The Drive Home
September 3, 2013óWhat an event Pebble Beach was! When I arrived at 7:45 there were already enough people to make photography difficult. And supposedly, these were only press and VIPs. You can only imagine how crowded it was when we finally decided to call it a day and head home at noon. Weíd miss the crowning of Best in Show, but we hadnít come for that. And that award at such a show seems to speak volumes while simultaneously being irrelevant. The cars are all so amazing, why choose one?
Regardless, we headed towards the exit, endured an inattentive shuttle driver (he flew past our parking section) and were on the highway twenty minutes later. Seeing how the Pacific Coast Highway had been so choked with traffic we opted for the less scenic, speedier 101.
It was as boring as advertised, alas. We stopped for lunch once again in San Luis Obispo at the Madonna Inn, god help us. When I went to use the menís room though, I was surprised by a group of five ladies in there snapping photos. You see there is a waterfall that is motion activated. Magic! Iím glad that I happened upon the ladies rather than vice versa. Anyhow, Ben, Carlo and I had massive, open-faced turkey sandwiches that I thought were very mediocre. Or maybe I just wasnít hungry.
Checking traffic on our way out, it seemed that Santa Barbara and Ventura were complete clusters and so I searched for an alternate route. Remember these three numbers: one, six, six. It isnít some twisty mountain road that youíll drive in second gear at thirty-five to fifty miles per hour. The 166 is a long, straight, sometimes curvy highway with almost zero cars. It connects the 101 and I-5 and is remarkable because it seems to be the highway that everyone forgot. Commuters, RVs, time, god and most importantly, the California Highway Patrol have all forsaken this long, dusty ribbon of blacktop. And, if driving a Viper you should encounter traffic just mash the loud pedal, swing out past the dashed lines and make them disappear.
The Porsche and I sparred, taking turns leading over the 98 miles. It was sublime. There were times when we didnít encounter another car for ten solid minutes. However, there was one section that was made up of very, very fast downhill sweepers, that was simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating. Upsettingly, Benís AWD 911 passed me uncontested here. Donít worry, though, he was reeled back in.
It was quite warm even with the Viperís AC running. But the scenery was nice, alternating between mountains and farmland. Taking the 166/I-5 rather than the 101 did add about thirty miles, but if we could make good time and avoid traffic then I figured weíd be ahead.
Unfortunately, the I-5 did not cooperate. Initially it was running freely but as we crested the Grapevine it slowed to a crawl. So much for bright ideas; this time there were no short cuts. The Viper loped along at an agonizingly slow speed for the next ninety minutes until traffic broke near the 210. Although I was melting, the V10 did not overheat.
Once traffic cleared I separated from Ben and Carlo. Now, in the home stretch, sweating from places I didnít know could sweat and tired from seven hours of spirited driving as well as stop-and-go traffic, I had one thought in my head: home. For the last time I flattened the throttle. The Viper happily roared and with the headlights and foglights on, so that people would move over, I covered the final section quickly.
A call to Ben a couple of hours later revealed that they made it home safely. Yeah, the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (Historics) and Pebble Beach were incredible and weíre already counting down to next year. But now that we know how amazing 166 is, you can be certain that we wonít be messing around on PCH next year. 166 is THE road to put on your route if youíre looking for real driving. [kiWO]