Journal: How Are You Keeping A Passion For Driving Alive?

How Are You Keeping A Passion For Driving Alive?

By Michael Banovsky
February 26, 2016
13 comments

For the record, I don’t think it’s a great travesty that fewer young people are choosing to drive. Why? Based on who’s already using the roads, it’s clear that a huge number of people aren’t concerned with operating a vehicle safely, so if Uber, the autonomous Google Car, or some other thing can free those people to browse their Instagram accounts while on the go—awesome. More free space (and safer roads) for the rest of us.

I don’t think that driving is a right of passage, or even a right—call it a process, passion, discipline, or hobby—or that there’s much “driving” to be had in between stoplights and getting snared by tailbacks. It is, however, the chance to display and strengthen your mastery over a precision-made machine; we all know that executing the perfect heel-toe downshift or corner apex is a sensation that can linger for hours.

Something I do all the time is offer my help to friends, family, and colleagues who’d like to learn how to operate a manual transmission, and the results (to date, at least) have been positive—once the driver coordinates a perfectly rev-matched downshift, it’s usually just a few seconds before they ask if “track driving is any fun”. Yes…yes it is.

How do we help more people understand the thrill of driving, beyond the everyday duties that our vehicles provide?

Photography by Afshin Behnia, Otis Blank, and Rémi Dargegen

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[…] Driving cars is a passion for many people because it gives the person a sense of control and the adrenaline rush, especially when the car is powerful, beautiful and expensive making it a pretty exciting experience. It is no wonder that they are so popular, especially the models from the sports car collections that will enable you to try out some of the best features incorporated into the car. Known for their superiority, they will definitely help you stand out from the crowd! […]

kevin525
kevin525
4 years ago

Two years ago I bought my first classic car, a 1977 MGB. I have always gone to car shows but to begin being part of them was cool. I went to a lot of shows where the only people there were other car owners and it was pretty boring.

The best show I went to last summer was at Faneuil Hall in Boston. The Bay State MG Club put on a show in the middle of thousands of tourists. This show encouraged people to touch and sit in your car. I could not believe how many young people jumped into my car. They loved the ashtray, the roll down windows, the clutch and 4 speed. We had so much fun.

As classic car owners there needs to be fewer shows full of old farts like myself and more shows where young people can see and hear our machines run and drive. That’s how we’ll continue this car culture. Old cars are fun; sometimes old people aren’t.

cwilberger
cwilberger
6 years ago

I have taught a few folks to drive a manual gearbox car. I “made” my kids learn to operate cars with a manual gearbox. They all have thanked me for learning that skill.

Joseph Maffey
Joseph Maffey
6 years ago

As an engineer I have to respond to the direct question “How do we help more people understand the thrill of driving, beyond the everyday duties that our vehicles provide?” Much like guns or power tools, start with educating on safe operation, and then find the proper forum (parking lot, back road, etc.) and show some of the limits of performance.

The other lesson to teach?: I have been motoring as a hobby for years and only last month I put the nose of my saloon off of a dirt road. Miracles of miracles the car was fine and I was able to get it back on the road and back home. Getting home is the key. You can fix the car as long as it gets you home. The terror of the thought of having to call my wife to put the three kids in the car at 6:30 am to come get me is something I never want to happen.

Justin L
Justin L
6 years ago

How do I get my 40+ year old mom to drive? serious question.

CJ_Madson
CJ_Madson
6 years ago

It’s important to find a car that you enjoy driving, one that provides the right sensations and involvement. For me they have always included a third pedal (except for the ’63 Merc, which redeemed itself by having fins and tons of chrome). And I want to enjoy the design from every angle — and the color should work with the design. Strong colors elicit stronger feelings, but bland is part of today’s problem. Silver/white/black/gray/tan cars are the boring norm (yeah, I had one for a while too).

Take the long way ‘round or back home every now and then. I like to mix it up when I take the old car out. And stop at the local store to get a snack and maybe talk to the other drivers or motorcycle riders. I’ve had some great chats with folks who wandered up to ask about my car or talk about theirs. Save some time to do that. Take a side road you haven’t tried before. Drive with the windows down — listen to the intake, exhaust, the tires on the road, the wind, maybe the music if makes you smile. But disable the distractions. You can check Instagram later. Work on that 3 => 2 downshift again.

I’ll wander slightly off-topic here to mention how we can help keep the passion alive for others. I’ll skip commentary on autonomous cars and such.

I think it’s really important to let cars be cars and get them out on fun roads to let them exercise and let others see them in action. Let people take pictures and point out the best angles and closeup shots. Let them sit inside and get the feel of a car that’s new to them. Ask them what they like and don’t about various cars, what they wonder about, how they feel about cars in general. I saw a young woman who was really interested in my car and asked if she wanted to try the driver’s seat. She stayed in there for a while with wide eyes, holding the wooden steering wheel and looking out over the bonnet. I’m betting she’ll never forget that.

I ask people to be inclusive. Don’t trash that weird-looking ride — talk to the owner and get the story. Everything interesting has a story and diversity is better for the automotive gene pool. That Aztek with the big wing may have a weird & funny background. That elegant Jag may have once been a dragster (true). Connect the cars to people through their stories and more people will stay interested instead of seeing cars as mostly useless obligations.

I love good design. It’s a way to help others understand and appreciate why one car looks the way it does. Help them notice what changed between two models and whether the changes are only for looks or provide serious benefits. And design is more highly constrained now, so getting a product that’s functionally great, easy to drive and beautiful should be recognized as a real accomplishment. Show off the hidden gas cap, the disappearing antenna, the folding top — and give others some stories to share about the cool old car they saw today.

I like the willingness to help newbies try driving a stick. I think it’s great to let the kid down the street come watch and maybe help while you’re working on the car. If you have a spare shift knob or even a spent piston, consider that as a cool gift for an aspiring gearhead. And tell them how you got it and what it’s for.

And interesting and fun cars don’t have to be expensive. My neighbor has an older Jag sedan, an MR2 and a Checker Marathon that he mostly keeps running (at least one, sometimes two) for less than an out-of-warranty BMW. It’s cool to see that motley crew in his driveway and on the road. He does the work himself but is open to chatting with visitors, and the local kids think his funky collection is cool.

So: choose a fun ride that’s involving, get it out on interesting roads, be inclusive, share stories, share the experience. Don’t let the fire fade out.

Sara Bouvier
Sara Bouvier
6 years ago

With Dickerson and Guitar in that the first paragraph may be opening a larger can of worms – in re: autonomous vehicles for certain.

I wanted to say that hopefully this will hopefully this will be more of a pain on our daily drives than our off-time mountain road thrashing – however the thought of being stuck behind an autonomous on any number of choice roads in my area on a gorgeous Saturday just made me throw up in my mouth a little… be right back.

More to the point of your question, I was rather lucky (or unlucky depending on how you view it) to have learned to drive in a 74 Triumph TR6, which now sits in my driveway. It was my dad’s weekend car all through my formative years, and the memories of British Club rallies abound.

It’s awaiting some TLC from yours truly at the moment – BUT – the best part is that my 8-year-old daughter looked at me just 3 days ago and said, “Hey mom – can we make sure we get this fixed? Because I want to learn to drive in it like you did. And maybe someday it can be my fun car like it’s going to be yours?” And that, my friends, is how this girl is trying to keep the petrol-head fires alive.

Matt Duquette
Matt Duquette
6 years ago

I am 25 and I am much more into driving, than just about anyone I know. for me it bit me with video games honestly. growing up I had the steering wheel and pedals for Grand Torismo and then Forza and once I could go out and drive a real car I just wanted to do what I did in my bed room in real life. granted I couldn’t use my earned digital credits to buy a Ferrari but what ever I had at the time I just enjoyed driving.

The issue I think many people my age have with driving for fun, is when I got my Drivers license gas was close to 4$ a gallon. none of my friends ever experienced what my dad(67 years old) experienced. he tells me all the time about going to station everyone tossing there quarters into the gas tank and driving around all night listening to the Radio and meeting up at all the spots around town maybe even having a little race here and there, and on top of insane gas prices try being 16 and getting auto insurance. for people my age driving has been viewed as just another expense and if u can avoid it why not.

But to answer the rest of the question, I tell my friends to put there 5 favorite albums on there phone or Ipod, ill pick u up Saturday morning and we will go and get lost somewhere out in western mass. rock out with the music up and drive some twisty MA back roads by the time we get home they love driving and understand why when its sunny on a Saturday morning I am always out for a drive

Max Biddy
Max Biddy
6 years ago
Reply to  Matt Duquette

On top of what you said about fuel costs and insurance, you hear tales about people going out for a cruise, guy one sees guy two in a similar powered car and they give it a bit of stick at the lights, or power out of a roundabout and see if they can keep up with a hero car (that’s probably just cruising!)

These days if you get caught doing this kind of stuff on the road this will get you absolutely crucified. over here in AUS you are looking at instant vehicle forfeiture, up to $3,300 fine, license disqualification and even sometimes jail time. While there is a time and a place, having fun in your car can end in life changing consequences.

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson
6 years ago

I agree with The Gun.
At what point will there be no choice but to have “Hal” do all the driving for us? Also, when accidents do happen between autonomous vehicles and human driven, Google has all the cards in their hands. Who’s fault do you think it’s going to be? Kind of like computerized voting machines. So lets take the back roads to the polls while we can.

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson
6 years ago

Oops- I meant “I agree with The Guitar”

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
6 years ago

In part by viewing , reading and participating on this site ! 😉

But err … hate to be the bearer of bad news here Banovsky …. but … if those autonomous little blankety blanks ever do find their way onto public roads … they’ll INCREASE traffic … not diminish it

Which is to say either way [ autonomous or not ] Rock On and Drive on while you still can … cause either way its [ traffic ] only gonna get worse .. so Remain Calm Banovsky despite it all … and Carry On as long as possible .

Sigh … if only we’d put those trillions autonomous and all the ancillary infrastructure’s gonna cost us into high quality Public Transportation … cause if’n we did … not only would pollution , traffic and accidents decrease … but then there’d be more room for us … to have a little fun now and again

But … from the Dept of Corrections ; The reason the youth of today barely make the effort to get their drivers licenses never mind actually drive or become enthusiasts is …… MONEY ( and the lack thereof ) … pure and simple . That … and the fact that the Snowflake Generation being so entitled as well as overwhelmed to the point of being handicapped by Technology thinking someone(thing) else should do the driving for them … not they themselves !

And to think we [ Boomers ] risked our lives and families for the individual , freedom and liberty for all in the US back in the day standing up to the most powerful government in the world [ and for a brief moment winning ] … only to end up with a Technological ” Brave New World ” big brother created and begged for by our children and children’s children . Hmmm … Logic and Individuality ‘ Trumped ‘ [ pun and sarcasm intended ] again by the ” Tyranny of the Masses “

Max Biddy
Max Biddy
6 years ago
Reply to  Guitar Slinger

While the traffic numbers will be increased, here’s to hoping that the traffic flow will also be increased as the automated drivers work together to ensure there is less traffic on the road at any given time.