...Prove Their Worth...

"Problems worthy of attack
prove their worth
by hitting back." - Piet Hein

A kind of running diary and rambling pieces on my struggles with assorted books, classes, and other things, as they happen. You must be pretty bored to be reading this...

Saturday, June 08, 2002

Holy Fucking Shit. That was awesome. I went to the Volvo "Fire and Ice Driving Experience" this morning. They set up three race-courses in a huge parking lot at FedEx Field near Baltimore. You go there, sign up, get a name badge and an armband signifying that you signed a release form, and are of age and have a license. Then you listen to a short speech about various safety features of Volvos in a big tent with dead sexy plasma displays illustrating key points. You are then invited to come outside. The first thing my group did was the 'hot lap'. They've got four Volvos sitting out on the asphalt, with professional race drivers (retired NASCAR, etc.) in them. You're given helmets. You climb into the passenger seat. And then they take you for a ride. The tires literally smoke (and how! and the smell!) most of the way through the course, as the drivers skid and slalom and flat-out literally put the assorted pedals to the metal all over the course. They use the handbrake to improve breaking and traction at key points in the course. It's better than a roller-coaster, and you come out of the car with decidedly shaky knees. Or at least I did.


But it doesn't stop there. There are inter-session demos of things like safety glass, structural rigidity, and a prototype Volvo SUV, and a fucking sweet concept car (dead sexy glass all around, including the roof, insane active safety features, etc). There are two more sessions in addition to the hot lap. One is a 'winter' course, the other a 'summer' course. I went to the winter course next. There, you get to drive, in succession, a Volvo S60 2.5T (front-wheel drive), and an S60 AWD, down a course with various slick portions, pop-up cardboard mooses that you have to avoid, and other fun things. Fucking sweet, that was.


But then. Oh my. There was the summer course. You drive a Volvo S60 T5 (single-turbo), an S80 T6 (twin-turbo), and an S80 Executive (just like T6, but with a TV and a drinks fridge in the back). Holy fucking crap. The T5 and T6 are insanely sweet cars. I have to say I preferred the T5, because while it was a little less powerful than the T6, it was a lot less heavy, and so it had better acceleration and handling. The cars take off ridiculously fast, with a nice, throaty roar off the starting line, and the T5 stays absolute glued to the track no matter how crazy you drive (the T6 was sweet as well, but wasn't quite as tight as the T5). I drove the T5 five or six times down this summer track, and the T6 once. I didn't drive the Executive, because the lines for it were longer, and seeing as I would be driving, I didn't care about the TV in the back. And this was all free.


It was an amazing experience, and very smart marketing on the part of Volvo: you can bet that if I ever come by forty or so thousand bucks that I can blow, I will give the S60 T5 a very, very serious look. And I got a very nice yacht-racing cap at the end, complete with a clip-to-shirt thingie so it doesn't get blown away by the wind.


If you've got one of these Fire and Ice demos going on in a city near you, go!

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