Vile Gossip: A scant thirty hours in Abu Dhabi, and some truth in Advertising

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A scant thirty hours in Abu Dhabi, and some truth in Advertising.

Some week it's been. In the sixty-one hours and thirty minutes between driving the Rolls-Royce Ghost in England and welcoming a Ford Transit Connect to my farm in Michigan, I spent twenty-nine hours and forty minutes in Abu Dhabi to get two twelve-minute cracks at the wheel of the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG - the gull-wing sports car - at the Yas Marina Formula 1 circuit.

If I ran the Middle East, I would arrest me the minute I stepped off the plane. I'd be wearing jeans, I swear like a truck driver, I drink Scotch, and I prefer to do the driving, if you don't mind. Which they do. But not so much in Abu Dhabi, so it seemed like the right Middle Eastern locale for a girl like me to put a toe in the water. Since I was already in England, about halfway there . . .

06:35 Depart London Heathrow, 19:35 Arrive Abu Dhabi: Shock of shocks! It's been raining here for three days, the most rain in many years. I get to drive the Gullwing on the newest F1 circuit, and it's going to be wet? Crap. My driver is either terrified by the rain or by me and won't exceed 30 mph on the empty freeway. He can't speak English. I can see the wild Yas Hotel out there, glowing blue in the night, looking more like Epcot or an Olympics sports venue the closer we get.

A guy in robes is waiting in the lobby. He is not the religious police. He offers me tea and a plate of dates. This is as exotic as it will get. The hotel room is crazy modern. The phone rings. "It's God. Come down for dinner," comes the rich burr of M-B's Scottish PR boss, Geoff Day. Of the ten eateries on-site, he is in the Italian one. This will not be a tour of Mideast cuisine. Day blames the reservation on the Germans. I'm in bed by 2200 hours.

10:00 Brunch with the bosses: The Rush Bar is a tower of Babel; a world's worth of auto journalists and film crews has gathered. I join four other U.S. writers. Chairman Dieter Zetsche enters the room like a rock star.

11:00 Yas Marina Circuit info session: "Two years ago, this was a sand island. Look it up on Google Maps," says Richard Cregan, CEO of the circuit. "Now there are 2800 hotel rooms in six hotels, plus the Yas Hotel."

The track has two circuits, two pit lanes, and four grandstands. Two events can be run at once. There's a drag strip, a driving academy, a marina that can hold 143 yachts within the circuit, and a forty-nine-acre theme park - Ferrari World!

12:00 to 16:00 SLS AMG laps of the Yas circuit: F1 driver Nico Rosberg roars into the pits in an SLS. I swear his eyebrows are plucked and he's wearing foundation. Whatever. Get out. It's my turn.

I will be brief: There is room for six-foot me; less room for my wildly beating heart as I fire up the 563-hp, 6.2-liter AMG V-8 and follow the lead car from the pits. The engine is deafening in the infamous pit tunnel. I get five laps, see 168 mph at the end of the long straight, and don't crash.;

17:00 E-class cabrio reveal: Nico is back, sitting in the new E-class cabrio on an open-air stage when Dr. Z pulls off the cover. Nico lowers the roof. We put down drinks and applaud.

19:30 Dinner at Rush Bar: "The U.S. is the only place in the world where F1 is irrelevant. F1 excitement is in markets where our future lies, in Abu Dhabi. South Korea. China. Our exposure on television is easily worth $250 million. We are convinced the amount of money spent is better than any other way to spend it."; -; Dr. Z.

01:15 Depart Abu Dhabi: Home from Abu Dhabi, slightly worse for wear after 7147 miles and twenty-one hours of flying, I find my husband has gone hunting with the dogs. Bad enough that I have to drive home to an empty house, but he hasn't left me even a single dog.

So, those photos of the Transit Connect? Most were taken the next morning at my house. That is not my husband. Not my running dog. Not my Yamaha ATV. I can vouch for the two caged (and one curious) dogs, which arrived a day later.

Let's recap: Seven days and eighteen time zones. The Rolls-Royce Ghost. The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. The Ford Transit Connect.

Guess which one I need the most?

Written by: Jean Jennings Photos by: Jean Jennings

Let's recap: Seven days and eighteen time zones. The Rolls-Royce Ghost. The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. The Ford Transit Connect.

Let's recap: Seven days and eighteen time zones. The Rolls-Royce Ghost. The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. The Ford Transit Connect.

Let's recap: Seven days and eighteen time zones. The Rolls-Royce Ghost. The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. The Ford Transit Connect.

Let's recap: Seven days and eighteen time zones. The Rolls-Royce Ghost. The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. The Ford Transit Connect.

Let's recap: Seven days and eighteen time zones. The Rolls-Royce Ghost. The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. The Ford Transit Connect.

Let's recap: Seven days and eighteen time zones. The Rolls-Royce Ghost. The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. The Ford Transit Connect.

Let's recap: Seven days and eighteen time zones. The Rolls-Royce Ghost. The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. The Ford Transit Connect.

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