Tag Archives: #speed

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.

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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.

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.

Sold on Mecum

I have fond memories of watching Mecum Auto Auctions on television with my father on weekend afternoons; trying to guess the hammering price on what seemed like an endless line of dream cars coming through the auction block. I grew up hearing the adventures my father had when he used to flip cars during the late 80’s and early 90’s. Buying and selling used Cutlasses, Citations, Diplomats, and K cars at car auctions in order to keep food on the table and me in clean diapers. So when I read that Mecum was coming to Texas, I knew that I had to make a father and son trip over to Houston to attend. We didn’t go to buy a Hemi or Yenko tribute car, we just wanted to witness what we had seen on television for so many years. We were not disappointed.

Entering the area, we were greeted by a 1970 Chevelle SS 454 driving past us on its way to the auction block. All 450 horses prancing without a trip or a miss as it hummed slowly across the floor to get in line with the rest of the high dollar machines awaiting to see if they will be going to a new home. It wasn’t until I was walking on the red carpet, standing within touching distance of a 1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird, with 4-speed, that the magnitude of where I was started to hit me. I’ve been to plenty of car shows before, but this was the first one where every single car I was taking photos of had a for sale sign. It was almost overwhelming, makes you wish you had a clone so one can take photos while the other one simply admires and drools over the cars.

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Drinking a beer with my father as we listened and watched all our favorite cars was truly a Gearhead Hallmark moment, a good concept for an auto-themed greeting card. Listening to all these high dollar collector trailer queens start up, after probably months of being asleep in an air conditioned warehouse, and yawning in the form of puffing white smoke as they stretch their wheels. While others are pushed by volunteers or towed by golf carts to the center stage. A 1970 Hemi Daytona struggling to wake up as it almost stalls twice before getting on the auction block, carbs just need an adjustment. Or a 1969 convertible Chevy Camaro that nearly turns into a fog machine as it revs and shoots out a cloud of blue smoke before going back to sleep knowing it now has a new owner. One aspect I do not like about the collector car industry is that some people only see these cars as investments only. Keeping a car in storage, no matter how dry, well light, or clean it may be, can still hurt these machines if they are not moved or started up regularly. What’s the point of throwing down half a million on a Hemi if you don’t take it out on Sunday afternoons and show off a little?

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There were a few cars I really wanted to bid on at Mecum, like a Buick Grand National movie car that was driven by Vin Diesel in the Fast n Furious franchise. Not because I am a fan of the actor or movies, I just really like Grand Nationals. Since I was broke I sat with my father in the stands to watch the auction take place. You could feel the energy and excitement among the crowd. We all felt excited, and perhaps a tad bit jealous, of the bidders going wild every time the reserve went off on a car. Chanting, “RESERVE… IS… OFF!” like we were on a game show, because we are excited for the owner who is hopefully making a profit on his/her car while at the same time happy for the lucky buyer who will be taking it home. When you start seeing six or seven figures on the board for a car with no reserve, you can’t help but get a small rush from the people in a bidding war. “Sold, sold, sold, sold!” as the hammer drops, creating a new payday, a new owner, and probably a future pissed off wife or girlfriend.

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After hours of fun, and a few more beers, we were looking at the last cars on the floor that we hadn’t seen when I noticed someone that looked all too familiar. It was Mr. Rutledge Wood, some of you know him from NASCAR but I first heard of this man from his time on Top Gear US. I got to shake his hand and snap a quick photo with him, making him the first automotive celebrity I get the opportunity to meet. Mr. Wood has what I consider to be the dream, getting paid to work in the media and talk about cars for a living. I am pleased to say that Mr. Wood is a total gentlemen in taking a moment to talk to us and pose for pictures. Hopefully my career will cross paths with him again in the future.

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Overall, my father and I had a great time at Mecum Auto Auctions in Houston, Texas. We plan on coming here again, only this time we’ll make sure our pockets are stuffed full of cash so we can join in on the fun as registered bidders.

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Feeling Fast

Being a young Gearhead with a fleet of vintage cars (I did not mean for that to sound like I was showing-off) means that I sometimes get lectured by gearheads of an older generation on the dangers of driving fast or car control. All I can do is sit there and nod in agreement, because I am still at an age where if I respond with, “yes, I know already”, I will sound like a cocky young punk who will eventually learn the hard way. But, I’ve collected my fair share of city miles as gearhead when it comes to driving. I’ve totaled a car, crashed a car, been wrecked into, experienced a car that is out of control, break downs, left stranded on a dark highway, pushed a car home, dealt with police on multiple occasions, and even partaken in a casual streetlight drag race. So I’ve been around the block, and left the tire marks to prove it.

About a week ago, my uncle Mike got to test drive my 1969 Camaro. Unlike myself, he is from a generation when my Camaro was just another everyday daily driver, so I had no problem tossing him the keys to my time machine. The test drive was like a flashback to the 1970’s for him, back to his youth, and he drove my poor Camaro as such. Afterwards, he mentioned to me that I should probably sell my Camaro and invest in a muscle car I really wanted. Reading in between the lines made me realize what he was actually telling me. What he was really telling me was that this hot Camaro was too much car for me and that I should get rid of it before they use it as my coffin. I know he wasn’t saying I didn’t know how to drive, or insulting my ability, he is just looking out for my own safety. That being said, I was still a little annoyed, because I am not a teenager anymore. If I was 16 years old and had this Camaro I would completely understand, but I’m a month away from being a college graduate! That experience got my thinking of physical and emotional feeling of going fast. People that have only one class of vehicle, only trucks or only new cars, all their lives won’t understand when I say that 100 mph can feel a lot faster or a lot slower depending on what you are driving.

For example, when I am driving my mom’s brand new 2015 luxury sedan or my slightly used 2013 econobox down an interstate and I decide to push the needle past 100mph, I feel totally relaxed. Why? Because thanks to modern technology most new cars feel like their only doing 70mph when they are in fact traveling well over 100. Not to mention all the latest death-proof safety devices such as traction control and stability control that are designed to keep us between the ditches. So at 120mph, my little econobox has reached its limited top speed and I could drive it with one hand knowing that if the car were to suddenly get loose there is a good chance I’ll get up in a field, but with all four wheels still on the ground. Don’t get me wrong, I know this is not a safe speed, and I do not condone speeding on public roads, but I’m saying that modern cars can feel safe even at high speeds. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is a different story.

If I switch keys and get behind the wheel of my truck, which is limited to 101mph, the speed feels utterly different. Now I have no choice but to keep both hands on the wheel and become aware of any extra play in the steering wheel as the truck hops along the interstate, swaying over every imperfection on the tarmac. Eventually you get used to the sensation that the truck is floating, but not before you tighten your seatbelt and hope the suspension doesn’t travel so far up that the rushing air lifts the rear tires up. Because if they do lift, and lose traction, then you’re going to need a faster set of hangs, and a new pair of shorts, to counter steer your way to safety.

Finally, we get inside the Camaro, and to be completely honest I do not know what the top speed of that car is because I have never pushed it beyond 90mph. Reasons being because well… it scares the living crap out of me. As the Camaro angrily fights the law of physics to reach 90mph, the cold sweat on my palms weld my hands to the steering wheel as I basically hang on for dear life. At that point I am not driving, I am just aiming the car in the direction I wish to go and praying it wants to go that way too. All while knowing that if this car decides to misbehave, as old cars often do, that I will be crashing through the gates of heaven, upside down, in a 360 spin before I even have a chance to downshift. Feeling the vibrations at the wheel as the car brawls it way through the air, all the 1960’s technology shaking and rattling inside the interior makes the car feel like it’s about to break the sound barrier. Exciting, yes, but the sense of the grim reaper riding shotgun is right behind it.

I know most of you who will read this will know exactly what I am talking about and think that I am just a broken record, but not everyone has the luxury, or desire, to max out every car they come across. Regardless of what your views on speed are, whether you think it kills, is a drug, a cure for a bad day, or you just do because you enjoy it, speed feels different. Three different cars speeding at the same rate of time and distance will have totally different sensations and emotions. It’s one of the many occasions where a car can have a direct impact on your emotional state.

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

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.