The Modern Performance Car Drive
Photography: Everyone who participated
Modern life is full of so much pressure: places to be, bills to pay, drama to sweep up, staying in contact with past friends. It’s almost inescapable, but there are ways. Many acceptable ways to escape reality surround relaxing on a sandy warm beach, sleeping, or just shutting off the mind. Other ways circumvent the status quo, which usually include extremes such as drugs. Some may accept one drug as an escape... adrenaline.
Many of the adrenaline junkies own fast cars. Driving a performance car can etch child like perma-grins on a face quicker than finding a $100 bill on the ground. The feeling of hitting an apex perfectly or hitting triple your average speed is a sense of pride and desire for more. Just like riding that large roller coaster for the first time. There is a sense of the unknown, excitement and release. I feel this is why many of us own modern performance cars.
Part of owning a quick car leads to meeting up with others who also have the same type of car and desires. Many just meet to show their cars, some like to be loners, but there is that group that want to meet and go on fun drives together.
What’s great is the more this group meets up, the closer they get. It isn’t like a normal friendship, it is an entirely different level of bonding. You trust these people unlike you trust your normal friends.
I started going to drives a few years ago when I got my first high performance car: A 2003 Mitsubishi Evolution. English Racing helped get the car going from a sad state it was in. As I went to their shop over the months, I became to know Lucas and Aaron. They taught me a lot and felt very privileged to know them. One day Aaron called me up and asked me if I wanted to go on their annual Hood River run. I was so excited I couldn’t contain myself.
My first drive -- English Racing's Hood River Run
During that drive, the first person I met was a kid named Shaun. I actually sold him a part that same day and got to know each other a bit over the years. I will forever remember that drive, the excitement and how much of a warm welcome I got from everyone. The feeling I felt for days after was sensational. Being apart of something special, touring lush forests, rich waterscapes and eating awesome food.This led to a desire for more.
Fast forward a year later, on my fifth drive, Shaun put it on. I went on a pre-drive (usually used for planning), because I had to be somewhere on the day of the event. Alex, another Evo enthusiast that loves these drives was there as well. This would be the last time I saw Shaun. He moved to Washington DC shortly after.
When I purchased my Evolution, I naturally had an overwhelming amount of questions. I would read and try and absorb as much knowledge as I possibly could. I have participated quite a bit over the years on EvolutionM.net. Because of my participation on the site, I became friends with some of the people that run it. As a result, I became a moderator of the site.
I’m always looking for ways to improve the site, help the community grow, answer questions other owners may have, resolve issues between owners, and just plain have fun. One of my ideas was to put on a local drive. Seth, one of the administrators of the site suggested I try and put on an Annual Evolutionm.net West Coast Drive. This year, without Shaun, it seemed no one took interest in putting on drives anymore. I decided to step up to the plate.
I posted in the local section, asking if anyone would be interested. Interest was overwhelming so I knew I had my work cut out for me. Everyone was clearly foaming at the mouth for a summer Evolution drive, as there hadn’t been any local ones this year. So it was agreed, July 9th 2011 would be our date, and I was to pick the route and place.
With the help of google maps, and having a keen sense of all the roads on east side of the Oregon Coastal Range, I had a temporary map planned out.
We needed a central place for us all to meet up at by the route. One of the respectable companies in the Northwest for performance parts, and even highly regarded among the Evo community was Perrin Performance located in Hillsboro Oregon. I have talked to John L over the years, so I asked him if we could meet at Perrin for our drive. He was excited about the drive as he’s a fellow Evo owner. Unfortunately Perrin had another event planned in Seattle and couldn’t participate. However he said it would be ok. A big thank you goes out to him for his generosity.
The Meeting Spot -- Thank you Perrin
Alex asked me if we could go on a pre-drive together to check it out, and happily accepted as he is someone I look up to for driving skills. With him in his car, my wife and myself in my car, we met at Perrin and went on our way. Alex has a very powerful car, every time we’d take off it looked like his 600whp Evo VIII was going to eat my Evo X.
As we went through the roads we diced back and forth, obeying the laws but still having a lot of fun in the corners, what Evos were made for. Way too quickly our drive was over, and we decided we needed more, A LOT MORE. So we decided it would be best to add onto the route. We also stopped at a local buffet restaurant, Izzy’s, to see if they would be able to accommodate a large bunch of adrenaline pumped enthusiasts. They gladly accepted.
I went back to the drawing board, looking for other routes. After a few drives, a few different maps, help from my wife, we had our route, and it was a great one.
The Route -- Thanks Google Maps
The night before the drive we totaled 40 people, 29 cars. With so much anticipation I could barely sleep a wink. I maybe got three hours of true sleep in. I woke up at 5:30am READY to start the drive. I had to invite my good friend, who I grew up racing motocross with. He is naturally interested in these cars and wanted to see what it was all about. I also invited my other good friend who is one of the best friends I’ve had over the years. Unfortunately this friend has fallen victim to hard times. He has asked me to help, one of the ways was to keep him busy and away from an idle mind. He has done a lot for me, and I really wanted to help him. He called me up about 7am and asked if he could go, OF COURSE! Lets get you some adrenaline.
Because I had to pick up my two friends, I ended up running much later than I thought. I called my friend Nate who was already there, apparently EVERYONE was there and waiting on me. The amount of pressure was quickly building. Will they be disappointed I’m not there on take off time? Will they like my route? Will they behave? What if someone wrecks? A sea of questions kept afloat in my mind. Honestly it was overwhelming most of the time.
Everyone Patiently Waiting -- Thanks migs647 for being late
As I pulled into Perrin, there was about 35 cars already there, waiting on me. A drive that I was responsible for, and I was ten minutes late. I was so shamefaced I didn’t want to step out of my car. Yet, everyone was extremely happy I was there, letting me know they were pumped for the day. I was informed that Lucas English was on his way to the drive and we had to wait for him. A sigh of relief left my mouth along with excitement that Lucas wanted to go on a drive with us! Many cool cars were there: Nissan GT-R, tons of Evolutions, a few 3000gts, and a really cool turbo’d Galant. A lot of familiar faces, cute girls, cool guys, just a great bunch of people.
Alex came up to me and informed me that Shaun had flown out from Washington D.C. specifically for the drive. I felt a charge come over me, I spotted him in the large crowd and sprinted up to him to give him a hug. I couldn’t believe he was there! It was such an honor knowing someone felt the event was cool and important enough to fly three thousand miles for. I could hardly contain myself, I was finding people had driven from all over the Northwest to be there. Some over 300 miles away. Lucas showed up with his four year old boy, and we were ready to start our drive.
Everyone lined up, such an amazing sight, but they were lining up for me to lead. Anticipation flooded my body, the drive was on!
Managing 35 cars is a huge task while obeying all the traffic laws. Even the best of routes can lend to stragglers getting stuck behind slow cars and lights. I know we just had to get through three lights and two stop signs and we’d be home free. Bikers, construction, grannies, all appeared unexpectedly on this route. Everyone in the group managed to make their way around just fine. All that stress was starting to ease off. We had to stop one one of the country roads to snap a few pictures.
Everyone Lined Up -- Thanks camera guy
As we passed our last stop light, I noticed two cops at the intersection. Normally we’d wait for the whole group to catch up, yet we were being eyed by the police. I hurried through the intersection hoping for as many to get through as possible. We had a left hand turn coming up with a refuge lane I knew I could wait in. After about seven excruciating minutes waiting, all cars caught up and we were turning onto our long hilly, tight cornered country roads... we made it!
The fun began with a series of 25mph s-corners. Lucas, Alex, and the rest of the clan foaming to open their beasts up. I hurried ahead a bit to give them some room to open up their cars, listening to the roar of the exhausts through the valley came over me like a wave of euphoria. The group stretched their cars’ legs, slowing down and doing 3rd gear pulls, gliding through corners. This was only the valley floor, time for the mountain climb and descent.
Zooming on a road that seemed to be purposely laid out for our cars, we glided on 10mph corners like we were on rails. Blind ascending crests, with many hairpin switchbacks, we climbed into the sky. It seemed like a dream, for years I had driven these roads wishing I had at least one Evo behind, but now there was a whole pack. A pack of wild vicious animals climbing 1700 feet as if we were on flat land. It wasn’t a dream, this was happening and had to literally be one of the best days of my life.
We met a-top of the mountain at a State Park. Picture time, and repair time for the ones who had some injuries along the way. Everyone split off into groups raging about how awesome the route was. Since some had some mechanical problems many started vigorously working on the cars, NO ONE GETS LEFT BEHIND. Toolboxes and gloves came out working on these cars that helped complete the group. Blown intercooler pipes, exhaust leaks, and oil leaks were no match for the talented mechanics in the group.
The Halfway Mark
Shaun and Spencer plotting
Seeing all the grinning faces made me feel like the luckiest person in the world. To know this group, to assist them in any way in achieving their car satisfactions. The day was a success.
Soon it was time to leave the park and head in for some lunch. As we descended the mountain, my speech from earlier ripped through my mind. “Behave as you can die on this road if you mess up”. Being this high up without any guard rails can ruin a day. Usually there is at least one knucklehead that wants to put lives in jeopardy, this had to be my biggest fear for the day. Alas everyone did as they should, drove their cars professionally and with care down the twisting tarmac.
During the descent there was a right hand corner off of the main road. Apparently a mini-van got stuck in between the group and the last half of the group missed the turn. The lead pack made it about 10 miles down the road before we were signaled that the stragglers never made it on our current road. I noticed Nate wasn’t in our group and gave him a call. We decided everyone would meet up at our lunch destination and the missing group to just use GPS to get there. On our way back to the main road, the missing group passed right in front of us! We were together again and ready to terrorize the city.
We all rolled into Izzy’s, ready for a hearty lunch. We took the banquet room like it was our own. Easily able to watch our cooling down steads. With Joker’esq grins on everyones faces it was time to eat. Pizza, Salad, fresh grilled Pork, Cinnamon Rolls, we all drowned ourselves with goodness. The buffet met our needs perfectly and can’t say enough good about their hospitality for such a large group.
Ready to eat -- Thanks Izzy's
Full bellies and needing naps, we figured it was time for some more driving. We took off down to Champoeg State Park, twisting along the Willamette River on a warm sunny day, everyone in my car wanted to go swim. Soon we ended at a Shell Station so the E-85 drinkers could get their fill. The drive was over.
I walked around to everyone, thanked them for coming out. I was so proud of how they all did that day. It was a fun outing where everyone took care of each other. We were a group, we worked together to get through the tough obstacles, and I personally feel closer to everyone there.
Shaun mentioned some others wanted to do more. After some thought I asked Shaun to drive my car to lead them for old times sake. We took off with a handful of Evos behind us opposing the setting sun.
Thanks again to the event sponsors:
Alta / Perrin Performance