I’ve kept this under my hat for a few months now, but now it can be told: I have the cover feature of this quarter’s Hagerty Magazine. With a paid circulation of over 450,000 readers, Hagerty is now the largest classic-car magazine in the world. Read all about the history of the Camaro in my sentimental, meandering fifty-year retrospective, featuring photography by the incomparable Andrew Trahan. And if you dig this, wait until you see what’s next…
It was a hell of a weekend. I had about fifteen of my favorite people join me for two days of racing — but halfway through the weekend, I was completely surprised by having about thirty of my favorite people, including my son, show up for a brilliant dinner at The Refectory here in Columbus. We finished the race on Saturday for the first time in our 2016 AER season, then we led half of the race on Sunday before retiring thanks to a differential drain plug that went missing at some point and let all of the smoke out.
There’s a lot I could write about the experience. But not yet. Instead, let’s go back and see what Brother Bark and I managed to get put to bed before we left for practice.
The infamous 1976 Fleetwood Talisman that took me from Columbus to Nashville to Houston is for sale on eBay. And just like before, if you buy it and you’re located in the 48 states, I will drive it to you and cover my own flights. (As usual, there are exemptions and conditions that apply.)
Short-time readers who don’t remember the Fleetwood can catch up here. Somebody please buy this: it’s a brilliant car, restored by a man who valued results over cost, and it’s personally important to me.
Our recurring feature Ridin’ For Harambe is on hiatus until November 1st, but I thought we’d interrupt our regular programming to bring you these two dudes and their new bikes.
On the left we have John. He’s a pretty cool dude. His primary interests: football, math, using just the back brake to slide in turns so his father gets all agitated and starts clutching the left side of his ribcage.
On the right we have Jack. Likes: long walks on the beach, stressful races, Ketel One vodka, the Ruth’s Chris restaurant chain. Dislikes: nosy husbands, Levaquin, minimum-sentencing laws.
Together, they own seven motorcycles but these are their newest ones. John’s on the 1982 Y-Zinger, derestricted, tuned-up, and obsessively prepped by some motocross dad two years ago. Jack’s on a brand-new 2015 Kawasaki ZX-14R Ninja. Some of you will know that the 2016 ZX-14R has a three-way catalyst that drops power down to just 197hp; the 2015 still makes the original 208hp. This was the last 2015 ZX-14R in Ohio.
Come back to this site to hear about their adventures together and to learn the answer to the question: Which one of them can eat ten Wendy’s chicken nuggets in under ten minutes? (It’s a trick question! Both of them can do that!)
Everybody — please welcome Jorge Monteiro, an old pal of mine from the BMX days some twenty-plus years ago. We’ve never met in real life, because we’re separated by an ocean, but we’ve been exchanging BMX stories and tips for a long time. He sent in a brief write-up of his first trackday behind the wheel of his new Civic Diesel. I think Estoril is used fairly often for Porsche new-car press events… but given how Porsche feels about me, the closest I’ll ever get to this famous track is reading Jorge’s writeup! A lot of our native-English autowriters could learn something from reading this as well — JB
After buying my first brand new car, a 120-horsepower Honda Civic Sport 1.6 i-Dtec, I spent the first 6 months cruising at low and middle revs, getting better than 55MPG, I decided it was now time to push this little Honda hard and see what it could really do. It’s not a Type R, but it’s a well-made balanced car, with strong engine, good suspension and nice Michelin Primacy HP tires. What better place to push hard your car than a race circuit? No police radar, no street dangers (animals, persons, etc), plus you’re sharing the track with experienced drivers (or not… but too much complex to write about it).
Believe me that it was not an easy decision take a six-month-old car to a track day, I just prayed that nothing bad would happen.
Coincidence is a terrible thing, Yossarian. It really is.
Just two weeks ago I wrote about Jimmy Levan and The Church Gap. Three days ago, my Instagram suggested posts included a picture of the “Jim” shirt. I suppose I should be grateful; it’s easier to screencap an Insta-post than it is to go into the basement and find one T-shirt in four boxes of fifty shirts each. But somehow Instagram has become convinced that I want to see a whole bunch of vintage BMX stuff in my feed, which is too fucking depressing for words. Depressing because I could no more ride BMX competitively right now than I could flap my arms and fly to the moon. Even more depressing because it’s been a long time since I’ve seen something I wanted as much as I once wanted, say, a Redline RL-20. Well, it don’t pay to think too much / on things you leave behind.
Speaking of things left behind: let’s catch up on what Bark and I wrote this past week.
It’s not the worst 45th birthday present ever. This month’s Road&Track features three — count ’em, three — articles by yours truly. I drive the new Focus RS from the race track to the autocross, try Tanner Foust’s 552-horsepower GRC Beetle, and rip a LaFerrari through the Hocking Hills of Southwestern Ohio. I’m even on the cover!
Perhaps best of all, this issue was a family affair. You can see my son and his TopKart in the Supercars article, while Danger Girl appears a few times through the Focus RS piece as stunt driver and/or passenger.
I’ve had no end of minor troubles this past year, from my broken leg to various career and personal issues, but this month’s R&T is a sharp reminder to me that I should be grateful for what I do have.
Vintage motorcycling: it’s for everyone! My son’s competent on his TT-R90, but in the past few months it’s become plain to me that putting a 49-pound child on a 147-pound motorcycle is a recipe for him being a bit tentative while riding it. So I decided to get him a 50cc bike. After having two Honda CRF50s snatched out from under me because I couldn’t travel to rural areas on short notice. I found this Yamaha PW50 a mile from my house. Except it’s not a PW50; it’s a 1982 Y-Zinger 50. It’s been thoroughly rebuilt so it starts and runs great.
John really loves it; he’ll pin the throttle to the stop across the eighth-mile grassy field behind the house, then he’ll hit bumps deliberately so the bike jumps up in the air a bit. This weekend he told me that he wanted to name his motorcycles. “Crusher,” he said, pointing to the TT-R90. “Snail,” referring to his Avigo electric bike. Then, dramatically, his finger extended towards the Y-Zinger that was still popping and hissing from being run flat-out for half an hour, “DeathTruck.”
I don’t know where John gets his sense of literary drama. But I do know what his Uncle Bark and I were up to last week, and here it is!
The $1000 –per-month payment that I agreed to hand to FCA for my $70,000+ Dodge Charger Hellcat could have just as easily gone to any number of German-made luxury cars. Or, I could have even opted for a Tesla Model S where gasoline would have been a non-issue and range could be recharged for free at the nearby supercharger.
But, I choose to buy into the hype of Dodge’s seven-hundred-and-seven horsepower, 4-door sedan.