05 November 2006

All Carbon Speed Racer

I met up with EB to race autocross in his BMW. For someone who likes camping, hiking, backpacking and just being outside in general, I'm notoriously bad at directions. Fortunately, I have no issues with asking complete strangers where I need to go. Chances are, if left in a paper bag, I'd have to ask for directions on at least four separate occasions before finding my way out. I lived in the same North Dupont Circle / South Adams Morgan neighborhood in Washington DC for 3 years, shopped at the same "Soviet" Safeway on 17th Street (dubbed "Soviet" because the produce was usually half spoiled and the shelves were bare; everything was almost always out of stock) until Whole Foods opened up on 15th Street, and there were days when I walked out of the grocery store in the wrong direction for two blocks before realizing that I was heading away from home, not towards it.

So, it was no surprise to me that on the way to meet EB at the NJ race location, I missed my on ramp turnoff and had to stop a total of three times to ask for directions. Laugh all you want, but three is on the low end for me. I stopped at two gas stations and one police car.

The first gas station gave me directions that were probably clear, but confused me anyway. So, when I saw a police car stopped on a small side street, I pulled up next to it. The cop rolled down his window and glared, "You know you just drove the wrong way down a one way street?"

"Yeah, but I wanted to talk to you. I'm lost and was hoping you could tell me where to go."

"Where are you trying to go?" I tell him where I needed to be. "Oh, that's easy. Take a left at the next light. Go over two streets. Take another left, and you'll see signs for the on ramp."

Now, I know myself well enough to know that there was no way in hell it was going to be that easy. I was going to get lost another seven times before finding that damn on ramp. "Promise? I've been driving around for 20 minutes looking for that on ramp."

He rolled his eyes. "Okay, follow me." He then proceeded to escort me -- a left at the next light, over two streets and another left -- to the turnoff for the on ramp, where he stopped dead center on a busy five lane street. The flow of traffic split around him. He turned on his police lights and motioned for me to drive up alongside his car. He pointed to the on ramp and said, "You go there."

I thanked him and waved goodbye. He waved back as I made my merry way on to the proper road, on to autocross.

EB and me in our racing garb. When B saw the pictures of me with helmet and sunglasses, she squealed, "OH MY GOD, you look like a boy!" My worse fears have been confirmed. People DO confuse me for a small boy. Great.

This is EB and me in his fancy M3. While the seats in my Honda Civic only slide or tilt front and back, his car is so fancy that in addition to the standard front and back movements, the seats also go up and down, have heat, adjustable lumbar support, and nifty "wings" along the sides that wrap around you so you stay in the seat better. I spent a good five minutes playing with my seat. Dude, so many buttons...

I was amazed that EB was able to tell which car in the parking lot was mine. He told me that all he did was go towards the car that had hub caps, and if I looked around, I'd notice that all the other cars there had rims, not hub caps. Um, what are "h-u-b c-a-p- s"?

Autocross is a lot of fun, but since it's more technical than track racing -- 90 degree turns, 360s, etc. -- it's not as fast as I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, as it's still fast. Also, it's safer than it sounds, as each car races the course on its own and rankings are based on time. However, there were definitely cars that spun scarily out of control. At one point, EB and I spun out 30 feet before regaining control while doing figure-eights. I thought it was fun, but I don't think it helped EB's time.

I'll post video as soon as I figure out how to do that.


  1. maybe you DO look like a boy on that picture? Hmm, let me think... NO YOU DON'T

    (or maybe you do?)

  2. I don't remember that being the picture where I said you look like a boy. And I don't SQUEAL! :)

  3. Oh, you don't squeal? I can already hear your voice, "Meeatt, you're an eeaasshole!" Perhaps I shouldn't have called it squealing, perhaps it's just the way you talk... :-)