State Sen. Don East pleaded "not guilty" after fellow Republican Sen. Stan Bingham recounted a high-speed joyride the two took in a souped-up muscle car, reportedly reaching speeds of 145 miles per hour on a public road.
At the end of Monday night's session, Bingham took a point of personal privilege to regale the chamber with his motorsports adventures with East, a retired Winston-Salem police officer.
Bingham said he rode his motorcycle up to East's Pilot Mountain home before setting out with two others for a cruise up to Primland, a posh Virginia resort. On the way back into North Carolina, Bingham said the other riders peeled off, leaving him alone trailing East.
"We parted company with them and we'd been driving 35-40 miles per hour this whole time," said Bingham, a lumber company owner from Denton. "When we separated, next thing I know we were running 85-90 miles per hour. I was running along behind Don trying to keep up. And I thought, since he knows where the curves are, surely I can stay on the road. Anyway, there were several places we hit well over 100 miles per hour. God, I was glad to get to his house."
Once back at East's home, Bingham said East showed him the 2008 Dodge Charger SRT8 he'd recently bought from another GOP senator, Jacksonville car dealer Harry Brown. The special-model speedster has a 425 horsepower turbo-charged V8 engine the manufacturer says can push it up to 170 miles per hour.
"So I got in the car, we're driving along 25-30 miles per hour for a little short distance until we get out to (U.S.) 52, and there's a ramp there, and Don said, 'How far do you think it is down to the end of the ramp?' And I said, 'I dunno, maybe 300-400 yards.' God knows, we were running 145 miles per hour by the time we hit the end of the ramp."
The speed limit on U.S. 52 through Pilot Mountain is 65 miles per hour. Bingham, known for telling tales on the Senate floor, continued as some in the chamber chuckled nervously.
"So then we drive around some of those crooked roads up in his part of the country, and I thought I was going to push a hole through the floorboard or pull the door handle off. So if any of you don't want a hernia or a hemorrhoid, don't ride with Don in his SRT8."
After Bingham finished, East rose from his seat and asked to be given the floor.
"I plead not guilty," he said, evoking laughter from the other senators.
On Tuesday, East told Dome would not be commenting further, declining to speak on whether Bingham's recounting of their high rates of speed were accurate.
East did say that that his powerful Charger is not equipped with one special option — a legislative license plate.