Love makes decisions for you. Just a smidge below God and family, I love sports cars and high-performance driving. Let me clarify: I love lightweight, rear-wheel drive sports cars. And must have one that serves as both daily driver and track buddy.
No small choice, really. It affects the places I go, how I go and with whom. Sometimes, it decides whether I do something or not. Love clarifies. Especially during Colorado winters. Continue reading →
Not sure exactly why, but one of the more satisfying actions I perform, as a husband and a father, is locking up the house at night. About nine or so, I slump downstairs and check the slider and then the garage and then the front door. I don’t have obsessive-compulsive disorder, yet I often go back and double- or triple-check the doors, even though I distinctly remember locking them. Sometimes I’ll stare at the locked front door a good three seconds to make sure it won’t unlock itself. You never know.
Winter is tough on the sports car traditionalist. I live in Colorado, in an Audi neighborhood no less. Fellow residents roar past my house, blowing rooster tails of snow as if the very last thing they are concerned about is braking for the upcoming two-way stop. I feel jealous and impotent watching them. Damn them and their Quattros. Continue reading →
At least once a year, I get up quite early and drive Trail Ridge Road, which cuts through the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park. The road rises to an elevation of 12,183 feet. The highest continuously traveled road in the States.
Boogeying through the Park before it’s technically open is like a ride in Disney Land, except you’re in nature and in complete control.
When I was fourteen (a time when powerful machines hold a religious fascination), my dad bought a new Mercedes turbo diesel sedan, our family’s first luxury car. At dusk on the day he bought it, he picked me up from football practice, and echoing off the side of the high school stadium was the idling of its idiosyncratic engine: a pulsing and metallically resonant “chiga-chiga-chiga-chiga-chiga,” similar to the pant of a dog after a summer romp, only snarkier and quicker in tempo. The sound is slowly becoming extinct. Still, a few times a year, the old, steadfast diesel pulls along side me at a light, and, in its panting fashion, reminds me of how it carried my dad and me around leathery Scottsdale in the mid ‘80s, one summer taking us so far as the White Mountains. It reminds me how, within our full house of five boys, it provided my dad and me a sumptuous, private space and conversation piece all our own.
Friends and neighbors, the corn is high and the time ripe for plucking a new machine. Late summer signals the height of car buying season. You’ve seen the ads. And many of you have the Itch. To help you understand, and perhaps chuckle knowingly at the process millions are waist-deep in, let me run you through the four stages we go through when bringing home a new member of our family. Continue reading →
Part four of a five-part series in which I explain how became a pretty good high-performance driver.
I’m not a super handy guy around the house. Ask my wife. Recently, I had the front of my FR-S on jacks and was on the creeper switching out the front brake pads when my wife poked her head into the garage: “Ummm….should you be messing with your brakes? That makes me nervous.” Truth be told, it makes me nervous, too. Becoming a pretty good high-performance driver means tracking the car on a regular basis, which means burning through a good chunk of disposable income. In an effort to control costs and allow the giddy fun to continue, I’ve been pushed deeper into maintenance and repair. Continue reading →
It’s beyond obvious that Porsche makes first-rate sports cars. I track my car frequently, yet need a backseat for my five-year-old princess, which means I’ve seriously considered owning the Porsche that does it all—the iconic 911. Yet here’s ten reasons I’m glad I don’t.
10. I don’t have to fraternize with other Porsche owners, and say ludicrous things like, “I actually prefer having the bulk of the car’s weight over the rear axle.” 9. I can barely afford my track addiction as it is. 8. When I show up at the track, people don’t expect that I’ll be fast. 7. I don’t have to give a nanosecond’s thought to rear main seals. 6. I’ll never be lumped in with 996 owners whom we secretly feel sorry for: “He owns a shit 911 and doesn’t even know it.” 5. I don’t have to flat out lie to my wife about the price of quality tires. 4. When I lift the hood, I get to contemplate the rugged, powerful beauty of the combustion engine—not stare at a hole. 3. In social conversation, I don’t have to admit, in a somewhat embarrassed manner, that “I drive a Porsche 911,” and then go on to explain that it’s NOT for the same reasons every other SoCal surgeon owns one. 2. As my car collects the inevitable dings and scratches, I get to say, in my man-of-the-world way, “Well, at least it’s not a Porsche.” 1. It keeps my dream alive of someday owning the perfect 911.
Part two of a five-part series in which I explain how I became a pretty good high-performance driver.
Now that I’ve appropriated a suitable track car—in my case, the cheap and tossable FR-S—the next step is procuring large doses of “seat time.”
Seat time refers to the hours spent behind the wheel on a track. Obtaining such you come to know the strengths and weaknesses of your car. My stock Bimmer plowed through corners as if its name were Jethro, yet the erotic thrust of the turbo six and the unflappableness of the car at triple digit speed did make me feel as if I were in the pocket of the Almighty. In contrast, the FR-S attacks corners like jungle cat who has eaten in a week. Owing to the modest engine, however, there’s no heady and heroic rush of speed as I redline out of slow corners—just a gradual buildup of momentum (wait for it, wait for it) that I have to learn to maintain, if I want to be quick. Continue reading →