I bet you never thought small aftermarket auto parts companies could be critical to community health, but give me a bit to circle back around on this one. I am going to ramble in parallel with the road trip I am on as I head to Houston, Texas, stopping a bit to visit with some good friends and family. This is the final journey for my beloved Shelby GT350, and I will miss her dearly. She has helped me through some tough times. Everyone is different, but I am not only one that finds burnouts to be medicinal.
Work can be stressful, but nothing can punch holes in your soul like family drama. There are two drugs I used in 2018 when I was keen on zipping up the squirrel suit and jumping off the ledge: repeated viewing of Deadpool (which is all about cancer survivorship) and the YouTube/MotorTrend show Roadkill.
I am not a diehard drag racer as the RK guys are, but they live by the tenets of donuts and burnouts, and some days, a burnout is just what the doctor ordered (or needs, depending on your perspective).
This is a problem for Audi people like me, as the whole quattro/all-wheel-drive thing sorta dampens the fun.
Enter the GT350, which is so about wheelspin it is genuinely frightening. Except the axle hop. It’s a real buzzkill when you tromp the gas and the whole ass-end of the car starts bouncing up and down like one of those vibrating beds. And that’s where small aftermarket auto parts folks enter into the mental health arena: it seems there is a need for fixin’ the flaws inherent in the Mustang’s rear geometry. It’s good to know I am not alone. With the solid rear toe-links, the GT spools up the rear tires so smoothly that only the buried tach needle and screaming V8 – and billowing smoke – alert you to the violence. It’s truly cathartic.
Unfortunately, every drug’s potency wanes. So, it’s time to get a new drug.
And one of my other favorite drugs is the road trip. It is why the car represents freedom: throw in some supplies, fire it up, crank some tunes, and the horizon becomes your destination.
As I churn away the miles, I have a habit of ruminating on some inherent issues in our society that are well and truly idiotic. Like police speed traps. Perhaps these held some value in the past, but they have evolved into a pointless waste of money and resources. Before you think I just arrogantly believe my own driving skills are well beyond average (guilty as charged), go through the logic, and don’t forget that good driving is far more about attention than skill: I am travelling in a car that is capable of going deep into the braking zone on the back straight at VIR at over 150, so 85 mph on an arrow-straight, deserted road is as sedate as a cruising Blackwater Creek Trail on a beach cruiser. And yet this criminal activity would provoke a mandatory reckless driving charge in Virginia, a first-class misdemeanor with a sentence that can be as long as a year in jail. Seriously?
Do speed traps make us safer? Being impaired or distracted are the real risks, not speed. And most who are impaired or distracted actually driver slower (which is all the more frustrating). So no, speed traps don’t make us safer. What they do make is money, and that money is desperately needed by police, who – like teachers – are totally under-appreciated and under-paid. Follow the money: we raise tax money to pay police, we buy them expensive but functional, purpose-built vehicles, and then we have them drive out and park on the roadways with exotic speed-detection gear in stealthy spots to nab any would-be criminal that drifts above some ambiguous threshold. And we are paying money for all of this, while the officers are unable to do any other work that might actually be effective. I am going to assume that someone has done the accounting to be sure the whole process ends up in the black, but I can’t help but think that we are spinning our wheels.
Has anyone ever thought about exempting public K-12 school teachers and police from federal income tax? None of them make shit, so how much could it really cost us? In the stroke of a pen, these would be two of the most desired jobs in the country.
I have another idea: why not develop a crowd-sourced app that lets us alert police when there is genuine Tom-foolery (similar to Waze), to make a real dent in distracted driving, since it is genuinely dangerous and thoroughly annoying?
Which brings me back to Apple and Google and Waze… (which, ironically is kinda Google too) and their frustrating inability to play nice in the sandbox with anyone that they can’t buy outright (and that’s how Google got Waze). These are now the three top navigation apps, subtracting out the 3% of people who are still using the proprietary nav systems that came with their cars. You see, navigation is good for all of us, and it doesn’t do me any harm if you are able to get where you want to go, pronto. In fact, it’s better for all of us if all of us can do just that. But we just don’t do anything these days unless we can make money on it, so we are all left with this battle of the juggernauts.
Do you understand how much better it would be for all of us if we were all on the same network? Like ten times better. OK, I am exaggerating: if it’s 3 equally utilized networks, it would really be nine times better (3 squared, or nine times). When I am done with MoveUP, which will put everything on one network and you will see how much better it is, I’ll revisit this.
While driving, I did my first bit of podcast listening (I typically listen to hair metal and sing… horribly). Ironically, I went through a fascinating one on NPR about the Liberty City – a tiny town in Texas that performed its own experiment in Libertarianism. Summing up, a fairly visionary citizen recognized that they would probably be annexed by nearby San Antonio, so he rallied the people and they formed the city of Von Ormy. He then set out to eliminate virtually all taxes. In my view, they ultimately uncovered the reality of extremes of belief: Libertarians want zero government, but society requires some collective works. Like sewers. And you can’t get something for nothing, so with zero money, you get exactly the same amount of progress. In the end, Von Ormy found a source of revenue without resorting to taxes: speeding tickets.
Sorry, but that whole idea was a kick in Karma’s knackers, and the fact that it didn’t work out as planned makes me feel a bit warm and fuzzy… (read about it here).
I did wholly relate to Von Ormy’s most basic ideology: we are better off to do this ourselves than to be annexed by the big city and become beholden to their whims.
As I stewed on all of this and bounced along the thoroughly horrid roads in Louisiana, I casually and unknowingly drifted upward into the realms of revenue generation (I am sorry, officer, but 10 over is just crap, no matter how poor your state is, or how reprehensibly below the poverty-line your yearly salary may be). At least an online “driving safety” course – which generates even more revenue – will keep said offense from my insurance or DMV records. It’s all about safety…
And then to Houston, to drop the Shelby off and meet my new mistress.
If you want to own what no doubt will be an incredibly valuable car after I save the world and become an icon (it’s just as likely as your winning the Powerball), it will be right here for the taking. But it won’t last long after THE movie comes out and regular folks have a better understanding of the impact of Carrol Shelby. Where the Mustang was all about purging frustrations from one’s innards through the creation of two equally wide black lines on the pavement, this new chapter is about revisiting a different kind of debauchery that teases me from my past: warp drive.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that – despite all-wheel-drive – she, too, will do burnouts.