Tag Archives: #fast

The Final FInish Line

           Motorsport can be a deadly sport, as any fan or driver will tell you. The following is a tribute to those Drivers who went beyond the limits of man and machine in the name of victory.

 I wake up feeling like I had just experienced a nightmare, panting and sweaty, and then I notice that I am laying on asphalt with my race suit and helmet still on. I try standing up but I feel very weak and stumble to get on my feet. It dawns on me that I don’t know where I am or how I ended up standing in the middle of a road. A two-lane blacktop in the middle of some kind of desert, least that’s what it looks like, only the temperature isn’t warm and the sky is an orgy of purples, pinks, and orange coloring. I feel my helmet and can feel that my visor has been broken off on half of its face and scratches riddled the rest of it. My race suit is scorched like it had been in a fire. I look around for signs of life, but all I see is dark sand and a string of telephone poles that seems to go on forever along the left side of the road. A burning sensation travels through my body when I turn to the right to see my Formula 1 car laying in the sand, upside down and completely engulfed in flames. I fall to my knees in shock as I see the car explode. A human like figure in the cockpit burns in the inferno motionless – I was dead.

Faint memories of what had happened begin to imagine themselves in my head. I remember the car getting loose on the straight away, something in the suspension had collapsed. I remember counter steering as the car turned violently to the left, straight into the barrier separating the pits from the track. The sound of metal and carbon fiber crumbling was the last thing I remembered before waking up here. This feeling is strange, knowing you are no longer alive yet not feeling any since of depression or sadness. Instead, it has been replaced with a relaxing sense of numbness. I don’t know what is going to happen next.

A familiar sound causes me to turn around to see what I hope it will be. The sound of a push-rod V8 rumbling through the still air approaches me. It’s a white 1970 Dodge Challenger cruising towards me and stops just inches away from of my feet. The white paint seems to glow instead of shine and the interior is solid white as well, even the instrument panels and pistol-grip shifter. It sings to me at it pours more gasoline into its six pack intake and opens its driver side door for me to get in. I can feel music waves flowing though my head as I step into the white vinyl interior, pretty sure it’s an instrumental of Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. Closing the door sets the car off in motion as it  travels down the two-lane blacktop on to what feels like nowhere. Confusion, paranoia, and anxiety crowd for my attention as they fight it out in the pit of my stomach. The car is taking me somewhere, I don’t know where, as the pistol-grip shifter moves on its own when it shifts from second into third gear with smoothness of a bolt-action rifle.

Time seems to have no relevance here because I sense that we have been traveling for a while but I have forgotten how to estimate time, just feels like I’m a treadmill. Time takes a backseat as I see figures in the rear-view mirror. They get closer as the Challenger speeds up with an effortless grunt from its 440 engine. Echoes of man made machines begin to fill the desert air as I see a light in the horizon begin to shine which illuminates the approaching shadows in the rearview mirror.

The first shadow came to light as the Challenger sped up to 100 miles an hour, staying as steady as a locomotive, and takes form in the shape of a 1955 Mercedes 300 SLR wearing the number #20 with the driver name of P. Levegh. I tried to see into the car to get a look at the driver as it got along side of me on the left, but the windows are completely blacked out like a pair of aviator sunglasses. Dressed on the front fender were the words, 24 of LeMans 1955. The Mercedes drives off, crossing over to the right lane and vanishes before the Challenger catches up to it. I grab the steering wheel tightly as I see a second shadow speeding up towards me in the side view mirror.

1970 Can-Am race car took the shape of this shadow, showcasing the driver name B. McLaren on its side and Goodwood Circuit 1970 just beneath it. Sporting a bright yellow paint job and a #5, it brought me memories of racer X from the cartoon series Speed Racer as it races off into the distance before also vanishing into thin air – the Challenger soldiers on mile after mile. The yellow lines on the road begin to glow as the Challenger positions itself in the middle of the road. The light on the horizon keeps getting brighter as the purples, pinks, and orange colors in the sky slowly begin to transform into greens and blues, and I start to notice stars in the sky.

My astronomical observations are interrupted by two more shadows coming behind the Challenger. I glance in the rear-view mirror just in time to catch the sight of a rear wing from a Formula 1 race car, branded in Marlboro red sponsorship and a bright yellow helmet in the cockpit. Before I can get a closer look I am greeted by an ear full of American V8 noise coming from a NASCAR stock car pulling up next to me on the right. Painted black with a big #3 on its door and the driver name Dale Earnhardt written on its roof line and the words Daytona 500 2001 on its front fender. I knew who this was but it too had blacked out windows and all I could do was watch as it downshifted and roared away into the air. Almost at the same time, the F1 car crept up on my left side. I could see the driver, but his visor was blacked out, so I couldn’t see his face, but I didn’t have to read the driver name A. Senna to know it was him. Imola 1994 was dressed across the nose of his car. The driver looked like a statue until his head turned and I could see myself in the dark reflection, he motioned with his hand and pointed to the light at the end of the horizon. As I turned to see what he was pointing at, the race car drove away, shooting flames out the back as it shifted gears. The echo of its engine ran with the wind long after the car vanished.

The scenery turns pitch black as the Challenger drives up the light which is at the edge of a cliff. The Challenger stops just before entering the light and opens the door, I think it’s asking me to get out. As I stepped out of the car I notice that on either side of the light, which looks like someone cut a garage door sized hole in space, are the cosmos of the universe. Stars and colors fill the background as I watch in amazement. Behind me is absolute darkness, only things I have in front of me is the light and the galaxy behind it. The light hums like a transformer gathering electricity. The Challenger’s paint begins to glow the same level as the light as it bellows one last torque symphony before driving into the light.

I have reached the ultimate dead end, the last finish line. As I walk up closer to the light, nervous butterflies feel like they have steel tipped wings as they bump the lining of my stomach and my hands begin to sweat inside my racing gloves. Before I enter the light I hear the sound of engines running, running at their limit. Revving, redlining, full throttle, and within a split second everything feels okay. I feel at ease as I step into the light, to join my brothers.

              “It takes a special kind of person to want to put their life at risk in the name of a sport. This short story is a tribute to those who are no longer with us, but went out chasing their never ending need for speed. I pray they have all reached the light at the end of the road and found peace. The urge to race is not a skill, it is a destine rite of passage that only few are gifted with the burden of. All I can say is RIP, Race In Peace.”

  • -Jesus R. Garcia
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Torque Flexing

Some say this act it is the mating call of the idiot, others say it is a gross example of showing off, but most just think it’s cool. The act of spinning a car’s tires until they start pouring smoke and filling the surrounding area with the smell of heated rubber, the infamous burnout. If you’re a fan of cars then you have seen or performed this stunt before during your driving career. Whether you did it to warm up your tires at the drag strip, showing off at a car meet, or goofing off because you were planning on buying new tires anyway, doing burnouts is part of the automotive culture…but who invented it?

We all love seeing a car produce clouds and leaving a behind a Goodyear finger print on the asphalt, but who was the first to come up with the idea? Who was the one who came up with the idea of using the clutch, brake, and gas to keep a car stationary while spinning its tires? This question was keeping me up at night so I decided to ask the internet and found… nothing. All I found was that the start of drag racing in the late 40’s which could have been the origins of the smoking tire, which would make since seeing as how the original purpose for performing a burnout is to warm up the rubber so it sticks to the asphalt creating more traction for the car. I could not, however, find a name or date as to the first one ever done. Then I thought Motorsport could be another lead as to who was behind the smoking tire. Now it seems almost blasphemy to not do a burnout or donuts once you have crossed the finished line with the checkered flag waving you down as you win first place. But that again left me with a dead end at the 1950’s with no name, just a NASCAR victory tradition.

We all know the practical purpose for performing a burnout, but we rarely question the reason why we think they are so cool. A lot of us force ourselves into thinking the smell of burning rubber is good, kind like the line from the movie Apocalypse Now, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning, it smells like… victory.” In reality the smell of burning tires is awful, but we force ourselves to breathe though our mouths so we can enjoy the spectacle before us of a car showcasing its ability to convert fuel and air into smoke and exhaust notes. I often hear people, mostly women, say stuff like, “Why do you guys do that, it’s so pointless”, or, “Aren’t you just damaging your car?” Yes, performing burnouts that are longer than 5 seconds means putting your car at a higher risk of damaging major components, but there are psychological factors taken place in the mind of Gearhead before, during, and after conducting a burnout.

For example, take an average Gearhead who is not a master mechanic, has a car that is considered his pride and joy, and has a subscription to at least one car magazine, let’s call him Otto. Now let’s say Otto is at a gathering of Gearheads like a car show, car meet, or the local auto parts store. Already the mind is more excited than a puppy greeting its owner coming home from work at the idea of being surrounded by people who speak, “car”, and will understand phrases like, “I blew a tranny”, and not get judgmental looks of confusion. Two outcomes usually happen when a Gearhead is around other Gearheads, either he/she will get into a heated dispute with a fellow car-nut over which two particular car brands or cars are better, note they do not have own these cars to argue about them, or they will get a basic instinct to show off their car. Let’s say it’s the end of the day and the cars are starting to leave, and Otto is on his way out of the parking lot and there is a line of people with video cameras filming all the cool cars leave the lot. Otto knows he’s got a nice car with at least 380 ft.lb of torque at his disposal. Instinctively he will scan for police cars nearby as he selects a low gear. Left foot on the brake and leaning on the gas as the car lurches forward with an engine grunt as people start to hear the first cold layer of rubber being sanded off Otto’s set of Firestones. The tires heat up all that is heard is the sound of exhaust system burping out RPM’s as the car turns into a cloud maker with the crowd cheering on.

At this point, Otto’s ego is at a 1980’s action movie hero level of badass and keeps the power on for a few more seconds before letting off the gas. He leaves his asphalt signature while making the dramatic exit that has plagued so many other poor Gearheads with hilarious results that have filled the internet. Reality starts to set in as Otto calms down and settles in for the drive home, and he backtracks all that as happened just now. The final state of mind most Gearheads face after a burnout is, guilt. Otto starts to worry that he probably cut the life of is rear tires by about 40% and that his fuel level took a hit with all that high revving. Otto tries to say sorry to his car by driving very carefully and obeying the speed limit all the way home. Not all of us will react the same way Otto does, but we have all been in at least one of these three states of mind at one point or another.

The burnout is one of those Gearhead mystics that we all take for granted as always been around and enjoyed, but we rarely question. It is a tradition, a crowd pleaser, a strategy, and in some cases, an annoyance. Until the day comes that cars turn into hovering, self-driving, machines that take us to work at hyper speed, we shall continue flexing the torque of our cars because it is cool.

Wreck-less Speeder

“Faster”, you think to yourself as the right foot comes down on the gas pedal like a pound of lead, sending the needle on the speedometer on a dead sprint towards triple digits as you get pushed back in your seat. Feeling the vibrations at the wheel as the car cuts through the air, fighting its way through the laws of physics. Trying to escape tunnel vision as you concentrate on the road ahead, avoiding the hypnotic trance of the white center lines slowing blurring into one. You’re standing on the gas pedal as your death grip wraps around the steering wheel, feeling your shoulders tense up. You’re not sure if it’s the muscles tightening up or the speed demon’s hands as he whispers in your ears urging you to go faster, to push the car to its edge. Feeling the pulse of your heartbeat throughout your body as the car’s RPM’s gets closer to redline. Suddenly, the electronic limiter kicks in and slaps you out of your speed induced hypnosis and you gradually ease off the gas and return back to the reality of the speed limit.

Driving fast is addicting, and speed is the drug that will get you hooked. For most of us, it starts off young when we get our first bike and want to find the biggest hill in the neighborhood to use gravity as horsepower. All your friends, at one point or another, have reached for the, “oh crap”, handle on the roof of the car when you’re behind the wheel. Driving fast, however, can often labeled you as a, “reckless driver”, which I have always felt was incorrect. Someone who is driving 90mph, but focused on the road, is safer than someone driving 70mph while texting or talking on the phone. There is a clear difference between a fast driver and a reckless driver, and that is the level of concentration.

There was a movie in 1976 called, “The Gumball Rally”, about a group of wacky characters in souped up cars driving from New York to California in the fastest time possible. Basically the movie that came out before the Cannonball Run with Burt Reynolds. There was a line in that movie that not only made me laugh, but found some logic behind it. “55mph is unsafe, because it’s fast enough to kill you but slow enough to make you think you’re safe”. It is a great line, and it makes sense because if you are traveling at 55mph you are more than likely to day dream or be distracted because the speed feels boring. Any speed over 100mph and  your mind is focused on the road in front of you because now the risk of death has gone up which forces you to pay attention, theoretically.

There are two kinds of fast drivers in this world, a reckless speeder and a speed freak. A reckless driver will drive fast to get where they need to be with no regard for another drivers or the rules of the road. Mostly because they are too busy: eating on the go, chatting on the phone, sending an ironic tweet about how their city is full of bad drivers, or thinking about what they need to do instead of what they are doing at the moment. A speed freak is different, they drive fast because: they have race car driver ambitions or fantasies, they own a fast car and want their money’s worth, or because they love driving itself and having the ability to control a car at high speed is part of the experience.

A street racer is not a speed freak, because a street racer is driven by competition while a speeder is only racing against him/herself or time. Speed, like a drug, is incredibly addicting so anyone who is an acceleration addict can remember the first time they developed a need for speed. For me, it was the time my father told me to, “Stand on it”, while I was test driving what would later become my first truck. We were on a newly paved road by the ranch and he told me to stand on the gas so I could feel what a V8 felt like at open throttle, and as soon as the needle ran past 90mph I turned into a junkie.

Driving fast doesn’t make someone an unsafe driver if they are paying attention to what they are doing. Although the speed demons can urge a driver to push his/her ability beyond the point of no return that does not mean that, “Speed kills”. Technically, driving at high speed can’t hurt you, but the upcoming tree might. Whatever type of driver you are remember, know your limitations and be safe out there.