Craig Breedlove recently died. He was 86. I was kinda surprised, hadn’t thought about him in years. Brought back memories of the Mojave Desert, and the Bonneville Salt Flats. He studied aeronautics, was a race car driver, and was called the King of Speed…clocking 600 mph in 1964, never quite making his 800 mph target years later. His vehicle [cause it certainly wasn’t a car] was like something out of SciFi, a long lean silver bullet I always expected to take off heavenward and land on the nearest planet.
Those were the days when the Salt Flats were the ‘testing’ track for so many cars. It was a very out-of-this-world landscape, desolate, flat, hot, big, craigy misty-hued mountains in the background. That was when I started backing into parking spaces or finding a ‘pull through’ in a parking lot. The ‘getaway position’ meant fast.
I like fast cars. I like cars that go fast. Those are not necessarily the same.
‘Course, BULLIT is the greatest car chase of all time, tho it wasn’t the speed, it was McQueen and the Maverick and McQueen. Sigh.
I loved the LeMans races, real and in movies, it was about speed and endurance. And… Drivers Jackie Stewart, Stirling Moss. And…Cars Jaguar, Aston Martin, Ferrari. Sigh. I even had a USAC rollbar installed in my TR Spitfire, not Formula One, but Oh!
First it was the westerns. The movies and tv shows with the chases across the prairie; in real life Apple Valley, CA or Simi, CA, not far from where I lived. When a posse went after the very bad guys, lol, the black hats, there was the inevitable cloud of dust [hence bandanas], saddle ties flapping and horses hooves pounding dirt. That the cowboys’ hats always stayed was a ‘suspension of disbelief’ for me. OF COURSE, THEY DID!!!
There was a time when I got into my car, closed the door, turned the key and the engine purred. Pushed the clutch, shoved the car into gear, stepped on the gas and off I went. Didn’t care if the doors locked–they didn’t or my seat belt was in place–it usually was. Didn’t matter the make or model, although the TR was among the most fun, off I went.
It was simple. Open door. Sit. Turn key. Go.
Everytime I sit in my lovely, well equipped and overly electronically ladened 2022 Sienna I choke and cry a little. First off the mini-van [sigh] is 203.4 inches long. It is a small boat, seats seven. Low and easy accesses for Tom, tho. Second, it is a hybrid, 4 cyl. [double sigh] Good on gas, comfortable ride–captains seats, heated and air cooled. Leather. Lovely.
In order to start the car and drive I must first sit in a seat which is away from the wheel. I must pull out and buckle my seat belt. Then my seat moves into position near the steering wheel. Then and ONLY then can I put my foot on the brake, push the button and start the engine which makes no noise. I only know it’s on when the green READY light appears on a very crowded dash display.
[In truth I have more buttons, knobs, dials and options, either identified by pictograms or by letters in color and size that are almost impossible to read–and don’t get me started on the Toyota car guide– thank goodness for YouTube, than are safe to review no place else except in my garage.]
A large monitor in the center of the dash comes on. There are a number of buttons down the side—Home, Map, Audio, something something–and there is the display. It cautions me to not use the monitor while driving. Oh, yay…..There is a red-lighted message and an orange-lighted message that comes on, I have no idea why.
I have computed that I could easily be mugged, beaten to death, stabbed, shot or otherwise died before all the electronics and safety checks I have unwillingly paid for–triple sigh–allow me to just get away.
For the life of me I can not delete anything stored in the map. Took me about 10 minutes to set up SirrusXM and my phone–so YAY, I guess.
The car side view mirrors flash an orange car icon if a car is next to me–on the highway, on a street, in a parking lot, even PARKED!
On the dash there is an icon of my car and lines appear at across the grill area or the rear beeping when I pull into a parking place and get near a shrub or a sign or try to park in my garage.
When I back up, the center monitor shows the area to the rear of my car with yellow and blue lines that probably made wonderful sense to some neurotic type in the design department who are unable to turn their heads.
And when I stop and park, turning off the car, a message comes on my dash to ‘remember to check the rear seat’. It doesn’t specify which one, only to check. You’d think, with all this computing power, the bloody car could tell that I am alone!
I am deeply offended by all the electronics. Cool as they may be, they add little to my ‘driving’ experience. I hope I die before robots drive cars.
So I drive as I always do. I ignore the beeps and the flashing lights and the dash and monitor messages. It is most satifying that when I back up I use the lines on the pavement in the lot.
Still, it is a good thing, continually, that I am not running from a mob or a bomb or the police. The overwhelming plethora of electronics–for my safety–makes certain that the ‘getaway position’ and being fast is now unattainable…sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh!