First!

There’s a first time for everything, and as the Coyote Creek Concours d’Elegance successfully launched its inaugural show this past weekend, I too experienced a number of firsts. Let’s start with the drive.

I’ve participated in a handful of concours drives, both as driver and as passenger/navigator. I love these type of events because this is something I do in my spare time. I’ve explored many backroads in the South Bay, and often the routes taken in concours drives are the same I’ve driven on my own. However, for the Coyote Creek Concours drive, this was the first time I was a lead car.

I just got my new plates for my car that read “FARM 996” (for obvious reasons), and this drive would mark its first outing since installing the plate.

I was fortunate to have Kevin Enderby as my navigator, his experience was quite a benefit and helped counter-balance my inexperience. On Saturday morning, we got in my car and lead the first group from the parking lot to the Laguna Seca race track. The beautifully designed directions were incredible, despite the mile-markers being off by a mile (or more). Worth noting, there was a wonderful Peugeot 405 mi16 loaded with four adults that had absolutely no trouble keeping up with my 911 throughout the entire drive. It was damned impressive. Thus marks the first time I was ever impressed with a Peugeot (and I mean no offense by that!!).

Once at Laguna Seca, we queued up to take our laps on the track. This was a huge first for me. Prior to Saturday, I’d never driven on any race track, anywhere, ever. Again, I was so eternally grateful to have Kevin as my co-pilot for this—he could probably drive that track blind-folded. His coaching while following the pace car made my three laps one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever experienced in a car. A big “thank you” to everyone who made that happen.

Tim Brown, a mutual friend of Kevin and myself, helped us get all three of Kevin’s Ferraris to the field (and back home again) on Concours Sunday. Naturally, I was ecstatic about this (who wouldn’t be?), but even more so because I would be driving his 1984 Ferrari 308 GTS QV. I know, it’s “just a 308,” but I started becoming a car enthusiast in early 80s, so cars like the 308, Countach, and 911 adorned every wall in my bedroom. And, that makes for another first—this was the first time I’d ever driven Kevin’s Ferrari 308.

Wow.

I’m going to detail that experience. I’m used to sports cars, my 911 is a daily driver for me, my first two cars in life were a 1977 Datsun 280Z and a 1974 Datsun 260Z, and I’ve had many others inbetween. I was also born and raised in Texas, and many of my early cars had non-working air conditioning, so I can handle heat. This will come in very useful later.

When I first got in the 308, turned the key, and heard the engine roar to life, I was immediately brought back to my youth. But that quickly faded as I tried to contort my legs and feet to the right angle so I could access the pedals, then adjusted the seat so I could reach them. In the end, I only had to stretch my leg a little in order to press the clutch in completely, and had a rear-view mirror four inches from my face the entire time while trying to steer a car that has a steering wheel permanently positioned like that of a bus. Oh, and my head kept grazing the top.

The drive to the show was fine, uneventful, which was exactly what I wanted. But throughout the day the temperature reached 100º (possibly higher) which is something no one was expecting. While at the show, the 308 took the First in Class prize, and I got to drive it across the podium to accept the award with Kevin. Yes, that’s the first time I’ve ever done that, and I hope I get to do that more in the future.

It was crazy hot, and time to go home. This meant another 45 minutes in the award-winning 308. Worth noting: old Ferraris aren’t really known for their great air conditioning. Before heading out, Kevin warned me it would be hot, and told me what to do should the thermostat reach a temperature that’s too high. Seriously, what could go wrong? I’m from Texas!

As we headed out, it was definitely warm, but we were moving so it wasn’t something I couldn’t handle. As we entered the highway, it was even better as the highway speeds would help cool the engine. But somehow, that temp gauge kept creeping up to the level Kevin warned me about. Not that I could easily see that since the non-adjustable steering wheel is mounted in such a way that you can’t actually see the temperature gauge without ducking your head. Regardless, it was time to turn on the heater.

FUCK!

Okay, so, if I hadn’t been born and raised in Texas, and suffered many Texas summers in cars with no air conditioning, I probably would have died while driving this car. Turning the heat on worked, it got the engine cooled back down to an acceptable level. In stark contrast, I was not cooled down to an acceptable level. However, that wasn’t the most painful part, nope, not at all. That honor goes to the random wafts of hot, humid air that would just pound me in the face and legs while neither the heater nor the A/C were activated. It was relentless. What an evil car.

When we finally reached Kevin’s home, I exited the car as quickly as possible to avoid passing out from heat exhaustion. I could do nothing but laugh. Despite the sheer misery I experienced on that drive home, it was still, somehow, a lot of fun. Another first. I’ve never had that much fun while being that miserable. And I think that sums up why we love cars, and why we do this.

I’m very happy my 996 doesn’t treat me this way, but I still want an old Ferrari. Now, more than ever. And that’s a first.

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