Tag Archives: #modern

Motor Girls – Female Car Enthusiasts

Blue vs. Pink

It starts from the moment you’re born. Boys get blue and girls get pink. Boys get G.I. Joe and Hot Wheels, and girls get Barbie and Easy Bake ovens. Boys learn to work with their hands while girls learn to nurture. Recent generations have started to burr the lines on gender specific childhoods, but it will be awhile before a child is free to play with whatever their heart’s desire without judgement.

This unwritten rule of what a child should be playing with grows up into adulthood and it’s a contributor to why the car is seen as a male dominate hobby. Few girls grow up having grease under their finger nails and holding a flashlight while their dad works on the family car. Even when they do, the color of their equipment will usually only come in pink.

When a Dream Becomes a Reality

I never understood men who feel threatened by women who love cars and can wrench or drive better than them. As a car-guy, shouldn’t it be a fantasy to meet a girl that isn’t annoyed at the thought of going to a car show with you? To meet a girl that will bring her own tool box to help you work on your race car. A girl can make you weak in the knees just by saying the phrase “An inline six with triple Weber carburetors”. It’s supposed to be a dream to meet someone you can fall in love and share a hobby with. So why do some men exclude women? Why do some men see women in the hobby as just a pretty face to look good next to their car?

The Woman Who Helped Create Our Obsession

If it wasn’t for women in the automotive world the car could have been delayed by several years, possibly decades.

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Photo courtesy of History.com

In 1888, Bertha Benz became the first person in history to complete a long distance trip in one of the earliest examples of an automobile. Bertha Benz was the wife of Karl Benz, and their patent horse-less carriage is considered to be one of the first examples of the automobile. Although Karl Benz was a genius inventor, he struggled in the marketing department. The Benz family was also feeling the heat from another competing German engineer who was tinkering on his own automobile just a few miles away, Gottlieb Daimler.

Bertha Benz believed in her husband’s invention and decided to prove it to everyone by using it to travel 65 miles to her mother’s house. Benz’s car was a three wheeled, single-cylinder, 2.5 horsepower buggy that could sit one in the front and two in the back. Bertha left with her 2 sons on the world’s first ever road trip. The story of her journey is an article in itself, and the publicity created from her trip saved their company from going bankrupt.

hith-bertha-benz-E Car Replica
Photo Courtesy of History.com

The trial by fire road-test also led to Karl going back to the drawing board to work out all the bugs that Bertha faced on the 120 mile around trip, which lead to the introduction of the world’s first gear system. All you bros out there who love dumping the clutch on their V-tech’s owe their burnt clutches to Bertha Benz.

A woman saved the invention we would later revolve our lives around. She proved to people that the horse-less carriage was safe and easy to use. Her efforts got people on board with the idea of the automobile.

Modern Motor-Girls

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a number of female car enthusiasts in my life and have admired them all for being as car-obsessed as me, if not more. They are the reason why I tend to stay away from using the term “car-guy” in my articles, because I know it’s not a one gender hobby.

I am not accusing all car-guys of discriminating against women enthusiasts, I’m saying that this type of thing does happen. There are car-guys out there who share my opinion just like there will properly be some who will read this and completely disagree.

As one female Gear-head said:

“You don’t steer with your boobs or shift with your penis, so why should it matter?”

– Kat Hagen

Biased Media Outlets

I constantly see the term “car-guy” being used to describe enthusiasts in popular automotive websites and even TV shows – media outlets that should know better than to ignore part of it’s target audience.

Car Throttle is guilty of constantly ignoring female car enthusiasts in their articles and media. They love carpet bombing the word “car-guy” all over their videos and articles. Even in videos where they compare non-car enthusiasts to Gear-heads they will still say, “Non-Car Guys”. Scan through the comment feeds of their content and you will find comments like, “car girls too.”

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There are some articles and videos about car-girls but they are either written by guys or deal with the same repetitive topics. “The troubles of being a Car-girl”, “How to turn my girlfriend into a car-girl”, “Non-car girls vs. Car-girls”. Stuff we have seen at one time or another for years, nothing new.

Some Car Throttle loyalists will want to say that I am full of it. But, if you are a member of the site try searching for “car-girl”. All you will see are photos of attractive girls posing with cars, memes about how a girlfriend can drive a wedge between a car-guy and his race car, or memes about how rare and glorious meeting a car-girl can be.

Last year, I briefly wrote scripts for a Texas based TV show called, “The Car Guy Show”. I always had trouble with the name of the show because it implied that only men watched it, even though one of the main hosts is a woman – who is also a professional race car driver. Anyone with a fraction of knowledge in marketing will tell you that it’s an incorrect name for a television show trying to go national.

Don’t Pick Sides, Choose Common Sense

One of my female friends told me that in order to be a woman in this hobby you have to have tough skin and be able to take a certain amount of discrimination. That is not right. Our hobby is so massive because of its diversity.

There are so many nicknames for people who love cars: Motor-head, gear-head, lead-foot, petrol-head, rev-head, car-nut, car-freak, etc. So why has “car-guy” become the go-to name in our hobby? It’s time for all of us to start seeing car-girls as more than just objects to pose with our cars, or fantasies. Don’t be threaten that a girl knows more than you about cars, be glad that you can learn from her, and maybe fall in love in the process. Every Dom needs a Letty, and our hobby has enough room for two lanes.

For the record I am not a feminist, because I do not believe in picking one extreme over another. Everything has to be categorized to a point where you are forced to pick a team and join in on the debate instead of just using your own common sense to distinguish right from wrong.

1972 Buick Riviera GS – Golden Brown

A story told from the car’s perspective:

A Premium Machine

It was another day at the Buick dealership. Another day of being shown off by Buick salesmen in their patterned suits, squeaky loafers, and slicked back hair as they paraded people, who had no business in a car like myself, around me. People getting inside me with their dirty shoes, messing with my buttons, and asking for test drives. Hearing them try to haggle over my sticker price always annoyed me. I’m a premium machine, a Gran Sport! I don’t want you if you cannot afford me. This day, however, was different because he walked in…

The first moment I saw him I knew he was different. Wearing a silver suit that shined like chrome, diamond pinky ring, and carrying big wads of cash in his black leather coat. He paid for me in cash! I can still remember the expression of disbelief on the salesmen’s face when he saw all that bread being laid out on the table. “Wrap her up, I’m taking her home today!” my new owner exclaimed with a cocky grin as he pointed to me. I had never seen a man so confident and aware of his motives. He knew what he liked, and had the money to obtain it, and what he liked was me.

He wasn’t the tallest man, but you would think he was seven feet tall by the way he carried himself. Always dressed in the finest suits and sporting different tinted color glasses each day. He had at least four different pair of sunglasses displayed on my dash. I always made sure to drive as smooth as possible as to not disturb them from their place. I could feel the rim of his gold rings when he grabbed the steering wheel. He must have been a very important man because he never bothered to lock my doors wherever we went. As if he knew no one would dare try to rip me off.

I was painted gold with a white vinyl top and brown leather interior; I was such a stunning machine back then. Didn’t take long for my owner to start spoiling me by buying me a set of white wall tires and chrome wheels to make me look more distinguish against those snobby Eldorados and Continentals. He always drove well-mannered and never abused me, always making sure I was warmed up before setting off. On occasion he would put his foot down to remind himself that I was much more than just a pretty face. My big 455 heart would suck up air and turn gasoline into torque as I ran up to 110 mph, hovering over any imperfections on the road. He was the coolest cat I had ever met, and other people seemed to share my opinion.

Custom Work

One day I remember being taken to a warehouse to see a mechanic dressed in street clothes. The man took a blowtorch to my trunk and made a hidden compartment in me. It didn’t hurt, but I felt strange having a hole cut in me for no reason.

From then on, my owner, who was often referred to as “The Jockey” by people who greeted him, would take me all over town for work. I never expected to be used as a hauler, but we went to the docks and he loaded a big brick shaped package into my trunk. We drove home and by the end of the night he had dozens of little golden brown bags that he placed in the trunk’s hidden compartment.

That’s when we would go to work – cruising into the darkest parts of the city. A side of town full of degenerates and vagabonds, no place for a Grand Sport like me. I hated rolling on filth covered streets and having low class women sit on my hood while my owner was inside a nightclub, working. Sometimes he would park me in a cold dark alley so he could check whatever it was that was hidden in my trunk.

Hitting the Streets

Going to work was always a nightmare of being surrounded by the scum of humanity. Once, a drunkard used my wheel as a urinal before losing his balance and falling over onto my rear fender. I felt his weight of soiled regret on my body work and wanted to shake him off like a horse brushing off flies with its tail.

Degenerates were always hounding my owner and would lean on my doors whenever they begged him for something. “I’m jonesing man, just need a taste to get me through the week!” One vagabond said to my owner. I didn’t understand what he wanted or why he seemed so desperate. He couldn’t stop twitching and looked as if he was about to have a nervous breakdown.

The nights were rough but the days were worth it. My owner loved taking me on scenic routes and dined at the finest restaurants where I felt more at home in the valet parking lot being hand washed by the staff. The sun would dance off my gold paint wherever we went and I loved hearing my voice sing as my 455 heart hummed with the smoothness of a knife slicing through butter. Those were the days I truly enjoyed being with my owner.

I felt like the good times were going to roll on forever, but suddenly it came to horrifying halt.

Night of No Return

It was a particularly dark night as the moon hid amongst the stars. I was sitting in the cold alley waiting for my owner to take us home. Suddenly, I head a noise in the shadows near the dumpster that was next to me. I saw two figures lurking, trying to hide themselves as best as they could. Then I heard the sound of my owner’s boots hitting the pavement as he made his way towards me from the rear. The two figures began to move out of the shadows and I saw that one of them had a switchblade in his hand.

I couldn’t see what happened because they were behind me, but I heard one of the men threaten my owner with the knife in exchange for the money he had. I didn’t hear my owner speak, all I heard was the commotion of shoes scrapping along the asphalt followed by the sound of a gun be fired! A sickening noise of air being forced out of a person’s lungs was next, followed by the weight of a body being dropped on my trunk lid.

Something warm began to spill on my paint and drip off my bumper. A pair of running footsteps was the last thing I heard before everything went silent. Minutes felt like hours as police sirens echoed in the distance. I had an idea of what the weight on my trunk was but was too scared to even imagine it. The weight on my trunk started to shift slowly as I heard the sound of his last breath before feeling the full weight relax on me. I knew what it was, but I did not want to bare it.

When the police arrived I heard them say that he had tried to pull a gun but was overpowered and stabbed repeatedly. My owner had been killed trying to defend himself and had bled out lying on my trunk. I was devastated that he was gone. I loved him…

I was towed to the impound yard where I have remained ever since. My paint has long been burnt off by the sun and I am no longer the stunning machine I was in 1972. Rats have turned me into a motel and I sit with the guilt of not being able to warn my owner. I doubt I’ll ever have another owner again because of how ugly I look.

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All I can do now is park in silence with memories of coastal runs and turtle wax massages. The memory of my owner will live on in the bags of golden brown hidden in my trunk.

The Roast of America’s Pony Car

A Dysfunctional Family of Gearheads

The automotive community is one of many personalities. It’s composed of subcultures expressing their own opinion on how a vehicle should take you from A to B. There are those who prefer to go sideways, others who want to only go fast in a straight line, while others prefer to travel as the crow flies. This spectrum of opinion means that our community can behave like a sarcastic dysfunctional family that may not always get along, but knows deep down that we’re all we got.

The Mustang – Terror of the Meets

Over the last month, there has been a trending series of internet memes devoted to the Ford Mustang’s recent inability to leave a car meet without attempted vehicular manslaughter. It seems that when you put a live axle in a sports car, and toss the keys to an inexperienced driver, all-hell breaks loose faster than the Mustang’s rear-end. The internet has grown its inventory of videos showing Mustang owners wanting to leave a car show/event/meet in style by smoking their tires – only to lose control and crash into a crowd of spectators, or other cars.

People have gotten hurt in these accidents, not something to laugh about, but what the community does find funny is that it’s always a Ford Mustang kicking its ass around and sending its panicked driver into a world of legal trouble. Memes targeting Mustangs have been popping up everywhere like a McRib comeback ad.

Ford Mustangs are like the Kardashians. There are those who worship the ground they roll on, while others spit at the sight of a Coyote engine. While everyone else who is indifferent can’t escape seeing them everywhere they look. So the fact that it’s gotten so much heat is a statement that no car is safe from the wrath of meme creators.

Dark Ponies

Some memes are funny, but the joke has a dark tone. The joke is that Mustangs want to behave like Stephen King’s Christine and attack people. Non-car people love to associate our hobby with unwanted deaths and injuries. It’s been that way since the late 1940’s and hasn’t stopped since. Poking fun at Mustangs wanting to hurt people may look bad to those who aren’t in on the joke.

A New Vehicular Stereotype?

Following high school tradition, the Mustang roast will cool off by the start of the summer, unless another one accidentally plows into a crowd. However, I feel that the damage these reckless drivers have caused will haunt their favorite Ford’s image for a long time to come. The Mustang’s new reputation for acting like a Tasmanian devil may stick like an unwanted nickname. It may join the list of other stereotypical jokes that come with ownership of certain cars. For example…

  • If you drive a Prius, you are driving the car equivalent of a vegan.
  • If you drive an Audi, BMW, or Mercedes Benz, you must be a D-bag who is incapable of using turn signals.
  • If you’re a Corvette owner you must be suffering from a mid-life crisis.
  • All Mazda Miata’s owners are “hair-dressers”.
  • If you drive any truck that requires a step-ladder to climb in, then you are driving something big to compensate for something… small.

We all know these are just jokes at the owner’s expense, but the joke has become part of the car’s image. How many of you have thought about buying any of these vehicles but hesitated for a moment because you wondered what people would think? One shouldn’t care what others think as long as you are happy with your car, but the split-second hesitation means that these jokes can have a negative impact. Plus, any moron thinking there a stand-up comedian will see you as an easy target and that’s just annoying. “Oh you drive a Mustang? Don’t hit me bro. Ha..ha..ha.”

Not Worth It

Remember that the reward of leaving a car event in a trail of tire smoke is not worth the risk in damages. The art of driving may become endangered in the not to distant future, so we cannot give the people who don’t understand our hobby an excuse to take it away. Drive safe, and don’t fall for stereotypes.

Cars & Coffee– A Melting Pot of Subcultures

Under My Nose

I have been seeing articles and photos of Cars & Coffee events for years, and only recently discovered that one was being held six miles from where I live.

I got up that morning, still feeling the vibrations from the tequila shots I enjoyed just a few hours earlier, and made my way to the event. In my mind, I saw Cars and Coffee events as a way for older car enthusiasts to gather with their weekend toys without having to worry about young kids in slammed Subaru’s doing donuts in the parking lot.

Clean Slate for a First Impression

When I arrived, I parked my Mazda in the very back, because I was not there to partake but to merely observe. Plus, I did not have a time to wash the Mazda and I felt guilty about it.

My father taught me long ago that it is always better to listen before speaking. To gather information before making a decision or forming an opinion. I threw away my thoughts of old men and their Porsches holding Starbucks cups and walked to the car show area with a blank slate.

I noticed that all walks of life were at this event. Families, young gear heads, old gear heads, and people who were just enjoying their weekend looking at machines. One thing that I never liked with car shows is that they love putting Hondas with Hondas, Mopars with Mopars, etc. Seeing the same car over and over again with slight differences in color or wheels is boring. A car show is an event where everyone shares a common interest, cars, so why segregate them as if they were gang colors? This cars and coffee event had some Camaros set up in a line, but other than that it was parking lot of variety. It was nice being able to admire a different machine as I made my way through the lot.

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Listen & Observe

Although I may have a cynical opinion on people sometimes, I am always fascinated by them. I walked along taking photos of cars with my ears open, hoping to catch sound bits of people’s conversations. I heard the stereotypical conversations being hosted around cars. Two guys trying to one up each other on who knew more about a blue second gen Camaro. A bored girlfriend waiting with a bored expression on her face while her, I’m assuming, boyfriend talked to the owner of a Nissan GTR. Young teens with learner’s permits in their wallets geeking out over a Green Hellcat Challenger with paper plates. Young people with expensive cameras and drones, taking photos for their own automotive blogs.

I was still feeling dazed from the events of the night before, so I stayed quiet and unnoticed.

The Drag Pack

I was admiring a beater looking El Camino with the words NITRO EXPRESS written across it when I noticed a crowd gathering over a tow truck. A local speed shop was unloading two examples of their craftsmanship. A set of 1970 Dodge Challengers, each modified way beyond factory spec. The Drag pack were parked next to each other as people flocked to them to get a better look at these quarter mile stallions. The owners were bombarded with the same questions over and over again.

“What engine is it?” – It’s a Hemi.

“How fast does it go?” – It’s a 7 second car.

The owners gave off the impression that they were annoyed with the simple questions, but I know that any show off loves the attention they receive. Especially if it’s something they built. They were there to promote their business. A free marketing opportunity.

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Staring down the blower of one of the Challengers gave me the same expression Mad Max had the first time he laid eyes on his Falcon interceptor. That childish look of want as the imagination cycles through scenarios of burnt tires and high rev gear changes.

In-between Lanes

The automotive world is a melting pot where different subcultures come together over one basic common interest. You have tuners, muscle, import, low rider, 4×4, etc. I never fell into one specific subculture for some reason. I prefer classic muscle if I had to pick a favorite, but I am not going to dismiss a beautiful Alfa Romeo just because it doesn’t have a V8. I like the Cars and Coffee events because they are simple. No trophies to win, no best in show award, no forced advertising, and no hooning to spoil everyone’s fun. It is just a place to show off your car and talk with people who share your interest in the hobby. I plan on brining my own toys to this event in the future.

 

Staring Down the Barrel of Fantasy – Trigger Happy Americans

I Love Guns

My father and I own 27 different firearms in our collection. Notice I said collection and not armory, because we are not dooms day preppers, nor are we forming a militia to overthrow the government based off Fox News statistics. We own so many guns for the same reason we own over 20 cars – we like them. We appreciate the art and craftsmanship that goes into  a revolver or the mechanism in a lever action rifle. We do not go hunting, nor do we aspire to gun down a, “bad guy”. We use our firearms for recreation, which consists of shooting beer bottles and inanimate objects in the safety of our ranch.

Steel Mystique

Guns have a mystique about them, much like a car does. A fast car can make a driver believe he/she is better than they really are. A big truck can make a driver feel stronger than they really are. That’s why jokes about compensating for something always come up. Whether they are true or not is beside the point because even if you have nothing to prove, you will get that feeling of confidence.

Holding a loaded gun for the first time is an experience. I was 12 when I held my first hand gun. It was a nickel plated 9mm Smith & Weston, with a hare trigger, that used to belong to a U.S Marshal at some point in its life. You feel the weight of gun in your hand and the first thought in your mind is, “I have the power to take away life in the palm of my hand.” It is a powerful feeling, and with any amount of power comes the possibility for corruption.

MURICA’s Guns

America is divided on many issues – one of them is gun control. The media only seems to be spamming the two extreme sides of the argument. Either they take away all the guns, or give everyone a gun to “defend” themselves, with no room for compromise. I hear the phase, “God given right”, being thrown around a lot during gun control debates as the NRA treats the second amendment as a way of life.

Let’s be perfectly clear about something. The only right God gives us is the right to an ending. We come into this world with only one certainty in life and that is that one day it will end for all of us. Everything else that people claim is a, “God given right”, is just bullshit used to distract bible thumpers from the smell.

Now, why are so many people pro-gun? That is a question people ask me because I own firearms and I am here to explain the mentality of a gun owner who fears the day a G-man will knock on his door asking for his gun. The following does not apply to all gun owners, but it does for those who are against common sense gun control.

All this fighting over what to do with guns in the America can be traced down to one thing, guns are cool. Blame who you want, the movie industry, television, the MURICA mentality, but having a gun strapped to your side is cool. It’s like smoking, doesn’t matter how many studies are published explaining the dangerous of smoking, it still looks cool.

Open Carry All Around

The argument is that if everyone carried a gun out in the open, crime would go down. That theory, which is what it is, would work…in a perfect world where nobody was angry and stress didn’t exist. The reality is that we are all just one small incident away blowing up. One rude driver cutting you off, one rude retail customer, one coffee made incorrectly, one annoying dog that won’t shut up, away from the last straw. What will prevent us from using our guns, in the heat of the moment, as a problem solver? This is 2016, not 1886.

Fight Against Tyranny

Another argument is that we need guns to protect ourselves against tyranny. The idea that armed with a 12 gauge and an AR-15 we will be able to stop the largest military force in history from breaking in our doors. That alone is nonsense, but what amazes me is that they don’t stop to think about what tyranny would mean for this country.

That would mean that all of our troops, that we love and support, would have to betray their own families, neighbors, and friends under direct orders from a government that under pays them and cuts their benefits at any given opportunity. What incentive would a Marine need to have in order to go out and kill his/her countrymen? That argument has no value in the real world.

What about other countries invading the US? That may happen, and attacks have happened in has in the past, but again we fail to remember that we have the largest military force ever seen. Our military can out gun, and out muscle every country on this planet. Being in constant “conflict” with other counties means we have a massive surplus of unused tanks, planes, guns, and bombs collecting dust in graveyards for that, “just in case”, moment. So if someone does decide to bring a fight to our soil, they will not stand a chance, realistically. So that argument is on thin ice. If someone attacks the US it is because our government allowed it.

CHL Fantasies

What kind of person carries a gun in public? Not talking about police or military, I mean civilians who are proud supporters of the NRA. Well, there are different mentalities to these kinds of people.

One is the hero fantasy. They strap on their piece hiding behind the idea that they want to protect themselves from a, “bad guy with a gun”, but in reality they just want to feel tough. Have that feeling that if someone dared to mess with them they will pull out their piece and say, “Go ahead, make my day.” Have that sense of authority that they are closer to being a bad-ass then those who are not carrying a gun. It’s an ego booster.

They live with a constant fantasy. They wait in line at a gas station, or a bank, and secretly wish that a junkie would bust in waving a shotgun, so that him/her can save the day with their best Dirty Harry impression. Itching for a chance to use their weapon for what it was built to do, kill.

Hate to burst their bubble but all gun owners who practice at a gun range must use protective eye wear, and ear plugs. Why? Because when you fire a gun you don’t actually hear it. Those that know understand that firing a gun without ear protection means your ears will be ringing for the rest of the day, and followed by a possible headache.

Life is not an action movie. In life you miss, a lot. The odds of you pulling your gun out, without stumbling, aiming at the criminal and squeezing off two rounds into their chest is near impossible. You will miss, or maybe hit someone else, and propably get killed in the process. Now you’re just a jerk who tired to play cowboy and lost. Ask any military or law enforcement official and they will tell you that you are never fully trained to handle a life and death situation with a firearm.

I don’t carry any of my guns in public because I know that I have better odds of dating a Playboy bunny than being in a situation where I need to shoot .357 magnum rounds at someone.

Bad Guys With Guns

My favorite argument is, “if you take away our guns, then only the bad guns will have them.” Illegal guns in America are dirt cheap compared to illegal guns in countries with strict gun control, why? Because in America you can find a gun just about anywhere, but in other countries like Australia, getting a hold of a handgun will cost you up to five figures! Paying over ten grand for a 9mm is impossible for the thug looking to knock over a convenience store. If we can buy cheap guns, so can the bad guys. We all live in the same country people.

Some of you may look to Mexico saying that their people are not allowed to bear arms and that is why their country is being overrun with cartel drug lords. You are correct, but where does some of the cartel’s weapons come from? From good old USA, the world’s Walmart for weapons.

Let’s Admit the Truth

I am not saying that we need to outlaw every single gun in the country, because that would be impossible. The government would spend billions trying to collect every single piece of gun metal in this country, so please stop with that stupid bullshit. It is just another fantasy argument.

I do feel that if you want to protect your home, get a shotgun. If you want to protect yourself, get a revolver. If you enjoy hunting, get a nice bolt-action rifle. Everything else is just unnecessary and you want them because you like them, admit it! There is no shame in saying you want a fully automatic assault rifle because it’s cool – they are.

A gun’s purpose is not to protect, its purpose is to kill. The context of how it is used is what will categorize a killing as self defense or murder. Guns kill, fact, because that is what they are purpose built to do. Giving this tool to an untrained, misinformed, and angry public is bringing the analogy of a monkey with a machine gun to life. What else would you call a mass shooting?

Cut the Bull

I am neither pro-gun or anti-gun, I just believe in common sense. In a country where racism is coming out of the shadows from 1960, while the modern age tries to progress forward, guns are the last thing we need to be allowing people to carry. We are a short tempered, ignorant, close to the breaking point society and this fantasy argument over guns needs to stop. Cut the bullshit and return to reality.

Curse of a Speeder

To my friends and family, it is no secret that I like to drive fast occasionally. Some people say I have a problem, others say it is just a side effect of being young, but I see it as a way to forget about the annoyances of everyday life. Every day we are constantly bombarded by the media about horrific events happening around the world, flooded in a tsunami of ignorance on social media by people who are masters at spraying hate and fertilizer out of their mouths, and that’s just checking your phone in the morning. Life is hard, but it is simple, its people that make it complicated. In order to keep one’s sanity, one has to find a way to get away from it all – even if it is just for a few minutes each day.

I confess that I am a speeder, although I do not drive like a madman. Like most people with my, “problem”, I do enjoy painting asphalt with rubber, going sideways, and reaching top end speeds when the conditions are right. The problem with this relaxation technique is that police officers do not find it very amusing and love showing their disapproval in the form of traffic tickets. I could fill a glove box, and I have, with the number of citations, warnings, and court receipts I’ve collected over the years. I am here to talk about the struggle of being a driver with an exuberant driving style.

At this point, some of you might be thinking that I am just an obnoxious punk whose only problem is being too stubborn to slow down and letting his ego fool him into thinking he’s the next Richard Petty. Before you unleash your judgement upon me, please let me point out that I know I am not a professional driver and I know that I can be as stubborn and rebellious as a teenaged mule. However, I do need to point out that because I have a passion for driving and car control, I do feel that I am at least more qualified than the average driver. I’m certainly safer than someone who’s bad habits behind the wheel consist of applying makeup, checking their Twitter feed, or sending Snap Chat videos of them looking into a camera while their favorite song plays on the radio. Those are only a handful of bad habits that I witness on a daily bases when I’m traveling on the Interstates.

When I say I have a passion for driving I mean I love it! To me, driving is a skill that is fun and challenging. Most people can safely drive a car from A to B and not give it a second thought for the rest of the day, but I like knowing what a car can and can’t do as far as braking, steering, and acceleration. It is important to know how a car will behave during an emergency, so yeah sometimes I like to give a car’s ABS system a workout and drive it like I stole it. But, there is nothing more relaxing, in my opinion, than being behind the wheel of a car on a beautiful, low traffic, day with your favorite playlist humming through the stereo. You don’t need to drive fast in order to enjoy driving; sometimes a nice quiet drive is all you need to get your stress out.

The Curse of a Speeder is that once you’ve earned a reputation as a speeder some people will label you as being reckless or a, “Bad Driver”. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never wrecked, practice car control – to most people speed equals danger. The irony of it is that people who text and drive do not, for the most part, get the same stigma. Sure there are campaigns warning us of the dangerous of texting while driving, but we all think, “That won’t happen to me, because I’m careful”. Maybe you have a system of only answering a buzzing phone when you are at a stoplight, or maybe your eyes can part into two different directions like a chameleon. Whatever the system is, the response for someone who texts and drives is usually, “Oh? Haha, I do that to sometimes”. The usual response for someone who speeds is, “Oh. Be careful…”

This year alone I have received two speeding tickets, three months apart, in two different cities. What annoys me is that when the police officers spotted me on their radar, I wasn’t trying to speed I was simply driving. The first time I was caught speeding I was driving home and I knew I was getting on the interstate so muscle memory took over and I sped up before the on-ramp. The second time, I was traveling between cities. I was passing a convoy of five semi-trucks and I sped up because I hate when they bounce peddles and road dirt off my hood and windshield – that landed me speeding ticket number two. If I was doing triple digit speeds or doing donuts in a parking lot than yeah I would have gladly accepted my law breaking punishment, but speeding up a mile before an on-ramp or passing semi-trucks is not what I would consider, “reckless driving”.

Since I am still under 25 years old, taking online defensive driving courses in order to reduce, and dismiss, a traffic citation is an option I always take. The problem is that the course is six hours long, and hilariously outdated. The safely videos shown were filmed in 1994, so you hear instructors recommending you to purchase a vehicle with Anti-Lock Brakes and telling you how to use them. Safety features in cars, and traffic laws in general, have changed a lot in the last two decades, so the course is a joke. It is detention for drivers.

A better system would be a written Driver’s Ed exam that you need to pass in order for it to count as taking a defensive driving course. It wouldn’t take you more than half an hour and at least then a person is forced to review traffic laws before getting a ticket reduced or dismissed.

Auto makers build cars that practically beg us to break the law. The new Ford Focus RS has a Drift Mode button which allows you to slide the compact car around a corner easier. Dodge created the Hellcat Challenger and Charger, normal family sedans that can reach 200 mph. That is like a general store selling high proof whiskey in a dry county. Why make such powerful cars if the average driver has no place to fully enjoy their bang for the buck? Not everyone with a fast car has time to go to a drag strip, which are constantly being closed, or a race track, which don’t always offer track-days here in the U.S. The easier option is street racing and that is about as dangerous as it can get.

So what is a speeder to do? We are entering an era where cars are getting faster and traffic laws are getting stricter. It’s not like in the old days when you could in fact out run the police if your car was hot enough, the days before dash cams and speed cameras. It is a curse to have a need for speed these days, one that can affect your wallet as well as your health.

I think I can speak for most people who can relate to my story that we won’t change, driving is a passion and speed is a byproduct. There are always a few rotten apples that spoil it for all of us by not being able to control their cars or not knowing their own limitations, but we are not a danger to the public nor should not be seen as such. We just like to fully enjoy our cars as the engineers who designed them intended us to. If they built a car that can produce 707 horsepower, why shouldn’t we be allowed to experience every last galloping pony? So whether you are a speeder or see driving as a chore remember to keep your eyes on the road, and both hands on the wheel. Drive safe everyone.

Leadfoot Traveler: Mexico

Whenever the family is deciding where to travel for a family vacation, the first things that come to my mind are, “What are the roads like? Is it car friendly?” Part of being a Gearhead is having a love for driving, regardless of the car you’re driving as long as the view through the windshield is interesting. I am originally from Mexico, but due to the drug cartel violence of the past decade my family and I have not been able to visit our relatives since 2007. However, last month we were able to drive into Mexico and spend some time with family friends and I got a chance to drive in Mexico for the first time. This is a travel story as seen through the eyes of a Gearhead.

We were all a little nervous when we entered the border city of Reynosa, Mexico. My parents’ hometown, and the city where I was born, had changed immensely since we left for Texas during the early 90’s. I remember visiting Reynosa, and other cities in Mexico during family vacations as a kid and seeing the streets filled with VW Beetles as soon as we crossed the border. For reasons I’ll never understand, border towns on either side of the line are always a bit… rougher than cities that are more inland. Reynosa was no different as some of the roads looked like the surface of the moon, and my Mazda 3 bunny hopped over each and every one of them. If any of you have never visited the beautiful country of Mexico, and plan on doing so, there is one very important rule to learn when driving on Mexican streets and that is… there are no rules. When I say there are no rules I mean that driving around Mexico is a lot like a being in a road race.

Lanes only exist when traffic develops, and that is only for freeways or highways, any other time you can have four car wide traffic squeezed into a two lane road with cars just inches away from each other. Bus drivers think they own the road, much like our 18-wheeler friends on American interstates, only these guys are masters of knowing the dimensions of their vehicles as they cut through a sea of near miss traffic. I have never seen a city bus dive across three lanes of traffic just to cut off a line of cars behind it in order to drop off passengers at a bus stop. Cars don’t even honk, they just serve to avoid it with rally car driver reflexes.

image3 <-A two-lane road.

My second night in Reynosa I was handed the keys to a brand new work truck from my Uncle’s business. A little Nissan pickup truck with a flatbed designed to haul 2,000 pounds. Cute little truck with a manual transmission, four cylinder engine, and just 200 kilometers on the clock. It was nighttime when it was my turn to drive and it started to rain minutes after I was tossed the keys. At night, the lines on the road do not reflect so you have no idea where the lanes on the road are and have to just pick a groove and stick with it. Also, the reflection from the water makes the roads look like mirrors so you are unable to see any potholes until it is too late. The truck had brakes and suspension set up to haul and carry heavy loads so when it’s not loaded the truck feels like a 1944 Willys Jeep. Breathing on the brake pedal causes it to lock up and any bump or pothole sent me flying up into the roof as it bounced along. I’ve always wanted to drive one so I was able to cross it off my bucket list.

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We were going to take a road trip to Monterey on our third day, and my uncle handed me the keys to his 2014 Range Rover so I could follow him in the two car convoy. I’m used to driving vintage cars and dirty farm trucks and now I was behind the wheel of a supercharged, six figured price tag, luxury SUV! I loved driving it, to the point that I saw stopping at a restaurant to eat or going to a mall to shop as a distraction. All I wanted to do was get behind the wheel and keep driving the streets of Monterey with its fast, anything goes, driving style. To survive on the road you need a car that is either very nimble or has quick acceleration to get you out of tight situations and avoid a collision.

image4  <- A joy to drive.

The police gave me cultural shock as well. It is a little disorienting waiting at a stoplight and having a military truck next to you with a Mexican solider riding on the roof holding an M60 machine gun. In Reynosa, the military is the police and they fulfill all the duties as a police officer only with much more firepower and presence. Once you get further inland you start to see Federal police officers cruising around in souped up Ford Taurus and Dodge Chargers. One thing that stood out for me was that they do not have unmarked interceptors, instead each police car rides around with their red and blues flashing. When I asked why, they told me it was to let people know they are around in case they need help. They do not try to hide in the public eye, instead they try to stand out as much as possible so the public can find them in an emergency.

The classic Volkswagen Beetle and Kombi have not be in production since 2003, and used to be the kings of the road in Mexico. With more economic, faster, and comfortable European cars on the market I was worried that they would have been replaced and sent away to the scrap yards to rot. As a kid, I would count the number of Beetles and Kombis I would see as I looked out the window during car rides. Back then, you would see four or five VW’s before seeing any other type of car. Beetles ruled the roads up and the people loved them. I am pleased to say that although there aren’t as many around as there use to be, you can still listen to the “Tak-tak-tak-tak-tak” sound of an air-cooled engine providing a bass to the city’s soundtrack. I spotted a few classics being used as daily drivers, and seeing them on the road brought nostalgic memories of my early days when I was just getting hooked on cars as a little kid. According to my parents, when I was around five years old I wanted to take a ride in one of these funny tear drop shaped cars. My parents pulled over and stopped a VW Beetle taxi cab and asked the driver to drive us around just so I could experience what it was like to ride in a Beetle. VW’s will always have a very special place in my heart.

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My uncle is a very fast driver, and he knows the dimensions of his truck very well so he can maneuver his Dodge Ram as if it was a mini cooper through traffic. Staying on his tale was no easy task as I have to change my driving habits in order to keep up. I broke nearly every traffic law you can think when just trying to keep up with his Hemi powered Truck. I ran through red lights, stops signs, sped through boulevards, changed lanes in an unsafe manner without signaling, driving on the wrong side of the road, and speeding. I gave the Range Rover a thorough test of its ABS, traction control, and engine performance in the process. I concluded that the truck feels extremely confrontable at 110mph, but it lacks stopping power when it comes to throwing the anchor out in an emergency stop, it’s too heavy. Ironically, my first day back in the United States I was pulled over for speeding and given a ticket.

image2 <- A dark highway all to ourselves.

My trip to Mexico was amazing because it was unplanned and those are usually the best kind of vacations. I never expected to drive through the cities my parents grew up in a Range Rover, let alone be allowed to drive it like most of us day dream about. Having a blast on the roads, playing near-miss with motorcycles and city buses while keeping my foot hard on the gas to keep up with a Red Dodge Ram in front of me. I love Mexico, and I love traveling by car, to me it’s the only way to properly enjoy a country you have never been in.