Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hitting the 150k mile mark!

Today my beloved car reached a major milestone, 150,000 miles! A lot of these miles were very hard earned, and a lot were everyday trips back and forth to school. I truly do hope this car will give me another 150,000 miles, and with how I maintain it, it should. Which leads me to my topic: maintenance. I treat my car like a king, because without my car I cannot do what I do. This car must take me to school first and foremost. This car also gets me to vacation spots, races, family visits, and more. Anyone who knows me well, knows my car gets what I consider to be the very best of everything. I use nothing but OEM replacement parts, premium 93 octance gas, and good oil (mobil 1). I do not have the means to do major repairs anymore, but I only allow my car to be worked on my trusted mechanics. This is all in the name of maintaining my vehicle to last as long as it possibly can. It is hard to remember doing things in anything else other than my car. I can still remember how excited I was to have a brand new vehicle, back in 2007. I can also remember how angry I was when someone hit my car, twice, both requiring repairs. Now although it does show some signs of wear and tear, especially from the school parking lot, it just adds to the layer of love.

Treat your car well, and it will treat you well.

Monday, March 23, 2015

I love to travel in my car!

  I love to travel! It doesn't really matter where I am going, I just love hitting the road. I realized a long time ago that the best place for me to' be alone and think or clear my mind is out on the road. A person like myself doesn't look at driving the way a normal person does. It is a combination of being away from everyday life, and being alone with 'my machine'. Sometimes it is a long ride, and other times it is a short ride, but all the same a ride. Sometimes I take on a cruise partner, which this time was my fiance. While it does cut in on my alone time, it also brings out a time where we can be alone from everyday life and just chat about OUR life..more on that later.
  Now I mentioned briefly why I love to drive but a more detailed description, I feel, is in order here. I do not view driving like most people do, I like to feel and hear the road. I know what sound my vehicle will make, and why it makes it. I can tell immediately when a new noise has come along, that affects the normal hum of my machine. To be cliche, I try to become one with the car, and let it do the work. In the event that action needs to be taken, my driving skill can take hold, the rest is up to the car. A lot of people can look at my car and say that it isn't much, but it is MINE. For me it isn't about the type of car, it is the experiences you have in the car. I would not trade my car for anything on this planet, because nothing can replace the places I have been in that car, and the memories I have made getting there and back.
  I have traveled several places, but lately the most frequent are to and from: Ft Worth, Austin, Houston, and Baton Rouge. Every place I go has a unique value to it, and each provides a certain level time I can get into my 'zone' and take the edge off. I often visit my parents in Ft Worth, and I love that drive (most of it anyway). It is a 6 hour stint, and the first three are filled with back roads and twists and turns through the small towns and can give your arms some exercise. The last 3 are a straight shot to DFW. Driving to Austin is about a 5 hour stint and the first 2 are going through Houston, which isnt awesome all the time, but that last three hours are open road through the country! Baton Rouge is a short 3 hour stint, where my fiance and I frequent for an overnight stay, mostly to eat at a restaurant we love. In a 100 percent straight shot down I-10 and is mostly a brisk cruise, unless you get cited for speed like I did this past trip..oops.
  The point here is, that sometimes you don't need yoga or workouts to relieve your stress, sometimes you just need a cruise in your car. Or maybe that is just me?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

My experience with live racing events

The past few years have been a struggle for me as the demands of school began taking their toll. I decided it would be nice to treat myself every once and a while, and for me that was to begin checking things off of my bucket list. My personal bucket list is various automotive events/races I have always wanted to go to. As luck would have it, Circuit of the Americas (COTA) opened in 2012 that would enable me to be within distance to a proper race track. In 2012 a friend and I decided to attend the first Formula 1(F1) event at COTA, which had been on my bucket list since the dominant days of Schumacher at Ferrari. I finally got to see a live F1 race, and one of my racing idols race in his last F1 season. The sound was extraordinary and the track itself was amazing, but for a true race fan, it was a bit disappointing. One really got the sense that an F1 fan was not the main focus, more so the well off or upper class were. It was a race for the people who wanted to be seen, and the true fans were left off to the side to fend for space. Access to drivers was nearly non existent, and getting nearly the cars was a pipe dream. I have since formerly denounced my fandom of Formula 1, for that very reason, everyday fans do not matter to them.

It is now 2015 and I just recently attended my 4th event at COTA, which was Pirelli World Challenge, but before I dive into that, let me go back and explain 2013-2014. In 2013 we went and watched the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), which was in its last season, as it was to be merged with the continental series. As it always has in its 15 years of being around, ALMS delivered quite nicely. I personally MUCH prefer Grand Touring (GT) class racing to any other form, because they are the most similar to the street versions they are derived from. If you know me, then you know my brand favoritism, and thus must know that I would be a fan of Corvette Racing. I followed Corvette racing from the start of their runs in 1999, and still do. In 2014 I went to see the United Sports Car Championship, which is the newly formed series after ALMS and Continental series merged into one group. Though the excitement from ALMS has yet to carry over to this new series yet, it was still a great event to watch. Better yet, both events also came with a bonus, the World Endurance Challenge (WEC) would also run a race that very same weekend, which is a special treat because it is a European league. All of these experiences were top notch, but the best part was the series' making the everyday fan feel at home. The access to drivers, cars, teams, pits, paddock, etc were unparalleled. I was able to get autographs from my long time racing idols, which I will cherish forever. As an engineering student and a gear head who long to be in this community career wise, access to these people to ask them questions and get feedback was phenomenal.

Lastly, is my most recent trip to COTA to see the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC). This series is composed of strictly GT class cars, no prototypes like ALMS/United has. Again the access was awesome and the racing was great. This particular series has gained even more traction lately as several teams are jumping from United and into PWC. I was able to meet two more long time racing idols in Johnny O'connell and Andy Pilgrim from Cadillac Racing and got an autograph for the collection.

Although the past few years have been tough, nothing takes the heat off like treating yourself to something special every once in a while. For someone like myself, that something special is enjoying the company of like minded people at an automotive or racing event.