• Go Kart TrackLast Friday and Saturday night, my family and I plunked down twenties for 5-pass tickets to go kart tracks in Western Maryland.

    After lazy days tubing on the Potomac, walking forest trails, and making hobo pies around the camp fire, we embodied the old Disney cartoon where Goofy turns into a maniacal driver. We grinded kart skirt rails under the lights, battling each other and especially Dad for cement supremacy. Trading spark-inducing wall-pins and corner bumps, we generated a photo album of pictures and more than a couple nights’ worth of memories.

    Afterward, Dad and I discussed how—apart from their liability insurance—the place had to be making a killing. When you compare that a full day at Disney or Six Flags costs only twice what we blew in an hour or so, this pastime proved an expensive one.

    As I sit and ponder again about the whole deal, I think back to the weeks surrounding the purchase of my Cooper S. Over and over I heard the themed comments, “It’s so impractical,” “Do you fit in that little thing?” and “Quarter life crisis, Ryan?” I’d laugh them off, pointing out our lack of kids and my past of hand-me down, decade-old rides. My business was going well, and I wanted to celebrate in a way that connoted that I am, by trade, a creative.

    Those questions sound different to me after a few hours of chasing siblings and strangers around a figure eight.

    I loved it. They loved it. But to get back to the camp site, they piled into a van; and I slipped into a leather-seat cockpit with a short-throw six. Their night in a low-slung speedster ended with the unclipping of an unsterile belt. Mine continued with XM radio and an open moon roof. That weekend was their annual conjugal visit with the thrill of speed, the exhilaration of passing, the connection with concrete.

    For the same car payment as an Xterra or Ranger or Jetta, I can feel those endorphins every day. I get the most out of the clover leaves onto highways, the front line at stop lights, and the winding mountain climbs—for no additional charge. I drive a German-engineered go kart that gets over 30mpg and fits a dozen bags of Lowes mulch behind my driver seat. I cover the same ground between Point A and Point B—just with free fun.

    Oh yeah, that’s impractical. That’s wasting money on youth. That’s a lack of self esteem.

    I like to see memories in my odometer. I like to smile at my tach. I like to pat the dash and tell my car, “Nice goin’ back there.”

    I prefer to get more than I paid for from my vehicle—to get more from my journey than the miles. And I get a kick out of the irony: all the sullen faces from minivans and SUV’s in traffic that look over to my silver bullet with the disdained look of, “That’s so impractical.”

    This entry was posted on Thursday, August 17th, 2006 at 11:00 pm and is filed under Drive Lines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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