Featured: This Is Why I Drive Fast

This Is Why I Drive Fast

Avatar By Jonathan WC Mills
August 29, 2013
40 comments

“I love the way you drive.”

This line was delivered by a bewitching female and spoken in a French accent. It was uttered even as she was being tossed roughly against the passenger door as I whipped through rush-hour traffic in Manhattan. It was the fall of 1996, and I was young, impressionable, and perhaps a little besotted…and yet these words remain the best compliment my driving has ever received.

I never heard them spoken again.

Over the years I’ve discovered most people don’t drive their cars, “with pace”, and those who do tend to do it quite poorly, engendering evil looks and blaring horns in their wake. It is the rare driver who can drive quickly without drawing unwanted negative attention. To find a passenger who appreciates driving fast (especially one who is pretty and French) is about as common as a Porsche RS, which is to say: extremely rare.

But that hasn’t changed the way I drive.

I learned to drive a manual transmission in the hills of Seattle as a teenager. It was a sweaty nightmare carefully narrated by my patient father. It remains a day that lives in infamy rather than in pleasure. However, I discovered it was a skill, and like any skill, there is improvement with practice. Speed came later, but as I got better at driving, my speed increased—I haven’t slowed down since.

The reason I continue to motor “with pace” is indefensible. I like it. I crave the rush of going faster than drivers around me. I love the mechanical symphony of engine speeds, drivetrain whine and tires at the edge of adhesion all working together to create a unique sensation: speed.

It’s a sensation that isn’t universally loved. Just ask my wife, along with every other passenger of mine since that lovely French girl. Driving fast means braking late, accelerating hard, and driving the car like you mean it. It means understanding the flow of traffic, judging gaps, relative speeds, and plain old risk taking.

It’s an understanding that the point of conveyance is not simply to get from point A to point B… Driving fast means infusing a mundane alphabetical journey with a small jolt of adrenaline and arriving at point B a little faster than I did last time.

I drive fast because I love it. Besides, at least I’m not texting.

Why do you drive fast?

Photography by Afshin Behnia and Josh Clason

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haydenJose Eduardo SoaresBilly bobBiker JoeRich Davidson Recent comment authors
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hayden
hayden

I drive fast to prove to no one but myself that I am the best I can be at driving “with pace”. No other feeling in life no matter what it may be will ever come close to the feeling driving gives me. Especially in the right car under the right conditions

Jose Eduardo Soares
Jose Eduardo Soares

It’s all about the size of our smile when we get to point B.

Billy bob
Billy bob

I wish that I had summed up with such eloquence when trying to explain that I drive fast because I enjoy it during a speed awareness course.

Biker Joe
Biker Joe

Very few things in life will paste a grin on my face faster than transitioning a 270 degree freeway on-ramp onto an open stretch of clear asphalt. Desolate Colorado mountain roads, early in the morning, provide ample opportunities for pure joy. Tasteful indeed.

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Cecilia Sg
Cecilia Sg

Yes in the right conditions we do enjoy some pace with grace. That is what my car was built for,as am I. Night in particular, wooden steering wheel in my hands, the even flow of fuel through the carbs, the song of a content engine echoing through the darkness – my bliss.

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Rich Davidson
Rich Davidson

This was a terrific post crushed by the staggering weight of people gone safety crazy. It’s quite sad really. As I read the comments from people who seem to be of some universal betterness than the rest of us, I cannot help but wonder how many neon yellow-green vests they have. One in each car to wear at places such as the gas station. Wouldn’t want the next car in line to forget you are there and plow you over. Better light up in the newest fashion. Don’t want to be run over in the parking lot walking from the… Read more »

César
César

Please, can you tell me what are those books that talk about the five stage of national destruction.

Rich Davidson
Rich Davidson

Cesar, define “fast.”
J WC, no, I happened across it last night, again.

Sifu Alex
Sifu Alex

I drive fast but I try to drive smooth. Like Jackie Stewart always said “drive with finesse!” Smooth is faster. I try never to cut people off, i never weave into tight spots and try never to be reckless but fast fine but if drive fast and smooth then Respect that.

Peter Green

I drive fast, in fact I just lost my license for 6 months for being caught doing 102 m.p.h. and so I had to start taking taxis. You are not going to believe what happened next I was in a taxi trolling about in the slower lanes of a 5 lane Freeway and the taxi driver put me into the Freeway wall at 40 m.p.h. after playing bumper cars at 60 m.p.h. We were hit once at about 60, which sent us spinning like a top on the Freeway and then we were hit again which sent us into the… Read more »

Xander Cesari
Xander Cesari

When do we get to see the video of that SPG up there?! I just bought one!

GARY MILES
GARY MILES

Mr. Mills — thanks for a great article about driving. One can certainly drive fast without endangering the lives of others; I assume we all drive a bit fast on occasion. I think that I drive with “purpose.” I don’t talk on the phone, eat, or whatever; when behind the wheel, I drive. It’s pleasing, its relaxing, its my refuge.

stevethecurse
stevethecurse

I don’t know who’s car that is on where the photo came from, but I love that Saab up top. I’ve never seen a Saab look that sporty and aggressive and just plain old cool.

Chris Dyer
Chris Dyer

I drive fast. Absolutely. I’ve driven nothing but sports cars my entire life, I’ll be 44 in another month, I’ve been driving since I was 16, I haven’t had a speeding ticket since I was 31, and I have [b]NEVER[/b] been involved in an accident. Unlike the author, my driving has never been complimented by a pretty French girl, but I have actually received numerous compliments on my driving from numerous people. The most recent being from a Porsche driving instructor who also told me I seem to already know what I’m doing. How have I managed this? Because I… Read more »

Steely
Steely

Just a thought, I wonder how many confident drivers have realised they have exceeded there’s or the cars limit 1 second before impact!

RS Anthony
RS Anthony

Regardless of there being any impact at all – knock on wood – I have crossed the limits more than once. Oh yes I have. My Renault 19 has so little front grip it just starts to understeer very early. Like a warning sign that maybe I ought to ease off the throttle a little and straighten up the wheels. This makes me think of my former Nissan 200SX. They commonly end up as drift “projects” now so people tend to forget they were meant for [i]spirited[/i] yet safe cruising. They are quite capable on countryside roads as well. Showing… Read more »

Steely
Steely

Interesting! I suppose an article of this nature was bound to provoke mixed reactions, and was probably the authors intent. Myself, I like to drive quickly, that is that at times I accelerate hard, take corners at speed and sometimes exceed the speed limit, only if I am familiar with the road and the conditions allow, taking other road users and pedestrians into account, and never when I have a passenger. Awareness is the key. That means that I drive sensibly in built up areas, lower than the speed limit if that is what I sense is necessary. Taking risks… Read more »

Andreas Lavesson
Andreas Lavesson

There’s a difference between driving “fast” and driving fast. Since “drivetrain whine and tires at the edge of adhesion” is mentioned, I suppose this article is about really hammering down on public roads, unless you’ve got a really slow car with a weak engine. However, even if that was the case, being on the verge of losing the grip on public roads is just plain ignorant and dangerous. That being said, slightly exceeding the speed limit, when opportunity is given and you are far from fellow motorists is acceptable in my book. I sometimes enjoy going a little fast if… Read more »

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay

After giving some careful thought on how best to comment to this article (if at all), I have arrived at the following, which is the revised, polite version of my opinion: I suggest the writer enroll in a proper, established driver training program. I would hope that he would learn that he is, in fact, nowhere near the limits of his machine or skills, and would respect that searching for these limits is left for the track, not for slicing in and out of traffic on public roads. I believe he would find greater respect for his own vehicle, a… Read more »

Mauricio Lizama
Mauricio Lizama

Just beautiful I might just cry to how well said this is.

Schnell87
Schnell87

Boy, more flames here than a Gemballa 911. 🙂 I also drive fast…by knowing what I can do and what’s appropriate for the conditions. If you’re in traffic and the drivers are inexperienced around you, don’t be an idiot and rocket down the road at twice the limit. It’s all about being aware and in tune with your surroundings. Would you drive the same on the autostrada as you would in say, Chicago? No. I love drifting through corners on snowy logging trails in northern MN, but wouldn’t DREAM of doing that in Minneapolis. A skilled driver knows and is… Read more »

Gábor Ugron
Gábor Ugron

@Schnell87 – Well put. I find it really strange and frankly a bit sad that this article is getting so much negative feedback on a site like this. Granted, “plain old risk taking” is something you should NEVER do on a public road. But that’s about the only thing I disagree with in the article. Other than that, I really believe that you CAN drive fast in the right road conditions without being aggressive and jerky, endangering others or drawing negative attention. And you can still be elegant about it. And I’m sorry, but if a woman in her fifties… Read more »

RS Anthony
RS Anthony

Haha, nice one! I think she liked it smooth. Yet spirited as only a skilled young man is capable of 😉

Kuroneko
Kuroneko

If ‘driving fast’ is a parallel for ‘con brio’, then I do it because I can, and I enjoy the car within my, the roads, and legal limits. If ‘driving fast’ merely means driving fast, then you are indeed a tosser and do us all a disservice, and you can go back to a BMW club meeting to brag about such all day…

Guss Tsatsakis
Guss Tsatsakis

@Chris Beloud – I stopped reading after [b]your[/b] erroneous use of the word “Your” instead of “You’re” when making [b]your[/b] point. If [b]you’re[/b] not grasping the concept of simple grammar, then I can’t rely on [b]your[/b] opinion on something philosophical like why one would enjoy driving fast.

Bertram Wooster
Bertram Wooster

Jonathan, you’re a misplaced European and you don’t even know it.

Deep
Deep

I dig where you’re coming from… Confidence is key, knowing your blindspots, the flow of traffic, right gear at the right time for power moves, limits of adhesion, etc. What dissuades me is the potential of speeding tickets (mostly the jacked insurance rates for a couple of years) and the cost of my own life and others (got a 5 month-old.)

That being said, I do enjoy taking the M3 out for a good 7am beating now and then :).

RS Anthony
RS Anthony

I’m a car enthusiast. And a driving enthusiast even more so. The simple fact of driving delights me more than many things in life. And sometimes the car itself doesn’t matter. I also love motorsports and enjoy some time attack at my local kart track every now and then. And truth be told, lack of funds make me spend too much time on racing simulations for my own good. But on open roads, I don’t drive ‘fast’ literally speaking. I comply with speed limits the majority of the time. Except, I admit it, in corners where I tend to carry… Read more »

Rui Moreira
Rui Moreira

Honestly, I prefer to share to road with someone who drives fast and knows what he/she is doing than the bunch of people I see everyday driving at 30kph on the boulevard with their limited attention divided between cellphone, the girls on bikini walking by, the talk with the passenger, etc. They’re driving at 30 kph but still fail to stop at the red light, at the stop signs, zebra crossings… I also do enjoy driving fast and flowing, traffic allowing it. You’re focused on what you’re doing and your surrounds. It’s becoming almost a lost art. But trying to… Read more »

Rodney Wren
Rodney Wren

I’m going to teach my daughter to drive a stick because I never want her in a situation that she can drive away from and she won’t be tempted to text and drive. If more people still drove sticks there would be less texting, shaving and make-up applying and more driving.

John Cochran
John Cochran

I love this article and I couldn’t have said it better. Those of you on high horses, you are better than us, I admit.

Darin Spyderdog
Darin Spyderdog

i drive fast because im the self riotous ass hat who thinks i own all the roads, and i could care less about putting everybody else who pays taxes just like i do in danger. i also drive fast because i can justify my irresponsible actions via calling out other drivers that may, at most equally be just as ignorant and selfish as i am because they text and drive sometimes. i drive fast because im arrogant, and i probably over estimate my abilities, because my car is so special, and im so cool, that its completely ok for me… Read more »

Thanos Ts
Thanos Ts

[quote]It’s a sensation that isn’t universally loved. Just ask my wife, along with every other passenger of mine since that lovely French girl[/quote] If you think that this article is complete garbage , I believe you didn’t understand a word from it and you are in the wrong website. From the moment you go out on the road with your car you taking a risk, driving fast doesn’t mean you drive more dangerous. You are more concentrated, you have to watch the road and not just look it and you have to predict the other drivers moves etc. I don’t… Read more »

Lon Thompson
Lon Thompson

@Chris Beloud – While you make a good point, I would much rather be exposed to the exploits of folks on this forum who “like to drive fast” (I would count myself among them…) instead of the average idiot I see on the highway playing with their phones, putting on makeup, driving drunk, going too SLOW to properly merge or keep up with traffic, or just generally not being focused on the act of driving. Out and out street racing is of course stupid, but if we are talking about exceeding the speed limit by a reasonable amount while being… Read more »

Chris Beloud
Chris Beloud

Your the asshole that puts multiple innocent lives at risk including your own, save it for the track where everyone is there to do the same thing and all know the consequences.

Gábor Ugron
Gábor Ugron

Driving fast must come from within. Yes, this does sound quite a bit cheesy, but it’s the truth. And I think a big part of why I caught the bug was my dad. “Understanding the flow of traffic, judging gaps, relative speeds” and just generally using every bit of what the road conditions and your car’s abilities allow you to do… my dad did that in a 26 horsepower Trabant. Overtaking was an event and boy did it need to be planned in advance. But he still did it because he enjoyed it. We all did. He continued in much… Read more »

Josh Clason
Josh Clason

[quote]I drive fast because I love it. Besides, at least I’m not texting.[/quote]

So true. Here in LA I am shocked to see how many people are looking at their phones while driving.

Paul Wilson
Paul Wilson

I drive swiftly because i do. I never notice i listen to the engine and dont look at the speed just whats in front. The way it should be if you get to drive. I also dont care what people think about my driving, i drive for me and me alone as long as i am smiling thats all that matters when i get in a car

Daniel Kelly
Daniel Kelly

“understanding the flow of traffic, judging gaps, relative speeds”

I pride myself on these concepts in terms of interstate/highway driving. For instance, when it comes to having to pass slow pokes riding in the left lane, I’ve gotten really good at being able to determine if I’ll be able to pass on the right or not without being a jackass about it (i.e. cutting the person off). Smoothly executing such a pass just feels like a carefully executed dance.