48 Hours In LA In A Hyundai Veloster N
Photography by Ian Wood
“What does a perfect weekend for a car-enthusiast in LA look like?” barked our managing editor recently on a Friday afternoon from the back of his poorly lit office. A chorus of opinions erupted from all of us at Petrolicious as everyone chipped in at once.
Since he has the patience of a nightclub bouncer, our editor quickly blasted his air horn to achieve order and pointed at one of us. “You. Figure it out. You’re doing it in a Veloster N.”
The timing of this piece coincided perfectly with our Driver’s Academy event held at the Willow Springs racetrack. Leaving at dawn from LA, an easy 1.5hr drive north-east later, we closed in on Willow Springs, a relatively desolate desert landscape with no springs insight. On a rolling hill leading to a mountain, sits the complex which boasts a total of 7 tracks from the 2.5 miles (4km) Big Willow to the aptly named Playpen, a training track for younger drivers.
Our event was on the bigger track and hosted a variety of cars from a new GT3 RS to a Lotus Elan 2+2. The track is fast with fun elevation changes, and even for a novice driver, the experience is a blast. Especially if you’re in a hot hatch like the Veloster N with all the tech in place to correct your mistakes. The car saw a lot of track time as everyone at Petrolicious wanted to give the Road & Track Performance Car of the Year a try, including our CEO, who left his Alfa Romeo 8C behind for some time at its wheel.
The day was over way too quickly in everyone’s opinion, including the Veloster, which seemed utterly unfazed after being pushed so hard. On the drive back, we agreed it was lovely to get out of town; one of the great qualities of Los Angeles is how easily you can be out in nature, either by the sea or up in the mountains, but we also had to go around the city itself.
We met up early and under cloudy skies in the densest neighborhood of LA, Downtown, which has been experiencing a massive revival in the last 15 years after having been abandoned by developers and families. The result is a vibrant mix of old graffitied warehouses and modern buildings. It’s also home to incredible museums like The Broad, an ode to contemporary art with works by Jeff Koons and Yayoi Kusama. The museum’s honeycomb shaped exterior is worth the trip all to itself.
We then worked our way up to Silverlake for breakfast and stopped at the La Colombe cafe, admiring the army of pampered pooches walking their owners up and down this part of Sunset Blvd. Silverlake and the adjacent neighborhoods of Echo Park and Atwater Village stand out for their keen sense of community supported by farmers’ markets and shops promoting eco-friendly products by local artisans and craftsmen. These areas have soul, it’s no wonder they are currently the most sought after real estate in all of Los Angeles.
We were twitching to get back into something car-centric, and we headed for the unmatchable Petersen Museum, a bastion of car culture in an already car-obsessed city. The collections here are astounding and thanks to its massive vault, the curators can keep a steady rotation of cars to make sure there’s always something new for its returning visitors, like us, on average we’ve been 5 times each, just this year. We were treated to one of four left-hand drive GT 40 MK III, one of two Ferrari 625/250 Testa Rossa and a one-off prototype Corvette designed by Scaglietti, a remarkable example of the often fraught collaboration between US manufacturers and Italian design houses.
By the time we got out, the skies cleared, and we drove towards the ocean and the neighborhood of Venice, stopping a jam-packed sneaker store on the way. There you can find a real gearhead friendly vibe at Clutch, a restaurant that often welcomes a good selection of classic cars and cafe racers, including the owner’s open-wheeled hot-rod, which he drives regularly. Just a few blocks away is Deus, a coffee shop and apparel store where everything just oozes cool, from the custom-painted helmets for sale down to the napkins. In the warmer months, they host fantastic car-themed screenings and parties that every local enthusiast looks forward to.
The day wouldn’t have been complete without some spirited driving, so as the sun started coming down, we got on the Pacific Coast Highway and headed towards Malibu. Within 20 min of driving, we cut inland on one of the several twisty roads that take you up into the mountains. It was the perfect time to set the Veloster into N mode, which immediately stiffens the suspension, tightens the throttle response and opens up the exhaust. You feel like the car has suddenly been injected with a massive amount of adrenaline. After a delightful run, we stopped for a moment at The Old Place, a rustic roadhouse with a pet peacock roaming around, who seemed to encourage visitors to live at a more gentle pace. We considered this for about 5 seconds before getting in the car, hoping to make it back to the ocean for some photos before it was completely dark.
By then, it was time to return the Veloster N, who’d been the perfect companion for such a varied trip, so we took a long way home, stopping at the top of Mulholland Drive for a final night view of the city. There are a million different ways to experience a massive urban center like LA over a weekend. Still, whether you want to be racing around a track and mountain roads or commuting from a shop to a museum, there’s truly something for anyone with an interest in cars. At Petrolicious, we certainly can’t get enough of it.
The Broad Museum: https://www.thebroad.org/
La Colombe: https://www.lacolombe.com/pages/cafes#california
The Petersen: https://www.petersen.org/
The Old Place: https://oldplacecornell.com/