This is not a post designed to scare people away from performance driving, no this is more of a reminder that accidents just don’t happen on the track, they happen anywhere. However this one did happen on a track, and on the Nordschleife at that. The Nordschleife can be unforgiving if not respected, and arguably one of the most challenging tracks in the world. Still if you want to see how things can go wrong quickly, then click HERE.
My weekend went from one event to two to three to too much with so many (great) offers that I couldn’t possibly fit into a 48 hour window. And strange enough most of those opportunities presented themselves on a recent Friday afternoon. I’m writing about this because in DC not much happens that isn’t planned well in advance with people often committing to events days if not weeks ahead of time. So with that in mind let me explain how this fortune fell into my lap. Late on Friday afternoon a friend offered me a last minute ticket (free) to see two bands Friday night at Merriweather Post Pavilion. My Saturday had already been planned as I was anxiously waiting to start my fifth batch of cider as well as checking out the Mobtown Greaseball car show in Dundalk (Charm City – East). The Mobtown Greaseball is a wonderful annual event for any motor enthusiast who likes hot-rods, customs, rat-rods, survivors, the surreal, and classic cars. Also on Friday I was also offered great seats to the Washington Redskins game versus the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. Sprinkle in a family dinner, a college football game, a pick up basketball game, Seamus’ rehab, chores/errands, and it was a rock solid gold weekend. Oh yeah, I also managed to get burned, err tan.
Stay tuned for my write up and pictures from this past weekend’s Mobtown Greaseball as well as the latest batch of hard cider.
Last week Volkswagen admitted to the Environmental Protection Agency that serious issues exist with their emissions control system found onboard many of its TDI diesels, and the source of the issue is not that of the simple calibration variety. No, it appears that if everything we are reading about the investigation is true that Volkswagen error is of the intentional deceit or lying variety. The EPA discovered complex software algorithms that were factory installed designed to deliberately deceive emissions testing. Serious enough in fact that the EPA may fine Volkswagen, and could also require the automaker to recall some 480,000 vehicles, both VW and Audi models from 2008-2015. Additionally, until a fix is approved by the EPA, Volkswagen will not be able to sell any 2016 diesel models in the US. What started all of this you ask? Simply independent testing to support VW’s claim about “clean diesels”. Doubts began to mount when the independent testers began sampling daily driving tailpipe results which showed failing scores while testing at vehicle emissions stations in California produced passing results. This discrepancy lead both those engineers and the EPA to ask VW questions about the differences. And when VW’s answers didn’t satisfy the pro-diesel investigators VW basically admitted to installing “defeat devices” on the TDI diesels to help defeat emission control inspections when the software detected any emissions testing apparatus connected to the car. California is weighing its options about how to deal with VW over the emission violations, and the Justice Department may open a criminal investigation into the matter. For its part Volkswagen stated that they will cooperate fully, and have instructed dealerships to halt the sale of some 2015 diesel equipped models. Maybe a case of too little too late as Volkswagen shares took a 20% hit on the seemingly endless amount bad PR as it unfolds in the US and Germany. Some analysts have downgraded VW from “Buy” to “Hold”. Jalopnik did a piece on what it might mean to the driving community that you can read HERE. Now, my own struggles with VW. This wasn’t my initial issue concerning the TDI JSW, but isn’t it interesting that VW performed a software “upgrade” on my diesel when it was in the Ohio VW dealership back in July. Wonder if that was related to the “defeat device”. Come to find out it was, or at least to make the cheating TDI run a little cleaner.
Volkswagen may have “a case of the Mondays” in the US for the foreseeable future with everything related to TDI coming up bad for them. Volkswagen TDI clean diesel kann in den USA sterben? Maybe, maybe not, but one thing for certain it’s too soon to say what the long term consequences will be. One thing we do know, it’s not looking good for VW or anyone out there who wanted to love “clean diesels”. Thanks Volkswagen for taking that from me!
Today’s topic is often one of the most overlooked aspects of vehicle maintenance, that of checking the tire pressure. This can be one of the most critical while at the same time one of the easiest tasks for the average motorist to perform. How often do we check the pressure in our tires? Monthly, weekly, or simply when we notice one of the tires looks less round than the others? Thinking about this a little more the tires are the only items in contact with the surface of the road at any time on our vehicle so it makes more than a little sense to make sure these items are tip top. Having written the former section of this post earlier today, I invoked what some might called tempting fate. I say this as I arrived at work this morning, I noticed a strange sound as I drove down the ramp to the first parking level. It sounded something like “fwap-fwap-fwap”. Onomatopoeia-esque to be sure. But no matter what your automotive diagnostic prowess might be, on a very basic level anyone knows that sound portends nothing good. The good thing for me is that “that” sound didn’t manifest itself until I was at work, and safely in the garage. Imagine the shenanigans that could have transpired had it happened on the interstate or boulevard with rush-hour traffic. The danger is two fold with a flat tire and expensive wheels. First the tire is flat, but now a quarter of your vehicle is directly pushing that one wheel into the pavement. It won’t be long if you continue driving that you will need to replace both the wheel and tire. And when it comes to performance vehicles that costly repair can exceed $1,800 per occurrence. Thankfully my tire/wheel combo is much further South than that. Thankfully.
This is what brings a frowny face to my, uh face. The sort of annoying thing about this situation is that I checked the pressure on all four tires the previous evening, and found this particular tire to be 1Lb. light, and so I topped it off. Got up this morning, and noticed that all the tires were round or un-flat. These are 19″ low profile tires, and run at higher pressures than your standard height sidewall radials. Volkswagen recommends these tires are best kept at 39psi.
So the question is how and when to check your tire pressure. First things first, it’s best to check the pressure when the tires are cold to get a true reading. If you take readings after you’ve driven for any distance the tires warm up and as a result the pressure increases in the tires. Best to take readings before you drive the vehicle for the first time that day, and recording those readings. Let’s call this first reading the “cold tire pressure” or CTP. If you find that the pressure is below the recommended level, just make a note of how much air is needed then find a service station with an air pump and top it off. Now, I know what your next question is going to be, “If you drive any distance the tires will expand and give me a false reading”. True, but if you’ve recorded the CTP before you drove to the service station then you already know how much you need to add to each tire. For example if your CTP reading was 30psi and your vehicle manufacturer recommends 32psi, then you know you know to add 2 pounds of air. You then drive to the service station, and re-take the pressure reading it now reads 38psi. What do you do? Add 2psi to your latest reading of 38, and check it again to see that it reads 40psi. Makes sense?
Now, what to use to take those readings? The worst thing to use, in my opinion, is the gauge at the service station as you have no idea how reliable it is or when it was last calibrated. Slightly less worse is the pen style “stick” meter. It’s difficult to read and not as accurate. Still, better in a pinch to have the pen style stick meter than nothing at all, and every motorist should include a basic tire pressure gauge in their kit. Better is digital gauge or high quality analog meter with pressure release valve. Try and avoid any of those one piece pen shaped digital meters. The gauge should be composed of the gauge housing and length of hose to ensure you can clearly read the dial face without having to double over the tire. Take a couple readings from each tire to make sure you get an accurate reading. While you checking the pressure you should also get in the habit of checking for any abrasions, punctures, bulges or other anomaly that could be indicative of more serious issues. This simple inspection can save you much more than you can count later when you’re under power and at speed. I’ve luckily only had two blowouts at speed, and they were not the fun-n-lively experience I thought they might have been.
The Golf R ended up being towed to a dealership close to my home, and the tow company was very accommodating while transporting my R. They delivered it without incident, and the VW dealer quickly patched the tire, saving me an additional $250. I spoke with the mechanic as they were checking the tire off the car, and they found that the tire had something embedded in the tread in the first third of the width towards the body. I was unable to see anything when I inspected the tire after the Tire Pressure Sensor (TPS) system warning light lit up my dash only a week after driving the Golf R home from the dealer. Beyond that initial warning, and checking the pressure weekly nothing changed until week 4, and at the end of the morning commute the item was finally dislodged letting all the air out, and me with a blog post to write. A picture of the actual puncture location is shown below for your own personal edification.
This one’s more about cars and not so much about baseball so if you’re looking for me to wax poetic about our national pastime, spoiler alert.
I think it was “In baseball, you don’t know nothing”. Yogi’s words are certainly applicable today in more spheres than just sports and baseball in particular. For me it might as well be “In detailing you don’t know nothing”. This is how I felt recently. Where I’m going with this you might ask? Well I’ll tell you, this past weekend I set out to clean my new vehicle for the first time, and by the way I should add that I like the car a lot. Cleaning now means the same as it used to but with a few more steps: vacuuming the interior, clean the remaining interior finishes, clean the tires and wheels, apply the dressing/polish to make both stand out then it’s on to washing the exterior and finishing off with correcting imperfections, removing prior wax/polish layers, applying new paint sealants, waxing, cleaning the glass, and finally polishing. It’s funny, but when I say “clean” I’m really dating myself and not in the romantic sense, but in a chronological sense. At first cars were not items kept on a pedestal and lavished with attention, ok some were, but for the most part they started out as a novelty which both solved and created different problems, and would eventually change our society forever or at least up through the time of this post, but you could check back in a few hours and see if we’re all back to using horses or hoofing it around using our own leg stalks. And let’s be honest that last option hasn’t been cool since some our relatives crossed a land bridge from Russia and went trespassing through Sarah Palin’s backyard. Still, that story-tangent is best saved for another day. Now back to today’s thought, and that is maintaining the finishes of one’s vehicle be it a skateboard, bicycle, horse, smart car, real car or truck. What I’m alluding to is the very word “cleaning” in automotive parlance used to describe both the interior and exterior care of a vehicle’s finishes has evolved from cleaning to washing to detailing in today’s vernacular. I like cars, and was very fortunate to grow up in a family that, in my own humble yet biased opinion, had very good taste in cars with one notable exception being an 82′ Oldsmobile Cutlass bastard diesel abomination that GM perpetrated on the general public during the oil crisis of the late seventies and early eighties. Even after all these years just the mention of said “vehicle” still gets a vein on my dad’s forehead to emerge and cause him to emulate someone with Tourette Syndrome. It used to be funny until it happened to me. And of course I didn’t “get it” until I myself joined my dad in that same exclusive club of cars who’ve screwed us over after July’s fiasco with my own version, 2014 VW JSW TDI. Ok, this is my second tangent, sorry I’ll be more coherent and less stream of consciousness.
Back to detailing. I wanted to give a brief primer of options that exist to the detailing enthusiast today, but before I do I think I should lay out my own personal experience and history which helped form the basis of my understanding of vehicle maintenance. As I mentioned earlier my parents were fortunate enough to have good taste in cars and owned some cool cars. All those cars were treated roughly the same which meant washing-waxing them every Saturday, although that generally made for a long morning. But it taught me several things (see Mike’s patented Man Code): 1) take care of your property because no one else will, 2) even if they don’t say it people form an impression of you based on how you take care of your possessions, and 3) think about the work you’re doing and the best way to accomplish it, and finally 4) no one likes a crier, no one. Now my parents’ recollection about the degree to which I embraced these principles differs greatly (a distance greater than that from the Earth to the moon) than my own crystal clear, spot on, and 100% accurate version while I was a young lad living under their roof. I was absorbing those 4 principles even if I may not have been practicing them all. There was a general system to cleaning the cars that made sense that allowed us to work efficiently and cover most areas of the vehicles so there was very little wasted energy in the process. During that time I paid attention to the process and so it went a little like this at the Doughty household every Saturday (barring pirate incursions, total eclipses, dinosaurs roaming the planet or IU playing basketball (Go Hoosiers!!); 1) pre-wash rinse, 2) cleaning of wheels/tires, 3) progressing on to washing starting on the vehicle’s roof, then progressing down to the hood, back deck, and eventually each of the sides, with the 4) rinse staring on the top and evenly working down each side to the lowest elevation. Afterwards 5) drying each part, wheels/tires and the car body. Next, 6) moving on to wax application and removal. Followed by 7) glass work and then culminating in 8) interior touchups. Now that’s only 8 steps, but if they were performed with any commitment or ownership those 8 steps should take you anywhere from 2-4 hours for each vehicle. Now I say that to make this point, today the process is even more involved with some people committing to no less than 4-8 hours to detail their vehicles. Wazza what? Pardon the Sony Playstation Crash Bandicoot reference. Man, those were great commercials. 4-8 hours, are you serious? Yes I am. Now what follows is by no means representative of formal scientific research supported by multiple people using test cases or control groups, impartial or otherwise, guided by Ouija boards, directed by Magic 8 Balls, or in any way anything other than simply my opinion. And we know if you ask any number of people how to accomplish a task, like as not you’re likely to get just as many different ways to do the same thing. This is just an exercise to bring to your attention a smattering of how many ways exist to maintain your vehicle’s finishes. There are a variety of car and detailing forums that have sections devoted to detailing not to mention great companies like Griot’s Garage or Autogeek that are both knowledgeable and reputable who have their own “how-to” sections for detailing and maintenance. There are certainly more retailers and online vendors to choose from, but those are the two I use most frequently. And again it’s a personal choice that’s served me well. Add to that industry and product sites with even more information for you to assimilate, not to mention tips you’re likely to get from your neighbor/co-worker/car pool pal/dealer representative/parent/in-law and well you get the idea. You’ll quickly find yourself thoroughly overwhelmed or excited. For me it was the latter.
There are 9 cleaning options, yes count them, available to you today. I say 9, but realistically there’s only 8. We’ll get to the 9th option a little later. Option 1 in terms of immediate bad results and long lasting effects are the old-school first generation automated wash systems, and I lump the ubiquitous combo units found at the local filling station into this first option. Option 2 is what the industry now call “soft” brush cleaning automated systems. Soft is a relative term as this process is more lenient than the first in that it wouldn’t strip your car’s finish outright instead just leaving your vehicle a semi-permanent souvenir of the visit in the form of swirls in the paint finish. Option 3 is the DIY method where it can be as simple as washing it at home using the garden hose and bucket or more involved stretching it into the better part of a day. Option 4 is hiring a pro to do the work for you, the professional detailer. You’ll make an appointment, drop off the car, and voilà just a few short hours later the car is restored to a near showroom like condition. Of course the finished results all depend on what they are given to work with, I mean a beater will end up just being a cleaner beater when finished, they’re not turning water into wine people. Be realistic. If that’s what you want I’d like to show you the section of the store you’ll be happy in it’s called magic. Option 5 is what I like to call Mother-Nature, when it rains you apply some detergent and let nature take its course and gently massage your vehicle in the most natural agitation and environmentally friendly process known to man. The bad thing about that option’s benefit is it’s all bunk, I mean I made it up. If you’re “method” of car care is to wait until it rains, and only then apply detergent you may be pro-water, but not pro-car. Option 6 is just like Mother-Nature, without adding detergent to the car’s surface when it rains and adding complete and total apathy. I call it Anti-Care. Using this method studies show the vehicle will eventually return to the ground from whence it sprung. If this is your preferred method, you are not a car person. Next is Option 7 the “rinse less” method. Option 8 or the “brushless” method. Last and certainly the least is Option 9, which is not an option unless you don’t like kids or causes selling stuff door to door. You guessed it, I’m referring to car washes sponsored by charities or the school band or sports team trying to raise money for a trip or some new equipment. You’re better off buying them what they need instead. Think of it this way, would you feel the same way about helping the kids if instead they were conducting exploratory surgery or laser vision correction procedures? Just roll down the window, give the kid with the lockbox your cash, and drive on. Win-win. Anything else, in a legally protected right to of free speech granted by the US constitution, it’s just the same as setting that money on fire.
There’s a balance at play in determining which cleaning option is best for you based on a variety of factors such as: how attached you are to the car, how much time you are willing or able to committ to maintaining the finish, whether you even care about maintaining the finish, your confidence in doing the work yourself, and finally the amount of money you’re willing to commit this maintenance. All of those play a part in steering you to one or more of the options below during your ownership of a vehicle. Some of these options are just a portion of a program (1, 7, and 8) while others offer the complete service (2, 3, and 4)
Option 1: The 2nd generation automatic washes (still in service today)
The one most of us are probably familiar with is also likely the most numerous, the filling station car wash. These were and probably are still popular options for those with fleet vehicles or folks who just can’t wait to utilize another option or have the confidence and/or patience to do it yourself. These filling station and first-second generation car washes are similar in the brutality and pain they inflict on your vehicle all in the name of convenience and low cost option for you. Thinking of your vehicle being beaten with bags of dried cobs of corn. The experience for you however is slightly different. You drive up to a box on a stand in front of the small outbuilding next to the station and either inserted a token or punched in a code found on your receipt after filling up. The traffic tree light at the side of the building would then turn green and have some sort of script printed on the light to tell you the adventure was about to begin. This could either be one that you placed your car’s transmission in neutral and let compartmentalized drive lanes snag your wheels “gently” and usher you into the washing house of horrors or if it wasn’t a fancy establishment you had to drive yourself inside and then put it in park and wait for the “system” to begin. As is this wasn’t a sign that your vehicle was having a day at the spa there might even be sign boards with lights next to each phase that would light up in turn just in case you couldn’t tell what phase of the “cleaning” was occurring…that was until the whirling-spinning bales of either blue or red plastic strips would descend from overhead and assault your car. And if you think I’m being facetious ask anyone whether they could hear anything while the that rotary drum of hard plastic strips or brushes skinned the outer layer of paint from your vehicle with the precision of a Swiss watch. The only good thing about this was convenience of location and your fill up subsidized the automotive
abuse err cleaning. This option is the bottom rung or effectively a 1 on the 1 to 10 scale where 10 is good and 1 is not. In terms of historical timelines its most similar to the middle ages before the Enlightenment. And in case either reference fails to resonate with you this option in a word is bad. Bad.
Option 2: Soft brush cleaning (current generation of automatic car wash systems)
This option reflects the current generation of automatic car washing systems and operations in the country today. In terms of overall damage, it’s sort of subjective. Someone washing their car at home could do more irreparable damage to their vehicles’ finishes than the current generation of automatic washing systems, but they could in by contrast do a much better job than the current automatic systems. For the civilian, it’s a fair compromise and if you mind the swirls left in the finish after repeated visits, you can always move on to Option 4 and let them make the paint/finish correction for you. It will all be for naught if you continue to utilize Option 2 for your maintenance needs. This provides basic exterior and with most packages very limited interior services beyond glass cleaning and vacuuming.
Option 3 (Saturday in the driveway)
This is where I started, and the option most car owners and kids of car owner in both rural or suburban settings are probably most familiar or comfortable. At lot can right or wrong with this option. Some people are content to take the hose the rinse the car off, wash it with a sponge, dry it with a towel, and wax it. The other end of the spectrum involves treating their home water system to make the water more wash friendly, special wands and devices for foam/suds application and scrubbing, specialized micro fiber mits to gently remove dirt, multiple buckets with grit guards to ensure the majority of the debris removed from your vehicles’ surface is removed from your mitt or any other device that comes in contact with the surface of your vehicle, 10’s of bottles to cover every aspect of the process with a total of up to 9 possible steps just for the exterior maintenance not including tire/wheel dressing, glass work, and interior detailing and your 1-2 hour bucket and hose job just got biggie sized into 5+ hours. At least if you have a family you can give each member an assignment…many hands make for light work. This is the whole kit and caboodle. You can dial it up or down, use 2-3 products or potentially over 12-14 products and be very satisfied with the results.
Option 4 (The Pro)
This is one of the more divisive option as some enthusiasts implicitly trust their vehicles to the detailing vendor who’ve they’ve being going to for years with excellent results, and then there’s the other end of the spectrum in the person looking to get more involved in the maintenance but might balk at what is perceived to be the high cost for the detailer’s service. I look at it like this, if you don’t want to spend the time and go through what could possibly be an endless amount of information in print or online, want to commit to multiple hours every week, have a budget that you would not like to skyrocket then this option could be for you 2-4 times a year. And at the very least more than once during the winter months in areas where sand, salt, slurry, and deicing products are applied to the roadways. Keep in mind that not all detailers are equal so do some research first, or you may find your money didn’t bring the return you’d hoped it would. And you’re reliant on their system, methods, and products. Do it right or do it twice.
Option 5 (5A: Environmental Steward or 5B: Lazy)
I’m willing to say most people that subscribe to this school are more likely than not either apathetic or lazy while a small percentage really are doing it for water conversation. Still my gut says most are lazy hoping they will be perceived as the truly environmentally friendly water conservationists. My analogy for those who prefer this option is that their car is a horse, and in a few weeks these people would be walking to their destination or taking public transportation. In the short run this method has the benefit of doing the least amount of harm as opposed to the first two options, but over the long run can be more far more expensive unless Option 6 is your true endgame.
Option 6 (Apathy)
Don’t even try lying to yourself, that you just don’t have the time or don’t know where to begin. You my friend are not a caretaker in any sense of the word. You are perfectly willing to accept a vehicle disintegrating around you as you drive. If you can see outside the vehicle in locations or by means not originally designed or intended by the manufacturer then I can’t imagine you need to read any further. You are not my target audience. People that subscribe to this school like to use words like “patina” and “character” and “distressed”. I’m just spit balling here, but I’m willing to say that a majority of your neighbors probably would not use those words or more to the point would not care to be your neighbor if this is the option you prefer. Again, I could be wrong it’s just a feeling.
There is not a lot to say really about this option, it’s more of something to use in a pinch rather than the mainstay of your maintenance program. There are products now where you simply spray and wipe away. It’s almost that simple. As with anything, you get out of it what you put into it.
The brushless option method is one I’m becoming keen on. It basically removes the bucket and mitt or sponge from the equation for the bulk of the washing chores (minus tire/wheel cleaning). Most every “soft brush” automatic car wash often have several stalls dedicated to the DIY’er who pulls into the stall, deposits a few tokens, and uses a wand to spray their vehicle, apply a foamy soap mixture, finishing with a high pressure rinse. The advantage of this method is that you don’t have any brush coming in contact with your vehicle’s finish as you would with sponges or mitts that can pick up pebbles or other small items that can damage the finish as they are rubbed across the surface. The downside to this method is that the water in these places are often recycled (just like options 1 & 2) so you should let the water free for some time to dislodge any material that may have been resting in the line before you arrived. After this washing then I take the car to a place out of direct sun light to begin the next phase of the detailing process, whether it involves claying or pre wax cleansing polish. This is either the first or second step in the detailing process. Some vacuum before some after the exterior wash. Some believe or not will wash a car twice during the process, once again after claying.
So there you have a brief overview of detailing without getting too detailed. As I progress and learn more about the latest techniques and methods I imagine I will share them on here for those that care to read about it. The one thing I can say is just don’t be afraid to get out there and try something. If you try it and don’t like it, then you can change your process, or pay someone else to do it. For me it’s, I almost hate to use the phrase, therapeutic, but that’s kind of what it’s like for me. It also gives me a sense of pride to take a dirty car and make it look shiny and new. That is if you’re into that sort of thing, shiny and new. And if not that’s cool too.
As follow up to my post last week, about which among a list of actors was not a professional race car driver. And your choices were: James Garner, Steve McQueen, Rowan Atkinson, Jason Statham, Eric Bana, and Gene Hackman. And the winner is, Jason Statham! Let’s go through the list of celebs and their racing pedigree.
Home state: Oklahoma
He started driving at the age of 10 in Oklahoma, out of necessity as he put it, and continued until well into his 80’s. His motoring was transformed from necessity to obsession after starring in 1969’s racing film, Grand Prix. After filming wrapped, he founded American International Racing. The team competed at Daytona and Sebring. He also competed in the Baja 1000.
Home state: Indiana
British Touring Car championship 1961 (3rd place), Baja 1000, Mint 400, Elsinore Grand Prix, and 12 Hours of Sebring. He was also set to compete in the 24 Hours of LeMans with Jackie Stewart, but had to withdraw due to filming commitments.
Home state: Somewhere in the UK
Throughout the 80s he piloted a Renault 5 in the manufacturer’s Turbo Cup racing series. Additionally he went on to compete in his Aston Martin at Silverstone in 2010. This is besides the notoriety he gained for crashing his McLaren.
Home state: Melbourne, Australia
In 2007 he competed in the Targa professional road rally, and he’s a three time competitor in the Bathurst endurance race (2009-2011-2014) finishing 13th in 2014. He’s obviously a man of discerning taste and a blue oval enthusiast owning a 1974 Ford Falcon XB.
Home state: California
Gene competed in four races between 1978-1984 including the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, and 6 Hours of Riverside. He raced both Mazdas and Toyotas with a personal best of 16th in the 1983 installment of the 6 Hours of Riverside piloting a Toyota Celica.
I’ve decided to branch out, and as this site grows and evolves I hope to cover a wide range of interests, beyond complaining about Volkswagen of America. It’s not the cars mind you, well not the petrol powered cars. See the rest of the site for the back story with me and VOA. Back to me branching out, including motor sports. In the interest of full disclosure, I drove by Spa earlier this year, but didn’t actually stop in to check it out. No regrets, just an excuse to go back soon.
The story of Francorchamps begins in the town of well Francorchamps in 1920. There they invented what we refer to in the states as “demolition derby”. It all started off like this, one of the denizens went to a local brewery to procure some suds, and while on his way there another denizen of the quaint hamlet passed them on the road to the abbey. When the first denizen finally arrived at the brewery, the monks unfortunately had to deliver some bad news, the other guy who passed him on the way got the last of their beer. Filled with rage that only comes from being unable to procure Belgian beer this beerless, bedeviled, and bitter Belgian drove back to town without beer, and immediately began looking for the “one” who made of with “his” beer. After a not so extensive search, as the town is atop a hill and not very large to begin with, quickly found him, and then proceeded to desecrate the second Belgian’s car. While leaving the scene the second Belgian was alerted to the desecration, and gave chase. Catching up to the first Belgian he pushed his car into the first’s car. Back and forth. vandalism begat fender bender begat vehicular escalation culminating in what both finally agreed as something worth repeating after beer and choclolate. Belgians like themselves some contact, and it was the original Fight Club for cars. That’s it, chocolates, beer, and car on car violence, take all those things in….in Belgium. That copy was copyrighted and trademarked…boom.
Tomorrow I will share the real history of Spa Francorchamps, more or less. Belgium has a strong and great history of motor racing, and I look forward to sharing a sliver of that tradition with you. Below is a map of the track to whet your whistle.
I really like this new Golf R, and while it’s definitely not something I’m used to I’m starting to get used to it, and that might be a bad thing. Some reviews have mentioned that it’s something more than the GTI, although not as lively. In the 72 hours I’ve driven the R, I can say so far it’s enough for me, and at the lower part of the power band I sometimes hear the turbo spooling, but around 2,500 on the tach it changes personalities. Yesterday on the commute home I caught myself rapidly cycling through the gears using the paddle shifters, and thinking “damn you Wolfsburg!!” Now aside from that tangent let me proceed on to the early report about what’s bad, yesterday on my drive home I experienced my first “Uh-oh” moment. I’ll give you a hint rhymes with Oh Bofile Liars. About 1/3 of the way home, after a somewhat spirited drive I discovered what the Tire Pressure warning light looks like. I turned off the main thoroughfare, and pulled over to do a quick walk around the car. With low profile tires I must say that unless they’re riding on the rim, I’m not the most observant. No matter it looked like all the tires had air and none were flat that I could see. Still, not wanting to tempt fate I pulled into the very next service station and check using a bona fide gauge. The front passenger side tire was down almost 19 pounds from the recommended 39 pounds. As of this post the warning light has not reared it’s orange cautioned head. And now to close this out, your red moment of Zen…
Since my weekend has been one of an automotive theme, it seems appropriate to continue along in the same vein. Many people these days have more than one career, and some as many as they have fingers. Today question, how many Hollywood actors have either had their origins in racing whether it be boats, cars or planes and some have used their success in Hollywood to turn an interest into a second career. For example Patrick Dempsey is currently competing in the Tudor United Sportswear Championship series, and had been racing in the now defunct American Le Mans Series previously. So today, select one actor from the following list who was not a race car driver at some point in their career. I will post the correct answer on Friday, August 28th.
I guess the title of the post is more like leading with the punch line of a joke or plot twist before the plot hook or character introductions are complete in the literary medium so maybe I should just stop there. Where would the fun be in that, right? As a follow up to my last post Colors, I went to a Volkswagen dealer in VA yesterday, more on a lark than with serious buying intention. You know just to take a look at one in person, although I was quickly coming to the realization that this one really the only model I wanted (with the reasons and thoughts listed on an earlier post) since my TDI debacle began in July. The GTI was removed from contention, because of the AWD, finish, and out of the box power that the R offers. And getting a 2016 model I would be able to tap into the new Car-Play feature that Apple created and VW is offering on most of its MY16 lineup, but that was not a deciding factor, more of a cool side note. Now back at the dealership… Once there I was not smitten by the performance driven 2016 Golf R, mind you that was delivered without a purchase order and in a color I might add that I was not particularly fond of during my time on the VW website, but still I drove the floor model (16 miles on the odometer), around the lot. It bears mentioning that most VW dealers will not even let an R leave their floor until after you signed a purchase contract and exchanged $. In fact only about 800 made it over from Germany for MY15, and MY16 plans to be a larger production, but by the dealer’s estimate may not exceed 1600, but that cannot be confirmed at this time. The dealership, Radley Volkswagen, was really a class act. No pressure sales, reached out to let me know one landed at their dealership that wasn’t already spoken for, allowed me to drive the car, and even gave me a break on the price. Not sure if it was because of my verbal displeasure that the car wasn’t in the oryx white pearl color that I’d had set in my mind. No matter, never look a gift horse or dealer in the mouth, so I took the deal. It has the DCC feature and DSG gearbox. Below is my new Ring-R. I’ve gone with that name for now, because I think it would be cool to eventually get her over to the Nurburgring to turn some laps somewhere down the road as the last (and only time as of this post) time I was there I rented a Golf GTI which was an absolute blast to drive. Expect updates on this vehicle in the future!