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  • Writer's pictureMichael Lenzi

#2: Expect the Unexpected

Originally posted on Rennlist.

I was never drawn to yellow cars. Not even a little.

Then this car crossed my path 2 months ago and my mind changed. What an interesting color. To my surprise, I have gotten more thumbs up and smiles with this car than everything I have driven except my GD STi. That was a real magnet. Good and bad.

My preferred public profile is not one of a peacock strutting around. But this car does it in a pleasant way. So I accept it even if it makes me a little uncomfortable.

I live in the city of Chicago. I have driven this car a lot in the urban jungle. It handles it well.

2,300 miles. In under one month. I am getting to know it's sounds and preferences very well. It chunters away on cold start. Not a morning car for sure. Very grumpy. My tiny wood one car garage amplifies that sound like a speaker box. My neighbors must be ambivalent at best when I fire it up at 5 AM to go to play hockey in the morning.

Oh well. That is the price others pay for me living my best life.

1,200 of those miles came from my return trip to Chicago from Austin where I bought it. The other miles? City, suburbs and Wisconsin drives.

This weekend my friend Chris and his wife Melissa and I drove around the Driftless region in southwestern Wisconsin. It is gorgeous hill and valley country. Very very few cars, a few farm tractors, a handful of knucklehead side by side ATV drivers and quite a few deer.

Chris and Melissa were on their BMW RT motorcycle. For a touring moto jokingly referred to as "Retirement Transport," that RT kicks ass and can hold a very strong pace. Chris can get that thing to dance while carrying a passenger. Impressive.

They met me up in Lake Bluff, IL after my morning skate at 8:30 and we started the blast north. Avoiding I-90 is easy enough in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. If you enjoy quaint small towns and can handle the 55-45-35-25 mph deceleration and 25-35-45-55 mph reacceleration, it is the way to go.

Which brings me to heel-toe technique. I have been working on getting smoother. I have driven and owned manual cars since I started driving at 16. I am now 16+41=57 years old. I still mess up 3-2nd gear downshifts. It aggravates and frustrates me. But I am getting better. Slowly.

Chris almost hit a deer. 2 feet from his front wheel and we were going 50 mph. The young ones are often out in the daytime. They are kind of dangerous. Eyes must be kept peeled all the time. Bring extra underwear.

After an ok lunch in Monroe we bombed out on the deserted and wooded backroads. The good stuff. I am never quite sure what the speed limit is out in the sticks. What I do know is that we were not going at whatever it was.

No cops, a fair share of gravel in the corners and a few minutes stuck behind yahoos driving slow ATVs on the road. They were not supposed to be out on public roads but I got my revenge.

They held up a group of 4 cars and our motorcycle for a few miles going thirty. Hands out the window, goofing around. I blasted by them, the GT3s engine on full song ripping out of my Fabspeed exhaust. Chris told me as he followed me that they were thoroughly startled. Good. I could only tolerate such shennanigans for a mile or so. All they had to do was let us pass.

After that, the roads got even better. More up and down and side to side. Amazing. The sensation of the rear diff churning away, the tires scrabbling across the chip seal road surface and the steering wheel getting light and flighty in the hands is something I now crave. All the time.

I still drove with a good bit of caution because the car and its personality are so new to me. But I couldn't help getting a little sideways when going left or right out of deserted T intersections. I did not want to end up like one of those Cars & Coffee show exits when the driver sends the car sideways into the curb or parked cars just to titillate the crowd. There was no crowd. Just me. I was titillated.

We happened upon an outsider art installation out in the middle of nowhere. Kohler, the company that makes plumbing and bathroom fixtures, subsidises these sites all over Wisconsin. The artist, Nick Engelbert, started embellishing his farmhouse and property with sculpture and repurposed glass tiling almost 100 years ago.

It is very strange yet charming sitting in his front yard as the wind whistles through the shelter pines around his property. I recommend visiting it and other sites like it around Wisconsin.

I managed to drop in on a certain yellow 993 C4S at the Porsche Exchange in Highland Park on the way home. Wouldn't it be nice to have a pair of yellow 911s? I am getting greedy now.

Which brings me to my final point. I am very fortunate. I could not have imagined that this would be my life when I was learning to drive in my family's silver Ford Fairmont wagon.

When my best friend Ben and I hopped a train to Stuttgart in my 20th year on the planet to visit the Porsche factory and museum, we sat unsupervised amongst many of the freshly built 959s in the parking lot holding area. We just wandered in. Never in a million years could I have thought that someday I would own a Porsche with an engine that shared elements with the 959. Never ever.

So yeah, I am a lucky and fortunate human. Some say you make your own luck. Yes and no. I believe I stumbled into it.

Here I am. I am going to enjoy this for sure.

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