Rusty Blackwell: 2012 Year In Review

rusty-driving-bentley-up-north

Best day of work: Saturday January 28, 2012

I don’t get out of the office as much as some other folks, but on this day I was the stuntdriver for an off-the-wall comparison test that road test editor Christopher Nelson and I concocted. We took three fancy, all-wheel-drive German convertibles—an Audi A5, a Bentley Continental, and a BMW 6-series—to middle-of-nowhere northern Michigan during the annual Sno*Drift rally race. For a few hours, I cycled through one car after the other practicing my drifting skills down a barely trafficked, ice-and-snow-covered back road, all for the benefit of videographer Sandon Voelker and photographer A. J. Mueller. Clearly I’m no Tanner Foust behind the wheel or in front of the camera, but it was incredibly fun anyway. I didn’t even mind when—on our way to making a very grand entry in the parking lot of the special stage—some jealous fellow yelled to me, “Nice Bentley, douche bag!” After leaving the special stage—testing, photography, and videotaping complete—I drove the BMW 650i (still top-down, of course, but now with my brother-in-law bundled up and living it up in the passenger’s seat) to a huge rental cabin, parked the car safely in the heated garage, and proceeded to drink a bunch of beer and eat goulash with a dozen of my closest friends. Great times.

Saddest test-drive: 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR

I sincerely hope that another generation of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution will reach American customers someday. I had a bad feeling, though, when I took a quick drive in a 2013 Evo test car in early December. It was a stickshift, too, which is notable because all of the Evos that I’ve seen come through our office over the past five years have been automatics. Except for one very memorable car that I drove on March 12, 2008. That one didn’t feel quite as nimble as the Evo VIII and IX, but it put a gigantic smile on my face nonetheless—as did this most recent GSR. Now I can’t help but worry that Mitsubishi will follow Suzuki and bail on the American car market. Please don’t leave us, Mitsubishi Evo!

Most torturous drive: I-75 through much of Ohio and Kentucky

I don’t want to rush my kids’ childhood, but I really hope that they can very soon handle wearing the wireless headphones that occupy many of the fancy, DVD-player-equipped family cars that pass through the magazine’s fleet of test cars. Instead of listening to one of the many wonderful SiriusXM radio stations available in the Four Seasons Infiniti JX35, my wife and I had to listen to the audio of the same #$%*&@Doc McStuffins DVD for about six hours while driving to Tennessee with our two young daughters in the car. We were so happy when the kids finally fell asleep and we could listen to something—anything—else.

Favorite library to shelve: Automobile Magazine’s

Since spearheading the relocation of our extensive library last summer, I now know a lot more about the collection I’ve grown so attached to in my eight years here (during most of which I’ve been the primary fact-checker). I discovered works like eight volumes of Floyd Clymer's Historical Motor Scrapbook, Dante Giacosa’s Forty Years of Design with Fiat,and hundreds of other gems. Taking up more than 200 linear feet of shelf space, our collection is pretty impressive. And now that we have a long hallway to house it instead of a small conference room, it’s a lot more accessible and visually appealing.

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