Sunday, October 30, 2005

Still bumping along, slowly but surely. School is going exceptionately well; neither one of us has gotten anything under an A so far. I'm trying to hurry along so I can graduate in 3 years, thus saving myself a ton of money and getting into law school a year earlier.

Sold ten cars in five days this week. It all went so quick that I barely spent any time selling or hanging around, nothing but paperwork and yelling at the maintenance guys to clean the damn things up.

I came home with a $2000 check Friday, part of it actually earned, the rest a token of appreciation from the boss for being the greatest and most talented salesman the world has ever seen. Hell, I think I must've made him a good $10k these past two weeks alone, after my cut and all the expenses.

Now, one thing about coming home with a bunch of money and two hundred bucks' worth of weed in my pocket, it puts me in a helluva mood, and it makes Lisa a little frisky.

Anyways, the local ring of dealerships is putting together a little expositional circuit of races on local tracks. The cars are exceptionally limited...they'll be street-legal, following the same rules as the Production class in the Rally America Series: Suspension geometry must remain unchanged, no remounting of the engine, stock engine only, car must be the same in profile, limiters on the turbo intake and wastegate, so on and so forth.

As a Nissan/Infiniti dealer, we've got two very strong cars: the Nissan 350Z and the Infiniti G35 coupe. I'm leaving out Americanized Skylines because another rule is that the car be USDM. And yes...the Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V is a very good car, with some great value and power for the money, but it would just be outclassed in a series that includes the Chevrolet Camaro SS and C6 Corvette, the Dodge Magnum, Viper, and Charger, the Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6 and the 300C, the Honda S2000, the Ford Mustang GT and the GT40.

I was thinking the 350Z. For one, the G35 doesn't need any help selling. Second, the 350Z is powered by a V6 with huge aftermarket support. We could strip out the sound insulation, pop in a roll cage, and then get it up to 400-hp with just a Vortech supercharger, a Nismo intake and exhaust, and a reflashed ECU. Pop in a Nismo racing suspenion and we're there. Pull out the back seat and leave the interior stock.

The series will be under a power-to-weight regulation, so really, the winners will be the ones who have the best handling and the best driver. I think tht I've probably got the 'best driver' part wrapped up, the tricky part is getting the horsepower maxed. Of course, we can build it to make incredible power and then de-tune it, so that the horsepower is actually limited by retarded fuel and air at peak, giving us a big flat power and torque curve while extending engine life and fuel economy. The supercharger means we make big power as soon as I hit the gas, even down at the bottom of the powerband.

Lisa is fine with it; I asked her in bed one night (not before, during, or after sex) and she kissed my chest, hugged me a little tighter, and told me that she was okay with whatever I wanted to do, that it was my life, and that she trusted me. For my part, I shut up. I wanted to tell her that it was her life, too, but that would have been presumptuous. It's unspoken anyway.

Am I cool with it? I guess. These cars will probably peak out at 170mph max, which is about what a JGTC car does through wide turns (they have top speeds of 200mph or thereabouts, with long gears). The driving will be very cautious, since there isn't a nearly unlimited budget for repairs. No bumping, either, because of the damage thing and because everyone will be too scared to.

A couple punks with ghetto booty-ass rides, big pavement-scraping body kits with less than half of the budget dedicated to going fast and even less to turning tight (the rest of the money was spent making the cars look stupid) tried to race me in my EVO MR today. Poor bastards. They got owned, largely because they did not know what kind of a car they were fucking with, and partly because they did not know what kind of a driver they were fucking with. I ripped away from them, going from 60 to 90 in one second, tearing away at 110 mph, slipping the tail out sideways around a loose highway turn for style.

Racing, I decided at that point, feels very good. And winning is more addictive than heroine.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Life

We do okay now.

We're not rich. Not quite as much money now as there was back when I was racing. But I do have what's left of my contract money coming (they're required to pay me until my contract expires, along with a stipend paid to me for the rest of my life for the permanent injuries I suffered). The insurance company also gave me a nice check. I also work at a car dealership, mostly selling Nissans and Infinitis. I specialize in sports cars, naturally, primarily the Nissan 350Z and the Infiniti G35 coupe.

I move two or three cars a week. Call it anywhere from $40,000 to $120,000 worth of automobiles. In addition to a nice hourly wage, I get a 1% commission on each sale. At thirty hours, with a minimum $40k in sales, I bring home $700 a week. Or $2800 a month. Or $33,600 a year. Minimum. In a good week, I can snag $1500. It all depends on the commission. That's why I love selling sports cars...the people that come in already want one very badly, and they all cost so much.

And so, in this way, I support Lisa in the kind of life a girl like her deserves. She has the clothes she wants, the manicures and pedicures, the hair stylist, a few nice pieces of jewelry, a gorgeous negligee she wears to bed every night, and some very cute lingirie for when we're feeling frisky. She has a very nice car, a 1998 BMW M3, which she picked out herself. Silver, in absolutely mint condition. I had to teach her how to drive a stick, but she wields that car nicely.

As for me, well...I don't suffer. Nice suits for work...I go tieless, usually black suit pants and a black suit jacket, dress shirt from Van Heusan or DKNY. A pair of black leather dress shoes and black sunglasses tucked in a pocket and I look sharp enough to be selling sports cars. I drive a slightly nicer car, a Mitsubishi EVO VIII MR. A little less luxury, a little more driver's tool.

We live okay. We own our apartment, in a building with two doormen and two reserved parking spaces for every apartment. Three bedrooms. One we use as an office/study, another one is set aside as a guest bedroom. The master bedroom is enormous, with a big, wide fireplace and a four-poster bed. The master bathroom has a glass-enclosed shower big enough for two (although four or five could get in without bumping elbows, but all we have the taste for is two), and a similarly-sized jacuzzi tub. A spacious and well-equipped kitchen. Large living room for entertaining.

And my neighbors are all convinced I'm a drug dealer.

Her parents, who once loved me, are now a little uneasy. They don't like us living together. I take something of a rough and arrogant stance on the whole thing: When they're paying her tuition, room, and board, they can dictate her living arrangements. And until that time, don't glare at me because I'm screwing your daughter. Be glad that someone that loves her is doing it.

But yes...life is good. The food is good. The pot is good. The sex is good. No reason at all to want anything more.

It's just that, holy-fucking-Christ, I want to race. More than anything. Every now and then, I get a guy that comes in to the dealership and is really kinda wishy-washy about just what kind of performance you get for the money with one car or another, usually a car that's very pricey and very, very worth it, in my expert opinion. So I get the guy in whatever car he's looking at and drive down to a track just outside of town, and for fifteen minutes, I just beat on the poor car. Full 90-degree powerslides, hot laps and time attacks. A demonstration of the car's 0-100 acceleration followed up by an immediate display of brake torque when I show off the 100-0. Cap it all off with a slick burnout.

I usually sell the car that day.

It's slightly dishonest, of course. A professional driver can make a motherfucking Camry look good.

But back to the point...there's a race in Europe this summer. Not a GT-style thing, just a bunch of stock big-dollar sports cars making a tour. Starts in the United Kingdom, jumps to France, meanders into Germany, slides down into the Swiss Alps, creeps into Italy, and screams into Sicily for one final country road battle. It's all based on times, arranged in such a way that the cars are very unlikely to ever see each other except at the finish line. The races are mostly on specially-closed public roads, with the exception of Cirque de la Sarthe in France, where they run Le Mans every year. It also runs on Nuburgring (better known as Nuremburg) in Germany, which is technically a public toll road with no speed limit. I have two offers; one to drive a BMW M5, and the other to drive an Aston Martin DB9 coupe. I like the Aston a little better.

The pay for this hell ride is fifty grand. Winning doubles it to $100k. Lisa can't argue with the money, and she always wanted to see Europe, she says. This gives us plenty of time, four days in each place to spend together, and the races, including preparation time and practice runs, only takes a day. What's more, all transportation is taken care of in the form of the DB9.

What she can argue with me about is me getting hurt again. But this is entirely different circumstances. No car-to-car contact, no 170 mph JGTC speeds, none of that bullshit. Very simple, safe, easy road racing.

The only danger is the ever-present danger in racing. Driving a car, any car, at the outside edges of its performance envelope requires you to make thousands of tiny decisions a second, and if your desire to win overloads even one of those decisions, you'll crash and maybe die. Not to mention the fact that while you're making those decisions, you're calculating the forces and physics necessary to make the proper judgements.

And if at any point you find yourself thinking, "Hey, I'm doing it, I'm actually racing" or "No one could have strung those corners together the way I just did, I am the shit" you'll crash into a tree.

It's a fine edge, razor thin, and one I still hold. I was among the most skilled drivers the world has ever seen. The modern GT driver is exceeded in reaction times and precision only by the modern Indy car driver and Group C driver (Group C is the most Open of all the Open Classes; these things don't even look like cars, they're the supercars at Le Mans that have bubble canopies and cockpits and shit). Hell, by and large, GT, Indy, and Group C drivers are the most intelligent, trained, and talented athletes in the world. Think about it...at 170mph, we drive our cars inches apart. Even NASCAR can't boast that. There's no communication between cars. We just know the fastest line through a turn, and since we all follow it, no one touches. It's amazing, and when you're doing it, it's terrifying.

And that's why I need to get back out there...to prove I still have it. To prove I'm physically able to race, because plenty of people told me I never would, and everyone else said I'd never be able to, just not to my face. Either because I'd lose that edge mentally, or because I wouldn't be able to walk, much less drive a fast car.

For the record, I have no problem walking without my cane, I just choose to use it once in a while when my legs do act up. And also for the record, I ran a mile this morning.

The doctors told me I'd never walk unassisted again.