This is a spectacular Honda commercial that involves motorcycles and cars. It is breathtakingly creative, imaginative and memorable. It has only received about 9-15,000 views, so it is little known…unless millions saw it on TV. Great things come in little packages.
Archive for category auto racing and driving
I was away at a memorial service for a distant relative (by marriage) I only met once. Among the upbeat facts I learned are that Jim was incredibly fond of canoeing in Canada and driving and hanging out there in the outdoors with his wife who preferred kayaking. He went so often that he was practically viewed as a Canadian in heart and spirit. Unforgettably there was a 12-inch, green replica canoe on top of the box that contained his ashes…and we all sang the Canadian national anthem to the moving sounds of a live trumpet player.
So I thought during the service of this man’s unsung athleticism and involvement with sport. He had achievements that were not widely celebrated, though he was so skilled with his hands, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he built his full-scale canoes himself.
At the reception afterward, I met a friend of Jim’s who owned a DeTomaso Pantera that Jim helped set up between races. Jim knew a lot about engines, I heard. And there was a Volkswagon Beetle that Jim owned and restored and entered in local shows.
Most of us live modest lives that lead to no fame and riches. But we are often able to actively enjoy sport and athletics. Many simply from the couch…and others like Jim thrive in the outdoors. I heard often that he was a gentle and very knowledgeable man. I wish we had lived nearby, so we could have enjoyed knowing each other.
Tim Samaras, his son and a colleague were all killed chasing a tornado this week. Most of us wouldn’t usually think of studying tornadoes as an “athletic” challenge, but watch this spectacular 2010 footage in which Tim is bloodied by hailstones. Maybe driving toward, and then dodging, a tornado funnel really isn’t so different from walking toward, and then dodging, a charging bull. I know, bullfighting is an art and more graceful. But both entail a lot of risk that gives danger junkies the thrill of their adventure and the relief of surviving each encounter…until you don’t…
Here are two videos from different positions (the side and in the travel direction) of a car doing a successful, intentional back flip…and the driver surviving. What’s most interesting to me is one of the comments below it on youtube, where Barry doesn’t think the driver did much more than push his foot on the throttle. Other viewers were more impressed and gave Barry a lot of flack back. I think courage is worth a lot. I mean what does a parachutist do? Just pull a rip cord, right Barry?
Barry: What more did the guy do than press the accelerator? All thats needed is a little courage. No skill involved. Some engineer designed the ramps, and calculated what speed he needed to reach. Someone built and designed his car. He is encased in a metal cage, and all he did is press his right foot.
My capoeira mestre told me he never touched a drop of alcohol, because it was poisonous for his body and would affect his mind as well. My chiropractor father said “you are what you eat,” and showed me pictures of alcoholics with large red noses with huge pores. However he also said that almost anything is ok “in moderation.” And he occasionally drank bourbon.
Last night at a wedding during a snowstorm, the roads were treacherous, and my car was skidding left and right. It was completely out of control as it slid down the hill to the bride’s house at the bottom of the driveway. I was pumping the brakes madly and hoping I wouldn’t crash into the cars parked in a small lot at the bottom. And for three hours I wondered how many guests would be unable to make it home by driving back up this steep incline on the long icy, snow-covered driveway that had not been plowed.
We watched a two-wheel-drive car fail on two attempts by the father of three and then a more expert driver who claimed to have experience doing these things. Five-plus strong men including the groom without a coat couldn’t push the car up the hill, and I worried someone might be run over and hurt as the drivers let it slide back down in reverse. Someone later used a four-wheel-drive truck to transport that family home. Maybe their car was retrievable today.
Soon it would be my turn, and as I waited to see whether I could make it home in my all-wheel mini-SUV, I saw party guests passing around a silver flask. “Want some bourbon?” I was asked? As someone who feels alcohol’s effects from very modest intake, I declined. But I was actually quite shocked that when we needed our senses to be as sharp as possible, people were offering to dull them out of friendship and with kind intentions. Did they think I would handle the car better if I was more relaxed? I also thought of my father’s love of that liquor, and then his advice about all food and drink intakes. A nice memory.
I feel prudish about drinking and driving, but I have skidded in snow many times. I took a special Skip Barber advanced driving course that taught me how to respond instantly and correctly to skids. I have even practiced in a snow-covered parking lot by turning rapidly and slamming on the brakes. There have been skids where this practice saved me from going off the road and crashing. Decades ago, I was in a two-car, winter collision on black ice that totaled both cars and would have sent us sliding in tandem over a 300-foot cliff had there not been a guard rail. I need to be really attentive. These accidents don’t always happen to “someone else.”
What is wrong with me that I am so conservative when others are so cavalier? Those wedding guests were drinking happily, indifferent to the possibility of danger and the need for super quick reflexes. Why don’t they agree that hard liquor and driving—especially in such hazardous conditions—just seem dumb? They probably think one swig can’t hurt, though three or 10 might be a problem. I remember a friend who would smoke grass, put on his car-racing gloves and drive 400 miles on the turnpike convinced that he was keener and more capable, having slowed down his sense of time. I didn’t travel with those dopey, doped drivers, whenever I could avoid it.
So I did make it up the hill with no problem. Then drove as slowly as 10 miles per hour down some steep hills of slush. One time I drove in the wrong lane, which had been plowed, to avoid falling off the road or just sliding out of control for half a mile or so. The biggest danger was getting back quickly into the correct lane, when cars approached from the other direction. It was tense, my passengers didn’t speak, and no one complained as I pumped the brakes and made it home safely. It was a drive that no one should have been out in and that took three times as long as normal. I hope the others at the party were just as fortunate.
HERE IS AN UPDATE IN FEBRUARY: I have learned that I need snow tires, and that the all weathers on the car are completely inadequate…
Are you afraid of dangerous situations? I am. I stopped parachuting after just five jumps. I slow down on curves, when I am motorcycling, and wear a helmet. I only tried auto racing once for a three-day course, but was too nervous about the other drivers screwing up and causing an accident. And when I drive on the road, I am always a bit cautious over 100 mph, knowing that there could be a mechanical malfunction, or a deer could leap out and hurt us both. I could go on and on.
But then I read these recent complaints by Sir Stirling Moss, one of the most famous race car drivers ever:
Safety measures have robbed the sport of its thrill. “The biggest reason I raced was because it was dangerous. When you are 17, 18 years old, safety lessens the thrill. Danger makes people sort the men from the boys, and the new level of safety emasculates the sport. People say I advocate people being killed. It’s not advocating killing, but the freedom to drive with danger. There was tremendous mental enjoyment.”
Now, he says, the tracks are designed for safety, the road surfaces are better and cars, helmets and racing suits are devised to protect the drivers. Even the physical endurance needed has been lessened as races have been shortened for television audiences. “Racing is the safest sport there is,” he said.
Well I sure am a boy, rather than a man, according to his assessment.
Now here is an excerpt from Michael Cannell’s book, The Limit, about Moss’s last car crash, followed by some comments from people who saw this paragraph online: On April 24th, 1962, Stirling Moss entered a minor Formula 1 race known as the Glover Trophy at the Goodwood track in West Sussex. He danced at a country dancehall until 2 a.m. the night before, then rose, apparently unaffected, and prepares his pale green Lotus. On the eighth lap he pulled into the pits with a jammed gearbox. By the time mechanics fixed it he had dropped to 17th place. “What are you going to do?” a friend asked. “Have a bloody go,” Moss answered. In his determination to make up time he flew down straights at 180 m.p.h. and hurtled into corners at 75 m.p.h.–dangerously close to the limit.” He’s pushing it,” a mechanic said. On the 35th lap Moss neared a twisty right-then-left turn called St. Mary’s Corner at 110 m.p.h. when his car unaccountably veered off the road, streaked across 150 yards of lawn and smacked into an eight foot embankment. It took mechanics half an hour to saw through the crumpled aluminum and remove his limp and unconscious body. A nurse held his hand much of the time. Blood smeared his face and dripped onto his white coveralls. His right cheek was torn open and and his left eye socket was shattered. The crumpled steering wheel had broken two ribs. X-rays revealed severe bruising on the right side of his brain. He lay in a coma for a month, his left side partially paralyzed.
Commenter #1: I find it fascinating that although Moss’s career was ended by this crash, he never really took up the safety crusade that other drivers, most notably Jackie Stewart, spearheaded later in the decade. To this day, Moss seems to have nostalgia for a time in which drivers put their life on the line when they stepped into a car. He is truly a man from another era, and is such a hero of mine. He won 40% of the races he ever entered and is surely the greatest driver never to win the F1 Championship. His survival and recovery from this accident are a testament to his incredible physical constitution. Even today in his early 80s Moss survived and recovered from a recent 3-story fall in his home elevator shaft that would have killed or severely handicapped most people, let alone most 81-year-olds!
Cannell responds: In the course of my research I’ve run across countless quotes in which Moss argues that danger is what distinguished the sport. Of course he’s not necessarily advocating for danger and accidents, but it is clear that he believes that made the sport unique and set the drivers apart from other athletes.
Commenter #2: Read Ken Purdy’s “All But My Life,” written based on interviews with Moss during his recovery from the Goodwood crash, for Moss’ views on safety. One of his quotes was something like: “If some bloke wants to buy a ticket to a motor race, and chooses to stand at a dangerous point on the trackside, and I’ve entered and am running in that race, get it all wrong near where the bloke is standing, and roll myself, my car, and the spectator all up in a ball, we ALL made choices to be where we were, and it’s not a matter for courts, or legislative bodies, or the FIA, or CSI. We all know the dangers inherent in what we’re doing, and by me driving, and the spectator buying his ticket and choosing to stand where he did, we presumably have acknowledged that motor racing is a very dangerous sport, and we’ve weighed the risks, and taken them.”
Met a new friend out West who described his life of total immersion in the outdoors and his love of fast cars and motorcycles. His stories were so astonishing and descriptive that I urged him to write them down. Who could have guessed that his prose would be extraordinary too. I told him he reminded me of Hunter Thompson’s gonzo style or other journalists I imagine writing about speed on speed…or some other hallucinogenic. You are in for a real treat! (I hope he doesn’t mind that I relocated the first paragraph from deep within the story to give you a perspective of what is going on)
For whatever reasons, not the least of which was my father having a triple bypass at 35, I always figured on needing to pack as much experience into one presumably short life as a person could. So I’ve had the pedal down as far back as I can remember. The joke is on me of course, I never developed heart disease, but I did break a few bones, lose a shitload of skin and probably deserve to be dead 30 times over doing various things. Also got a late start building a career, so I’ll probably be working until I am in fact dead—but I design/test outdoor gear. How bad can that be?
OK, a quick bio: I’ve always been bipolar or multi-polar regarding outdoor sports, grew up at the beach but was sneaking onto the Irvine Ranch (before it was developed) behind our house with my .22 to hunt rabbits and quail (yes, quail, you just have to make a head shot, and I don’t mean when they are flying) and started fly fishing in the mountains around LA whenever my mom could drive me or with the Boy Scouts, then Explorer Scouts. Luckily the Explorer group I joined was the mountaineering group in Anaheim, which gave me my first glimpse of the High Sierra’s, and I got as interested in Golden Trout as I did in peak bagging.
As soon as I got my driver’s license, it was good bye to the scouts, and I was off every winter weekend to cross country ski tour/snowcamp in the San Gorgonio or San Jacinto Wilderness areas, often alone, which would drive my mom crazy, then backpack with a fly rod in the summer. Surf, ski, climb, hunt, fish, and of course getting around when younger I got everywhere on a bike, which became a nicer and nicer bike which became another, lifelong passion including a little bit of road racing in high school. I quit that because I kept getting clobbered by motorists who in those days weren’t used to seeing humans on road racing bikes out in traffic. Last crash involved being hit from behind by a car and flung through traffic across three fast lanes of the Pacific Coast Highway. It was like playing Russian Roulette with only one empty chamber and surviving without a scratch. The rear wheel and rear triangle of my bike absorbed most of the impact and I came to a stop on the center divider balancing on my crank set, still clipped in, cars whizzing by in both directions. I did not get religion, I just left the bike laying in the highway and hitched home. No more road bikes for me.
Then one summer I came through Ketchum on a fly fishing trip and saw my first mountain bike—one of Tom Ritchey’s first hand-made bikes at the Elephant’s Perch, and my life was wrecked. I was living in Laguna at the time and the steep coastal hills were crawling with jeep roads, single track and game trails.
In a fitting way I was wrapping up my involvement with motorhead activities. My first car was a red Alfa Romeo Duetto softail Spider which I rescued from ruin and re-built myself. My second car was a raging-fast Lotus Elan which followed the same pattern, find a junker and bring it back to life one turn of the wrench at a time. I’d had a go-kart my Dad built for me when I was about 7, motorcycles, etc. so high performance driving was written into the software by the time I was a teen, and I could really drive. At one point I actually thought about it as a career, maybe an F1 pilot like Dan Gurney, but as I started hanging out at various tracks I realized I couldn’t stand the people who were involved with the sport. They were like golfers on crack.
With some irony I had long been co-evolving into a leftist tree hugging wilderness freak motorhead. I joined David Brower’s F.O.E. (Friends of the Earth) when I was 16, was reading Abbey, getting pangs about joining Dave Foreman’s Earth First gang but didn’t like the idea of prison. Note that both cars I mentioned were small, light, fast, fuel-efficient machines. But showing up to a Sierra Club meeting with my Lotus (even though it got 30 mpg) didn’t go too well. Which I found really disappointing. The leftist tree huggers turned out to be like accountants on crack.
In those years I tried everything that fit my personal ethos of small footprint, treading lightly, loving wild places, and having a fucking great time getting to those places. Think of hand-made (by me), aero cross-country ski racks and skis tucked behind the tiny roof line of a Lotus Elan howling through the desert North of LA at 2 A.M., on the way to Mammoth Tamarack lodge with the headlights off, navigating by the full moon at 120 mph with the Doors playing Riders on the Storm backed up by the sound of a nasty, tweaked-out twin cam motor pushing a low, smooth glass slipper through the void. Fuck the Sierra Club. (Continue to Part 2/3 in post below)
Don’t care for the repetitiveness of race tracks. Love the country rides, but always watching out for deer, people and police. So if I ever had a fantasy, this is it. I have been in a 550 HP Viper driven round a small track by a professional. Terrifyingly exciting.
These are a series of racing cars in different cities and sponsored by Ford and a shoe company. This fifth one is in San Francisco.
A friend directed me to this exciting commercial of six Ferraris on different continents. How did they close those streets? Turn up the volume.
I want to be honest about racing and crashing. I’ve been on a race track in my own car and in the open cockpit car provided by the Skip Barber Racing School for its three-day course in Lime Rock, CT. I have friends who race, and some have many of their own cars that they compete in at different tracks in different states and countries.
Unfortunately I am a chicken when it comes to racing. I like cars, and I like going fast. But I learned at school that what I think is fast was almost the slowest in my class. Others are willing to up the danger ante with greater speed. And they drove like crazy people. No way I can stomach that risk. I have been in, seen and avoided too many accidents on the road and on the track. I love skidding around the turns, but I am just too nervous about the other drivers. On the track, I have watched newly restored cars crash into walls and need to be restored again. I have seen school cars miss turns and hit guardrails to my left. I have had a car on my right spin a 360 or 720 directly across my path…luckily the training taught me how to miss him on the right as he went to the left on the grass and into the wall. So I avoided smashing right into him.
In a normal street car, I have fallen out when a door opened on a turn (I held on to the door and had my butt dragged). I went downhill on a curvy street once, and the driver’s door opened up—he grabbed the steering wheel and pulled himself in as we turned hard to the right, over the grass, hit a house, totaled the car, knocked me out and broke my date’s nose. Those were the days when three of us could sit in the wider front seat. Another time when I was a passenger in the winter, we skidded on ice directly into the right front door of a car that had spun before us and stopped perpendicular to the road. Our two cars were totaled as we skidded towards a 300 foot drop…but were saved by the cables of a guard rail that didn’t fail.
So for me driving fast is limited to Connecticut country roads with turns and lots of shifting in cars that can barely make it to 60 mph in six or seven seconds. That’s it. A long long six seconds. As for top speeds, 110 is the fastest I have ever gone on a highway. I’m always nervous about a mechanical or tire failure. I also know some cops personally who’ve warned me about the severe penalties for going over 84 mph. I cannot even grasp the courage or stupidity of an acquaintance who spent extra money to boost his Audi RS6 from 500hp to maybe 540hp and then tell me how on a normal road one night, he risked killing himself or one of the many deer who meander here by going 150 mph at 2am. I WISH I HAD THAT COURAGE…OR LACK OF CAUTION. I am just too conservative.
So though I have owned cars that can do over 150 mph, I don’t see where to drive them at that speed. In Europe on the Autobahn, yes, where a business partner once took me in his Mercedes at 220 or 250 kmh (132-150mph). I’m not sure exactly how fast, because when he just about missed his turn and had to suddenly veer to the right, and we almost crashed and rolled, I wasn’t watching the speedometer any more…although he laughed a lot and told me I shouldn’t worry. But he seemed used to it. And I know from my own limited experience that you can be driving in a sport car at 90mph+ and not even realize you’re going that fast if the car and wheels are well balanced and in tune. It feels like 40. Maybe 140 feels the same. Nevertheless I play it safely and get my thrills by not braking on the turns that I sometimes take 20 or 30 mph faster than the signs tell me to go.
Guess there’s no benefit in owning those superfast Porsches. Unless I want to relocate my stomach again for 3.8 seconds…
Rudy’s story about his Jai-Alai life was posted on August 31st, and a picture followed on October 30th. Now Rudy has bought a new car and written about his adventures driving at supersonic speeds.
I could not resist putting my new Porsche Carrera S on the track. This was last weekend, November 7-8, at Palm Beach International Raceway (PBIC, formerly called Moroso). Here I am in front of the much faster Porsche Turbo cars.
I have never been on this track before. I had just bought the car, as you know, and wanted to see how it handled. I joined the local Porsche Club of America (PCA). They hold events throughout the year for enthusiasts. The majority of the cars are Porsche. They are some vintage cars and some outright track cars such as the Porsche GT3.
In the beginning when they don’t know you, they assign you an instructor to guide you and show you the proper fast line. I have to say, I was very comfortable driving on the track and extracting the potential of a great handling car. You pull almost 1G when you go around the corners. And when you stomp on the brake after a long straight doing 140 mph, your eyes feel like they are going to pop out of your face.
Passing slower cars is allowed provided it is on the straights and the driver ahead of you gives you a signal. No passing on the curves for safety reason. It is not a race, but more of a driver’s education event. I had a great time until someone noticed that my tires had worn down to the cord. It was lots of fun, especially when you overtake a much more powerful car like the Porsche Turbo or the GT 3’s with your Carrera S. Read the rest of this entry »
I have in the past driven cars with others on a race track. Everyone knows that auto racing is a major sport to do and to watch. It’s exhilarating and life threatening.
Although you don’t have to have the shape or fitness of a bodybuilder or professional athlete to steer and shift, let me tell you that it takes lots of focus, nerve, coordination and strength to turn that wheel on the curves. It’s hot in your suit and helmet, and within 20 minutes I had open blisters on my gloved hands.
However I didn’t feel safe enough to take the sport seriously. I could never trust the other drivers on the track. So now I cruise on country roads at speeds under 80 (or 70), and hope that the cops won’t catch me when I exceed those ridiculous signs limiting speed to 40 mph. Jeez!
Why do they make the laws for the old folks over 60. Not all of us that age are plodding along with limited visibility and reflexes. I love the ups and downs of our rural Connecticut hills, the smooth meshing of gears I shift manually, the long sweeping “S” curves that roll me gently side to side.
I’m still motorcycling for goodness sake. I can dodge those deer and squirrels really well. But I definitely limit my driving thrills to the public roads.
So when I again leased a new car last week, I took it for a spin past autumn leaves. But there were two things different this time: the color and the acceleration.
What do you usually choose? We have had a slew of Audis up here, because we have read and found first hand how good they are in the snow. Their all-wheel drive may be the best, and I want all of us who drive it—including my daughter—to have the safest ride possible. But we usually pick conservative, practical colors like black, gunmetal gray, silver and midnight blue. Totally predictable, dignified, undistinguished, and finally boring.
Something in me changed this year. Could it be my age? An altered ego? A yearning to appear younger? I used the power of my purse to overrule my daughter and picked bright red. “Brilliant red” is the official name of the color. “Fire-engine red” is what the salesman called it. “A magnet for cops writing tickets” is what a 22-year-old warned. “I love it” is how my son reacted.
On the other hand, I picked the least powerful car offered. Although I would prefer a stallion for myself alone, I don’t want my daughter and the others who drive it to have more oomph than they need. Tickets I can put up with. Accidents I can’t.
So there I was tooling around in the car a few days ago for the first time. Can you believe I didn’t test drive it? After happily leasing more than six Audis over the years, I was confident it would perform well enough and just let someone else deliver it while I was at a college reunion in Florida.
Wow does it move! I have to tell you how shocked I am. This car’s stats claim it goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 6.7 seconds. Definitely a peppy pony. To put this in perspective, I have driven a 1972 Dino Ferrari, and it doesn’t reach 60 in less than 7.0 seconds. A Jaguar XKE from 1965 takes at least 7.4 seconds. So this minimal horsepower car (211) can really jump away from lights and pass those slow and pokey puppies. Whatta gas. What fun. There I was having a blast, whipping down the roads and enjoying the last reds, yellows and oranges of autumn colors. I was well camouflaged and fit right in.
And so far…no tickets.