|James Dean Memorial Junction - Image courtesy of Wikipedia.|
If you have ever taken Highway 41 headed towards the coast there’s a good chance you've driven by where Highway 41 becomes Highway 46 and the infamous spot where James Dean lost his life in a tragic automobile accident in 1955.
On the night of September 30, 1955 Dean was driving along then U.S. Route 466 towards Salinas in his Porsche 550 Spyder nicknamed "Lil Bastard". At a little bit after 5:00 pm, a 2950 Ford Tuder was trying to turn away from an intersection and was in the center of the road. Dean was unable to stop at the time and slammed into the driver side of the Ford and skidded across the road onto the side of the highway. The Ford driver was relatively uninjured. Dean's mechanic, who had been in the passenger seat, was ejected from the car and suffered major injuries and survived. Dean wasn't as lucky and suffered a broken neck and died at the scene.
Although Dean passed onto legend peacefully, Lil Bastard has a bit of a sinister legend of it's own. The car was supposedly cursed and George Barris bought the wrecked vehicle for parts. When the car arrived at his garage it fell off the trailer and broke his mechanic's leg.
Soon after that the engine and transmission were sold to some doctors who wanted to used the parts in their own race cars. In their first race, one car spun out of control and hit a tree killing the driver. The other car rolled taking a turn, yet this driver was lucky (relatively speaking) and was only severely injured.
Most of what I just said is common knowledge regarding Dean's death and the car. But the other day I came across a story of Lil Bastard sometimes still being seen on Hwy 46 where that tragic accident occurred. Could Dean be damned for all eternity to drive this stretch of road? Most likely not. If the car is indeed seen, it's most likely a residual haunting where something so tragic happens and imprints itself onto the surrounding area. That and countless James Dean fans have journeyed to the site to pay their respects, no doubt adding to the energy that's already there.
Next time you are heading towards the coast, stop at the memorial if you can. There's even a small restaurant called Jack Ranch cafe has good food and even some Dean memorabilia. And if you are driving along the road and see a Porsche Spyder in your rear view mirror, make sure to let them pass. And then take a photo for me please.