fast cars

I like fast cars. I like driving fast on winding roads. Many of you who know me, know this, and some of you have experienced my lead foot tendencies. As long as I can remember I’ve been drawn to speed. It’s in my DNA!

In my youth, I lived on my bike. I’d ride everywhere. I’d jump curbs, build ramps to jump higher, find puddles to practice my “brodies”, ride with no hands on the bars, practice my “wheelies”, or throw old 33s (LPs) on the street to practice controlled skids with the brakes locked as soon as the back wheel would hit the LP.

As I got older, I rode mini-bikes, and then dirt bikes. My dad wouldn’t let me buy a dirt bike. I worked around that, though. He didn’t say I couldn’t build one. So, one day I bought a box of parts full of essentially everything needed to build a CR-125 (a Honda dirt bike). I don’t recall him objecting. Perhaps he was impressed with my ingenuity. I know he loved it when I built things. He was a carpenter and electrician, and I learned to build at a young age. With his encouragement, I built bikes, cars, a canoe, and ultimately all of the homes we’ve lived in. I digress.

Once I was driving, a fair amount of my free time was spent building cars that would handle well, riding my dirt bike, and skiing. Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this (at almost 58, it’s doubtful that my mom will ground me!), but I started doing a little racing on Mulholland and Angeles Crest Highway.

I grew up in a working class community, and many of my friends were kids of working class Finns. My parents didn’t have a lot of material possessions. It didn’t seem to matter. I had a fun, exciting childhood. Yet I dreamed about material things. As far back as I can remember, one of my most persistent fantasies was to one day own a Porsche. That, to me, was the ultimate toy! Over the years I’ve driven a number of Porsches, come close to buying them, yet I still have never pulled the trigger.

Around 2002, when we were already teetering on leaving L.A. but hadn’t yet articulated the Paso move, a friend of mine who had just bought a new Porsche Carrera, suggested we swap our cars for a weekend.  He knew how much I coveted his car! At that time I was driving a Mercedes E430. During that weekend, I took Adam and Anna, my two oldest, for a ride on the canyon roads near our home. One of them asked me why I don’t buy a Porsche. My response was that they were “my Porsche”, but when they were off the payroll, I’d buy one. Well, Anna is more or less on her own. Adam is a year away, and Karl is a couple of years from going away to college, and it doesn’t look like there’s a Porsche on my near term horizon.

It’s funny. I’ve never been afraid to write a large check for something I really wanted. Certainly owning the winery is proof enough! I guess I’ve generally listened to the pragmatic side of my brain. Case in point: For a time, Paula and I owned some land in Telluride. We came really close to building a ski home there. In the end we decided to sell it  (for a tidy profit!) to pay off the debt on our home in L.A. and to build a summer cottage in Canada, close to my extended family, and my birthplace.

Over the years, when the Porsche bug got a hold of me I’ve always yielded to a nice second choice and plowed those extra pennies into more vines, a new crawler, a better disc, sprayer, de-stemmer, press, tanks, truck and trailer…. You get the idea. There are a lot of “toys” in this business! Expensive toys!

So, I don’t own a Porsche. I do, however, drive other German cars at unnecessarily fast speeds on country roads. I don’t practice my “brodies” and “wheelies” anymore. I would probably kill myself honing my sliding skills on old LPs. 

I do get to ride my New Holland crawler on the crazy steep hills I farm. I am constantly honing my recovery skills when driving over an unexpected boulder or sliding sideways on the steep hills, usually at precisely the point that I’m at a precarious angle. I get to play with all kinds of fancy implements and move that heavy equipment around with my one-ton truck and hydraulic trailer. It’s not the adrenaline high of a Porsche. Or is it?

This has really got me psycho-analyzing myself now! Is it the speed that I’m addicted to, or is it being on the edge? Road racing, skiing down steep shoots or in the trees, driving a tractor sideways across a rock strewn hillside at a 30% grade, or ….. owning and operating a vineyard and winery, all seem to have an element of risk.

Okay, this is getting too deep! One of these days, I’m going to spring for a new Porsche. I’m going to put kukkula plates on it, and I’m going to totally revel at its agility on the winding roads. So, if you find yourself in my neighborhood and see a Porsche with kukkula plates coming up fast in your rear view mirror, might I suggest you pull over? I’m gonna pass you anyway!