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I thought I knew what love was. I had been driving V8 American cars for a while, had an Audi, played around a little.
Then I met my little honey. 1986 Mazda RX-7. Sleek body, light on its feet. Red.
I went for a test drive and that was it, had to have it.
When I got everything all straightened out with the sale, I was ready to drive home and it was later on in the evening. I quickly headed for a twisty stretch of road that I used to assault daily with the Audi. Threw it into the corners, powered out. YEAH!! Couple more corners. MMmmmm.
Next thing I knew, it was sliding sideways. I caught it, that was the wonderful thing about the car, and it finally came to a stop. It was sitting exactly sideways on a deserted country two lane. I looked out my driver's side window and straight out along the double yellow line.
Maybe these rear wheel drive sports cars handle just a touch different than the Audi. The Audi liked it rough. It had to be forced, pressed into action. Power hard into the corner and, as late as humanly possible, throw out the anchor, turn in and get right back on the gas. It was very stable. It just took more and more.
The RX-7 did as you asked. It only had to be led gently. It would keep on turning if you didn't ask it to stop. Around and around and around she goes. But I got used to it. And we became the best of friends. That car would turn an honest 135mph on the track (sometimes on the road). It wasn't extremely powerful, but it was so light, it would take on cars with much more power and prestige.
We did track days (for more info, see "Track Day" article in the archives). It became my weekend amateur race car, and sometimes hit the track 3-4 times a month. We were in love.
It had folding backseats suitable for no one more than 10 years old, but once folded down, its cargo capacity was amazing. I put in half a dozen eight foot 2X4 studs, closed the hatch glass and drove away.
It hauled the Chevy motor to and from the machine shop when I was building the hot rod. It did everything.
I was working on software at the time and the people in my office figured out it was a weekend warrior after the car showed up on a Monday morning with race tires still on since I was too tired to change them back on Sunday night.
There was another guy in my department who constantly gave me shit, nothing major, just little smart ass remarks. He thought he was a driver. I was determined to prove him wrong.
I was driving back from lunch and he was directly ahead. We both threw down. It was raining. Hard. He had a pretty good lead before we started, so I was working furiously to catch up.
Coming up is a medium right hand corner, but it's a little off-camber, a little "tilted" and tilted the wrong way...to the left. My car gave a slight twitch. I tried valiantly to catch it, and to my credit, it only spun around half a turn, off the road on the opposite side.
The world blurs, I catch my breath and I'm on the wrong side of the road, facing backwards, looking at the place where I just came from. Odd that. Racer instinct kicked in somewhere in the middle and I had slipped the clutch in, the engine was still idling patiently.
I can smell tire smoke, and as I already mentioned, it was wet. It takes REAL effort to make tires smoke in the rain.
If I had spun a little earlier or a little later, I would have spun backwards into oncoming traffic. If I had spun a wee bit further I would have been off the shoulder, over a 20 foot embankment and hit trees. going backwards at about 70mph. Very stiff looking trees.
After what seemed like a long time but what was only a few seconds, I slotted it into gear and went back to the office.
Aside from a couple of smoldery flat spots on the tires, the car didn't touch a thing and it looked fine.
Apparently, the people in the other car saw everything.
So. Yeah. It was a pretty serious experience. It made me think.
Keep track stuff on the track. Well, usually. And...
Oh hell. Do as I say, not as I do.
Bob has been a contributor of FTTW since the begining of this conception. We had an idea and he was one of the first to put the sticks under this project. Because of things happening in his life, he is on hiatus. Maybe one day he will come back, but as of right now, all we at FTTW can say is "Thank You" for putting up with us. You went thru hell with us and we thank you..