Journal: What’s Your Automotive Happy Place?

What’s Your Automotive Happy Place?

Michael Banovsky By Michael Banovsky
June 19, 2015
17 comments

I have no idea what road it was, but in an instant, everything was perfect.

We’d just watched the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix and, as my very first time in Europe, I noticed that the Nürburgring Nordschleife was little more than an hour away…why not try and squeeze in a few laps?

The day was perfect, thankfully, and a helpful local suggested we’d make great time if we stuck to the B-roads and avoided the post-race traffic expected to clog up the highways. In broken English, his directions consisted of reciting every town on the route to the ‘Ring—all that we had to do was a) know how to spell the town name, b) know where the signs were, and c) not take the wrong turn from the ever-present roundabouts. And no—the gas stations we visited didn’t have maps.

Within five minutes, we were lost. So lost, of course, that finding our way back to our starting point was impossible.

“Use my iPhone,” I said to my friend Andrew, and we not only quickly back on track but also—I’d later learn—racking up a ridiculous $900 data charge.

Anyway, after some time winding our way through the countryside in a borrowed Mini Cooper Countryman Diesel, the narrow B-road I was hustling the car along dipped sharply into a valley, revealing the most exceptional scene I’d seen from behind the wheel.

Race tracks are fun, but the open road inspires feelings of freedom that a closed course can not. The vista before us contained a wide-open valley, the odd well-kept farm, some wind turbines, and—of course—an electric blue sky filled with Simpsons-like puffy clouds.

The only problem, of course, was that I was driving a diesel economy car and not, say, one of my own machines. But that road, falling into the valley…

It’s been 6 years and I’m still happy thinking about it.

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stradaleMarcSimonDoug EscrivaRudolf Wesseln Recent comment authors
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stradale
stradale

Sunset Boulevard/Mulholland/PCH/Malibu Canyon, etc…
It’s all good in L.A. — Malibu –L.A.

Simon
Simon

I have taken some good drives in my Porsche throughout Scotland and Europe (France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy etc) but probably the best two drives of my life were in much more mundane cars and in my experience the best drives are determined by the locations rather than the vehicle: (i) 4 day drive in a Toyota Landcruiser across the Atacama Desert in Chile and Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia – my first proper off-roading experience and stunning scenery whilst dealing with the cold and high altitude (ii) rental Suzuki Swift (great little car) from Reykjavik to Isafjorour in Iceland. The… Read more »

Doug Escriva
Doug Escriva

Living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest offers some of the most diverse driving topography imaginable. Snow cap mountains, dry high deserts plains, panoramic ocean shores, and sprawling river gorges make up this drivers paradise.
One of my favorite routes is through the Columbia River Gorge on the historic highway 30.
Here’s how it looks on a good day: https://youtu.be/B4D9irNRp6o

Rudolf Wesseln
Rudolf Wesseln

So many good stories and roads to drive sometimes. Thanks to fact that we are living near the Alps we also do have one or two nice roads to remember. But when I red your stories one particular moment/morning came back to my mind. Years ago on a sunny and warm Sunday morning my little son (back then 2 years) and I went out from home to get fresh bred in the bakery. So we started the Mini Cooper convertible of my wife, opened the top and decided to drive a bit around over small B- and C-roads until the… Read more »

George Millwood
George Millwood

From Italy, over the Col du Mont Cenis and towards Chambery on a sunny day in 1974 driving a BMW 2002. I must go back and drive that road again. it was just perfect. In Australia, the Snowy Mountains Highway, an all time favourite.

Marc
Marc

George, you are still right, mont cenis is still so nice to drive
[url=”http://www.pass-hunters.co.uk/2014/08/susa-moncenisio-oldest-hillclimb-ever.html”]Your text to link…[/url]

Marc
Marc

the link go wrong
[url=”http://www.pass-hunters.co.uk/2014/08/susa-moncenisio-oldest-hillclimb-ever.html”]mont cenis last year[/url]

French Frie
French Frie

2003, the hottest summer in France… I drove from Paris to the South of France, using the Historic Nationale 7 route, in my TR3, during 10 days .
went to the top of the Mont Ventoux, in Provence, and the TR3 didn’t miss a beat, whereas the outside temperature was around 40°c !

ronaldo eduardo
ronaldo eduardo

BR 101 RJ, Brazil.
the north part is good but the south is amazing, near angra and parati.

Mac Sille
Mac Sille

mine…
The Gillies Highway, North QLD, Aust.
MV Agusta F3
if the traffic is too much skip to after 5:45 for the curves…

[url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnCmMLhHa18″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnCmMLhHa18
[/url]

Niko PetrHead
Niko PetrHead

After all these brilliant stories, may I dare to add something as lame as getting back from work in my daily driver, a quite humble hairdresser’s FWD coupé? Just a nice and hard working day in the mountains, scrambling up and down on feet or all four in steep slopes long away from any path, and then back from St Martin de Vésubie via Col de la Bonette-Restefond. Deep blue sky with a few white clouds for good measure, and the perfect measure of fast winding curves in the lower Tinée, narrower switchbacks over Bousiéyas, leading into the higher pastures… Read more »

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Since so few are responding if I may , one more ; One morning soon after breaking up with said ballerina I found myself at 3:00 am unable to sleep and so went out into the courtyard of my Condo complex to get some fresh air , sitting down under the stars thinking and staring at the world around me . Soon after I’d settled in a very dear female friend who also lived there that as it turned out had just broken up with her then boyfriend wound up coming out to do the same thing . Well .… Read more »

Riccardo
Riccardo

Good topic! Must say, Mr. Lange, your effort will be hard to beat what with the mixture of car and family emotivity… However, I for one am happiest when taking my (modern) 911 for a road trip. Ideally the road trip will be the means to an end, which is usually a nice hotel, good food and some form of sport. It gets even better when the road trip involves some mountain roads or passes and better still if there is a sense of “adventure” to the whole thing. So, my personal recent “moment of happiness” was a few years… Read more »

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Finally ! A PetroQuestion I can respond to simply and directly with one solitary answer ; That being right here in my own backyard . Our Colorado mountain ‘ Blue Highways ‘ [ B-roads for you Brits ] back roads and high mountain passes . One of my favorite episodes ? Back in the day before I-70 west of Denver became a mobile parking lot ; An early morning run to Aspen leaving before daybreak . Just as I was going over Loveland Pass in the 365 GTC/4 a favorite Pat Metheny tune came up on the mix tape I’d… Read more »

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange

No need to apologise for upgrading the head unit in a C4. MY Dad has done the same in all three of the C4’s he has owned, the current one has one of those retro looking Becker units that fits into the standard C4 radio slot. I’ve had many great drives that stick in the memory, but as it was Father’s day yesterday a run out with my Dad last year seems the most appropriate story. I was in the Daytona and Dad was in his Daytona Spyder (Conversion), and we headed down to the excellent roads of the Surrey,… Read more »

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Here’s the Metheny tune if anyone is curious ;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrdbyCNJVKg

And two thumbs up to Mr Lange both for both the journey and his relationship with his father [ mine is a bit contentious to say the least and more like non-existent ]

..as well as to Riccardo for including a modern car in the conversation .

Wilson Thorburn
Wilson Thorburn

Date: September 1997 Car: Lotus Elise After a chilly and foggy trip across the Vercors in South Eastern France and following our nose towards our bed for the night we entered the damp dank tunnel at the top of the Col du Rousset. at the other end of the tunnel we emerged into a different world. The sky was azure blue (like the Elise) and the sights and smells of Provence surrounded us. The road descended steeply down a cliff face in a series of swithbacks, kids faces were plastered to the rear windscreens of local cars as we approached… Read more »