Decided to head down to Boxtoberfest this year (www.boxtoberfest.com), making it my third year in a row attending. Guess I should recap the past two before I take a crack at the 2012 version.
Back in 2010 I had a 2001 Speed Yellow Porsche Boxster S. I loved that car. It had both factory sport seats and M030 sports suspension plus the proper amount of track mods (exhaust, LN Engineering IMS bearing, new clutch, flywheel, pressure plate, wheel bearing, SSBL—the usual stuff). Yeah, it was one great ride.
Now 2010 was an epochal year for me. After a massive ski accident, I had a massive pulmonary embolism and almost punched the ticket. Those six days in ICU were grim. But in retrospect, they weren’t that bad. I mean, I was still alive. But a few days earlier, it was too close to call. My pulmonary surgeon said that a small embolism can kill you. I had three: two massive ones and a biggy. He said I should have bought it. But I didn’t! Nuff said.
Months later after a long rehab (I’d just finished with the blood thinner Coumadin), I decided to head to Boxtoberfest, taking my younger son with me. He was sixteen and still getting the hang of driving. I’d bought him a ’95 Jeep Wrangler with a stick so he knew how to clutch and shift pretty well. About half way to Fredericksburg, (B-Fest Central), I let him take a whack at driving the Boxster. At first he was tentative, but when another 986 went zooming past, teenage testosterone clocked in and he punched the throttle. I nervously watched his speed along with the road conditions, but I wanted to let him run, and learn. We had a rabbit (and a good radar detector to boot), so I just pointed out things he needed to pay attention to.
At one point we came upon a very long straight stretch and the Boxster driver ahead of us decided to blow off that annoying Speed Yellow 986 from his rear-view mirror and he punched it. Must have been doing over 125 when he disappeared. My son backed it off, all the while grinning. I asked why he was smiling. He giggled and said he’d touched 100 MPH. (His first time hitting triple digits and with his very slow Jeep to return to, it was doubtful he’d do the double nickel anytime soon.)
To make a long story short-ish, on Saturday afternoon we’d finished the B-Fest’s organized back roads stuff, passing through Ingram, Texas returning to HQ when we stopped for a red light. All twenty-five cars. My son and I were last in line. Way up the line, the light turned green. It takes a long time to get twenty-five cars rolling. Problem was the gal bearing down on me in a ľ-ton pickup only noticed the green light a quarter mile up the road. She did not notice the stationary BRIGHT YELLOW PORSCHE BOXSTER in front of her!
Suddenly, in my rearview mirror I saw a large maroon pickup truck moving rapidly towards me, getting bigger and bigger. I was stuck behind another Porsche and could not move. I said an expletive deleted and tightened my grip on the steering wheel, anticipating the impact. My son heard me swear and glanced in the side view mirror to see the truck bearing down on our stationary car. When she hit the brakes, she locked them up as she hit us with a solid THUNK! I had my foot mashed on my brakes but the force drove our Boxster forward. It hit the Porsche in front of us, making that Porsche hit the Porsche in front of it. This gal managed to rear end three Porsches. Brilliant!
Weirdly, no airbags deployed. When the pickup hit us, it lifted the rear end of our car up, so we hit the Boxster in front of us at a downward angle above our bumper, missing all the airbag sensors. Our car accordioned, smashed in at both ends. My son and I both felt woozy and later went to the hospital, diagnosed with minor concussions. Can you imagine if I’d still been on the blood thinner? Ugly!
A few hours later, still at the hospital, got my laptop out and my son and I were searching for a replacement car, blurred vision and all. Hey, we may have been down but we weren’t out—another Porsche was just a mouse click away.
It’s 2011 and time for another B-fest. I had a 2006 Porsche Cayman S. I took one of my best friends, a fellow gear head, but a Mustang guy. We were dutifully assigned a tour group. Our leader was an older fellow. Now I’m not saying he was slow, but sign posts have been known to move faster. There were times when we were going 45 in a 70. It was brutal, like watching paint dry. You know, the slow drying acrylic kind.
The Good? We finished the day with no “scratches” to the Cayman. The Bad? Back at B-Fest HQ, we listened to other driver’s bench race. Our pace was far TOO SLOW to ever talk smack with the other tour groups. So we begrudgingly listened to them gloat. It was humiliating! Then we caught wind of an alleged off-the-books group. The “go-fast” guys. My friend turned to me, “Dude, why haven’t you learned the secret handshake to drive with these guys?” Now keep in mind that my buddy and I are both track instructors; we teach people how to drive fast and race. I was cratered! How could I have gone to B-Fest and not known?
Later that evening, I was the keynote speaker and joked that my Boxster was the only one in B-Fest history to end up at a junk yard while participating in the event! After my speech, I had a wonderful opportunity to plug my novel (The Driver Book I – Decision, available on Amazon.com in case you’re wondering), and sell a bunch of personally autographed copies. Plugging my book at B-Fest. An action-adventure author’s dream.
Still with me? Now it’s the 2012 B-Fest. Same Cayman S and this time my wife rode in the passenger seat. Driving fast in a car is not her thing. (Sigh.) I met the leader of the alleged “go-fast” group and learned there was no secret handshake involved. He begged me to go with them. “Dude, it’s fun!” I knew it would be, but smiling at my wife, I said “Marital fidelity is more important than triple digit speeds. Catch my drift?” She smiled at him, batting her beautiful eyes and said, “If he knows what’s good for him, we’ll be going with the regular tour group.” Hmmm, sounded like the running orders for the day to me.
So who is “Dr. Slow” and how does he fit into this? Actually there were two crawlers: Dr. Slow and Pokey-man…
Our tour group of thirty cars, CW-1, headed out from B-Fest World HQ at the Gillespie County Airport in F-Burg TX. After a few miles, the group resembled an old coiled spring, you know the kind where some of the coils are shot. As we drove, the group began to stretch out. It was maddening. While the leader and the cars directly behind him bunched together, the following cars uncoiled and sagged many miles behind the leader.
Pokey-man drove a green 986. He’s one of those guys who refuses to drive over the speed limit. So he poked along as did all the cars behind him. If you’ve ever driven in one of these tour groups, the leader usually drives at a pretty steady pace and the front cars usually tend bunch up behind him. Normally what happens is the folks in the back tend to stretch out a bit, allowing them to run at a faster pace to keep up. For some reason, the physics of this tour dynamic were reversed. The faster cars were up front and the slower ones in the back. My wife and I were in the back. “Why are we going so slowly?” my wife asked. And if she noticed it, well we were flat out crawling. I had to do something. So after lunch I leapfrogged the Pokey-man in the green 986. But so did some other cars. They got in front of me as we headed out of Leakey Texas. It was unbelievable but my wife and I were stuck behind a second group of slow drivers!
The new leader of our sub-group was in a 997S Cab. He had personalized plates that said “Dr. XYZ” (nope, not telling what it actually said but rhymes with slow). The speed limit was 70 on one stretch of road. There were yellow signs that announced “TURNS IN THE ROAD” and posted a caution of 50-60 MPH and Dr. SLOW actually braked heading into those turns. BRAKED! IN A PORSCHE 997S! Holy mother of perpetual motion. I was on his as* (excuse me), rear bumper, but he refused to go faster.
We finally got to a long straight and I’d had enough. So did the guy behind me. As one we nailed our throttles and shot past. We’re not supposed to pass the car in front, but our patience had mutually expired. Dr. Slow glowered at us as we motored past. Moments later we were back on the twisties. The signs said to take the turns at 40, I took them at 60 plus. My wife looked over at me and asked if I was having a good time. A huge grin spread across my face, I was now!
CW-1 stopped later to let everyone catch up. We had to wait a solid five minutes for Dr. Slow’s sub-group to catch up. One of the leaders suggested Dr. Slow move even further back. He was not happy, but relented. Six or seven other cars immediately zoomed past him. From then on, the “faster” group in front had a great time, well within the capabilities of both car and driver. It really was a textbook perfect day. The previous days heat (well over 100°) had given way to an early fall cold front, just like the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce brochure: 75 degrees, sunny and a few wispy clouds. It was as if the road tour gods had smiled on our sunny group and said yes, you shall have your day.
Back at B-Fest World HQ. was there bench racing? Yes of course there was. But at least this year, I was able to hold my own, once I got past Pokey-man and Dr. Slow that is. Will we go back next year? Probably. But I may drop my wife at one of the many spas in Fredericksburg and hit the road with the alleged “go-fast” group. Hmmm, I guess they’re not too secret anymore; I may have spilled the beans. Oh well, I’ll still run with them, but they may want to use some kind secret handshake after all.
And on that exhaust note, see you next time.