Pat Prate of Orange

Pat Prate pauses beside his Polaris Slingshot before loading up his groceries in Orange.

If you’ve noticed a black Polaris Slingshot zipping past you in Orange, Pat Prate was probably behind the wheel. Prate bought his 2015 model when it was new, around the same time he moved from California to the Town of Orange so he could live near his daughter, a Gordonsville resident. “I was the first one in the neighborhood to have it. I was like the poster kid for Polaris. Everyone was coming up to me,” said the retired long-distance truck driver and active participant at the Orange Senior Center.  The author of two books on Amazon Kindle—a collection of stories called “Autobiography of an Invisible Man” and a novel titled “Death by Circumstance: A Trucker’s Mystery”—Prate wanted a vehicle that could help him promote his work. He said that when people ask about his vehicle, he’ll find a way to tell them about his books. As for the three-wheeled Slingshot, he said it has a 178-horsepower Chevy Cobalt engine and five-speed transmission. One part wacky and two parts dashing, the vehicle “drives more like a car, but it’s definitely a motorcycle.” When he drives it, he wears both a helmet and a seatbelt and obeys the speed limit rather than maxing out at 220 mph, the upper limit on the speedometer. What makes it fun, besides all the conversations it inspires? “The typical motorcycle thing—the wind in the hair, the bugs in the teeth,” Prate said. “It’s just a really nice ride.”  

Hilary Holladay covers education and politics for the Orange County Review. The author of five books, she is currently writing a biography of the poet Adrienne Rich.

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