[ originally published 10/19/09 | updated 01/01/18]
Introducing Andrew Kemp & F30diesel.com
Michael Rodarte does it right the first time.
Recently, a friend (Harvey Sherman with the Aurora) informed me of a group of people who enjoy a good drive, the Northwest Drivers group on Meetup, regardless of what is driven. So I decided to check it out.
The founder of the Northwest Drivers group, Marko “Wolf” Wollschlaeger, has been part of the Jaguar and Porsche owners clubs in the area, but found that they weren’t too much into actual driving.
“So I was like, I’m going to found my own thing so that anybody can join. The main purpose was any brand or make, it doesn’t matter what you drive,” said Marko “Wolf” Wollschlaeger, owner of a 2014 Porsche Boxter S.
The drive started at 9 a.m. in the parking lot of a QFC in Redmond Ridge. So, I got up early (for me), put caffeine in my belly and headed out in the Acura TLX I’m reviewing (more on that in another article).
Arriving with several minutes to spare, I pull the TLX into a space next to a Porsche and, I’ll be honest, there seem to be doubters about my choice of car – me included. I hopped out of the sport sedan and started schmoozing with the owners of Nissan GTRs, Fiat 500 Abarths, a ’90 Miata from the Miata Club where I purchased my own MX-5, and more.
There was a car for everyone, or near enough that it makes no difference. One duo came from as far away as Port Angeles just to come and drive with other car enthusiasts on nice roads.
“We don’t really have too many people into car culture out there, so when I found this group online I thought it would be a fun trip out to Seattle,” said Dallas Derma, who drove his 1999 BMW 328i from Port Angeles. “I was pretty surprised. I was just really surprised how many cars there were.”
Derma came out with his car-loving buddy, Brandon Meyers; both are 16-year-old high school students.
“I’ve never seen this many cars like this in one area, usually the car shows in port Angeles have one or two really nice looking cars, but this is really good,” Meyers said.
What a great way to start the weekend.
After a quick drivers’ meeting, the group of around 40 split up into three driving classes: Cruise, Normal and Spirited groups. Now, that’s not by car, but by how a driver wishes to drive; cruisers were out for a leisurely drive, normal drivers were out for something quicker than leisurely, and spirited drivers were out to have a little bit of fun on the upcoming curves.
I stepped out on a limb and chose the spirited class. I figured, “Hey, I’ve got a V6 AWD Acura with ‘Sport+’ mode. Let’s do this!” complete with a mind-sized Joe Swanson from Family Guy.
I couldn’t have chosen better. Also in the Sport speed group was a Mitsubishi Lancer, a VW Golf R32, an Audi S5, the first Porsche, a Nissan GTR, two Honda S2000s, a Lotus Elise, another Porsche (targa), an Aston Martin Vantage, a Corvette, the Acura, and behind me a Porsche Cayman S.
What a train of cars to be among!
“I love to do the drives… I love meeting new people and driving my car,” said Joe Macri, 2009 Porsche Cayman S (driving behind me). “…A little spirited, [but] I’ll come back. I thought it was really fun and, going with a lot of people and meeting new people is really fun too.”
The drive was sporty and fun. I was the tallest car in the group and, between a Corvette and Macri’s Cayman S, I looked seriously out of place.
But, the dual-clutch transmission (DCT) manumatic in the Acura was responsive and clean in the corners and on acceleration, so I didn’t make Macri in the Cayman’s drive dull.
People were safe; not taking things too quickly, but still at a very nice pace.
“We’re a bunch of guys [and gals] trying to have a good time, trying to be safe,” Wolf said.
Brakes would be applied into the corners and then, upon exit, a chorus of climbing rpms rose to the sky. On the hairpin corners, taken at an unbelievably careful pace given the powerhouses under some hoods (complement, not complaint), the reward was a cacophony of engines as drivers stretched the cars-legs upon exit, the engine vocals resounding in my heart.
The Aston Martin Vantage’s belting out a monstrous growl, the Lotus Elise pouring a high-pitched scream into the air and the Acura TLX’s V6 gave me a smile at every gas pedal tap. It may not have had the same tone as those around it, but it was still a blast to hear (and drive).
It sounded glorious. The other cars sounded glorious. The roads were glorious. All around glorious.
So glorious, that I wished it was longer.
Luckily for me, and all the other enthusiasts out there, this wouldn’t be the only time they gathered. The Northwest Drivers group is open to all people with all makes of vehicles – cars, trucks, whatever your flavor of wheels – and only requires that one likes to drive.
“Join, by all means. We have been very lucky so far, we haven’t had any idiots or any people that are rude or unfriendly,” Wolf said. “There were a couple [of people] we had to say, ‘hey take it bit easy’ and they did and it was fine.”
The next event has an added bonus of starting at the end of the June 6 Exotics at Redmond Town Center and heads up into the Cascade Mountains for a bit of Bavarian fun at the end.
The Northwest Drivers group has also gone up north to Lummi Island, out west to Lake Crescent, down to Mount Saint Helens, held track days at local motorsports parks and more. Because: Why. Not.
“I’m tickled, obviously, it’s nice. The community aspect is a big part of it, for me, and I love all the cars,” Wolf said. “While I am biased toward German cars, being German, I love them all.”
So, until next time Northwest Drivers, thank you for the wonderful drive and the earful of fantastic car sounds.
I want to spend more time doing gearhead stuff. Checking out cool machines, getting to know the people who built them, seeing what’s possible when you get a couple next level gearheads united on a shared project – that sort of thing. But what else do I want from life?
Look at that picture again. Which did you notice first – the Beemer or the hot rod? The front mount intercooler or the chopped roofline? Or did you notice the size of the house? I actually went back around the block to get this picture the other day. Why? Because it reminded me of something.
The global economy feeds on blind consumerism. Everything is getting bigger – bigger houses, bigger vehicles, bigger meals, bigger waistlines. Bigger isn’t necessarily better. We know this, but we’re constantly told we need bigger and better to be happy. They Live, after all.
I wouldn’t expect to see either vehicle above at the local Cars & Coffee clone – but I wouldn’t be surprised if I did, either. Beemer and hot rod reflect true passion for automotive art, style, and performance. The former made more ultimate through the inclusion of forced induction, meaning the owner is either fearless or insane. The latter something out of nothing; gearhead synergy – a sum greater than the total of its parts – confirming said lack of fear.
What you don’t see in the picture is the motorcycle parked in front of the hot rod, and the newer F150 parked on the street. I’m thinking: small house equals low mortgage equals more mod money. And if it turns out its a couple buddies sharing the rent, even better.
McMANSIONS IN THE SKY
We have pretty basic needs – food, clothing, shelter. There are a lot of people out there who would have us believe we need big meals at fancy restaurants, fancy labels on our clothes, and big McMansions. They tell us small houses are for poor, unsuccessful people. That picture up there reminds me this is just another bullshit stereotype.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a tiny house and a couple fairly done-up vehicles parked out front than a fat mortgage with a stalled project in the garage. This guy – or these guys, I guess – have the right idea. We need a warm, dry place to sleep, eat, and clothe ourselves. Beyond that, it’s all about what we want. Do we want to look important or BE important?
Just a little something to think about on your Monday. What’s important to you?
[bd] Give a shift. Elaborate. (And how well has this “campaign” been received?)
[jf] Ha! #GiveAShift was a hoot to create. Though, I can’t take full credit, the idea came from our editorial director Marty Padgett. He dreamed up the idea, drafted a rough script, the team looked over the script, and then our video guy and I filmed it. Admittedly, it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever filmed. [Read more…]
On the way to work this past Monday morning, I found myself cruising alongside one of my all-time favorite cars – an E38 BMW 740iL. I’ve long been a BMW fan, but never an owner. I’ve come close a couple times, just never pulled the trigger. When I come across the simple elegance of the big Beemer in the wild, I tend to pay attention. And I tend to think about what it would take to get one in my driveway. Such was the case that morning.
As I coasted to a stop at a red light next to the immaculately clean, obsidian 740iL, looking almost identical to the one pictured here, the inner dialog began…
“Get the phone out and snap a picture for GU+,” I thought. “Nah. The light will change and he’ll be gone before you can get the phone unlocked and take the picture,” came the response (also me). “Remember, we saw one just like that FSBO the other day. Only $6500. We could make that happen.” (sigh)
The light changed. We resumed our morning commute. As my lane was moving quicker, I took one final look back in the rearview – at dreams, at destiny, at just how green the grass was on the other side. That’s when he popped a radiator hose. Liters of distilled water and coolant exploded through every vent and panel gap on the driver’s front corner in an angry cloud of steam. Poor guy.
Of course, this being rush hour – and he being in the “$80,000” BMW – he had to press on some distance before the oblivious strokes around him, likely enraptured by local on-air “talent,” continued passing the injured giant on the right, until he could finally pull off onto a side street across from a dingy carnicería. I thought about the all-aluminum M62 V8 under the hood, fully up to operating temperature when suddenly deprived of all cooling, just as the driver calls upon it to shovel two-plus tons of full-sized saloon up to speed and around the bend.
For a moment, I thought about stopping to offer a assistance. (I’m a gearhead, after all.) But what could I do, in my wife’s Juke (since my own truck is still on the disabled list) with no tools? Offer to let him use my phone? Surely he had his own cell phone. No. I would just be getting in the way and I was already cutting it close on my own ETA at the office. “Good luck, dude,” I thought, and continued on my way with the pack of mouth-breathers.
At the next red light, I reached over into the passenger seat, grabbed my “Moleskine,” and hastily scribbled the words, “740iL grass greener.” I wasn’t sure if I would do a post on it or not, but later that day, I would read an old copy of Overland Journal in which Editor-in-Chief Chris Collard was asked “What’s the best overland vehicle?” His response: “Put simply, the best rig is what you choose to drive, the one that makes you feel good from behind the wheel—so long as it gets you there and home again.”
Amen to that. Amen to that.
Have you ever had a brilliant product or business idea ruined by nagging doubt? Do you really want to spend the rest of your life working for someone else? We all want to snatch full control of our destinies, but how do we do it?
A while back, I came across a cool Kickstarter project where a real gearhead took one of those brilliant ideas and made it happen. You could make your big idea happen too. Get ready, here comes some 2-wheel content. [Read more…]
The 10th edition of the Sports Car Spring Rally took place in April 2012. As part of the tradition; it was held in Maastricht, The Netherlands, at the Novotel. A wide variety of cars were present as usual, varying quite a bit in value as well as in age. It was all about the cars that weekend, and the price of the cars or brand was insignificant.
I recently joined a sort of mastermind group. Once a month, I get together with two other guys with automotive websites to have a couple drinks, talk shop, and keep each other honest. In our first ever meeting, we got to talking about how the automotive world is just too damn big for any one or two people to cover on their own, so we thought we’d try working together. Hopefully, this results our being able to better cover the automotive world for you – from Abarth to Zagato. [Read more…]
It’s the $300 BMW WRC Build Party raconteur. [Read more…]
Earlier this month, we showed you what the Essen Motorshow 2006 looked like. Today, we’ll skip some years (four, to be exact), and take a look how the event has evolved. To give a few hints: more classic cars, less bikes, more Opel, more Irmscher, more US classics, and less European classics… [Read more…]
It’s time for the second part in the series;Back to the Past, where we do reports on meetings/events held in the past. Today, we’ll check out a Hummer in Gulf trim, Golf R32s, yellow Lamborghinis, fast Opels, a lot of girls, and a mix of old timers, modern (tuned) cars, and some bikes. Yes, we’re taking you back to the Essen Motorshow. In 2006 to be exact. [Read more…]
Some of the slickest fabrication and custom work we’ve ever seen comes from the DIY EV crowd. Tim Catellier recently shared a story about the fantastic time he had at EVCCON 2011 on his personal blog. This is just so good, we had to get his permissions to re-run it here. Why? You’ll see…
This weekend, we’re in Prescott, Arizona, USA, attending the Prescott Rally, part of the USRC championship. We’re posting pictures to our Gearheads-United Tumblr (GU+) outpost until the battery on the Blackberry dies (which it did about an hour ago). [Read more…]
Why do we watch certain movies more than others? Being gearheads, I think it’s because there are certain films we see ourselves in more than others. This list is hardly authoritative, but I’d like to know if you see agree with this list and why you think it is – or is not – a top 10 movie for gearheads. [Read more…]
There are so many meetings during the summer time, you could visit one every day if you wanted to. How do you decide which one to go to? How do you know it’s worth a two hour drive? Well, you look into the history of that meeting. We did this as well, and found one meeting being held every Thursday from May till October and has been around for almost eight years. Every week there are at least 50 cars. Even on rainy Thursdays. What makes this meeting so special? Why do people from Belgium, Germany and even Luxembourg come to the Netherlands to visit this meeting on Thursday evenings? Let’s find out!