I love to drive.
I love feeling the road beneath me, I love upshifting and downshifting through the gears and feeling the acceleration or deceleration, I love being on a twisting road and steering the car, feeling the G-forces in my belly. I even love fixing the car when it breaks…
And so you might guess that my 2015 road trip was really something awesome for me. Hundreds and hundreds of miles, driving on everything from mountain switchbacks to vast expanses of nothing. As you already know, George was a great companion, and despite being an automatic, his tiny turbo made driving a joy.
There’s something about driving into the mountains, even on completely flat ground, that makes you wish you could live out there. It’s a spectacular view, and we honestly don’t have anything like this back East. I think it’s something I’d never get tired of seeing – and that you can watch them in your rearview when you drive away is also just as amazing.
Of course, not every single road gets to be heading into something amazing, and fun to drive on. Some are terrible *coughthestreetiliveoncough*, pockmarked with holes the size of soccer balls, or “repairs” that act more like launch pads. And no, not all of them have twisties and elevation changes. But out there, even the flattest roads can leave you speechless.
My favorite roads were through the mountains in Wyoming and through the winding canyons in Utah. They’re no touge in Japan, but they certainly hold their own. While I wasn’t able to drive the long way through Yellowstone, as it was closed due to snow, I was able to head out of the Grand Tetons and do a little bit of hanging back and accelerating through the curves. And oh, the roads through the canyons – I feel lucky to have been able to drive on them in something with a bit more pep than your average rental car.
Philosophically, driving down a road is a lot like living your life. Sometimes it’s flat and boring, but you know you’re eventually going to get there. Sometimes you can see what’s up ahead, and it makes it a lot easier to keep your eye on the prize. And other times, it’s winding and twisting; you never know what’s around the next curve, and that can be exhilarating. Sometimes it’s a really freeing feeling, to just drive forward, without any plan or agenda.
Of course, it can also be scary – conditions are poor, you feel unprepared, or it feels like you’re going too fast and will hurtle out of control. That’s how I felt at the beginning of my racing career. Too fast! Too much to think about! Oh my God I’m going to hit something! But in the end, the worst I did was spin and stall the car and come to a stop. Maybe hit a cone or two as well, but nothing as much to throw me so far I couldn’t find my way back. Spinning, stalling, and stopping gave me a chance to regroup, hit the reset button, and continue on.
Eventually, I learned how to feel a spin coming on, and learned to control it. As I’m getting older, I’m learning how to feel for and pre-emptively control the spins in my life. That’s not to say they don’t happen, but every time I come to a stop, it really helps me reflect on my surroundings and take note of exactly where I am. We all need to spin the car at some point, and if we’re lucky, most of us do (maybe even more than once per run!). It’s scary at first, but deep down, you know that you can stop, take a look around, and then continue through the course, or down your road – and that the very lucky ones get to drive off into the sunset.