Let us hope the third is where your real talent lies.

Today was one of those interesting days that start out being generally boring, or flat out sucking, and surprisingly turn out for the good. As it happens, they lead themselves into a good blog post about one of the most frequently asked questions I get from non-gearhead car people: Why do you do it?

For example, such people do not easily understand why you'd drive a car that runs hotter than the sun through 80 degree New York traffic, with no air conditioning, and a manual gearbox with a clutch that requires an Ah-nuld grade shove for any given selection of said gear. Indeed, sometimes it gets annoying, especially when some dipshit in an automatic Lexus is in front of you, alternating between floor it and slam the brakes, while yacking on a cell phone. As any fellow motoring enthusiast will note, that makes following in slow traffic with a manual transmission less than pleasant.

When I finally got over the bridge and onto the parkway, my little rice rocket was running at a roasty 250 degrees, with the heater full on, vainly hoping for the two things that tend to cool turbocharged engines: Motion, and unobstructed air. Eventually I found some, though plugged up by the usual pacing-the-right-lane idiots, which kept me stuck at 60 or so. I had a cramp in my wrist, from a prior night of crotch rocketing. I was more or less stuck to my seat, sweating like a pig, and really, really unhappy. Maybe I should just get a 350z, or a new Mustang, or a Hummer H3, or whatever, I thought to myself. Something that wasn't actively trying to melt, deafen and otherwise kill me.

And then, up ahead in traffic, I saw something that stood out most considerably from the usual boring Honda, Chevy and BMW fare. A yellow Lamborghini Gallardo. I flicked the cooling system switches to "iceberg", tapped the scramble boost button, hit the intercooler fans, dropped down a gear, and gave it some stick. A few moments and cut off minivans later, I was directly on the six of said Lambo.

It's funny, how in moments of that, when one finds a kindred spirit who cares more about handling and acceleration than trivial things like comfort and visibility, that such things matter considerably less than they did less than a minute ago. Boomy exhaust? Who cares. A toasty 120 degrees in the cockpit? Eh. Suspension that has declared Jihad on my kidneys? Tough.

Ah, but a funny metric of exotic car etiquette came into play. See, having driven and even owned an exotic car or two in my life, if there is one thing most owners of such vehicles can not stand, it's the rice rocket du jour sticking on their tail and trying to race them. And, here I was, in a rice rocket on the tail of a Lambo. 'course, it's not your average rice rocket. It's a purpose-built, turbocharged, all-wheel-drive rally car that was only sold to the public for racing homogolation. But, maybe one person in a thousand knows that, so, for all intents and purposes, it's a rice rocket.

Some, the old farts mainly, will simply ignore them and proceed to drive their exotica at 60 miles per hour, turning 2,000 revs, with both white-knuckled hands on the wheel. Others, mostly the rich pricks who bought the car as a status symbol, will laugh, mock, or otherwise make fun of lesser cars, before running into a mail box or something. But the best exotic owners, the rare ones, are the enthusiasts. They don't care if it's a turbo Civic or a McLaren SLR, they'll play.

While I was pondering this, and trying to get a glimpse of the driver through the bitty little port-hole Lambo calls a rear window, the guy dropped a gear, and punched it into the right hand lane. He wasn't going anywhere, due to the plethora of soccer moms and idiots clogging up both lanes, but it didn't matter. The challenge had been accepted. So, for the next mile or so, it was cat 'n mouse through the traffic cones other cars, until, as if ordained by an omnipotent being of your choosing, the left lane opened up.

Now, for some quick background, my car is loud. Real loud. Side effect of a turbocharged four banger through a more or less open exhaust. But I'll be damned if I could hear it over the howl of the italian V10 that opened up beside me.

Now, on a tangent, if you ever wondered why people pay obscene amounts of money for Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Ducatis, and other exotic italian fare, it is ultimately for one reason and one reason alone. Italians are passionate about what they build, and no more so than in the automotive and motorcycle industries. When you own an italian vehicle, you don't care that it takes half a year to get parts. Nor do you care that it needs major service at intervals shorter than a Honda needs oil changes. Because when you open it up, and you hear the song produced by people who put the internal combustion engine on par with screwing the prom queen, you get something reeeeeally quite special.

Unfortunately, it didn't last very long, as I dropped a gear and put my toenails into the fan blades, so to speak, and once again the sucking-a-golf-ball-through-a-garden-hose hiss of my turbo eclipsed all other forms of sound production.

And then, can you guess what happened? I'm sure you probably can. Yes, some dipshit changed from the right lane into the left, without looking, and we both had to get on the binders rather hard. How in the hell anyone can not notice a fricking Lamborghini and a Rally car on steroids barreling down the highway at 100 or so, I've no idea, but a quick dart into the gumball lane, and the idiot in question was little more than a dot in the rear view mirror. Or at least he would have been, had I been looking at it. But I wasn't, as I had more important things on my mind. Things like putting it to the floor in 5th, and eclipsing the posted limit by 200%.

Two things became readily apparent. One, Lamborghini makes one hell of a fast car. Two, that it could only slowly pull on mine, and try as the driver might, he could not escape my ground-pounding coke-bottle of displacement. (And ~18 pounds of boost, anti-lag, and a few other goodies) So, pay attention now, because this is the important part: That, right there, is why gearheads do what we do. The fact that something I built with my own two hands out of a thrashed on old Toyota, the total cost of which was less than what one would pay for a tune-up on a Lambo, was more or less keeping up with some of the best engineering the nutballs of Modena could produce with an unlimited budget.

That, boys and girls, is some pretty cool shit.

So, after toying with the naughty side of 100 for a bit, we both slowed and rumbled past what is universally known as the de-facto cop hiding spot. Thumbs were raised in the appropriate directions, declarations of "Nice" were made, and the universal enthusiast nod was exchanged before we went our separate ways.

Incidentally, in the highly unlikely event said Lambo Pilot comes across this missive, yes, this is the guy in the dark red rice rocket that sounds like an air compressor on steroids. Drop me a line, and let's see how that thing goes from a dig sometime.

Anywho, even describing it is difficult, but, for all those who wonder, that's why we do it. Though, the description pales to the experience, and always will. Alas, to truly understand, you more or less have to race something at 140 or so through traffic on a parkway known to be heavily enforced by Buford T. Justice lookalikes.

posted by Mr. Lion | 06/13/06 @ 17:28 | comments (5)