The purpose of this post is to catch up my communications with all the people whose calls and texts I failed to return between Wednesday and this morning. It’s been a fairly staggering long weekend, to put it mildly. This will be the short, no-worse-than-R-rated recap, all photos will be safe for work.
Wednesday I was CMH -> MDW -> SFO. Was supposed to have a press car waiting for me, but for various reasons there wasn’t one there. So I caught a shuttle back to the airport, where everybody was fresh out of rental cars. After some begging and cajoling, I was able to rent a Mazda3 sedan for $97.15 a day. This Mazda3 was the first car I’ve rented in a very long time that did not have cruise control. I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express near Sonoma Raceway (formerly Infineon Raceway (formerly Sears Point Raceway)). It didn’t make me any smarter.
Thursday morning I met with the crew from Dyson Racing, along with Simraceways and RaceCapture, to test three “trackday specials”. You’ll be able to read about the performance of these three astounding cars in Road&Track, but for now we’ll say that the Caterham SP300R, in particular, changed my mind about what’s possible to achieve around a track. With the ability to generate 4g cornering loads at triple-digit speeds, it’s not for the faint of heart.
In this photo you can see Chris Dyson himself (squeeeeee!) working with Ryan from RaceCapture to remove some of “the suck” from my laptimes. We got most of it out, if not all; I think with another session I’d have been able to close half the remaining distance between my times and the reference time set by Chris. But there was other hardware there that demanded my attention:
Yup, that’s my new Rainsong JM-1000… next to a Caterham Superlight R and Lotus Exige V6 Cup. I can’t wait to write about these cars… so I should wrap up this blog post and start doing that! But that was just the start of the trip, really. From Sonoma, I returned to San Francisco to pick up a Lexus IS350 F-Sport AWD and have dinner with friends. Then it was off to the Intercontinental Clement Monterey. It’s the only hotel that’s actually on the bay at Cannery Row.
And I managed to snag the best room they had.
Friday I drove the Lexus from Monterey to La Jolla via the Pacific Coast Highway. It took forever, but I was continually bombarded with some of the most spectacular views you could possibly imagine. In our sport-sedan test in a previous issue of R&T, the “angry face car” managed to take top marks, a decision with which I agreed unreservedly. Does the addition of all-wheel-drive make the case stronger or sap vital energy from the chassis? That’s right, you’ll have to wait for the magazine on this one, too.
After a long day, I met my brother and his friends at the Kimpton La Jolla, which is simply a spectacular hotel. And I had the finest room of all, the corner suite at the top floor.
My brother had given Kimpton a laundry list of demands — four different kinds of BBQ chips, Ketel One, Coke, a Hot Wheels pinata, toy cars all over the place. After some time at the rooftop bar, we retired back to the suite. There were two girls who had somehow glommed onto to our crew. After some drunken consideration, I named them “Topanga”, and “Meshback”. Simple, really. One looked like Danielle Fishel, and the other had a lace dress on.
Sadly, we had one fatality at the party: this goldfish. I woke up the next morning, Saturday, to see this:
Ha ha ha. Do we have time to demonstrate the strength and lightness of the Rainsong, preferably with a view of the ocean? Yes we do.
The guy who hired me for my day job now lives in Encinitas, so he and I had breakfast at “Ki’s” on the seashore. Then it was time to head north.
I’d hoped to check in on my Koa Bromberg at the Carvin factory, but only the sales staff was available and working on this Saturday morning. Luckily for me, the world-famous man known only as “Flock” was working:
Together we designed yet another Bromberg, which won’t be finished until next year. Trust me, this one will be even more spectacular than the last one. My brother beat me at karting, of course, and then we headed to the Beverly Wilshire hotel to get scrubbed up and ready for a podcast with The Smoking Tire’s crew. It turned out to be more of a party than a podcast. I’m not sure if the podcast is even going to be released. There’s a lot of, um, challenging content in it. Mostly me speaking my entirely non-sober mind on a variety of issues from strippers to cross-country “racing”. The studio audience loved it, but keep in mind that California permits the medicinal use of a variety of drugs.
At some point my memory of the evening becomes the proverbial blur. I remember lecturing AutoWeek‘s Blake Z. Rong about Hemingway as we were wandering lost around some neighborhood near the ocean.
Sunday I enjoyed a ninety-two-dollar breakfast on the roof of the Wilshire.
You can’t see it, but there’s a Hollywood sign somewhere back there. Everybody was pretty hung over, including myself, but it was hard to not feel cheerful in circumstances like this. After that, it was off to the Santa Monica Pier to ride the rollercoaster (more of a scenic tour, really), walk to the end of the pier, and watch kids swinging on the beachside exercise equipment. There was one little girl on the rings who was perfectly beautiful and perfectly tan and who could do anything she wanted to, including execute a neat little dismount at the end. She was just a little bit older than John. I’ll have to start bringing him with me on these trips.
But how many more times can I do something like this because it’s time to just settle down and be my son’s father? How many more fast cars, vibrant nights, lipstick-smeared pillowcases, four-figure hotel bills, cross-country weekends, new adventures can there possibly be? Will I wake up one morning and just feel content to be where I am, who I am, what I am? Or will I give it up reluctantly when the clone’s social schedule starts to look more packed than my own?
It’s impossible to know until it happens, I suppose. But if it stopped tomorrow — if I went to bed as myself and woke up as every other suburban dad — I’d look back at this weekend as a true and proper high point. Nobody should have this much fun at the age of forty-two. But I, apparently, do.