At autoTRADER.ca we are blessed with award-winning contributors who write high-quality content fuelled by their passion for cars and driving. Their ability to turn even a mainstream car into a compelling story makes for some amazing memories. As 2016 rolls to a stop we’ve asked them all to share their favourites from the year gone by.
We live a privileged life in this industry. I’m beyond lucky to do something I love that is fulfilling on so many levels. This year I’ve realized lifelong dreams and made my motorcycle road-racing debut (it didn’t go well). I’ve shared countless kilometres with my family who I love, in cars I came to love, to see things I can’t believe I saw.
I saw a largely indifferent Alexander Rossi trickle across the finish line of the 100th Indianapolis 500. I saw the Eiffel tower. I even raced a minivan around a track in New Orleans to test tires – we lost, because my co-driver misunderstood the rules and copped us a four-second penalty. We only lost by half a second and I’m still bitter about it.
I often tell people “I’m always good” when they ask how I am. Here are five reasons that’s true:
For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to go to Spain, and so when Lexus invited us to try the new LC there was zero hesitation. To be completely frank, I hadn’t even realized how special and spectacular this car was/would be until I was there.
Once I arrived though, the car took over from the destination as the focus of my fascination. The stunning exterior and sensational interior only made more alluring by the naturally aspirated V8. Perhaps it was the flamenco, maybe it was the jamon, but driving the LC through the Spanish mountains had me feeling downright amorous.
Honda VFR1200X on the Angeles Crest Highway
We weren’t even supposed to be riding. Honda had us in town for the global launch of the 2017 Honda Rebel 300 and Rebel 500 and on a lark, a couple of us decided to ask Honda if they had some bikes we could take out while we were in Long Beach.
They did, and so a trio of us took out a Goldwing, a VFR1200X and a NC750X for a day of mountain riding. We scared/embarrassed a guy in full leathers on a Triumph Daytona 675, stopped at a legendary motorcycle café and generally ran amok with some of the best roads and scenery available. Three dudes, three bikes, three thousand corners, roughly. Job done.
Some of the stuff we do makes absolutely no sense: like driving a stock-standard 2017 Nissan Rogue which some nutcase has bolted a set of tracks to, for example. The rig is surprisingly easy to put together, and shockingly good fun.
It was surprising too. There wasn’t a lot of sliding and raucousness – in fact there was none. Turns out, cars on tracks have bulk grip and bulk capability. The fun part was just knowing you could point it up any hill and climb successfully, or point it at any snow bank and demolish it.
This was memorable because the car was so special, and because Nissan had the gumption to actually let us loose in it.
Fundy Adventure Rally
“Why are you squeezing that ball so much?” my wife asked. “Did the doctor tell you to?” I had to get my hand healed and strong, and fast. “I need it good to go in two weeks.”
“Fundy Adventure Rally.”
Steph didn’t even bother arguing. She knew I was resolved. She knew that just three weeks after breaking my hand in two places crashing a Kawasaki Ninja 300 in a race, I’d be out for a 500 km, nine-hour off-road motorcycle rally.
The annual FAR is run near the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. Its founder, Rob Harris, passed away this year and for his wife, Courtney and their family and friends this event had a special gravitas. Even without that, I was resolved to attend.
My two sessions of adventure riding training with Clinton Smout were my only preparation, but it was a good foundation for a day of hardcore enduro-style riding. Of the six loops, we did four of the hardest and two of the intermediate sections to earn a Silver Certificate for our team of four media members. The Sherpa-like 2016 Honda CRF250L I was on proved to be the highlight. It took rocks, hills, mud and more all in its stride, and got crippled old me back to the finish line in one piece.
Sharing my job with my family is the best part of my life. Being able to include my now six-year old daughter in our adventures, being able to show her sights and provide experiences I’d never even imagined as a kid means more to me than anything else I do. So to spend a week touring the USA with wife and kid in tow ranks as a particularly spectacular mission.
The Outlander became a family member for me in that week. That car will always have a special place in my heart. But mostly, I’ll remember sheer joy in Maddie as she met Elsa and Anna, her wonder as we drove right out onto Daytona Beach, and her cheerful snoring as we made our way through the night, back home, to Toronto.
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- I Didn’t Crash: Kawasaki Ninja 300 Round 3 Report - June 26, 2017