A brief note on the text:
This entry is fiction. The car is very much real, and I really do care about it this much. The setting is absolutely correct. I own all the clothing I mentioned, and I am quite familiar with the car and the road. That is to say, this could happen in real life; indeed, I intend for it to happen some time in December. Such a feat would be the absolute limit of this car's performance, and I would be enourmously satisfied about it. No one would ever hear the end of it.
I put on my black wool coat over my black button up shirt, black Pumas, black trousers, and pulled on my black cap. I walked outside in the twenty-degree weather to the car, a black 1995 Ford Probe GT 5-speed.
My beloved Grace.
Was she underpowered? Yes. Was she showing her age? Yes. But for all that, she still handled very well, responded very precisely to the controls, and was, to me, sex on four wheels. It was a lot of car for very little money.
And so, with that in mind, I got in. The car was freezing, but I did not mind. I strapped myself in, twisted the key, and felt myself light up as the crank turned over. I strapped on my driving gloves, released the handbrake, and headed north to Georgia State Route 108.
Here I was.
Waleska, Georgia, was a quiet place any time of the year, but in the middle of winter, with the college empty and everyone inside at sunrise on a Saturday morning, it was a ghost town. The gas station was closed, and the fire trucks were still closed up behind frosty glass panes. I shut off the car on the shoulder of the road just on the southern edge of town, and opened the doors, hatch, and sunroof. The car had gotten hot on the drive up, and while this was a desireable condition for the tires and coolant, the cabin was most comfortable at a bone-freezing chill.
I looked a few hundred yards down the road, where the pavement gently dropped into a notch in between the hills and slowly curved off to the right. Simply beautiful. I watched my breath cloud in the air before me, and considered the speed limit sign in front of me.
Fifty-five miles per hour. Huh. Roughly eight feet per second. I knew for a fact there were no cops about this morning, and the road was clear.
That limit would fall today. One-oh-eight was remarkably well-kept for how important it was, having been largely superseded by the wider State Route 140. It was wide, with fresh asphalt along most of its length.
Of course, I thought as I got back into the car, fifty-five was not the actual limit. Never was. The police would only ticket someone doing sixty-five or greater, and my usual personal goal was the most appropriate one hundred and eight miles per hour. Today, though, the goal was different. I had stickier tires, fresh oil, and high-test gasoline.
I strapped myself carefully in and adjusted the bolster, considering today's objective. I would double the ticketed speed limit. One hundred and thirty miles per hour. Yes. I heard the engine settle into its idle. I rolled up the windows and returned the sunroof to its default position to clean up the aerodynamics. I pulled onto the road, stopped the car, and snapped my knuckles and started the stopwatch. This was it.
I put the car in first gear, and dropped the clutch at three thousand revolutions per minute, just as the powerband opened. Second. The car rocketed past the speed limit just as it passed the sign. Third. The engine screamed as I sped around the first curve. Fourth. Through the next curve, third. Out of the curve, fourth, and then fifth as the car hit eighty in one of the longer straights. Ninety, one hundred, one hundred and ten. Doing good.
And then it hit me: The brakes. I had neglected to warm them up sufficiently. I put down the center pedal to the point where warm brakes would nearly lock up the tires, just shy of engaging the anti-lock system. No effect. I floored the pedal, and felt the satisfying banging of the anti-lock braking pump engaging its valves to satisfy the demands of the control computer. The brakes were warm now.
That was quick.
I was down to sixty miles per hour, and I'd have to remedy that if I wanted to go anywhere fast. Fourth gear, three thousand revolutions per minute. Third gear. The tachometer needle seemed to ignore the six altogether as it passed it by slowly going up and quickly going down. Fourth gear again. A long, sweeping curve, and the front end began to challenge me as the tires began to overheat. A little trail braking, and the understeer rectified itself, as the car put its front-heaviness to good use. Here it came. The shoulder on either side began to drop off, leaving the road on a little ridge roughly ten or fifteen feet up. No pressure here.
I left myself no room, taking the perfect line through the corners. Screaming tires accompanied the next sweeping left, drowned out by the roar of the engine up the next hill. I crested the hilltop, and saw what may be the most dangerous corner on the course. A fairly hard downhill right, it was possible to hold speed in the turn, but to do so risked sliding off the outside, to certainly meet one's fate. I had already decided my approach.
Obviously, the understeer that plagued the car would be fatal, so I swerved into the left lane just before the corner, sharply tapping the brakes just as I executed an overly-violent turn-in. The front end bit down on the pavement and steered hard, just as the rear wheels lost their grip. Was I foolish? Probably. But I had just executed textbook lift-off oversteer, and I was that much faster for it. The next bit was simple.
I straightened the wheel, put the throttle to the stops, and braced my left foot to the dead pedal. Certainly, oversteer was more than a bit terrifying at these speeds, but it was only a little bit, and I was on a mission. What would've gotten me killed in a car of a different layout proved my savior in this one. The car slid perfectly through the corner, the oversteer lessening as it exited, having pointed at the exit the whole time.
Three more corners remained, and I was only doing eighty. Clearly I had to remedy the situation. I slid the next two curves, exiting faster both times, and floored the gas as I looked down the straight before the third turn. It slowly banked, and the curve went up the side of a hill before a sharply-cambered twist into a hard downhill left. I passed a sign warning me of a danger I already was aware of. The sign advised me to drop something like sixty miles per hour to meet its recommended thirty-five.
Never! I swerved earlier here, as the cambered entrance required, and simply released the gas a little bit. It was enough. Through careful attention, the car slid perfectly through the corner all on its own, leaving me plenty of time to downshift from fifth to third. I finished just in time to face the exit. I had roughly a third of a mile down a sharp incline to cross the bridge. This was my chance.
My fingers tightened on the wheel as my right foot went to the floor and my left foot hovered over the clutch, waiting to strike. Now! My right hand and left foot moved like lightning itself, and without any intention of mine, the car was in fourth gear, screaming past one hundred and ten miles per hour. Again! At one hundred and twenty-five miles per hour, fifth gear was just what I needed. The shock terrified me as the suspension hit the bridge at one hundred and twenty-nine miles per hour. And then it happened.
Time did not stand still. I know it was just adrenaline in amounts I had never experienced before. But it was as if I could feel individual pulses from the spark plugs, and see every needle on every branch of every one of the pine trees. I looked down in what felt like an eternity.
One hundred and thirty-one miles per hour at six thousand and nine hundred revolutions of the crankshaft per minute. It was done.
My foot stopped trying quite so hard to snap the throttle cable, and my hands gave up their attempt to crush the aluminum frame of the steering wheel. As I came up the next hill, the car was still at full throttle at triple-digit speeds, but something had changed. For the next couple of miles, I continued to fling myself and my car into corners at ridiculous velocities with a near-suicidal disregard for my own life and personal property. But now I was without the tension that had previously followed me. The car seemed to pilot itself. I disregarded all signs, and seemed oblivious to the brake pedal.
I saw the warning sign for the upcoming junction with Georgia State Route 20, and waited for the rumble strips. I then released the gas, downshifted, and nailed the brakes. Carefully keeping all four tires at the limit of their traction, I brought the car to a halt and stopped my watch.
I pulled into the crosshatched area near the junction, put it in neutral, and set the brakes. I got out of the car.
The air smelt of sulfur from the burning rubber, and I could feel the heat radiating from the brake rotors. I popped the hood, and was greeted by a blast of hot air. I propped up the hood to let the car cool itself a bit, and looked at the watch. I had covered just under ten miles in five minutes and fourty-six seconds, for a rough average speed of one hundred miles per hour. I yelled in victory, and no one heard.
That was fine. Their loss. I finished my reflection, shut the hood, calmly returned to my seat, put the car into gear, and drove home, listening to light music.
I found myself at home at around eight thirty, and I went to my room quietly, changed into pajamas, and crawled back into my bed to dream of camshafts and connecting rods.
No one would ever know.