From time to time, auto companies will host public relations events in which you get to drive their cars. Yesterday morning, I attended a drive party for Mercedes-Benz, and it rocked. They had a large “lifestyle tent,” which was basically souped up PR, with hand massage and muffins and stuff. Interestingly, the hand massage people were just random office temps hired out for the day. They had received no special training, but the pay was apparently okay. Guess we should keep that in mind when we pay a premium for salon and spa services…they’re just not that difficult.

The cool part was that they had professional drivers giving what we came to call the “rocket sled” experience with racing tuned versions of the cars in question. We rode the rocket sled twice, and I now understand that professional drivers really do have a totally different approach to driving. I’ve never ridden in any vehicle that was pushed like that. One driver was totally ice-man masterful: He took turns at approximately twice the speed I would have gone for, and never once lost traction on any wheel. The other was a total velocity junky. The course started off with a straightaway on which we got up to about 80 mph in 6 or 7 seconds. He fishtailed at the end to shed speed before whipping around a 270 degree turn in one smooth controlled slide.

The other bit was a course on which we got to drive the cars. That was fun, but I was too chicken to really push them. Also got to sit in a $100,000 car. Hardwood steering wheel and stick shift, hard-top convertible, crazy-wacky german engineering. They didn’t let us drive that one.

Here’s a set of recent Pictures.

In other news, here’s the crazy plan of the week: I’m going to try to qualify for the presidential physical fitness award as a 17 year old (they don’t have the requirements for a 28 year old…). Some parts will be cake, others will require some work. I’m confident I can get down to a six minute mile if I work at it. The “V sit and reach” of 7 inches (7 inches past the soles of your feet, with feet one foot apart and knees straight) will be tricky.

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