whatever happened...the Renault is no longer on the road, in the tire trail, its in the median. The reason for the bigger cloud of snow as it flew off the road.
Back then cellular phones were a figment of the imagination. The Colonel reaching his office called Renault in St.Bruno to advise them that probably one of their employee was in the median of the 30 a few kilometers from the plant.
Keep in mind that bias belted tires of the day were incredibly slippery on snow compared to radial tires of today.