Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mile HIgh Autocross

I did my first RMR region PCA autocross this weekend. Unfortunately, it was the last one of the year. But great weather. A tight, tricky (hence the event name Trick or Cross) course and no breakdowns made for an enjoyable outing. I drove my SC but let a friend of mine drive the Boxster. As expected, he bested me by just a tick under 3 seconds. 

The Boxster did very well. The SC being bone-stock had a lot of push in the slow speed turnarounds. A lowering would do wonders. But than, it would not be as the Germans designed and American safety standards dictated.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Covered Car as Muse

Most owners view classic cars under a cover as a bit of a drag. This, I think, is a flawed POV. I keep both my SC and Boxster covered. 

I find a car under cover not unlike classic continental dinner service, a bit of drama and suspense added to something that is usually routine. "Ooh, what delicacy is under that polished dome just waiting for me to devour it."

Driving now is like having a present to open everyday. It is the same reason I ask my dry cleaner to wrap my sweaters in paper. It gives an old item the blush of youth. The bit of occasion. Arrival. Or more apt, departure. 

And the psychological effects of keeping a car under cover are different for a collector car and a daily driver. I keep both of mine under covers. The foul weather 325ix is my bad, submissive partner. It looks like it likes getting leaves and sundry environmental assaults thrown at it. I'm sure it has a 'safe word' set up with Mother Nature if it all gets too nasty, but has yet to use it.

For a collector car, or fun car, keeping it covered in the garage is that extra bit of love and tenderness you can show to your prized possession. You wouldn't put your baby to bed with out her favorite blanket. Would you? No. And like a baby, peeking into the garage to see your possession sleeping away, protected and coddled is quite comforting. I imagine my SC snores the winter and its dirty roads away. 

The benefits of wrapping up one's daily driver under a quality NOAH or Porsche cover is even more profound. The biggest being is that it slows you down. Takes a few minutes to accomplish. It clears your mind and focuses you on the fact that you are going to be driving. Not doing work. Not making calls. This mind-clearing effect is something I also experience when I get ready for a motorcycle ride as I gear-up. As a passionate cook and the grandson of a woodworker I also like to take care of my tools. You don't grab a knife off the rack and hack at some chicken. You take it out of the block, run it over the steel and slice away. And a woodworker knows right away when their tools have been mishandled, ruffed, abused. They splinter the wood.

As you uncover your car it is a pilot moment. Look at the tires. Check for rock chips. Dig the garbage out of the vents and crevices. You're not being fanatical. You're being conscious. Pack up the cover in the trunk. (Do not ever cover your car at work. That is a complete wanker behaviour). Slid in, turn the key and drive.

I can almost envision confetti and horns crescendo cruise-ship like after uncovering the Boxster, pulling out of the drive and heading onto the sea of blacktop that is my commute. A bit Walter Mitty? Sure. But that, as the convict decorator says, is 'a good thing'.

In closing, I will admit, some nights the covering bit is a chore. But then I think how it adds two minutes to my day, slows me down once again. So that when I step through the door, the work day is done(even if I have more work to do) and I can relax knowing everyone is safe and sound.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Porsche Losing Porscheyness

In an article I wrote for 911 & Porsche World magazine I talked about how I liked the first generation 986 Boxster because it "left off everything that could be left off". I would like to expand on this thought a bit.

The vintage car I have linked in above is the 1948 Porsche #1. The one. The first Porsche. A true, glorified VW. What is important to note is the extreme reserve in the design. The lack of anything busy or fussy. And this is at a time when most automobiles had quite a bit of busy, fussy things going one. Look at any 1948 MG, Jaguar, Fiat, etc and you will see what I mean. They were rolling Victorian drawing (and in some case tea) rooms. This first Porsche did what is hardest and stayed pure and clean. The hardest part in designing anything is to leave things off. A house. An ad. A watch. It is easy to add and add. Make bigger and bolder. But that will only lead to a fad.

Now look at the 987 Boxster compared to the 986. The most vulgar of the design changes is the side vent. The ones that feed air to the engine. The new 987 has large, hard edged gashes often pimped with chrome or carbon fiber. I am sure someone out there will say, "It is functional, the engine needs more air so the practical engineers made the vents larger." Maybe. But I also know that they thought the new design made the car seem more muscular, powerful. 

Also notice the redesigned bumpers. Both front and rear now feature deeper creases. More aggressive venting and flaring. Even the wheels are busier by a factor of ten. 

This Boxster to Boxster comparison is a small sampling of where Porsche is going design wise. They are straying ever further from their roots in search of a new, broader market. If I put a picture of the Cayman, Cayenne or new 997 (excepting the base Carrera) the family heritage would be tough to see. Don't even get me started on some of the options Porsche makes available like contrasting seat belts, emblazoned wind screens and aero kits for non GT3 cars.

And Porsche is not the only manufacturer to yield to the pressure, wrongly desired, of new and fancy. Look at the pure Audi TT generation one next to the new, bloated version. The Mercedes SLK today has such a busy snout it looks as if the person who did the makeup for Mr. Mistoffelees designed it. 

This is not to say I do not like progress and new models. I love it. I look forward to new releases like a fat kid looks forward to pizza day at school. It's just that some times, it would be nice to have a well-prepared cheese pizza versus a messy stack of 'the works' that leaves your slice wilting and dripping.

Pictures from canadiandriver and

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Finally an Amis Book I Enjoyed.

Martin Amis. One of those big names in literature and literary review. Huge. Massive name. So, I want to read his stuff. I've read lots of his stuff and never enjoyed any of it.

His titles are terrible, boring or non-sensical. "Money", "Rachel Papers", "London Fields". Ugh. Fine writing in all the books, turns of phrase that had me wishing over and over I had thought of them. But they all seemed to plod. I could see Martin at his keyboard, laughing at his own jokes, wit and heritage(my father is Kingsley Amis you see). Reading "Night Train" you envision a sotted Amis, punching away at the keyboard and not laughing at all. Not once. He is too busy pummeling your feelings and weak expectations.

"Night Train" was the first Amis book of the half-dozen I read that kept me up later than I should have stayed.

Voiced by a female police(read the book and you'll understand this sentence construct) named Mike "Night Train" moves along at a great clip. I will not stoop to a train pun. The title has no bearing on the book. At all. If you like detective books. Crime noir. That sort of thing. Pick up Night Train.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

NASCAR. In the Driver's Words.

I would like to make this post in NASCAR driver speak.

"I'd like to thank the good people, well first, let me say hats off to United and the crew over there for getting me from Denver to Atlanta. And with that, a smooth handoff to the Budget team who gave me a great ride. Clean, all set up and ready to drive. Without Budget, I'd still be walking to the track.

"We got settled in real quick and that is where the folks at Coors took over. Setting up the great food in the infield, giving special access like waving the qualifying flag, and getting shown the line in the pace car provided by Dodge.

"We kept fueled up all weekend with Matt and Dana's pickled products and the entertainment, you know no one does entertainment better than these people, was provided by World of Fireworks. You see a big burst in the sky and all people will know it was World of Fireworks."

But, 'Dega was awesome. Always is. 180,000 strong. 

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The First Step is Admitting It. I Am A NASCAR Fan

If you are a hater, then move along. Or, better yet, tune in to a few of the remaining Chase for the Cup races. Don't sit down and watch a whole race straight. Watch it like golf. Put it on in the background, do you chores, start raking leaves, pop in and pop open a Coors Light and watch a few laps. Learn the strategy and skill.

I, for my part, will be in the Alabama. At Talladega. Watching it unfold. Will report the good and bad. Don't count on much Porsche or gourmet food reporting. But do count on some remarkable sites.

Shake and Bake!