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OK. I'll admit it. I've taken too long to drive home the last several evenings. The reason? A nice little bit of road. And I just had to find the right line through it.

It's bugged me for years. It's really just a right and left turn, with the exit of the right overlapping the entrance to the left. So they really flow as a unit.

And I've never really found a good line through them. My tendency was always to end the right turn well to the left. But that made getting into the left turn really uncomfortable. I'd keep turning to get back to the right side of the roadway, but before I was in the spot I wanted, it was time to make the turn into the left. It just felt wrong.

And then last week it hit me. Make the apex on the initial right late - no later than that - and eventually so late that I'm ending the right turn on the RIGHT side of the road. That seems so wrong. But it left me in the perfect spot for the bend to the left.

And that was it! All of a sudden the turns were smooth and balanced. I could accelerate away from the apex of the first right hander. There was room to brake before turning in to the left hander.

So now on my way home, I love this pair of turns. And if there's other traffic in the way I find myself going back around and doing it again. Just for the fun of finally doing the turns right.

I don't care that it's really just an offramp from the freeway. And the fact that I'm driving this in a <whisper> mini-van </whisper> isn't important any more. It's 10 seconds of joy that makes the 30 minutes of driving to get there worth-while.

--Peter
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I used to have a favorite tiny stretch of road. I know just what you mean, Peter.

If I took the "wrong" way to work, I encountered a brief uphill-downhill straight. You couldn't see the upcoming corner until you were right upon it on the other side of the crest of the hill. Once upon it, you immediately noticed it fell away to the left, off-camber. And as you entered it, you could see that you would be maintaining the same "bank angle" as the road led immediately into a very sharp right-hander that T'd up to a highway.

For years, this T ended in a stop sign and the road was just the way to work. Then one year there was a lot of orange and noise and this route became briefly the Wrong Way to work. But in a few weeks the orange was all gone and the former T now ended in its own acceleration lane for about half a mile that finally blended onto the highway.

Well!

This was something that could be played with all week, in all weather. If you were too far over here or too far over there coming into that first corner, the rest was always messed up. If you were thrown off, pardon the pun, by the off-camber corner, then you were misplaced for the good turn. And finally if you nailed both of the corners you were rewarded with a vertical G-loading helping your acceleration as you just kept your foot in it and blended with any traffic that might be droning by, obliviously.

It wasn't the Nürburgring, and almost all of it was enjoyed below 35mph, but it was a little challenge that let me think Sir Jackie might approve, that I might get a tip of the Parmalat hat from Niki or a chuckle from Mario. It wasn't even very long, but it brightened up my morning commute like no screaming disc jockey ever did.

We moved. I miss it. And I wonder sometimes if anyone else from that housing development enjoys that little acre the way I used to….
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Peter, don't get all European on us now. Cars are for impressing and getting there, that's all :)

Seriously, finding the right line just makes the universe resonate with joy. Until the winter, and you get a mongo pothole right where the wheel is supposed to go.

Richard
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I have a regular indulgence that I like to take in the S2000, right as I arrive at the office. I typically save this for when I'm arriving at off hours, so there's no traffic around.

From the main road, it starts with a right onto a little used side street. It's 40yds to a left turn onto my employer's property. There, after ~20 yds there's a stop sign, and to the right there is a nice sweeping curve of about 135 degrees. It's all flat and the pavement is to-die-for smooth. Curbing everywhere, so there's no room for mistakes.

From the main road, blip the throttle and downshift to 2nd at speed (stay in 2nd from here on out). Bite the brakes hard prior to entry, and accelerate through the right hander (the car really hunkers down when accelerating through a turn). Let it swing wide into the turn lane on exit, but watch out for the curb at the median. Clear this corner right and you can reach the top of 2nd gear (~65mph) just before you need to brake for the left hander.

Any oncoming traffic here kills the run, of course, since we need to turn across. The left is tight because there's curbing on both sides as you cross the median, so no tail wagging allowed here. Let off the brakes as you turn in, and wait to get on the gas until you've cleared the median curbs. From there, it's only 20yds to the next right hander, so you can't stay on the gas long.

For the final right right (make sure no one's around, you're about to blow a stop sign), lift briefly to set the car in the turn. If you're carrying a lot of speed, the car wants to understeer through this one, so get back on the throttle to make it turn. You can have as much throttle oversteer as you want. The michelin ps2's barely make a peep, even with the tail hanging out a little.

Once the back wheels are lined back up with the front wheels, get back on the brakes, pull out the employee badge, and pull up to the (thankfully unmanned) security gate. The whole thing takes 6-7 seconds, but it always puts a smile on my face. And reminds me how much I need to take this car to the track.

I was driving my wife's TL last week, and tried to put it through the same paces. Not even in the same zip code. It just feels heavy. Too much body roll, a strong tendency for understeer, and that automatic transmission and I are just on a different page.
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I don't care that it's really just an offramp from the freeway. And the fact that I'm driving this in a <whisper> mini-van </whisper> isn't important any more. It's 10 seconds of joy that makes the 30 minutes of driving to get there worth-while.

Take the happiness where you find it.

amg2
Loves the flyover ramp on my way home for the same reason.
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Peter, don't get all European on us now.

Kinda hard to avoid - it's in the genes, quite literally. I've mentioned that my dad has his vintage race car that he takes out to the track on a regular basis. And my 70+ year old mother, prefers her PT Cruiser with a turbo and 5 speed tranny to dad's Mercedes.

Cars are for impressing and getting there, that's all :)

I can assure you that my car does roughly Zero in the "impress you" department. One of these days I'll be able to afford to change that. But not right now.

Seriously, finding the right line just makes the universe resonate with joy.

Yep. And I learned a bit in this process as well. I eventually found myself working backwards to figure out the line. The exit of the second turn needed to be here, so that puts the apex of the second turn there. And that means I should enter the turn at this spot, which is also where I need to exit the first turn. Which led to the "Aha!" moment, and changing the line through the first turn.

That is the big lesson I learned. Sometimes working backwards gets you the solution. I've solved many other problems that way. I've just never thought of applying it to finding a line through some corners.

Until the winter, and you get a mongo pothole right where the wheel is supposed to go.

Just think of it as practice passing slower traffic in the corner. ;-) Or perhaps a reason to find a good alternate line.

Hmmm. That gives me an idea.

--Peter
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I was driving my wife's TL last week, and tried to put it through the same paces. Not even in the same zip code. It just feels heavy. Too much body roll, a strong tendency for understeer,

Isn't human perception an amazing phenomenon? Your description of the TL matches my description of the S2K.

xtn
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Or perhaps a reason to find a good alternate line.

Hmmm. That gives me an idea.


If he gets it wrong, we may never hear from him again. ;-)

Neil
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Isn't human perception an amazing phenomenon? Your description of the TL matches my description of the S2K.

While you do get LOTS of extra brownie points for driving the Lotus, have you really driven all the inferior cars that you're looking down on?

I do, however, think of cars as a spectrum.

First, the minivan. We've got an '04 Sienna in the garage. While I'm glad that the OP is able to find amusement from his minivan, ours is a prosaic implement of transportation, best suited to collecting junk, including unimaginable quantities of French Fry fragments. I did try a performance outing on California 74 in the Sienna, one of the nation's most spectacular highways, and you can't turn a sow's ear into a silk purse.

Second, the Acura TL. Having put 20K plus miles on an '02 TL, I agree with jeffbrig's assessment, in spades. Too much understeer and body roll. I'm told that Acura saves the good stuff for the manual transmission versions, but still - not a great experience. I tend to put most big sedans in that category, maybe unfairly.

Third, the S2000. A car I've always admired, and might have bought, had I had a different wife. Haven't driven it, but put almost 50K miles on an Acura RSX, a vehicle with a lot of similarities, and I've read a bunch of S2000 reviews. From everything I've synthesized, a great little vehicle, and I bet I would have loved the little segment of highway in the S2000. Nothing's perfect, but the S2000 is pretty far into the sporting end of the sporting/comfort spectrum.

As an aside, I think of our ///M Coupe as occupying a similar part of the spectrum to the S2000. Certainly different vehicles, but I bet I'd like the chunk of road in the BMW, as well. Probably never going to get around to a comprehensive post on the BMW, but the tagline would be something like "fun, but flawed."

Fourth, your Lotus - haven't driven it, but willing to accept your description and the reviews I've read - great little car. I suspect, though, that most reviewers would put the S2000 closer to the Lotus than to the Acura TL. I've also got to say, that should my next bonus be bigger than expected, that I'm more likely to be looking for the new, 600hp Viper, than the Lotus - and I bet I'd enjoy WHATEVER stretch of road I'd take in a violet Viper.

martybl
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I've also got to say, that should my next bonus be bigger than expected, that I'm more likely to be looking for the new, 600hp Viper, than the Lotus - and I bet I'd enjoy WHATEVER stretch of road I'd take in a violet Viper.

I've got just a bit of time behind the wheel of a Viper and I'd encourage you to drive that Viper a bit first before you put your money down on one. Vipers are great for attracting attention, being seen in, and for horsepower bragging rights. They're not all that great at putting the power on the ground and I really don't think they're very good at fun curves either. It's all a matter of what you're looking for, naturally. My friend whose Viper I drove sold it after three years (and an embarrassingly small number of miles) and has nothing but lukewarm things to say about the experience.

The Viper is not unlike your M Coupe (I had an M Roadster for five years), just a bit "more" in every direction both good and bad.

Nugget
drives a 911 currently, loves Miatas, not fond of S2Ks, and is very tempted to buy an Ariel Atom just to shut xtn up
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While you do get LOTS of extra brownie points for driving the Lotus, have you really driven all the inferior cars that you're looking down on?

Yes. I go to the track, car shows, otherwise know lots of car-guys. I have opportunity to try other cars here and there. I also go test drive cars every once in a while just to see what they're like. Within the last month I've driven a new S2000, an '05 JCW Mini, an '04 MazaSpeed Miata.

My cousin has an '04 S2K with a Comptech supercharger and full Tein suspension on Nitto NT01 tires. We've swapped cars before. It's a thrill to drive. He can even out run me at highway speeds what with having twice the power I've got.

I don't mean to give the impression that I "look down" on other cars. The S2000 is a fantastic car. Heck my daily driver is an F250 Crew Cab. It's fantastic too. They both perform beautifully to their design criteria. I enjoy almost any kind of car, but mabye for different reasons. I just bought a 66 Mustang 289/automatic coupe. It's a GT350 "clone." Oh my gosh it's like driving a cargo barge; but completely fun in a different way.

The S2000 is heavier than my car, has more body roll, and relatively speaking has more understeer, and you definitely feel those differences, and even my cousin's modified one cannot keep up with me around the track. It also has some nice things that my car does not, like... uh... cold air conditioning and cruize control? Bigger trunk? Just kidding. It's got more horse power, a higher rev range, Honda reliability, smoother and shorter throw shifter, etc. It is a great car; just different.

So I'm not a car snob. At least not in general. I guess you could say I'm a snob as it relates to the specific performance characteristics at which my car excels, but that's just one tiny sliver of the pie chart that represents all possible vehicle characteristics. I certainly recognize and appreciate cars that turn better 1/4 mile times, have better sounding exhausts, carry more groceries, travel over rougher terrain, or whatever other catagories of capability you might define. Those things were not MY priorities in a second vehicle cuz I already had the truck, but I definately appreciate them where they are to be found. I like machines that excell at their designed goals.

I havn't driven an M-coupe so far. I would love to though. Perhaps if you ever have occasion to make your way to the Dallas, TX area we can meet up and swap cars for a short romp to the nearest bar&grill.
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Nugget
drives a 911 currently, loves Miatas, not fond of S2Ks, and is very tempted to buy an Ariel Atom just to shut xtn up


HA! Miatas are awsome.

Why do you think buying an Atom would shut me up? I just like to talk about cars. If we're talking about an S2K I'm going to say I think it's overweight and understeers. If we start talking about your new Atom I'm going to say it's awsomely lightweight and understeers. Now of course that's debatable because there are numerous factors that effect the balance of a car, and on an Atom most of those are adjustable. But that won't keep me from saying it! :)

Havn't driven one myself. I'm hoping to work my schedule to accomodate this next weekend in fact:

Ariel Atom Experience
Motorsports Ranch (1/2 Day)
Cresson, Texas
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
* Immaculate fleet of new 2007 track-equipped Ariel Atom 2s
* One-on-one professional instruction
* Use of custom driving equipment
* Extensive track time driving the Atom
* Gourmet food & refreshments served by hostesses
* Comfortable “pro racing” trackside hospitality facilities
* Professional event photography
* In-car video
* AAE branded apparel for you to keep
Join us for your own Ariel Atom Experience!


xtn
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RE: xtn: "So I'm not a car snob. At least not in general....I certainly recognize and appreciate cars that turn better 1/4 mile times, have better sounding exhausts, carry more groceries, travel over rougher terrain, or whatever other catagories of capability you might define."

My priority, once you get past basic transport between points A and B, is that I can have fun in a vehicle. And over the years I've found it possible to have fun in just about anything on wheels.

A case in point would be one of the cars my Mother owned, which would appear to have about the lowest fun potential of any: a brown 1960 Rambler Classic 4-dr, 6-cyl/push-button auto, am radio.

One day my friend Luke and I folded down the front seats, sat in the rear seat, and set off down the street. I steered with my feet and worked the gas pedal with a long stick. This worked pretty well as long as we were traveling in a straight line on a level section of street, but when we headed downhill toward a stop sign I discovered that I wasn't able to push hard enough on the stick to work the (non-power) brakes!

We rolled through a fortunately empty intersection, and bumped up over the curb on the other side, coming to a stop just before hitting a tree.

It was kind of scarey for an instant, but it was only a moment until we burst into laughter, and now it's a fun story to tell!

SB (not to mention the fun potential of that era Rambler's forementioned fold-down seats)
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I just like to talk about cars. If we're talking about an S2K I'm going to say I think it's overweight and understeers.

We seem to fall into this debate every time I bring up the s2000. I'm starting to think I have a stalker, lol! It's all in good fun. I've actually though about an Elise as an eventual replacement. Lighter, better handling, and more economical to operate. But, the spousal approval factor is definitely lacking. I'm also not sure how comfortable it would be as a daily driver.

I read about the Ariel Atom Experience in a recent Autoweek. Sounds like a lot of fun, and not a bad price. Be sure to let us know how it goes.

-Jeff
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I read about the Ariel Atom Experience in a recent Autoweek. Sounds like a lot of fun, and not a bad price. Be sure to let us know how it goes.

-Jeff


It now appears I will not be able to attend. My five-year-old has a soccer game and I want to be there cheering him on. Hmmmmm... drive an Atom on a track... be a good dad... drive an Atom on a track... be a good dad... hmmmmm.

xtn
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