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Women on Wheels: Tina Lawrence

Women on Wheels: Tina Lawrence


A Second Chance

We are beginning this story at the end, for this is a story of Second Chances.

For two years, Tina, her dad Clark, her boyfriend Darryl, and their friend Keith had been working on Tina's street rod and finally it was finished!  (More on that project further into this story.)  Tina was looking forward to driving her truck, but her plans abruptly changed.

November 2014.  For months, Tina had been going to work during the day, working diligently on street roding her truck at night, and doing a lot of what Tina called "a crazy schedule of  turn-and-burn".  One morning she felt dizzy and kneeled over.  Tina was in Cardiac Arrest.  Her boyfriend Darryl called 911 and immediately started CPR until the paramedics arrived.  When Tina woke up, she was in the hospital.  Over the next 24 hours, Tina lost pulse three times and was shocked nine times.  "The Doctors put me in an induced coma and froze me for four days like a six pack of beer," she added.  "They did not know what my function level would be once they brought me out of the induced coma."  Tina knows she was blessed.  She could have died.  Yet, once she was brought out of the induced coma, everything functioned normally.  Tina ended up with a pacemaker and defibrillator.  From the first responders, to her doctors, the support of family and friends, Tina is so grateful to have had them taking care of her.  In January 2015, all the first responders who helped save her life gathered and Tina had the opportunity to say "Thank you, you saved my life!" - Tina's Second Chance.

And now, the beginning...

Originally from Waseca, MN, Tina grew up on a farm with dairy cattle and of course farm implements.  She always had a liking for the equipment, trucks and cars, and her mom and dad had a Mustang which she absolutely loved.  Yet her dream was still to own an old truck.  After high school, Tina got a job driving a pea-combine for Green Giant, and also worked in construction with her dad.  She said, "I was sort of the boy that my dad never had.  I was the girly-girl, and the tomboy."  She remembers with fondness her relatives had old trucks and cars, and Tina would look at old trucks whenever her family went to the fair.  Tina still held on to her dream of having her very own old pickup truck one day.  And, not just any pickup.  "It had to be older, the look of a Dodge or a Plymouth, with a large grill and chrome and big fat fenders."

Fast forward, now in her forties, Tina was at a point professionally where she felt she could afford an old truck and decided to actively pursue looking for the perfect one.  At the same time, Darryl found one on CraigsList.  They decided to hook up the car trailer, just in case, and Tina, Darryl, and her parents took a drive to check it out.  It was a drive worth taking, as Tina found her dream truck and purchased her '41 Dodge.

"So, on July 3, 2012, my journey to build my dream truck began," and Tina and her dad began tearing everything apart.  Of course, no surprise, it was really pretty rusty and in bad shape.  Even towing it home on the trailer was an adventure as they were afraid the rusty parts would fly off during the drive.  Tina never realized how rare this Dodge model was, and soon realized the research and obtaining parts would be quite a journey.

Clark's friend, Popper, had a frame, a working 318 engine, and a computer from an '89 Dodge Dakota Shelby.  As with most projects, what they thought would fit the '41 Dodge in a straight over transfer, didn't.  While doing research on how to make this transfer work, Tina discovered that they only made that Shelby model one year - in '89.  The total production was 1,475: 995 in red, and 480 in white.  The parts Popper sold Tina came from a white '89 Dodge Dakota Shelby with Plate #383.  They also discovered the steering wheel had Carroll Shelby's signature on it.  Tina kept the original 318 motor and, as Tina likes to speed, they made it a little more throaty, had a custom cam put in, and a specialized transmission.  Then they found out that they had an "oops".  Not knowing the value of the matching numbers on the engine and the computer, and the fact that the computer was only made for that one year, the computer got discarded with no way to retrieve it.  Tina emphasized that from this hard lesson she learned, "You have to do your research before you throw things away.  You never know how important or valuable things are."

Working on the truck was never easy.  The highs, the frustrating lows, and the stress of doing research to find parts when needed was a daily occurrence.  Tina was involved deeply in the build of her car.  She learned how to cut, weld, sand, and grind.  A huge help to her in chasing down parts and helping her build the car was R & S Racing.

The result of everyon'es effort is a beautiful '41 Dodge Pickup street rod affectionately named "Ruby" - Tina style.

Tina's dream was to drive "Ruby" to the MSRA Back to the 50's this year; so, Tina's family and about 100 friends decided to get together at the Back to the 50's to celebrate Tina's Second Chance at life, along with her recent engagement to her now fiance Darryl, and Ruby, her '41 Dodge truck, being finished!

As Tina said when she shared her maiden name, "You can't keep a Fell down."  Tina added a special reminder message to all women: "All my internal plumbing worked.  I had no health issues.  We have no family heart history.  Take care of your health, take care of yourself.  Know your signs; and, watch your stress levels as it, too, can be a silent killer."

Tina is a young woman who was given a Second Chance, her life; and, who took an old '41 Dodge pickup and in Tina's special way gave "Ruby" a Second Chance, a new life.

Enjoy your future cruising in "Ruby"!