Archive for the ‘Driver Focus’ Category

The Undeniable Lightness of Driving

June 27, 2018

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A Fuelfed MotorGearo First-Timer Reflects on the Drive

By Joe Rosenthal

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We’re excited to have member Joe Rosenthal share his perspective on what it’s like to drive in the Fuelfed MotorGearo Vintage Rally for the first time.

 

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Back when I was in high school and felt like getting away from it all, I used to hop in my beloved ’84 Scirocco (metallic bronze, sunroof, tinted glass) and just drive. Sometimes it was plowing through snowdrifts in blizzard conditions to watch the tufts of powder explode around me in whorls of snow. At others it was flying up the dirt roads that traversed Cheyenne Mountain at the time, gravel chattering on the undercarriage in the turns. I would always go alone, and the experience was wonderful.

Flash forward 30 years and everything has changed. I’m married with two kids who have more energy than a Pikes Peak Hill Climber. I have responsibilities. Bills to pay. A mortgage. All the stuff your parents warned you about. But perhaps more astonishingly, the world around me has changed even more. Constantly buzzing and dinging cell phones. Thousands of hours of Peak TV on our smart televisions. Endless drop-down menus at our fingertips. Constant but fleeting contact with every single person we’ve ever known. It’s liberating, but also confining. Which brings me to the MotorGearo 250.

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When I signed up for the rally I was intrigued by a few things. One was the camaraderie of Fuelfed friends new and old. I knew the impeccable planning of Fuelfed would ensure an inspired and seamless weekend. I had heard about the Driftless area and was excited to see it up close. And I was curious if my 1976 TR6, which had not been on a drive longer than an hour and a half since I’d purchased it three years ago, would actually make it 500-plus miles in two days. Finally, I was not-so-secretly hoping that the Motorgearo would provide the same kind of diversion my favorite drives did back in the days when John Hughes dominated the mall theaters and my biggest worries didn’t even come close to rating on the Richter scale of adulthood.

I was planning to drive alone. And that fact itself was interesting. When I mentioned it to my friends many of them did a double take. They raised their eyebrows: “Alone?” As if to say, “Why would you ever want to do that?” But I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Those high school drives were about becoming one with road and banishing the complexity of thought. And that wasn’t going to happen with a passenger. It’s not that I don’t appreciate driving with others – there’s a place for it and it can be a blast. But this was something different.

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In New Glarus we broke into our driving groups. I’d be running in Group Four, a friendly bunch of drivers who’d be piloting a ’72 Mercedes 280sel 4.5, ’58 Lancia Aurelia, ’67 Volvo 1800, ’77 TVR, ’79 Fiat 124 and an Intermeccanica 356. A veritable rolling sculpture garden. The TR6 hesitated a little and then sparked to life with a low rumble and some smoke for punctuation. We’d been warned a few times that our cell phones would not work where we were going. I rifled off a couple last text messages and stowed the phone in a side pocket. It would only be off for a few hours, but the thought of replacing it’s pestering vibrations with the constant rumble of the straight six seemed a great bargain.

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I have to admit, for the first segment (there were four a day, of about an hour to and hour-and-a-half each) I was enjoying myself, but I was still tethered to reality. It was similar to that feeling of the first day of vacation, where your mind is still occupied with lingering thoughts of work and deadlines and next steps and action items. But with each curve of the road, that feeling was more and more distant. The thought crossed my mind that while our thumb scrolls have gotten faster, our power of focus had been slowly eroded like aging British steel. And this kind of driving requires nothing if not focus.

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By the time we’d stopped for our BBQ lunch I was fully in the zone. There is a rhythm to the road and the sequence of turns and inclines that is almost musical. It may just have been my imagination but it seemed like the car ran better the higher I revved and the more pushed it. I started to shift less, allowing the car a higher range of revs. Earlier in the day I’d been toggling between third and fourth, but by the end I was committed to third, letting the engine spin and growl through valleys and sweeping turns. I kept waiting for the protestation of a sputter or miss from the engine, but it never arrived. As the hours went by I trusted the car more, and found myself thinking less. By the time we were charging through the woods on the final stretch to Prairie du Chien any thought of the mundanity of work or potential breakdown had long since passed.

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It would be hyperbolic to say I’d become one with the car, but there’s no doubt the relationship had changed. It seemed like time was flying by as fast as the scenery, but at the same time it was becoming easier to perceive the beautiful view all around me. I suppose that as trust in the vehicle increased and mental analysis began to fade, there was more room for perception in the moment. The landscape was stunning. The prettiest I have seen in the Midwest. It was emerald green and hilly like Ireland, but dotted with quintessentially American-looking barns and tractors. Cows grazed on steep inclines dramatized by jutting rock formations. At times the hillsides looked like oil paintings, so perfect were the lines and gradations of color. People were few and far between. Aside from a few Amish families farming and the random resident mowing an improbably massive lawn on a riding tractor, the land-to-human ratio was squarely on the side of the land. It was the kind of scenery that makes you wonder if all the progress we’ve attained has actually been a matter of regress. Cities are exciting and suburbs are quiet and lovely in contrast, but the countryside has an eternal and calming presence. Some may argue it’s the sort of thing best experienced on a hike or wilderness walk, but it has its own perfect impact when seen from a car window with the top down as it unfurls in Technicolor parallax.

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Rounding the final turn of Day One on the stretch to the hotel, the Aurelia in front of me had a minor breakdown. I think it was a Weber getting finicky. But in true Fuelfed fashion, we quickly surrounded the car and pushed it to a safe spot. Of course, a specialist was on hand within moments, the carb disassembled, and the ride preserved. That’s the sort of thing we’ve come to expect from Fuelfed. It was also the sort of inevitable occurrence that breaks a reverie. The drive can’t go on forever. And the fact that we’re challenging fifty-year-old parts to keep on spinning at thousands of revolutions per minute is part of what makes it special. It’s all highly improbable.

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The farm fields and undulating shallow canyons had finally given way to a little bit of traffic and commercial activity. The engine revs dropped and you could see the Fuelfed flags up ahead. My first thought was “Shoot! Let’s keep going all night.” But in actuality I was tired and running on adrenaline. Plus my headlights are poor and there was a Supper Club with Wisconsin-sized Manhattans just around the corner. My second thought was, “ How was that an entire day?” Although I was hot and my arms were tired and I was smelling of exhaust and suntan lotion, I was deeply refreshed. Tired but renewed. And it was the third thought that really struck me: “My cell phone has been dead for hours!” And I didn’t miss it a bit.

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We pulled into spots in the hotel parking lot and finally let the engines rest. The sunlight was falling in an intense afternoon angle in a way that portended rain. We shared congratulations, swapped stories from the road, and struggled to raise our non-compliant convertible tops to protect against the oncoming showers. It was the perfect way to end, fueled by the excitement that we were only halfway to the finish. And that although we were just halfway there, we’d already had the full measure of experience.

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Next Week: The MotorGearo 250 Day Two

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Joe Rosenthal, Fuelfed member 414, is a Creative Technology Director at the ad agency Ogilvy. To prove he has no badge loyalty whatsoever, he’s been the proud owner (in order) of a Sears minibike, 1973 Kawasaki KE100 Enduro, 1964 Alfa Guilia Spider, 1984 Scirocco, 1959 Chevy Apache, two Saab 9-3’s, a Passat, a Tiguan, a 1976 Triumph TR6, and a Hyundai 3-Row Santa Fe.

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The Fuelfed Spirit and Bo Danenberger

March 1, 2018

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Member Bo Danenberger has long embodied the Fuelfed spirit that so many members share. Always one to follow his heart, Bo has led an adventurous life of hunting, collecting and restoring European classics, long before they were on the enthusiasts radar. Always the entertainer, Bo is a frequent character at Fuelfed Coffee & Classics and VSCDA events around the midwest.

We sat down with Bo back in early 2013 and did an interview at his Livery. It’s a moving story and in the above out-take clip he talks about Fuelfed Coffee & Classics. You can hear and see the genuine passion in his eyes.

Special thanks to ShiftFocus Productions on their video prowess.

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The Final Drive Evolved

October 4, 2017

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We are just five weeks out from our driver bootcamp we call The Final Drive (TFD17). This private member only event has a long legacy as the premier open road driving event. This is not an event not for the weak hearted or those without strong track experience. Our 15 year tradition has evolved again this year, with completely new routes and driving agenda.

Members watch for it in the next club email.

 

Fuelfed Member Garage Night at Perfect Power 8.17.17

August 12, 2017

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Our own” King of air-cooled”, Sol Snyderman will be hosting our member only Garage Night at his shop Perfect Power. If you are a real Porschephile, you know Sol. And if like surgically clean and organized shops with stunning projects in different phases to ogle over, this is your Fuelfed event.

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Perfect Power creates engaging driving machines based on the timeless Porsche 911 chassis. While he and his team are known for their Porsche expertise, they also have the talent to repair other fine vintage cars. Perfect Power perpetuates the art of the automobile by repairing vintage cars and building custom vehicles which continually exceed their clients’ expectations.

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Thursday August 17, 2017
7:00-9:00pm

Perfect Power
1009 Commerce Court
Buffalo Grove, IL 60089
Perfectpower.com

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The Fuelfed MotorGearo Video is Coming!

July 10, 2017

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We are extremely proud of the forth coming short video by Nikko and Robert at bonafidecreators as they documented the heart and soul of the 2017 Fuelfed MotorGearo.

Stay tuned!

Honoring the Helmet

February 10, 2017

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Recent owner of Noble Automotive Ltd. and FFG100 founder Peter D., pauses at turn one, Sears Point Raceway.

Peter D. – The Consummate Fuelfed Member

January 5, 2017

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We first formally met Peter and his wife at Fuelfed Cocktails & Classics in early 2012. As the season progressed he quickly volunteered to work the gates at Coffee & Classics in Winnetka and always showed up at Spontaneous Combustions in a different historic classic. Little did we know the depth of his car affliction.

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As Fuelfed grew, so did our friendship with Peter. His passion for 1980’s rally and super cars was unparalleled. He offered test drives of some of the greatest cars ever conceived. F40 full throttle through the Ravines…check. 288GTO at redline on the Edens…check. Lancia S4 tearing up Sheridan Rd…check. His gracious and selfless offerings were just the tip of what was to come.

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The Fuelfed Steering Committee was formed in the summer of 2013, and Peter was eager to be part of the board. His vast and well-honed global business leadership gave vital insight & sharp input into formalizing our vibrant club for the discerning collector, and for the young enthusiast. Meetings were long and agenda-filled, yet Peter always kept discussions on point. Eventually, Steering Committee meetings were held in his private shop to ensure the smell of gasoline & rubber was always present and that the club’s focus remained on camaraderie & driving. Inevitably meetings turned to car stories and wine would continue to flow.

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Peter was not only a larger than life collector, but he was also a private and strong family man. Peter always put family first, as we all should. And, in turn, that combination often meant some sort of classic European car was part of a family adventure regardless the country he and his family were in.

Peter was very excited to be part of Fuelfed as he found kindred spirits in many fellow members, yours truly in particular. He loved working on his cars and found great therapy in fixing, improving, and detailing his cars. Many a weekend or evening he spent wrenching in his shop.

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He LOVED Coffee & Classics in Winnetka and volunteering at the main gate. He was a fixture there and selfless, seldom missing a month.

The man knew cars – no BS story got past him…period. Peter had a wry sense of humor which he shared with many regulars passing through the gate on his watch. He enjoyed the detailed car conversations that occur at every C&C, and would gladly spend time sharing his knowledge with others. He often spent time at the end each Coffee & Classics letting young enthusiasts explore his Ferraris, BMW M1, Lancia Stratos or whatever he drove that month. Several were fortunate enough to get a short ride (with parental consent).

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It is with heavy heart that we have lost a great personal friend and immensely influential Fuelfed founder in December of 2016. Peter D. will forever be greatly missed and he had made countless contributions worldwide seen and unseen. Fuelfed will dedicate an annual event in his honor.

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Big Thanks to Martin!

December 25, 2016

 

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We want to give a BIG shout out and thank you to Martin Meissner for all the hard work he’s doing down in Fort Lauderdale running our Coffee & Classics FTL. Martin could not be a better Fuelfed brand ambassador with his extreme passion for classic European cars and his jovial & welcoming persona.

We had to dig up the 2011 video of Martin and his rare 2000tii to prove they both haven’t aged a bit.

If you are near FTL on the last Sunday of the month, make your way over to Las Olas Blvd. & A1A by 8:00am and buy the guy in above 2011 C&C clip a cup of coffee.

 

Fuelfed Member Interview at Coffee & Classics Back in July 2011

January 24, 2016

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It’s hard to believe we’re in our sixth season of Coffee & Classics. As such, we thought it interesting how dynamic the event was back then and how it’s grown into the premier venue it is today. Yet the Fuelfed purpose has always remained true to it’s serious enthusiast core.

Here’s Alan’s interview from July 2011 Coffee & Classics in Winnetka. No GoPro, no iPhone video, just old school digital video done well by ShiftFocus in Chicago.
With a little help from Tim, Alan brought both his blue Shelby Cobra and cream E-Type that sweltering Sunday morning. We wanted to capture Alan and one of the many stunning classics he surprises us with each month on video. He was as gracious as ever, and gave us a little insight into his vast vehicle ownership..

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Our Own Bill Hall in the Drive Home Rally

January 4, 2016

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While Fuelfed has always focused on classic European motoring, we also focus on members who have unique opportunities. In this case, our own Bill Hall from Milwaukee. Most Fuelfed members know Bill for his generous hospitality and lawn parties at his house on Lake St. up in Elkhart during most historic racing events. He’s also co-hosted the 2013 Fuelfed Fall Classic with his Kettle Call TSD Rally.

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Though Bill prefers to drive Italian steeds, he has the fortunate opportunity to drive a 1957 Nomad from Tacoma, WA to Detroit, MI in The Drive Home Rally benefitting Hagerty Education Program. As painful as it sounds, the cars will be driven from December 27 through January 8, 2016, yes right through the rust belt. Cudos to Bill and his two other cohorts for taking the challenge of drum brakes and bias ply tires on live axles while navigating black ice.

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Want to see these three classics in person and cheer Bill on? Bill and buddies will be making a pit stop this Wednesday morning January 6, from 9:00-10:00 at the Shell station in Schaumberg. The Shell is located at 517 Mall Dr. Schaumberg.

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