Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Snow Drifting the Midwest - How I Cut My Teeth

My second car was a '92 Geo Tracker RWD with a five speed.  It had a shift action like a mop handle in syrup with a jelly gate, a bikini top and 30" Mickey Thompson bajas with plenty of cord showing.  Excluding cars I had driven as a lot porter at Hawk Lincoln (later Ford, were Obama tragically traded in his 300C Hemi for a hybrid Escape), I was a RWD virgin.  With a tiny 86" wheelbase and the aforementioned sand tires it was unbelievably difficult to drive in bad weather, simultaneously terrifying and hilarious fun.  It would dart sideways or spin at the slightest provocation, such as snow, ice, salt, pebbles, drizzle, a light sprinkling of dirt, cold asphalt or recklessly applying a quarter inch of throttle while cruising straight in 4th gear.  

Whenever we had a good accumulation of fresh snow I'd head out to the lesser-populated areas of the burbs and practice drifting.  Snow drifting is how I learned to steer a car on the throttle, how to be smooth and make measured inputs - it's where I cut my driving teeth.  Dicking around in the snow with a beater is Midwestern hoon tradition, something these guys have put to film with an ugly FC RX-7 and an NA Miata wearing a terrible air dam.

Money's not important in this hobby if you're only after fun.



6 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you posted that video. I watch it probably once a month, as it is one of my all-time favorites.

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    1. It's great, really captures the feeling of the subject.

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  2. I know the driving roads in the Midwest are nothing to write home about. Having now been in a position to experience both, what would you rather have - Midwestern winters but no twisty tarmac, or California's world class driving roads but no snow?

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    1. I'd miss the amazing and abundant mountain twisties, absolutely. All this sun isn't my kind of party, though, and I miss big city life. Chicago's surrounded by forest preserves, and there's actually some excellent driving out there, albeit with virtually no elevation change and the added hazard of deer. I'll take the snow, hope to relocate mid-term.

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  3. Driving on slippery-surfaces, not just pretty to look at, but a great way to learn car control at lower speeds.

    Not quite the same, but in Aus, we first practice donuts on wet-grass/dirt before eventually making the way to ashpalt, as the forces required rise with traction

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    1. Haha yes, wet grass is good fun as well - I remember drifting a friend's 1985 Cadillac Brougham (a 20' long FWD black bastard of a limo) through a field with five other kids on board.

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