Tuesday, April 28, 2009


A thought occurred to me the other day. Nipping up the handbrake on entrance to a deserted gravel car park at my local mountain bike trail, the Focus’ squat rear end arced gracefully round, unleashing a plume of dust that settled across the clearing as I cut the engine. And then, sitting there, it popped into my head; was that possibly the tiniest bit immature?

It’s not just the odd spot of precision parking we’re talking about either, what about all this tearing around in sports cars? Surely mature people wouldn’t do that? After all, mature, sensible individuals don’t have TVRs - they have mortgages. And dinner parties. It’s doubtful any of them have ever sneaked out to practise (laughably poor) attempts at heel and toe or indeed grinned manically to themselves while driving through a tunnel with the windows down.

And yet you have to ask what these people really do fill their lives with? Conformity is all well and good, but it’s hardly what you’d call exciting, and doing anything out of the ordinary could be seen as equally pointless. Climbing Everest is bound to be a bit cold and dangerous, painting the Sistine Chapel would doubtlessly have been quicker with some Dulux and a roller, and piloting a rocket to the moon simply won’t get you of negative equity. So what’s the point of any of this?

Hopefully if you’re reading this you have at least a passing interest in cars, hence I’d be preaching to the converted if I listed the simple joys of being in the right car on the right road. But beyond that I’d say there’s also a fundamental link between driving for pleasure and any other hobby; all involve choosing to take something beyond the mundane level that most people will experience it at. In which case perhaps, rather worryingly, the answer is that mature, sensible people don’t actually do a lot at all. They just slowly corrode, running through a series of pre-programmed actions designed to appease society, the bank and the boss.

Ultimately I suppose, yes, hand brake turns and power slides are all a bit immature by the standards of polite society, but isn’t everything that’s worth doing? Come to think of it, perhaps the question isn’t so much whether, as petrolheads, we show maturity, but whether we should even bother trying to.

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