Sunday, September 6, 2009

peak performance

a while back, delwyn posted about her experience with cars.
do you remember that?
it got me thinking about my own experiences with cars.

i grew up in a family that was very much focussed on cars.
at various times my dad owned an armstrong-siddeley, a jaguar xk 120, a jaguar c-type replica, and a jaguar xj6. my dad (and often my brother) spent weekends inside or underneath those various vehicles, tinkering, repairing, whatever it is that people do with their cars.

there's an irony in that isn't there?!
you see i don't drive.
i have never held a license.
in fact to get around i bicycle, or i walk, or i get a ride, or take the bus.

i do all that i can to counter my carbon footprint
including buying carbon offsets for my friend dave who drives me to work in the wintertime
when the thought of an eight kilometre walk to work in the morning is far too challenging.
i'll walk home at the end of the day.

there's an irony isn't there -
something for a therapist to have a go at!!!

bloggy chums - have a go at it!!!

so, my father and my brother both raced vintage jaguars.
their main vehicle of choice for racing was a sky blue 1969 jaguar xj6 - the 13th one made actually.
this car was presented in concour's d'elegance for a little while and then finally it had a v12 engine and a standard transmission put in and they took it racing up and down the eastern seaboard of the united states.

so as i was growing up painting and writing poems and listening to music,
they were stripping down, rebuilding and racing cars.
i love cars, well car design actually.
in fact, i had serious aspirations towards becoming an automobile designer
and one day i'll share the portfolio i assembled towards that end.

i love the smell of gasoline, leather, oil, i love some features of car culture - especially being there on race day. the noise, the energy. in fact long, long ago, my brother and i drove to sebring for the 24 hour race there twice. a distance of 1300 miles - each way. our record for a one-way journey was 23 hours.
before we left we'd buy a bag of donuts, a few bags of chips, a few cans of pop and an air freshener!!!
it was good to be young, irresponsible and whatever else all that suggests!!

so, here i am , well aware of the irresponsible use of fossil fuels and the consequences of that practice but i still enjoy watching racing and today's posting is so completely different to what i usually share that i expect people will stay away in droves.

if i could i'd have the monty python crew here mouthing the words:
"and now for something completely different".

the only sales pitch i have for visitors here is that the onboard camera work is breathtaking and gets the adrenalin pumping!!!
i'd love to be a passenger in a car like this on a ride like this.

so this one is for my bruvver who lives with his ladylove in vancouver!!!
here you go david.
(viewing tips - set the film at full-screen and put on your headphones - crank the volume to full
and prepare to sit on the edge of your seat!!!)

this is entitled "peak performance".
it features a highly modified ford fiesta rallycross roaring up pikes peak

this short film is entitled "climb dance".

i've got that out of my system!!!!


Kathleen said...

I'll be back to watch the videos. Everyone's gone to sleep so I dare not turn up the volume.

I don't own a car either -- by choice. Gets hard sometimes, but it's liberating for the most part.

I had a "veggie" car for a bit -- an 1980s diesel Merceds that ran on waste vegetable oil, but then I lost my fuel supplier.

I love my 45-minute bus rides to campus, perfect amount of time for meditating.

Cheers, Steven!

Margaret Pangert said...

Geez, Steven, my palms are still sweating! I like how both films start out with great pieces of music and then switch over to high-speed car racing! I think the part that made it so terrifying for me was the altitude and hairpin turns without guardrails. I think that's the nature of these races: I once saw the 24H at Francochamps (France) which was also on hilly terrain. I will say my mind was totally engaged watching these videos, no errant thoughts creeping in. So which is better, the Peugeot or the Ford Fiesta? :)

Delwyn said...

Hi Steven

now that's what I like to see - balance...

I tried to watch both of the films but you know I am with fumes and will forgive me...I must have spent too much time in my Dad's pit under the car handing him tools when I was a has put me off vehicles completely...

Happy days

steven said...

hi kathleen - a good call to be sensitive to your family and their sleep!!! my bike ride is my time to bridge the space between home and school - and back again!!! i love my rides and miss them badly during the winter. i used to be able to ride through the inter but after a few big spills i lost my nerve. have a lovely day. steven

steven said...

hi margaret, good for you!!! to go see races and to toug it out through both these videos!!! they are incredibly exciting and i wonder how many of those cars have gone for an unplanned trip down the hill? i like the ford fiesta for speed but i've always liked the peugeot just because it really defined the pocket rocket for so long. have a peaceful (especially after these films) day. steven

steven said...

hi delwyn - oh i get it!!! i said in the posting, i wasn't really involved in the mechanical piece but i love the adenalin rush, the design and the sensory aspects - and they still are alright with me. have a peaceful day by the river. steven

Reya Mellicker said...

I've had several cars during my life. The U.S. is so huge, you almost have to own one - except here in the big cities on the east coast. Our public transportation options are almost as good as European systems, so many of us who live in these urban areas rarely drive.

I gave up my car about five years ago. I take the subway, walk, ride my bike. We have a car sharing service, Zipcar, that's great. Cars are parked all over the neighborhoods. You can rent them by the hour when you need to go buy groceries, etc.

When I'm out late at night, I take a taxi home.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE not having to own a car. Driving brings out the worst in me. Oh yeah!

steven said...

hi reya, i've always figured i'd bang into another car, or worse because i'm constantly looking everywhere to see things. i know it probably wouldn't happen that way because i rarely have problems on my bike but there you go! i love the feeling of the wind, hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting the world as i pass through it and convertibles come close but you know what? in this town i can get places almost as quickly as a car. so i am without a car of my own. there's a really nice community among the cyclists as well - we wave at each other - stop and chat even though we don't "know" each other, and my students love to tell me "i saw you on your bike." i wonder why driving brings out the worst in you reya? what does the worst look and sound and feel like?! have a peaceful day. steven

hope said...

Okay, I'm one of those people with really sensitive hearing so I only lasted a minute or two but I got the gist of it. :)

When I was in college a buddy I wrote to came home for the weekend. He had a brand new Camaro [can you say boy toy?!] and said he'd like to give me a ride around the block. My Mom smiled, thinking how nice he was.

Yeah, right.

We went about two blocks when he suddenly went to the end of a deserted street and told me to hold on. I always buckle up, so that wasn't a problem. Before I could ask "Why?" he punched it..gas pedal to the floor. Seems he wanted a witness to see how fast the car could go in a quarter mile. I wasn't much of a witness because I stopped looking at the speedometer when it hit 99!

He thanked me for my assistance when he let me out, but I never rode anywhere with him again. :)

Hope your weekend is exhilarating, minus the risk factor.

steven said...

hi hope - that's quite a story!!! i'm sure there are many women reading that who'll think "i remember something like that - what is it with guys and there need to show how fast something will go?!" i've had rides in ferrari's, lamborghini's, triumphs, mg's, morgans, corvettes, lotus, intermeccanica (google it!), rolls royce, jags, mercedes, and many others. the ride that i loved the most was my brother's austin mini. small, underpowered but heaps of fun!!! i'll be sticking to bikes chiefly this weekend!!!! have a lovely day and thanks for the great story hope!!! steven

Linda said...

You turned out the most brilliant of everyone in your family. That's my "go at it." I would ride a bike but the last time I rode one I flipped over the handle bars and damaged my bottom rib. That was back around 1998 and my rib still hurts when I touch it. I've been a chicken ever since. The grandchildren live in Guelph and Whitby and although I know people who have and do bike to these places from Toronto, I need my car. There is carbon footprint guilt written all over this comment isn't there?=D I do go to Whitby on the train and when the service is better, I will take the train to Guelph. I applaud your efforts Steven. I have had three fill ups of gas since March Break.

steven said...

hello linda - well my bruvver's a smartdude no doubt there.
i've never had as tough a spill as you describe. i've heard others talk about what it's like and it's more often the longterm effects (as you mention) that stick with you. i don't have a problem with people needing cars. as reya mentioned earlier, this is a very big place and family and friends are more spreadout now than ever. i'd like to see more transportation that reflects the technological and ecological knowledge that we now have, on the road. but that takes time and i'm a patient person. i notice a lot more e-bikes in my town nowadays as well as regular human-powered bikes. thanks for your comment here linda. steven

Titus said...

steven - I still get surprised when I hear someone doesn't drive, it's become such a cultural norm in the West. I am even more surprised when you go on to reveal you're a race fanatic!
Congratulations, anyway, on enjoying life, and travel, licence (UK sic) free, we pride ourselves on managing with just one car with 2 working adults in the family, which proves difficult sometimes.
My small aside is that I love speed, and looking back on my police career one of the greatest pleasures was driving very high performance cars, very fast, very safely. I have often fancied rallying myself, but my husband refuses to navigate, citing my competitiveness in such situations as a reason never to get in a racing car with me! Ah well, we can but dream.
Good post. Variety is often a spice of life.

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Great post Steven. My dad loved Jaguars, we had a Mark IX and a DaimlerV8. When I was lerning to drive he bought me a used Lancia. Life is funny with its pendulum swings. I have also ridden a bike lots, but do have a car. I would like to get an electric. My dad also made an electric car out of a tiny fiat. He took out the back seats and filled it up with twelve 12v. batteries. He used two five hp motors to power the thing. The pendulum showed up in my life this way: during WWII he worked at M.I.T. developing sidewinder missles. During the Vietnam war, I registered as a conscientious objector. Loved the race up Pike's Peak. Yowzer!

Liza said...

"before we left we'd buy a bag of donuts, a few bags of chips, a few cans of pop and an air freshener!!!" I'm still laughing at that!
I love this post Steven.

steven said...

hi titus, most people meeting that part of me for the first time are mystified. because you're right, it is a cultural norm - particularly for a man. i love car racing, and everything that goes with it and i really wish that i could have a go at it. i've been out in go-karts and loved that whole scene, racing into corners, hammering brakes sliding out sideways, beating the other cars . . . . . the police officers i know share your passion for high performance fast cars!!! thanks for understanding this rare devaition from my peaceful lovely place. it's a part of me and as i mentioned somewhere recently on here, i'll share more of the many colours of steven as my comfort level grows!!! have a lovely afternoon. steven

steven said...

holy cow richard - welcome!!! what great stories. i'll be nipping over to your blog to see what the result of all that cool background life is in you!!! it never bothered my dad that i didn't drive, in fact as he got older he was very supportive of it because he saw that it was really good for both my mental and physical health, helped the environment in a small way, freed up cash to support my family's extravagant lifestyle, and likely saved many lives that might otherwise have been lost under my wheels!! great to meet you. steven

steven said...

hey liza - what i didn't add is that "the air freshener" was in fact anti-perspirant opened up and duct taped to the dashboard so it served a dual purpose - as air freshener and also for its intended purpose as neither of us showered during the entire time!!! there you go!!! it's out there now! ha....steven

Anonymous said...

Your family had very coolswanky cars!
I remember all our cars growing up
Rovers, an Izzetta (weird 1950's), A Morris Minor , later Volvos.
Ten years ago on Long Island we had 4 cars: Robert , me, 2 teenagers.
Now only our son has a car!
(Daughter in London and us in the city.)
I didn't learn to drive until I was married and aged 26 and living in LA......
Now we walk and bus and bike like mad!

steven said...

hi eleizabeth - lovely to see you! my dad always made sure we had nice cars - no matter that we couldn't afford them half the time - they were very high up on his priority list. my wife has two cars - a beautiful burgundy miata and a camry ("the beater") as she scornfully terms it. my kids are too young to have cars but they already have plans, neither of them being especially concerned about the environment, their own real needs, or anything. they think i'm weird, they're glad i'm healthy as all get out, but they wish i had a nice car. have a lovely evening in ny. steven

gleaner said...

This post had me laughing - totally unexpected and great to hear some-one who doesn't drive which seems to be expected of everyone over legal age.

Sophia said...

Ohhhh...vintage jaguars!! I have an uncle that restores vintage cars. He loves it and it is cool to watch the start to finish process. He is pretty darn good at it! :)

Hope you are doing well over all.

Eryl Shields said...

I only learnt to drive in my late thirties when we moved from a big town to beyond nowhere and the isolation drove me bonkers. The only thing I know about cars is that they can get me to where I want to go, or rather from where I don't want to be, and that a 1969 sky blue Jaguar xj6 must be a gorgeous thing.

steven said...

hello gleaner, i was concerned about how people who visit here regularly might react or respond because it's closer to where i was as a blogger a year ago, but i'd like to throw some of my past in here as well as my present!!! yep - i'm 52 and a non-driver!!!! how do you like me now!!! ha!! have a lovely evening. steven

steven said...

hi sophia - nice to see you again!!! seeing cars go from grubby to glorious is a really amazing process. lots of time, lots of money, lots of skinned knuckles and lots of weekends!!!! in many ways it's worth it. i'm doing really well and thankyou very much for asking. steven

steven said...

hi eryl, i think your experience is very typical of a lot of people who find themselves in a position where they need to drive. i'm probably there myself but ignoring it!!! the car was very pretty and filled with walnut, leather, chrome and a really good vibe because that was one of the few years where jaguar pulled everything together into something timeless. i loved being seen in it!!!! have a peaceful evening. steven

Golden West said...

I started saving for a car when I was 13 and got my drivers license and bought my first car both on my 16th birthday. A $600 1961 VW Bug felt like freedom mixed with achievement!

Goldenrod said...

Oh, just too much, Steven! I laughed and laughed and kept shaking my head in amazement and disbelief during the second video. I mean, that guy was skidding all over the place on that mountain!! Idly, I wonder how many really terrible crashes they have and lives are subsequently lost or bodies badly injured doing something like that ... insanity, just insanity (imo). Watching a video such as this ought to cure anyone's 'need for speed' addiction, I would think, altho there are (and will continue to be) still those who absolutely love it and must have it in their lives. Each to his own! I might come back to this video and watch it a few more times on down the road.

steven said...

hi golden west, people tell me about that very combination of freedom and achievement from their own experiences of the first car! i loved old vw beetles. we had a family friend who owned a robin's egg blue bug and we got a ride in it every tuesday evening. i remember the heat was whatever came off the transmission tunnel! have a peaceful afternoon. steven

steven said...

hi goldenrod - crazy times eh? i love watching people who know what they're doing, do this sort of thing. i used to watch my bruvver and dad do their racing thing . . . there are stories there that would curdle anyone's milk!!! thanks for having a look see. steven

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


steven said...

hi wilson, i'm glad you dropped by!!! i don't post a lot of car related pieces but i do offer lots of pieces of my life. little details. i look forward to seeing you here again. steven