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.

I swear that's me in there—9/06

I swear that's me in there—9/06


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.

the latest family car—11/1/09

the latest family car—11/1/09


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.

Dino hiding in fall colors

Dino hiding in fall colors


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.