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Saturday, May 22, 2004

Art of Driving!

I ended up going to Chrysler's Art of Driving at Indinapolis Raceway Park by myself. My buddy didn't know what he would be missing. Here's the funny thing: I love racing and I grew up about a half-mile from IRP. I could listen to the races just by opening my bedroom window, but until today I had never been on the actual grounds of IRP!

There was at least 120 men, women, and children there while I was there. AoD is a big marketing program, not a sales pitch. The concept is simple: these are our toys, come play with them. Aside from driving various Chrysler vehicles, such as the Crossfire Roadster, the Crossfire Coupe, the 300, Pacifica, Town & Country, and PT Cruiser convertible, you could also drive several competitor vehicles that were provided: a BMW Z4 roadster, VW Beatle covertible, a Cadallac CTS, etc. The convetible course was on part of the IRPs road course and the quater-mile oval track. The 300's course was an makeshift slalom down the side of the dragstrip and the dragstrip itself. Besides driving I got into the cigar tent, a food tent that offered wine-tasting and a decent lamb & rice pillaf lunch, some video rides, and golf practice.

Whenever you got into a vehicle you had a handler with you. The handler would answer and ask questions and provide the directions and rules of the particular course. They wanted to limit top speed to 35-40 mph, but that was flexible depending on the handler. In the Crossfire Roadster my handler got squimish when I hit 45 mph on the oval track. I rather liked the wind in my hair. In the Crossfire Coupe a different handler wanted me to stop, then floor it, and then once I hit 60 mph to let off the gas. He was cool! 215 horsepower is plenty in these vehicles. They cornered nicely and had fantastic breaks. The most important thing was the fact I looked fantastic in them!

I wish one of my Crossfire handlers was the red head. She was the type that Dreamweaver plays in the background for. Short, extremely cute, looked fantastic in khaki shorts and the gray Chrysler polo uniform, stepped out of a $35,000 convertible, real read hair and if she had at least 3/4 of a brain was the woman that would be in the passenger seat as I stole the ride out of IRP. Luckily for everyone involved I got the cute non-Dreamweavery brunette instead.

The 300 is the new large sedan. Extremely roomy, had nice luxury touches, handles very well for a large car, but can start for as little as $22K if you get the smaller V6. If you live in the flat midwest the 190 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque may be okay. I would recommend the larger 3.5L V6 that cranks out 250 horsepower. It was a pretty good ride. However, there is the HEMI! The 300C with the HEMI is Chrysler's new flagship sedan. It is WORTHY! It handled well. It breaked well. It has butt-warmers in the front seats. Chrome and brushed aluminum accents everywhere in the interior. But under the hood is 340 horsepower of Detroit muscle mated to a Mercedes designed 5-speed auto. The dragstrip had two runs of start, run to 40, and then stop. After the second run the handler knew what needed to be done.

Brian, this is stupid! We're on a dragstrip. You see where the concrete changes color? Just floor it and when you cross that change go ahead and slow down and hit the exit. These cars were meant to be driven

This man is a god. This man knows what the AoD is really about. I had my left foot on the brake and spooled up the HEMI to around 2,000 RPMs. I let of the brake and the 300C exploded off the line with fighter jet thrust! At 40 mph the tranny must have shifted and even MORE THRUST came on! I hit the color change where dragsters release their chutes and I was already going 75 mph! I let off gas and gently braked towards the exit. My only comments: car has a lot of pickup, and car needs a stick. The handler replied, yeah a stick would be good.

Mommy I want one of these! The test drives, the food, the wine, the cigar, it was all free! Chrsyler just wants people like me to rave about their toys to my friends and buy their products. The former has just been accomplished. The latter may take a lot more time. I've been around enough non-enthusiasts to know that I will get a complaint along the lines of "Oh you men, just want HEMI V-8 powered penises. You want gratification of your manliness." My response as I finish my wine and enjoy my cigar, "suck it."

You can go tomorrow if you want in on the fun.

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