Sunday, June 22, 2008

Driving Machine

Went for a short bike ride this afternoon. I have not been on my bike for two weeks, fighting a late spring cold which had taken up residence in my lungs. The ride felt nice and gave me a chance for some uninterrupted thinking. Riding is very meditative for me.
In no particular order I thought about organizing our house (current or future) so Max can stay with us more comfortably, the idea of a driving machine, the difference between my first day at the track and my second, and what I want in my next sports car.
The making our house work for Max is off topic so I won’t share my thoughts there. Several months ago I frittered away some time pondering the use of a Ferrari. Now I will fritter away some time pondering the idea of driving machine. Bear with me. I have five bikes. Two track bikes, two road bikes and one fixed gear commuter bike. The fixed gear commuter is probably the coolest. Old French frame, combo of Dura Ace and Campy components. Pick any of the bikes they are all wonderful. My favorite is a custom made track bike. It channels my thoughts directly into action. It is head and shoulders above my other bikes. A fantastic riding machine.

The Ferrari is that way. In many ways it seems like a partner, directly contributing to the progress around the track or down the road. Ferraris are lots of things to lots of people. For me, first and for most it is a driving machine. A thing, beautifully developed , for driving. Not driving for the purpose of getting from here to there but driving solely for driving. I have been thinking about the Ferraris role as driving machine for a few weeks. My thoughts gelled somewhat at the track. My second day at the track was more enjoyable than my first. I was more relaxed and it did not rain. I was better able to explore the cars boundaries. My first day on the track was a revelation, I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did. I left my second day thinking I really want a track car. A car with fewer luxuries, fewer distractions, more sharp edges. I enjoy driving the Ferrari on the track more than I enjoy driving it around town.

So, what next? I am back to considering a track car. I might fudge a bit and get a Lotus or older 911, something I can drive on the road and on the track. What I am really interested in is a 355 Challenge. One of the 109 factory built cars. I think a 355 Challenge represents a good value, as Ferraris go, I know I like how 355s go around the track, and a car I can mess with.

As far as I know the 355 Challenge is the last Ferrari race car with a manual transmission. That appeals to a luddite like myself. Intellectually, I understand how paddle shifters would be faster around the track. I’m not looking to be fastest, I am looking for the most involved trip around the track I can get. I don’t know if I can justify the cost of a Ferrari that sits in the garage and only comes out five or 10 times a year to tear around the track. I will think about it.

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