porsche panamera gts

The Joy of Driving

Fellow enthusiasts, lend me your ear. Wait, too dramatic? OK, let’s start over. Look, we need to start talking people into following us into the promised land, the hooniverse. Lots of mainstream media outlets have foretold the end of our kind. Apparently, the youths supposedly aren’t getting their driver’s license, or aren’t interested in owning a car. Something, something, EVs, I didn’t actually read any of them. Well I say that if any of that is true, its because they haven’t given it a chance.

So please, forward this to your friends, family members, coworkers, anyone who doesn’t give a crap about what they drive. I’ve got a soapbox to ascend.

I regularly explain that “HOON” means. I typically say “it has to do with driving enthusiastically”.

The vehicle as entertainment

Many see their car (OK…it’s likely a crossover statistically) as an appliance, a point-A to point-B type of conveyance. It doesn’t have to be like that. I know I’m preaching to true believers, or at least to the converted, but we need more people to understand that your vehicle can not just take you places but it can also…take you places.

To see what I’m talking about, check out Victoria Scott’s adventures on The Drive for a great example of what’s possible. Anyone can do that, you just need to make time to do it. Just don’t forget, the vehicle is part of the experience. Experiences that you can only have in a car (or truck..SUV…motorcycle…van…whatever, that’s not the point).

Driving enthusiastically on a twisty road in a sporty car, or exploring a dirt trail in an off-road vehicle, these are experiences that non-petrolheads don’t get to have. There is no mass transit on backroads or dirt tracks. The hits of adrenaline that seep through your body when you swiftly drive through the bendy bits, or those peaceful Zen-like escapes that come with being in the middle of nowhere, off of a paved road, that’s all due to driving.

This can be entertainment, and it doesn’t really cost that much. People pay more to go bowling than they do for a tank of gas. Someone fact check that one, I don’t really bowl. 

Just get out and drive!

The vehicle as an escape

Holy crap, how often have you felt the need to just be somewhere else, especially over the last year or two? We’ve published a couple of stories about getting the hell out of dodge (in a Jeep) during the pandemic and dubbed it “antisocial distancing“. It’s a term that I’m certain we didn’t coin, but it perfectly describes the sentiment.

Your life exists primarily in certain places, specific places like your home, your workplace, and…well, probably not a ton of other places. Sure, you can hop on a plane, bus, or train and go somewhere, but why? Blaze your own path, take your own detours. Even in train-obsessed countries I found that it was a lot more fun to rent a car and drive. You’ll figure out that you’re 10 minutes from something amazing, or you’ll just see a damn Concorde mounted atop a building and decide to see WTF that is all about.

Sure, all this can be done in a Prius C, and you’ll get a solid mpg rating, but it won’t be the same experience that the rest of us have. Still, if taking off on an adventure in your hybrid is the gateway drug to actually being into cars, have at it.

Me hooning on a timed course.

The vehicle as a sport

I was into cars when I was young, even though they were temporarily displaced by the F-14 Tomcat and SR-71 Blackbird for a period. But, once I realized I wasn’t going to be flying myself through the wild blue over yonder, I realized that the automobile would be my passion. It wasn’t until I tried my hand at motorsports though that I really fell head over heels.

I know, I just went jumped from like CARS 101 to like CARS 301 level coursework here, but I’m trying to appeal to a broad audience. If you have the inkling that you might like to try to go fast on a timed lap, there are options. Here’s my primer, circa 2014 for those looking to get into Autocross. Autocross is a timed event on a closed course, typically one car at a time. Generally speaking, they won’t let you out there if your car is taller than it is wide (that’s a sweeping generalization, but you get the picture).

The SCCA runs events around the country, as do a bunch of local car clubs (i.e. BMWCCA, etc.). You’ll find that it’s hard to get comfortable at first, but unless it’s a super competitive region, almost all of the regular will stop and help a newbie. There are other options out there as well, depending on your vehicle. There will be limitations about what you’re allowed to run at certain events, but I’m happy to discuss it more in the comments.

mitsubishi montero off-road jump
Maybe work your way up to jumps…

Get out there!

OK, stop reading. Grab your keys and go drive. Somewhere, anywhere, it doesn’t matter. Drive for the sake of driving, to enjoy the journey vs. just the destination. Doing it in a non-boring car amplifies the experience. The feeling, the emotion, the noises, even the smells are better in something other than a basic commuter car.

These days there is a dearth of joy, and you have had something to deliver said joy sitting right outside this whole time. Go drive it.

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2 responses to “The Joy of Driving”

  1. Smaglik Avatar

    Competitive bowler here. Can confirm that bowling itself is much cheaper than a tank of gas, even if there are 11 balls in the trunk…

  2. Sjalabais Avatar

    My way to “recalibrate” is to go hiking/skiing/basically napping on a mountain top half a day. Because I work less than most, this happens often on a normal weekday. For that, I can easily drive 1-2-sometimes 3 hours one way. People around me don’t understand why I’d drive that far for a short hike, and even own a car just for that purpose (weight on “own”, as I haven’t driven the Centennial for an eternity – in three days it’s been at the mechanic for half a year).

    It’s exactly for the above feeling: Driving is part of the experience. Especially on a weekday, when roads are a bit emptier and basically no one occupies my beloved gravel hydropower access roads, leading to moonlike landscapes high up in the mountains. Sliding around a twisty turn with a steep fall to one side, rocks on the other, maybe a reindeer standing on a hill next to me…great start to a hike.

    The funny thing is, though, that a sporty car really is not necessary to enjoy the ride. The Centennial is a boat, and, in sport mode, feels more like a half-loaded van than anything deserving the “sport”-label. Our baby Hyundai has made me a much more aggressive driver again – it weighs less than a ton and is underpowered. So it’s the “slow car fast”-approach, you just don’t want to lose momentum. I’ve had situations that were almost embarrassing, thinking that I haven’t matured one bit since I turned 18, in this car. But it’s stupid fun.

    I would assume most people can have fun this way, they just believe other stuff is more fun…or, around here, they believe that having fun while driving is dangerous per se. Which it needn’t be, but I’ve heard that a lot and it sucks the life out of every attempt at having fun.

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