Thread: Driving HARD
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Old 01-27-2001, 12:44 AM
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longston longston is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Mark West, CA
Posts: 787
A Man's Gotta Know His Limitations...

Clint Eastwood said it best as S.F. Police Inspector Harry Callahan.

David, You started this thread with this statement:

"...I drive it very hard. I floor it often, accelerate fast, brake hard (when needed!), put the shifter into selective gears and sometimes hold it there at high RPM. I know all this is not necessarily good for my car..."

Didn't you answer your own question in that statement? And did you really think that we wouldn't get on the age and safe driving bandwagons with a 10,000 watt sound system? If so, then you should realize just how much there is left for you to learn. I, for one, see a pattern developing that I found quite disturbing...

I will never apologize for bringing up the age issue. ( And I am ashamed of all of you who have tried to "soft pedal" it!) I have more respect for you than to try to coddle you like a little baby. You are a man now, and as such, need to face up to the realities of life! And one of those is that we do have one major advantage over you with regard to age. It's called perspective. You only have the perspective of 18 years being alive. But we have several other perspectives to bring to this discussion.

I, as well as several other members of this forum who have offered you advice on this thread, have been 18, lived to tell the tale, and are now, well, uh, older, ok? I'd like to hope that we are also more mature, wiser, and considerably more responsible than we were when we saw our 18th year.

One of my suggestions was a driving course from a professional driving school the likes of a Skip Barber or Bob Bondurant. And major thanks to both BobbyV and Q for echoing what I was trying to tell you by suggesting it. And if (when?) you take such a course, you'll learn more about yourself, your car, and what Dirty Harry was talking about than a 50 page thread will teach you. Do the research, find the right course for you, and spend the money. It will be the best insurance you could buy against the youthful poor judgement we all are heir to.

I personally prefer Bondurant (just prejudiced, I guess). Bob moved from Sears Point to Phoenix a few years ago. Go to his website, for details on his courses, for your needs, they range from $650 to $3995. I would suggest you call them and ask for their advice. Maybe you could take a multi-day course, and get them to let you use your Mercedes the last day. In addition, I would suggest taking a serious defensive driving course from them.

At least go to the public library and check out some books on the subject. I happen to recommend The Smith System of defensive driving.

Now, please do yourself a big favor - don't get defensive about the suggestion that you should be taking driving courses, or react with the testosterone-charged "Hey, man, I already know how to drive". We all know how to drive, David, but HOW WELL do we know how to drive? Can any of us drive so well that we can FULLY compensate for the atrocious driving habits of the "other" drivers on the road?

I want to relate a brief story about Retired Staff Sergeant of the United States Army, Raymond Barrios. I never knew Ray Barrios, but I'll never forget him.

One bright summer day a few short years ago, I was driving about six car lengths behind Ray headed south on a two lane country road in Santa Rosa, CA. Traffic was light, conditions perfect, we were driving the speed limit, and it was a great day to be alive. Another young man about your age was also enjoying this bright California sunshine with his girlfriend, but he too was driving his vehicle "hard" as they were headed west on an intersecting road.

When that young man suddenly realized that he was pushing his vehicle too "hard" to stop in time for a clearly marked stop sign, his sober judgement told him to "floor it" to get through the intersection instead of possibly skidding out of control while trying to stop.

He later said that he never even saw Ray's car until it was too late. The young man and his girlfriend were both thrown out of their vehicle by the impact (no seatbelts). The girl's injuries were so severe that she had to be airlifted to the nearest hospital that had a trauma unit. The driver was only slightly injured, and just happened to be a volunteer fireman who was completing training as a paramedic.

I was the first one on the scene of the resulting broadside collision. I found Ray's car upside down with him still strapped into the drivers seat. I also happened to be the last human being to touch Ray, as I tried to find a pulse on a man whose life literally slipped away from him as I tried to see if I could save it.

Later, as I left the scene of the accident with my wife and then 4-year-old son, I was muttering about how such a senseless and tragic loss shouldn't happen, etc, when my wife froze my backbone with one chilling statement. She said, "You know, if we hadn't stopped to make a quick phone call a few minutes before, that might have been us".

Needless to say, I HAD to know who this man was, and I later found out that he was a highly decorated war hero, Vietnam Veteran, a father and a grandfather, a loving husband, and a man who was both loved and respected by everyone who ever knew him. On the day he lost his life, he was just going out to play a little baseball with some friends. That day was also his wedding anniversary. I doubt that his widow, Cathy, will ever forget it...

You have had advice from some people on this thread who are in law enforcement, are pilots, scientists, former military, and at least one professional driver. We care enough to offer you our very best advice, to relate painful stories of losses we have known, and to share some moments of our fondest memories (thank you, dtanesq). Please listen carefully to us.

I was never worried about your Mercedes, or about the wear and tear you knew from the beginning that you are subjecting it to. I was, and still am worried about my family, the woman and her kids that JCE told you about, Q's cousin and his best friend, Ray Barrios, and you. But you know what? I'm more worried about what it would do to your parents if they lost you. See, it's all about perspectives.

And just so this doesn't get written off as some old guy giving advice, I'll qualify my driving credentials. Among other things, I have raced stockcars on dirt oval figure eight tracks. I was a former deputy sheriff; I was a pursuit and evasion driving trained personal bodyguard for corporate executives and celebrities. I have repossessed cars in the worst parts of Oakland and Richmond, CA. I have driven class-A heavy commercial vehicles on every type of road, on ice and snow, over every mountain pass, in every state in this country, in Canada, in Europe and in Australia; and, in at least one case, in winter conditions so severe that the RCMP once closed a road on a mountain pass in the Canadian Rockies behind me, and told me they'd come looking for me if I didn't come out the other side by the next day! I possess every available driving license except the instructor's, which I used to have, but is only valid while you are employed by a driving school. As a licensed instructor, I have taught defensive driving, commercial vehicle operation and even traffic violators' school. I have trained driver examiners for the California DMV, lectured at the California Highway Patrol Academy, been called in to work with the CHP on several MAIT (Multi-Dicipline Accident Investigation Team) investigations, trained commercial class drivers for all branches of the military, as well as several state and federal agencies and numerous corporations. There isn't a vehicle with rubber tires on it that I can't drive, and few I haven't driven. I could drive my Ford Aerostar minivan more effectively and faster through any obstacle course than you can drive your Mercedes. I guarantee it!

It's not just all about driving smoothly when you drive hard. It's really all about knowing how to drive hard safely and how to fully optimize the vehicle's full potential as well as your own. You won't learn that by just thinking you can do it, or even by reading some books. You will only learn that under the strict guidance of a professional driver trainer who can teach you skid recovery, how to do a 180 degree turn at speed, and how to control your vehicle in emergency situations.

The best defensive driving tips I can add are these: always expect the other driver(s) on the road near you to do the stupidist, and most irresponsible thing you can imagine that they could do in any given circumstance, be prepared to compensate for it, and see how many times they prove you right; never do anything abruptly; and when you start to lose control, smoothly and quickly stop doing whatever you were doing that made you start to lose control in the first place.

I will apologize to the membership for the long post, but I am stone-cold serious about this subject, and quite passionate about my driving.

You see, David, I have always loved to drive hard and fast, but I also love driving enough to have taken every driving course I could so I would be the very best driver I was able to be. Then I found that the real joy came from passing on what I had learned to others. Again, it's all about perspectives....

Have you had your Father read this thread? I really think you should, and get his guidance. He's your Father. Have him reply, I want to hear what he has to say.

One last thought from "The Duke", John Wayne:

"We must always look to the future. Tomorrow...the time that gives a man just one more one of the many things that I feel are wonderful in life. So's a good horse under you. Or the only campfire for miles around. Or a quiet night and a nice soft hunk of ground to sleep on. A mother meeting her first-born. The sound of a kid calling you dad for the first time. There's a lot of things great about life. But I think tomorrow is the most important thing. It comes in to us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday."

I wish you countless more "tomorrows".

"We drive into the future using only our rearview mirror."
- Marshall McLuhan -

Scott Longston
Northern California Wine Country...
"Turbos whistle, grapes wine..."
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