Every year, Automobile Magazine picks its All-Stars. There are no contorted rules, no categories—they’re just our favorite vehicles. This time, though, we’ve added a twist, bringing together this elite group and going on a road trip. To read about our journey from Detroit to New Orleans, read on. If you’d like to see a list of the ten All-Stars, click here.
Sunday: Detroit, Michigan to Indianapolis, Indiana
297 milesWhere is spring? Not here. I’ve just come off a trans-Atlantic flight and find nothing but freezing temperatures and gray skies. It’s the sort of Sunday afternoon you spend watching a movie or sleeping. That is, if there aren’t ten Automobile Magazine All-Stars waiting in a parking lot at Detroit’s Eastern Market. I climb into one of them, a searing orange Jaguar F-type V8 S, lower the top, and peel away. Let’s go find spring.
But find it where, exactly? Anyone who has planned a family vacation knows this is the hard part. Our family, the editors of Automobile Magazine, testily debates the best destination. California? Too far. South Carolina? Not far enough. New England? Too cold.
“Let’s go to D.C. I love D.C. in the spring,” concludes deputy editor Joe DeMatio after a protracted discussion, directing staff photographer Patrick Hoey to map out the best route. Hoey duly submits a map to New Orleans. “Why New Orleans?” we all ask, before deciding, why not New Orleans?
We have, thankfully, a more organized method for determining what cars to bring. We’re driving prime examples of our 2014 All-Stars—the Audi RS7, BMW 435i, Cadillac CTS VSport, Ford Fiesta ST, Honda Accord, Jaguar F-type, Mazda 3, Porsche Cayman S, Ram 1500, and Scion FR-S. It’s worth noting, however, that in more than two decades of selecting All-Stars, we’ve never until now hit the road in all of them at the same time. This journey will be an unprecedented test of our selections.
The most direct route would take us due south through Ohio. But we’re not looking for the quick route. We want to meander, to take our time, and to get lost (none of which means going slow). And so we start heading southwest, to Indianapolis, Indiana. Farms and factories, the aging backbone of America, line our route out of Michigan and through Toledo as we drive into the orange and purple sunset.
Our fleet reassembles in the parking lot of the Union Jack Pub, a well-established watering hole near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Like much of what surrounds the track, this pub, with signed photos of Indy racing drivers hanging from the wood-paneled walls, remains charmingly authentic. “It’s the sort of place drivers go after a race to tell lies to each other,” quips West Coast editor Michael Jordan.
The area’s quaintness becomes less charming when we arrive at our digs for the night, a small bed and breakfast that looks like a life-size dollhouse. Or a horror-movie set. Five editors pile into one upstairs bedroom as “Love Shack” by the B-52s wafts from the kitchen radio. Associate editor Greg Migliore finds a mattress on the floor while photographer Tom Salt, who flew in from Europe for this, snaps pictures of the curios that line the living-room wall.
Road test editor Chris Nelson, who booked the place, does his best to put a shine on things. “Hey, boxes of wine in the fridge!” He volunteers to take one of the other mattresses on the floor, then flips on the old television, which, it turns out, is receiving only one program: River Dance.
Trip Notes: Indianapolis
EatUnion Jack Pub: Opened in 1981 but feels older (in a good way). Serves up staples like deep-dish pizza and fish and chips. Twenty-four beers on tap.
St. Elmo's Steak House: St. Elmo has been in the same downtown location since 1902 and has long attracted celebrities and VIPs. The famous horseradish shrimp is overshadowed by fantastic dry-aged cuts and a fabulous wine cellar.
StayJW Marriott Indianapolis: Located in the heart of Indianapolis, about five miles from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. You can take your chance with a bed and breakfast or a motel nearer to the track, as we did. Or you can be smart and stay here.
PlayIndianapolis Motor Speedway: Receives visitors even when Jim Nabors isn’t around. The hall of fame displays seventy-five cars, including the Marmon Wasp that won the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911.
Brickyard Crossing: Play a round of golf in the shadow of the Speedway. Closed on race day.