I recently heard the call of the mountains. I think we can all agree that every car enthusiast – old or young, tall or short, iPod or Zune – hears this call at some point or another. "Get your ass up here," the mountains say. "And drive on us." The mountains can be jerks sometimes.
So I decided to listen to the mountains, and I went up there last weekend. This will surprise those of you who read my book, because I haven't always had the best of luck driving in the mountains. Here I am referring to the time I attempted to flee the Cherokee Indian Police in a spider-infested pontoon boat, the result of which was that I got a ticket for unsafe driving even though the police officer admitted that he didn't know whether I was, in fact, driving. That was an interesting evening, and I immediately vowed that I would never return to the mountains, under any circumstances, at any time, for the rest of my life. I've been back every few months since.
On this particular trip, I went with a cadre of high-priced exotic cars. You'd know this if you followed me on Twitter, because I spent most of Sunday posting photos of my car next to various expensive, wedge-shaped exotics that, frankly, made my car look like a 1998 Toyota Camry. And I'm not referring to the Camry XLE with alloys. I mean the base-level, stripped-down Camry CE; the one you got when your insurance company gave you a fat check after your Geo Metro was totaled.
So anyway, for those of you wondering how it went, here's what happened.
The main problem with these mountain drives is that I don't live in the mountains. Only a few people actually live in the mountains: retired grandparents, rural mail carriers, banjo enthusiasts, the Blair Witch, etc. So we all meet up at an exotic car dealership near Atlanta, and then we travel in a huge convoy of loud, brightly-colored, wide, low-slung exotic sports cars through some of Atlanta's wealthy northern suburbs. (Motto: "We have so much tax revenue that we buy radar guns like you buy toilet paper!")
Now, if you think this would be a time where you might want to show some restraint, you would be right. But that's not what happens. What happens is, everyone drives very quickly on the theory that maybe, if we drive too slowly, the mountains will not be there when we arrive. Occasionally, we stop for bathroom breaks.
But eventually, we reach the mountains, and that's where the real fun is supposed to begin. Unfortunately, it doesn't, and the culprit is traffic.
The problem with going up to the mountains on a spring or summer weekend is that you will inevitably encounter dozens of locals driving ancient pickup trucks completely covered in road grime dating back to 1993; road grime that cannot, under any circumstance, be removed from the truck, because it's the only thing holding the truck together in the first place.
Normally, this wouldn't be a problem: you're in an old pickup and you see a dozen exotic cars in your rearview mirror; maybe you pull to the shoulder and you let them pass. But the problem is, these locals are tired of pulling to the shoulder to let sports cars pass. They've lived up here since the '40s, and they've let thousands of sports cars pass. These people let 275 GTBs pass in the '60s. They let DeLoreans pass in the '80s. And by God, now that they're 74 years old, they're going to go whatever speed they like, dadgummit!
So you end up sitting there, behind these slow pickups, going the speed limit most of the time. Of course, you could pass them, but this can be very difficult. Just ask the people driving those seven or eight cars we ran off the road.
Oh, and there was also a lot of this:
The other problem on these mountain roads is motorcycles. Not the motorcyclists themselves; they seem to be lovely people who thoughtfully pound on their head like a gorilla with mental problems whenever they see a police car. No, the problem is that getting large numbers of bikes together on such narrow, curvy roads only leads to one outcome: collisions. We passed no fewer than three.
The bikes don't collide with cars, mind you, but rather with basically anything else: shrubs, trees, guard rails, bushes, ditches, the Blair Witch, etc. In fact, we discovered early on that we really didn't have to worry about the police ticketing us, because they were too busy dealing with the numerous motorcycle accidents that seem to happen up there at a near-constant pace. Imagine being a police officer in the North Georgia mountains: weekends are packed with motorcycle crashes and speeding tickets, while you probably pass your weekdays sipping coffee at Uncle Herb's Diner and Bail Bonds, and responding to the occasional lawnmower dispute.
Other than these minor issues, though, I want to say that the mountain drive was excellent fun, and we really enjoyed pushing the cars hard, rev matching, accelerating quickly out of turns, darting around corners, flooring it in tunnels, and taking the engines to redline on nearly every upshift, all of which was done entirely within confines of the posted speed limit.
Every time I post about the Ferrari, there is a small but vocal minority of people who seem to be incredibly upset that I would dare write about the vehicle that I purchased solely to write about. This tends to irritate me. Part of the reason I'm irked is that I post about the Ferrari less than I used to post about my Cadillac, and no one seemed to complain about that. But mostly, it's because the people who complain have clicked on an article about the Ferrari just to complain about how they don't want to read any more articles about the Ferrari. This is mind-boggling.
So anyway, fair warning: in the next few paragraphs, I'm going to talk about the Ferrari. If you don't like it, you can – and I know this is surprising, but laboratory research has confirmed it's true – click on something else. For example, you can pick up the stapler that's sitting on your desk, open it up, and click it right on your face.
For those of you who are curious about how a ten-year-old Italian sports car handles 200 miles of hard driving on a warm day, I have the answer. And it is: beautifully.
That's right: 65 miles up to the mountains, 65 miles back, hours of hard driving at various elevations, air conditioning running the entire time, and the car didn't skip a beat. It started every time we took a break, it didn't throw any warning lights, and it didn't make any funny noises. We didn't even have a fire, which all of you warned me was inevitable when I bought this thing.
And it's a good thing there weren't any issues, because all the tow trucks were busy with the motorcycle accidents. Not that they would've been able to reach me anyway. They would've been stuck behind a local driving a pickup truck.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.