with Steve McCarthy
Well, the dust has settled, the brakes have cooled, the radiators have stopped steaming and another successful Drive has ended. And what a drive it was. To close it all out, I thought a few random observations would be in order.
First, the food. Oh. My, God. Did we eat. And eat. And EAT! First stop was in Buellton at (of course) Pea Soup Anderson’s. Never a bad idea. Their soup is hearty, the salads are fresh and are perfect for a mid-day nosh when you know full well that the dinner will be huge.
And huge it was. We ate at the 10th Street Cafe in San Miguel for some of the best Basque food any of us have ever had. This place is fabulous! Dallas, the owner, is a wonderful host, and a Car Guy. He’s owned TRs, Healeys, and other assorted iron mongery and even had the good sense to rag on the few Porsche drivers we allowed to tag along. What we got was some TEN (count ‘em TEN) courses. Everything from salad to a variety of tapas, to stew, to glazed carrots, to Basque Potatoes, to Pallella, and finished off with a caramel glazed bread pudding. We were SO glad that the place was within staggering distance of the motel. It ain’t cheap, but OH BABY!
The next day, we hit a Mexican bakery in Soledad called La Plaza. Excellent shrimp tacos and pan dulce. Nice light fare again, because we were having a BBQ that night at a local winery. If it was possible to top the Basque place, this ran close. Local San Miguel fireman Scott was the grill master, serving up tender tri-tip, beans, salad and garlic bread. Michelle, the owner’s daughter played hostess with the mostest, and in good old Car Night fashion, her dad’s “barn” was open and OH MAN, what a sweet little collection of cars! A Type 35B Bugatti, a Fronty engined Indy Car and the Lancia Jan ran in the Peking to Paris Race in 2007. AMAZING!
The third day was another food fest, Jocko’s for lunch. Only the best steak on the planet! Whooooboy. Not eating for the rest of the week!
As far as the roads, I don’t think it’s possible to find better driving roads than the Central Coast of California in the spring. Tight twisties? Got ‘em. High Speed Sweepers? Got ‘em. Rolling hills covered with green velvety grass and wild flowers and dotted with oak trees? Got ‘em. Long, lonely roads with no traffic? Got ‘em! Add neat cars and a great bunch of people and you can’t go wrong. We even survived the climb to the top of what one guy called “The World’s Longest Driveway” to the top of the mountains behind Santa Barbara. And the view was worth it!
I’d really like a chance to show off these roads to those prats on Top Gear. I’m issuing a challenge. Buy three British sports cars, pre-1970 or so and drive with us. Who needs a Veyron or a 911 GT3 when you can actually have FAR more fun in a TR3? I’d further have them reenact some of the challenges that Brit cars have inflicted on us over the years. Start with a “simple” tyre change, then, re-gap the points, then deal with a balky control box or (gasp) and SU Fuel Pump. Toss in some random Lucas glitches and Hey Presto, a great show.
I had a reader ask about why I don’t do the Go Pro route on these drives. He tried to follow on the ground view of Goggle Maps and got tired of a marathon mouse-click-a-thon. I can’t blame him. However, Go Pros cost a fair amount and I can get stuff like tyres or gas instead. Plus, why collect evidence that can be used against you?
The best part was of course the people. From our friends Graham and Fay from Australia, to the usual suspects, to the first timers, this group of about 25 were great to have along. Part of that is the fact that it was only 25 or so people. One of the problems with the old Iron Bottom was that it got too damn big. The last one had some 120 cars! What happens is that cliques form. You get to talk with fewer people. On the last one, a group of snobs rented a LIMO to go to dinner on their own, not wanting to join the rest of us. Most eateries can handle 20-25 people as a group. Eating together, staying at the same cheap-ass motel, bullshitting the night away, THAT’S what makes this truly enjoyable. So, my advice to any of you who want to organized this kind of motorized folly is to 1) keep the group in the range of 20-30 people. 2) pick great places to eat together, 3)stay at the same cheap motel, 4) let everyone go at what ever pace they want. It’s the camaraderie that matters, everyone’s car is Cool, everyone has fun.