This story is continued from Part 1 here.
The Alpine White BMW 1 Series I’m currently racing might be gaining distance on me, but I’m sweating and swearing more – and thus having a hell of a lot more fun. Up and down the mountain, the confident and agile line the newer bimmer cuts is followed by my little silver bullet screeching and sliding through lanes behind them. This is what my car was built to do. I hope it’s happy, because I sure am. Though our mini BMW race felt like it lasted an hour, I’m sure it was actually 20 minutes or less. Just as the 1 finally lost me around a set of stacked corners we both rocketed up to an ancient Rav4 and were stuck patiently waiting (read: chomping at the bit) to continue our pointless competition.
Thankfully the Toyota pulled off and we enjoyed another mile or so of me just trying to keep up when we again hurtled up behind two aging bikers on their massive be-chromed Harleys. They quickly pulled over to let us by but now I was loosing my taste for this. The 1 series rocketed through the most technical hairpin on the mountain while I chose to more deliberately make my way through. Let the young machine take this victory, I’m sure the owner needs to justify their chariot a lot more than I do.
By now they were lengths ahead of me and on to a section of straights and wide bends before the canyon ends by joining with a congested highway. I gave one more full-bore blast up to 5th gear to catch them up in a wide sweeper. Again we danced our dance with my heart only half in it (sounds like my prom) and I stayed with them without having to try too hard. As my adrenalin wore off a vicious smell hit me all at once. The brakes. My cardboard brakes were roasted and crying for relief. I applied some pressure on the next bend and they had indeed given up the ghost. The final intersection then came into view and I stood on the brake pedal and downshifted like mad from what seemed miles away just to stop in time. The intersection came, the 1 series went left, I went right, and not so much as a wave was exchanged between us. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
This is the first full stop I’ve come to all afternoon and I quickly realize how much effort this drive has taken. I am exhausted, the 2002 is exhausted, and I quickly realize I haven’t eaten all day. Thus is the appeal of this car. Driving it means merging with it to a point that your wants and needs become secondary to the team you have joined. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Forget the hunger and forget the brakes, I’m only halfway and I’ve got another canyon to conquer on the way down.
On to the highway, through a small town of old strip malls and new gas stations, then turn right into another mountain road. This half of the course isn’t nearly as technical, or free from traffic, so I get my thrills where I can when a passing lane appears. All these yuppies are shocked when a machine from the Pleistocene era rockets past them with a momentum they couldn’t hope to match. This is the more beautiful canyon, affording views of mountain’s and Justin Bieber’s 3rd home, but my eyes are still glued through the upright windshield and over the short hood of my time machine.
Dusk is here and I’m not relishing the thought of being in a canyon at night with 1970 headlights. I pile on some more speed for the final climb, then it’s all downhill and brake management. They’re still not very pleased with me, and the slow-moving traffic we’re stuck behind isn’t helping matters. Civilization slowly begins to pop back up as I reflect on how great this vehicle is. In a world of launch control, ABS, airbags and brakes that actually work, I wouldn’t have anything else. I love this 2002 and want it badly. Sadly, it must be returned to its lucky owner tomorrow.
As night falls I leave the canyon to the modern cars whose headlights and other safety equipment work normally. As I re-enter the civilized world there stands a lonely stoplight amongst the dried grasses and dive bars. This is the gateway back to real life, and with its suddenly yellow light I’m once more hard on the loud pedal. One last time for the frightening jolt of speed, then on in the darkness to the PCH and on to home.
- Adam Kaslikowski
UPDATE: This car is now for sale and a full description is available here.