An hour and twenty minutes later, I try to give her a tour of my home town. She doesn't seem impressed, and I finally realize why when she reminds me that the back windows are covered with stickers and she can't see anything. Good point, my dear.
That night, I have my only off-road experience of the weekend in a small construction site next to my bother's house. It makes me smile. I also have my first ride on the makeshift back seat and realize I can stop feeling bad for Erin - it's not so bad. The night also brings my first run-in with electrical issues, and I sit stuck at a gas station waiting for the truck to show any sign of life. No matter how feverishly I turn the key, no matter how many times I beg the TDI to clatter to life, no matter how many times I cut myself on the roll cage getting in and out to look under the hood, it does nothing. Not a ding. Not a beep. Not a light.
It mysteriously revives itself a few minutes later, starting right up as if nothing had happened. I shrug and explain to Erin, "it's a race car."
The next morning I'm hungry for a laugh, and Erin is conveniently hungry for a bagel. I help her strap into the harness and tuck-and-roll into the ex-back seat for a drive down the street to Tim Horton's. The lady at the window is rightfully befuddled, but doesn't even bother questioning the gold-and-red-bull-on-blue paint scheme. "Why you wearing that big harness, honey, you crazy or something?"
The excuse is again simple: "It's a race car," Erin tries to explain, "It's so I don't fly out the window if I crash." She grabs the small paper bag and hits the gas-er, accelerator-before any other questions come, while I chuckle behind the sticker-covered rear window.
On the way home, I realize how brilliant the V-10 TDI is on the highway. The Touareg sails along effortlessly with the help of air suspension set to comfort, and I can just tell that SUV drivers all around are jealous of my nearly-endless amount of torque. After dropping Erin off, I stop for a slice of pizza and eat it in the driver's seat. I'm one more check-mark closer to being ready to die - I've always wanted to eat pizza inside a race car.
But that's not enough. I need to set a record. Any record. Unlike your daily slog in a Chevy Malibu, driving a truck like this makes you want to do more than just drive home: defeat a mountain, pull a tractor through mud, win a long-distance race - something. Anything.
Without a race to enter, I knew it would be impossible to set a notable record, and there wasn't enough time to pull off some long distance feat. Ah, but where there is a race, there is beer. So, I thought, I would carry more beer in this race car than any competition-ready vehicle before it-four kegs. I don't care how many Budweiser logos are on your Chevy, Dale, Junior. It can't carry this much frothy goodness. It's a tight squeeze, but I fit all four in the rear and head across town to deliver them to a party near the University of Michigan campus.
People must see a lot of crazy things around college campuses, because my wild ride doesn't do much to impress the man at the beer store, nor the early arrivers at the party. The former just wants money for the beer, while the latter just want the beer itself. The giant Red Bull can going "chuga chuga chuga" is just a minor detail to all of them.
And it is a minor detail that brings my weekend at the races to a screeching halt. My freak electrical problem at the gas station in Kalamazoo has become a recurring event (accompanied by "check engine" and "running gear fault" lights), so I decide to leave it parked out of fear that it may leave me stranded. So much for grocery shopping in a full racing suit. It isn't worth being stranded in a cold, snowy parking lot while my fresh bread gets frozen. I'm quite obviously not as tough as I look. Then again, neither is the truck.