Ok, I’ll admit it. I was surprised.
This is a 2008 Subaru Legacy GT 2.5 that looks like a sleeper car, but begs you to drive it more and more.
It’s not completely stock. Modifications included a retuned ECU and an upgraded intercooler.
Sport Sharp Mode. That’s the only mode to drive this in. And the throttle response translates into driving pleasure.
Fun car. Sleeper car.
This is a 2001 BMW Z3 2.5i Roadster, and I was fortunate enough to have 3 fun filled days driving it in Washington and Oregon.
Weighing in at 2,800 pounds and paired with a manual transmission, this is a very well balanced car with 50/50 weight distribution and a solid linear powerband with no surprises.
Upgrading the tires, brakes, and suspension is the only thing I would do to this car. It’s a fun drive!
My original plan was to travel south from Spain to cross the Straight of Gibraltar to spend time in Morocco and West Sahara, however I missed the necessary bus to Tangier, so I instead traveled west to Portugal. Moral of this story is some of the best adventures come from missed buses.
I had a day layover in Faro, along the southern coastline of the Algarve region, and took advantage of the warm sunshine and beautiful beaches.
Spent a few days in Porto and couldn’t get enough of the city. The sunsets overlooking the Rio Duoro were simply amazing!
And then there’s Lisbon. There’s something magical about Lisbon. Around every corner is rich Portuguese history and culture, and there are great vantage points everywhere to watch the sun rise and set. And where you’ll find the best Portuguese pastries. I was having such a good time in Lisbon, I extended my stay and took in more of the city.
My flight touched down in Madrid on Wednesday. Going through customs and finding a bathroom to change clothes was the easy part. Thing were a bit overwhelming trying to get out of the airport, but I started figuring things out. Thankfully, I know just enough a Spanish to barely get by.
Took the subway to Sol, the major city center of Madrid. Purchased a SIM card so I could access Google Maps on my phone, stopped at a local bank to convert my currency, and found a great hostel for the night, only a couple blocks from Sol. From there, I simply walked and walked. After going in one direction, I would walk another direction. Madrid is beautiful and full of history and culture. In some ways, it reminds of NYC. The tapas food scene is unique and cool. I find the historic statues and plazas and market and cars and motorcycles all equally interesting.
Got a good night sleep and found the train station in time to take the high speed rail to Valencia.
Unfortunate for me, spending the long weekend in Valencia meant everything was booked up because of MotoGP. I was preparing myself to camp, and thankfully, I heard back from someone on Airbnb who had a room for rent, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better – great location, comfortable place, quiet and clean. That evening, I walked around Valencia, taking it all in. Compared to Madrid, the city was incredibly clean, and the people in the shops were much friendlier too, smiling and helping best they could with the language barrier.
Friday morning, I took the train to the track in Cheste to watch the MotoGP practice sessions. The sun was out and the wind was strong, and I was looking forward to seeing the big race on Sunday. After getting back into Valencia, I explored the Old Town, a part of Valencia that had been around since the days of the Roman Empire.
My Saturday was spent exploring as much of Valencia as I could see, from the Royal Gardens to an old riverbed that had been converted into a park going around the city. The farmer’s market and the various plazas were all unique and interesting, and I had an opportunity to go inside the famous cathedral. That evening, as I finished grocery shopping for the next day, a huge protest with several hundreds of people was walking through the city’s main street, taking up many blocks as they marched through with their megaphones and signs. The protest had something to do with not wanting the government to close Canal 9.
Leaving Valencia, I traveled west to Seville for a few days, where I found myself in a maze of tiny city streets discovering areas that hadn’t changed since the medieval times. There’s something magical about this city. The Spanish Square was majestic, the Seville Cathedral was an architectural masterpiece, and walking into the Court or Oranges was a delight. This is one city I must come back to!
I’m as calm as a fruit stand in New York and maybe that’s strange.
This is it. The final championship round of MotoGP.
I was up at 6am expecting to beat the crowd into Cheste. I was wrong. There were so many people packed onto the train leaving Valencia, I wasn’t sure if the train was overweight as it slowly crept off from the train station.
I was inside the track at 8am and there were more people at the track than peak time on Friday.
As race time approached, the track was packed with people waiving their flags wearing anything and everything related to their favorite rider. I’ve been to MotoGP races before, but had never seen anything like this. The energy and enthusiasm was insane!
I was seated in the Yellow section, between Turns 1 and 2, and had a great vantage point to see the bikes passing one another. The entire Moto3 race was fantastic, right down to the last lap. Definitely the most enjoyable Moto3 race I’ve ever seen. And the first half of the MotoGP race did not disappoint either – an outstanding race to watch!
The crowd, the rider’s interaction with the crowd, and the entire event in general was an amazing experience! Leaving the track with everyone else to take the train back to Valencia was not an amazing experience.
Dropped off the Porsche for the 40k service and the dealership gives me this for a service loaner, a 2013 BMW 328i.
This car reminds me why I don’t want a BMW, granted the 328i is not a very inspiring car.
To sum the car up in one word, I would say meh. Pedestrian.
Race Spec Ariel Atom. My dream open wheel car.
I already knew the track. I was ready to learn the Atom.
0-60mph in 2.9 seconds.
This car is fast. Faster than any Lamborghini or Ferrari. Faster than the majority of all motorcycles out there. And it’s also very unforgiving. There is nothing to assist the driver. No traction control. No stability management. No ABS. Just you and the machine.
I was thankful for my race suit, but was required to wear a neck collar. And the sheer amount of gravity my neck, shoulders, and back felt as I took the corners was incredibly taxing. This was, by leaps and bounds, the most physically demanding track day my body had experienced.
At first, I was testing the limits of the Atom, as it felt like you were driving on the edge of knife and one wrong mistake would cut you. And it did. I misjudged an apex and in a blink I was turned the opposite direction in the beautiful green landscaping of VIR. By the end of the day, I had saved a few oversteer attempts as I pushed the limits of the Atom, and I walked away wanting one.
After the track day, I was given a wonderful tour of the factory where the Ariel Atom is designed and fabricated. And I left there wanting one even more.
I will own an Ariel Atom. There’s nothing else like it.
I’m signed up for an upcoming track day in one of my dream cars, an Ariel Atom at VIR. I don’t want to learn both the track and the Atom, so I’m signed up for 2 full track days, both days on the full course which is a rare treat.
A friend from Chapel Hill drove up in his 2013 VW Golf R to do the track day together. We both rocked #46 on our cars, representing Valentino Rossi.
The full VIR course is a long track with a lot to learn. I had a great instructor when I was on the track. When he asked me what my goal was for the two days, I said it was simply to learn the track because I’ll be back in a few days to track an Ariel Atom, which will be very unforgiving so I need to know this track as much as possible.
I was also trying out my new race helmet and race suit, which wasn’t the most comfortable in the hot Virginia heat, but was going to be something I always wore from now on when I got onto a race track.
I turned off Traction Control and had a marvelous time, despite the famous Oak Tree missing from VIR.
I feel very comfortable at VIR, and I’m looking forward to my track day in the Ariel Atom.
A good friend of mine lives in Denver, Colorado has always wanted a Jeep Wrangler, and after driving used and new ones, he eventually pulled off the lot with a brand new 2013 Jeep Wrangler.
We both were super excited to go on a 4×4 adventure because I have limited off-roading experience and was looking forward to a proper experience as both a passenger and driver.
We headed west of Denver and as we got higher in elevation, we took a backroad to a dirt road to a rocky road and continued upward, climbing Argentine Pass with our GPS showing us at an elevation of 13,205 feet!
if you’re going to live in Colorado, owning a Jeep Wrangler should be a requirement!
I’ll never miss an opportunity to drive some of my favorite roads in Idaho. After a couple good runs up and down Spiral Highway, I camped for the night along the Snake River near the Lower Granite Dam along the border of Washington and Idaho.
After my near death experience trying to cross Hells Canyon a few months prior, I returned a second time and had an enthusiastic drive through some amazing roads in Eastern Oregon and Western Idaho. The view overlooking Hells Canyon in Eastern Oregon was a grand sight. It’s one of those things you need to experience in person.
And then I discovered the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway in Utah.
Best. Road. Ever.
No, seriously. While I’ve yet to drive the infamous Tail of the Dragon, from everything I’ve read about it, this road is so much better because the pavement was perfect, there was barely any traffic, and not an officer anywhere to ever be seen.
The road is Highway 92 eastbound from Salt Lake City, and continues through the mountains, ending at Highway 189 (Provo Canyon Road).
The road was so incredibly technical, I never had a chance to let up and breathe. There was constant up and down short and long elevation change, coupled with every possible switchback and curve stringed together better than any string cheese you’ve ever had! Only encountered a few cars, and they quickly pulled over, and I waved at them as I accelerated by.
I attempted to drive this road back in April, but the road was still under winter closure, so I was excited to try again this time around. My drive occurred on an early Wednesday afternoon, and the road isn’t big enough for law enforcement to wait around for German automobiles.
The pavement was perfect. Better than most tracks I’ve been on. The scenery was even better than most roads I’ve been on, but you won’t have any time to pay attention to it because you’re constantly feeding the car steering input trying to survive!
Yes, indeed. Best. Road. Ever.