In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder, Road Test Editor Zac Palmer, and Associate Editor Byron Hurd. This week as all about race tracks. Over the course of their careers (and a little on the side), our editors have had the opportunity to drive numerous fantastic circuits around the country and around the world, from Laguna Seca to Daytona to the Nürburgring Nordschleife. This week, they discuss some of their favorite tracks, the cars they tackled them in and the memories they made there. Scroll down to the rundown for links to some of the stories and reviews from these beloved circuits.
Send us your questions for the Mailbag and Spend My Money at: Podcast@Autoblog.com.
GREG MIGLIORE: Welcome back to the "Autoblog Podcast." I'm Greg Migliore. We have a special track special edition of the podcast for you this week. Automakers have a lot of track edition cars. That's what you have coming at you for this episode of the show. So I'm gonna bring in a few of my friendly hot shoes from the staff here at Autoblog.
We got road test editor, Zac Palmer, associate editor, Byron Hurd, and senior editor for all things green, John Snyder. What's gonna be fun about this show is over the course of doing this job, which is a pretty cool job on many days, you get to drive cars on tracks. That's just part of it. Sometimes, it's a little contrived. Sometimes, you sit back afterwards, maybe have a pint, and you think, what did I do today? That was pretty cool.
So over the course of that, it's a little bit Hemingway-esque. There's a little bit of a sense of adventure here. So with that, we're just gonna get right into it, go over some of the tracks we've gone on over the course of our careers, and have some fun with it. It's afternoon on a Friday. I have cracked open a Key Lime Lacroix. Hopefully, if you're listening to this, maybe you're enjoying something a little bit stronger.
So yeah. I will kick it off with a track that I thought was a lot of fun. I know a few of you guys have driven this, too. It's Monticello North of New York City. I guess you would say that's upstate New York iffy. I guess I should probably see what the Syracuse grad, Zac, thinks of that. John's driven that. I mentioned most of you guys probably have.
It's basically where JLR and sometimes BMW, they do a lot of events there because they're based in New Jersey. I remember when this place opened. There was a thought that it might be almost like a Formula One venue for the East Coast, which I could see that happening. It's a pretty interesting track. You could do different configurations of it.
It's challenging. It's meant to have that almost like Western Europe sense of grandeur that you see on some of those tracks. I don't know if I'd necessarily go that far, but it's a nice track. I think it's a lot of fun to drive. Driven several things, some JLRs. I actually did the 7 series launch there about six, seven years ago, which that was a fun car to take around a track.
It didn't get around quickly, but it got around with a lot of joie de vivre. Let me put it that way. So I think Snyder, you've driven Monticello. What do you think of it?
JOHN SNYDER: Oh, man, I loved it. I drove it in the BMW One series M Coupe.
ZAC PALMER: Jealous
JOHN SNYDER: Yeah, yeah. Dream car, fantastic track. It was a really good course for that car. You could really get it loose and just feel absolutely heroic. And then, you've got that straight at the end to get it all out at the very end before you go back into the pit or go back across the line.
But yeah, wonderful track. Not a lot of elevation change. So you can see things pretty well, and even someone who might be a little novice could feel pretty comfortable in that track. It's pretty wide.
But yeah, just a really, really wonderful course, some really nice sweeping curves. And if you've got something that you can turn the traction control off, you can get pretty loose and carry some nice slides around those corners.
BYRON HURD: Yeah, it's a really fun track. We drove the-- wow, it was the Toyota GR86 there at the launch last year. And it was the first time I'd ever driven there, and they gave us an intro where we took a short section of the track. And then, in the afternoon, they expanded it and let us actually run the full course.
And in that car, you really couldn't even get yourself in trouble. It's a very approachable track, but there were sections at the back straight where if you were in something high horsepower and maybe a little less friendly to a beginner, you could get yourself in trouble. There's a switchback section back there that's mean.
If you catch that curve the wrong way, and you've got too much momentum in the rear end, you're going for a very unpleasant ride. But, apart from that, it's just-- it felt very confidence-inspiring. I actually enjoyed that.
ZAC PALMER: I've never driven Monticello before, but on the topic of upstate New York, as as you mentioned there, Greg. I guess sort of but also not really. It's a very complicated thing when you ask somebody from Western or central New York, what is upstate New York? Because New York Cityers always say, everything is upstate.
But no, I really like to divide it between Western and Central, and Monticello is, well, I don't really think it's either of those. It's more it's just close to New York City. But back to race tracks.
GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. To be fair, it was a pretty short helicopter ride from New York City, which--
ZAC PALMER: Helicopter ride. Oh my god.
GREG MIGLIORE: Really awesome. It was a BMW trip. Let's put it that way. Put us up in Midtown Manhattan, and then, they're like, we're gonna chopper you up to Monticello. So, hey. It was a good time. Let's stay on the East Coast. VIR, Byron. You've driven a ton of things there. You actually lived in the DMV area for quite a while. I've never been to VIR. It's where a current driver does some of their-- what is it called, lightning lap?
Almost every OEM does something out there. GM really seemed to be into throwing Camaros and Corvettes around that place for a while. What's VIR like? Never been.
BYRON HURD: It's beautiful. It's nowhere. Most of the good tracks are in the middle of nowhere. But it's big, and it's fast. And it is a very intimidating track. It was built in the '20s, I want to say originally. And then, it was abandoned for many years, and then, they restored it and widened it, modernized it.
So it's safer than it used to be, but when I was first really getting into driving on a track, that was when that damn it, Tim, video was going around. Where the guy put an Audi R8 into the wall through the climbing esses. And it was a personal vehicle, so that's why he was so mad.
That section of the track is probably the most famous and the most intimidating, but god, it's so rewarding when you get it right. And flying through there in the black wings last summer was just an absolute blast. They did short us on the back straight. They added in the bus stop back there just to make sure we weren't getting too crazy with the speeds, but it was just as amazing as I remembered it.
GREG MIGLIORE: Anybody else been to VIR?
JOHN SNYDER: I have not.
ZAC PALMER: I don't here, either.
GREG MIGLIORE: That's interesting. Yeah, it's on the list. Yeah, I don't know.
ZAC PALMER: It looks-- From the lap times, it looks like a really long lap, honestly. I don't know if you can go ahead and attest to that, Byron. But one of the longer out there.
BYRON HURD: Yeah, especially if you're running Grand, which I actually haven't run the full Grand configuration. All the times I've been there, it just hasn't been available, so it's always been either East or West. Or just I've actually run the Patriot course, which is the interior part that part of lightning lap runs on that.
So like it's-- the interior is actually the most technical by far and maybe the least enjoyable sections. You really can't get any speed in there, and it's where a lot of people get in trouble, and bend a lot of wheels going off the curbs the wrong way, and stuff like that. So not my choice for VIR track days, but it's still VIR.
JOHN SNYDER: I remember Ariel used to have an experience out there where you could drive the Ariel Atom. and that was a bucket lift-- bucket list lifetime experience that I'd love to do. Trying the Atom at VIR would just be incredible.
BYRON HURD: It's also interesting just because it's located so close to NASCAR development. So a lot of road course testing was done at VIR. So, occasionally, you'd go out there for a track day, and you'd just see someone roll up in their-- whatever their marketing promo vehicle was. And it'd be Jeff Gordon in a suburban or something like that. Just like, hey, guys. We'll be on once you leave, so go fast.
JOHN SNYDER: That's amazing.
GREG MIGLIORE: Somewhat similarly to that, only, I think, just the ethos of the track and the vibe is totally different. But your anecdote there, Byron, reminds me of just the layout out at Willow, Willow Springs. There's the Big Willow, if you will. There's the Horse Thief Mile, which I've done quite a bit of driving on. More like the street layout. There's a lot going on out there.
I remember I was out there once for a Horse Thief Mile video shoot and some testing, and a bunch of GM engineers rolled up with one of the Camaro variants at the time. And it was interesting. It was late January. They clearly did not expect Autoblog to be there with a full video crew, and they were not too happy to see us.
But it was a fun track. Let me put it that way. You guys have driven-- let's see. Who's done Willow as I go through the list here?
JOHN SNYDER: I've done Big Willow.
GREG MIGLIORE: Big Willow.
JOHN SNYDER: I did that in a Jeep SRT8, which flying down that second-to-last turn where you just really pick up speed downhill in that heavy vehicle. And then, you've got that tight last corner after that was pretty harrowing, but it was really fun. I was really surprised with how well the Jeep handled it. Inspired a lot of confidence in going out on the road after. Felt perfectly comfortable in that car after that.
GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, it's an interesting course. I think it captures some of that West Coast vibe, too. What I think of VIR, it strikes me as in the middle of nowhere like you were saying, Byron. And Willow is just like, you're out in the middle of nowhere. I think it's a place called Lancaster, which is unincorporated territory or something out there. Maybe it's a small city.
And just even the drive out there is really nice, too. All the vistas you see. It's near, I think, an Air National Guard or an Air Force base. Speaking of random encounters I've had out there, some guy asked me if I was a flyer once. Because I think I was wearing aviators. I like aviators.
And it's like, no. And I didn't even know what he was talking about. And then, I Googled a little bit more about where I was, and I'm like, oh, cool. There's-- they fly fighter planes out from around here. So it's a cool track.
ZAC PALMER: It is. I've raced it a lot in Gran Turismo 7 now, actually. It's just all of the sand, it really strikes me as I've never been at any sort of a racetrack where there's just-- there's sand as the runoff as opposed to grass. And all these beautiful mountains in the distance. Just looks like a really, really awesome and alien place to run around at.
BYRON HURD: Yeah, there are a lot of those California tracks, too. Not just are they close to military bases or airports and stuff, they're also-- they tend to be close to prisons for some reason. It's just like, let's build it-- let's build a military base, a prison, and a racetrack. And just get all the undesirable people in one place.
ZAC PALMER: People who are not likely to complain.
BYRON HURD: Yeah, true.
ZAC PALMER: About the noise.
GREG MIGLIORE: You know you're going somewhere fun when you see the signs that are like, don't pick up hitchhikers. And you're like--
BYRON HURD: Yeah, there you go.
GREG MIGLIORE: --cool. Yeah, I'm driving this Lamborghini up the California coast. Let's just hope I keep doing everything right here and don't overheat or something. But the Horse Thief Mile over there is almost more like a film set to be perfectly honest. It's this track to the other side of the property.
Frankly, a lot of the terrain seems to get onto the the track, as I use air quotes. But we drove McLarens and Lambos on it, and it was pretty awesome. We did a Mustang versus Camaro comparison on it once, too. So that's pretty memorable.
And we actually were there right after Lexus was shooting some commercial back in the mid-teens, if you will. Right when they were really getting into some of the F Sport, all the variants, if you will. So, yeah. Friendly. Word to the wise for OEMs. There's a lot of film shoots going on out at Willow, so you know.
What do we think about some of the tracks in Michigan? This might be fun. Waterford is one. I know you've driven on there, Zac. It's actually pretty open to track days and stuff like that. So I drove an EVO there back in '08 and thought it was a riot. What have you driven up there, Zac?
ZAC PALMER: Waterford is easily my favorite track around here.
GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah.
ZAC PALMER: Mostly just because it's very, very short, very tight, and can have a lot of fun in my Integra out there. You can actually keep up with some of the bigger power things. And it's definitely an older track. Maybe it hasn't been maintained as well as a lot of other tracks. The surface can be a bit bumpy in places.
But I think it's really cool and very charming. You're almost always moving the wheel. There's the one back straightaway that, I don't know. I can get up to about 90, 95 miles per hour in my little 1.8 liter four cylinder. But, for the most part, you're just constantly moving left and right, a lot of different corners. And there's some actual elevation change, which you almost never see in this state, which is cool.
You can really get the rear end out there if you mess that up badly. And there's actually a swamp that you can put it in if you royally screw up the final turn as well. You can oversteer and send it into some water. Just probably not an obstacle you see on a lot of racetracks out there.
But yeah, easily my favorite around here, and it's cheap, too. You can go do an open track day for, let's say, it's $165, $175 bucks, and you get a lot of running time. So I've done a lot of open track days there and loved it.
GREG MIGLIORE: It's a nice way to spend the morning. I think they do open track days until October, even. Even up until October.
ZAC PALMER: I'm planning on doing one this October.
GREG MIGLIORE: There you go.
ZAC PALMER: 100% my plan.
GREG MIGLIORE: The only thing I-- and I would say, I don't like it, but it's so curby. That it's almost like, to me, it's more like an EVO, a Mazda 3 car. If you roll up in a Z06, you have way too much firepower for that track. Make friends with third gear and the brakes and just hang out. Because that's-- it is what it is. But it's fun. It's pretty fun.
ZAC PALMER: Last time I was there, some bro rolled up in his brand-new Audi R8 V10, and that was not the vehicle for the track.
GREG MIGLIORE: Fishing with dynamite.
ZAC PALMER: He was getting run around and lapped by every Miata around. So it's not the car you want there. Way too big, way too powerful.
GREG MIGLIORE: M1 Concourse, which is like the suburban one around here. It's in Pontiac, I guess, technically right off Woodward Avenue. That's another one that I almost would compare to a diet Monticello, and it's going for something. It used to be an airport, actually, like, I believe, Monticello.
And it's like-- it's just-- they're trying something. They're going for that sense of grandeur just a real-- they incorporate some different styles, and there's a little bit of elevation change there, too. That being said, it's still a pretty short track in the middle of the suburbs. So it's fine. It is what it is. I drove a McLaren on it. I imagine, probably, most of you guys have taken laps on it too, right?
BYRON HURD: Yeah. I was actually thinking, I don't really have anything to contribute to this part of the podcast because I've never really been on any Michigan tracks except at Proving Grounds and stuff, but I have actually driven M1. It was soaking wet. It was the Chrysler Alpha What's New event a couple of years back, but got to take--
JOHN SNYDER: I remember that day.
BYRON HURD: Took the Giulia out, and that was fun with all the nannies off. That was exciting.
GREG MIGLIORE: You were there for that, John?
JOHN SNYDER: No. James was there.
GREG MIGLIORE: Right. That's right.
JOHN SNYDER: Editing his stuff, and the videos and stuff that came in from that were hilarious.
GREG MIGLIORE: A lot of Autobloggers past, and present, and future at that one event. Yeah, that's an interesting track.
ZAC PALMER: I know that I've had a GT 350R, a GTI. I want to say one other thing, but I'm not remembering right now there. It's a great track. I don't think that it's necessarily a great track for a beginner because the walls are very close.
BYRON HURD: Yeah, they are.
ZAC PALMER: There is not much forgiveness if you screw up, but if you know what you're doing, you can have a lot of fun there. And I actually found-- so I did it forward and in reverse. And I found that the reverse orientation is actually more fun than the forward.
You end up getting a lot more speed up on the big straightaway there because you're-- instead of coming off the hairpin at the end, you're coming off a nice, big, wide sweeper. And, yeah, it actually becomes a much faster track than you would have thought. So really dig M1.
GREG MIGLIORE: That sweeper and that straightaway? You're literally-- when you're basically at the point when you see this-- the skyline of Pontiac. You really have to lift and to get on the brakes pretty quick because that's-- the tires are coming at you. You really need to get control of yourself, if you will. It's I don't know. To me, that would almost make that-- the course a bit better. It's just an extra 100 yards or something there where you could really just get on the car and see what you could do.
I somewhat stupidly had in my head that, I think, Andy Pilgrim, who's done a lot of different levels of racing had the-- including, I think, NASCAR, actually, road courses. --had the top speed record there. And I don't even know who told me it, and I thought, well, OK. I'm just gonna lay on the throttle. Just see just how high can I get this McLaren up to before I lose confidence?
And I forget what it was. IT could have literally been anything. The number I'll make up, I think, was in the 140s or something at that point before I just was just like, brakes. And then, there's a little bit of lock up and then just I wasn't going that fast given the conditions and the room. But I think that is the signature part of that track, which is, you know. I don't know.
Considering it's mostly a lifestyle and car show venue, which many are, decent track. So Mid-Ohio. We got to get to that one since we're in the Midwest.
JOHN SNYDER: Mid-Ohio.
GREG MIGLIORE: Who would put that as one of their top five? I'm curious. Does that rank up there for anybody?
BYRON HURD: Yeah.
ZAC PALMER: Definitely a top five for me.
GREG MIGLIORE: Top half of my screen. I'm gonna shut up. You two talk.
BYRON HURD: Zac.
ZAC PALMER: Yeah. So I've only actually driven it with one car ever. That's my dad's 1991 NSX. We were there-- yeah. Yeah, we were there as part of the annual NSExpo deal. So every single year, this NSX owners club goes to a different track around the country, and they run for a few days.
So I was there. I was a freshman in college. I was 18 years old, and we went down to this track. And it was wet but also on the path to drying. And if anybody's been at Mid-Ohio before, they know that track in the wet is sketchy, sketchy, sketchy.
BYRON HURD: It always rains for Mid-Ohio either before, during, or somewhere. Every time. Every time.
ZAC PALMER: Yeah. And so, this was my second track day ever, and they're over there explaining, all right. So there's this special surface down for the Indy cars. You have to take a complete opposite line than you would normally take. Otherwise, it's literally like you're driving on ice when you're driving on the proper line in the wet.
So I got to learn the opposite line from my first session. My second session, it was sort of drying out. So maybe you can add on to it a little. It's like, yeah, all right. There were two or three times where it got real squirrely just because literally it does feel like you're driving on ice. And then my final session, it was totally dry, and I got to drive the track how it really should have been driven. And oh my god, it's so much fun.
Madness is probably still one of my favorite corners ever. Yeah. I want to go back so bad and drive all of the cars there. So, Byron?
BYRON HURD: Oh, man. I would-- so many times-- oh. It's one of the first tracks that was actually a repeat for me, strangely. It was too far away from where we lived because I was still back in Maryland at the time. So there were weekends where I was leaving at 7:00 in the morning on a Friday to get out there, be there by mid-afternoon, and actually check in for the weekend festivities and everything.
But yeah. The wet line there is-- the very first time I was there, my instructor basically told me, we tell you not to drive this line when it's wet, but I'm gonna make you do it anyway. Because I want you to understand why you can't drive this line when it's wet. And, fortunately, I was in a front-wheel drive car.
It was my Mazda Speed 3, and it was on street tires. So I had enough voids in the tread to actually get around when it was wet. The poor Miatas just couldn't go anywhere, but yeah. A couple of laps doing that even at a moderate pace there while learning it? It really opens your eyes. Because yeah, they put down those patches because the big power cars, the big aero cars just tear up that part of the track.
And so, they have to patch. The patch is basically just straight tar, and yeah. It's useless when it's wet. But such a fun track. I've driven it in both the configuration with the bus stop on the front straight and without. And going into the keyhole is always interesting, but coming out of it and going down that back straight through the kink toward China Beach is either terrifying or exhilarating depending on the weather conditions.
But it's amazing. It's an incredibly technical track, and there's a reason it's a pretty primo venue for big series in the US. Because it's incredibly fun to drive, and it's compact enough that as a spectator, you can actually go enjoy it. Because you can post up somewhere in the infield, and you can actually see most of the track, unlike a lot of the road courses with that much elevation change.
Where if you're around the corner, you can only see a couple hundred feet. That-- Mid-Ohio, you can actually see most of what's going on around you.
GREG MIGLIORE: Visibility really, to me, is the great equalizer at almost any track. When you get into some different elevation changes, going back to Monticello a little bit, that's where, honestly, the nerves come up. And you almost, to me, almost my confidence gets a little less. Or you just do it, and you're like, hey, OK. Phew. That worked out. Thank god.
But to me, it's like courses where you have great visibility. It can really-- it lets you pick them up a lot quicker. Let's put it that way. Let's do some name brands. I'm looking through our list here. We've got Daytona. It's the road course but still Daytona. Zac, what was that like?
ZAC PALMER: Yeah. So even though it was the road course, you still get to go up on the banking, which is probably still the most memorable thing I've ever done on any race track. I was in the Acura NSX Type S, actually, earlier this year.
And we got to run it directly after this four-hour BMW endurance race finished under the lights, which is probably as dreamy as it gets for running that track. Just because they do the 24 hours of Rolex there. So you get to run it just like how they run it at night.
But so, I had driven this track hundreds of thousands of laps in Gran Turismo previously, so I had it memorized. But, frankly, nothing could have prepared me for going up on that banking, and just how steep and violent it really was. The way that you simply just get shoved into the seats as you're gonna around that, picking up more, and more, and more speed.
NSX is a really, really quick car, so we were going quickly. We had Ryan Eversley, who is a Honda factory driver, leading the way. He was not going slow, which I really appreciated. But yeah. Man, that's a huge, huge bucket list item for me and yeah. I will not forget that track. I'm not sure when the next chance is that I will ever get to run it but yeah. Even just-- I had two laps, two whole laps. But it was worth it and so much fun.
GREG MIGLIORE: It's funny, for the really memorable tracks, they can-- you can either-- for the really famous ones, if you will. You don't need a ton of laps. You just remember what it's like, that sense of presence. I drove the F1 course at Monaco in the Audi S3 a few years ago, but it was literally open to the public just because it was just some random day in, I think, November.
And that's just where Audi was doing the launch. They, of course, wanted you to work that into your story that you drove that course because it makes it sound even sportier than it was, but it was yeah. It's pretty cool when you can do stuff that. John, Indy. Road course, but Indy.
JOHN SNYDER: Yeah. That was really cool. I drove that in the Challenger Hellcat widebody and the Durango Hellcat. And it was just-- it's just such a cool venue with so much history. And then, the road course is actually pretty good. No real elevation change, but, man, it just feels great crossing the bricks in that last straight and just keep accelerating until that first corner.
Pretty harrowing, but also, it's one of those easy tracks to memorize pretty. Quickly. And we actually had a little chicane that they set up before the back straight to keep speeds down a little bit. But, man, even just standing next to the bricks and watching the Hellcats go by and listening to them. It was just really great experience for all the senses.
It's definitely one of those tracks that's memorable because of where it is and its history. But it's also a decent drive and a lot of fun. And I got to do it in some cool cars.
GREG MIGLIORE: I was driven around it by a-- let's see. It was a Chevy Indy 500 trip a few years ago in the-- not the Pontiac. I almost said Pontiac G8. Chevy SS, and it was pretty awesome. Not driving it, but just being in it and seeing the way the stands rise up.
That's a 100-year-old structure. It was one of the first great super speedways in the world, if you will. Literally double-decked sporting venues when it opened in 1914, 19-- early 19 teens. They weren't a thing, so just the way they hang over it? It's like a Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park vibe, and it's really awesome.
JOHN SNYDER: Yeah, I would love to go back. I would love to get a chance to drive the actual oval, too.
ZAC PALMER: Flat out, right?
JOHN SNYDER: --course is pretty sweet. Yeah, it'd be great.
GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, 9/10, right? That's how you're gonna take it.
JOHN SNYDER: Yeah, maybe. It depends on what car I'm in.
GREG MIGLIORE: All right, Laguna, Byron. That's a pretty big one. That's iconic. Corkscrew. I've stood out the corkscrew, but I've not driven it.
BYRON HURD: Yeah, I appreciated John's comment about getting to drive a course in a 1M Coupe because Laguna was M2 launch a few years back. So that's a similar experience. That was my first time at Laguna and so far my only time at Laguna, but, oh man, it completely lives up to the hype. The entire last third of the track is so technical.
And talk about elevation change and not really knowing where you're going. The first time you crest that hill before the corkscrew? They put out cones and all that stuff, but it was also their idea of the safe line for journalists who may or may not know what the heck they're doing. But you get up to the top there, and you've got the cone telling you, OK.
If you trust this, you're gonna be fine. And then, coming down on the far side of that and actually getting into the corkscrew the first time is one of the best roller coaster rides I've ever been on. And the M2? Talk about a great car for that kind of track because plenty of power for the straights and a wonderful chassis for the technical sections.
But talk about just bucket list tracks. Laguna's way up there, and I'll admit. Just no shame. They told us, as we're going out, if you're really confident here, you will go flat from that final turn all the way through turn one. Through start/finish, you will go flat, and the first time you come up over that hill flat will scare you to death in a street car. Because you're gonna catch air, and they don't tell you that.
And when you come down from that, and your suspension finally settles, you're aiming off the track at 135 miles an hour. So you need to be calm, collected, and comfortable enough to actually get the car turned to the left and set up for turn one. Or you're gonna have a very bad day. So that's probably the most intimidating track I've actually been on short of the Nurburgring Nordschleife, but that's a whole different kettle of fish.
GREG MIGLIORE: Tell us about it. Never been.
BYRON HURD: So I drove the Nordschleife. It was the first track I ever drove on. I was actually there on a post-college graduation trip, and we were there on a shoestring budget. I had a Skoda Fabia Kombi, which is basically a Volkswagen polo wagon, with a 1.6 liter engine, I think it was, that probably made about 95 horsepower.
And I got some passes in. I took out a group of college kids at a golf. So, for me, that was big. The little polo beating the big golf. So just constantly spending the entire time as far off-line as possible to let all the real cars go by was terrifying in and of itself. But you can't replace that.
And it's funny. When you-- my experience with it prior to that was driving it in video games, and the scale of it just doesn't translate to real life. That track is huge. Everything about that track is huge because they've widened it over the years to try to keep people from dying on it all the time. And it's just you get in a tiny little car out there in the middle of the track, and it looks like there's a mile on either side of you.
But once you get going fast, you realize how little that you can actually use. And how bad your day is going to be if you're in the wrong part of it, especially in a little street car that was a rental that I had no business whatsoever doing that with. But there was no way I wasn't gonna do it. So at this point, I don't think Enterprise is gonna come after me, but if they are, the damage has long been done.
ZAC PALMER: How are the cement sections in that?
BYRON HURD: Honestly, because of being in the little Skoda and being surrounded by people who weren't, I really didn't get to-- you didn't really get to play the carousel the way everybody else did. You just had to make sure you weren't in the way, but yeah, it's-- honestly, being a street suspension probably made it better because the transition from asphalt to concrete wasn't as dramatic as it would be if you were in a really stiff car.
So it wasn't as upsetting, and, frankly, I was just trying to make sure I didn't get us killed. So. Wild introduction to the track.
JOHN SNYDER: That's a track I would love to drive. I have this DVD that I bust out every once in a while, especially when a kid is over, and I hear that they like cars. I'm like, oh, check this out. It's 50 years of Formula One onboard, and it's just the greatest DVD.
But there's-- gosh, I haven't busted it out in a while because I can't remember who it is driving that. But just describing every little piece along the way. And in these old 1950s F1 cars, it just sounds so harrowing and just so dangerous and scary.
And I know it's been made more safe since then, but still, just knowing all the terrible things that have happened there would be in my mind when I would be driving it. But I still want to do it.
ZAC PALMER: Yeah. Even though it might be safer now, but I feel like it's still probably the most dangerous track that you could go on out there. Is there any other track in the world that just allows random people to roll onto it and just all run it once thing? I don't think that there is.
GREG MIGLIORE: It really fits in with that German ethos of on the Autobahn, you can go as fast as you feel as safe, essentially. And the cars are well-screwed together to handle such things, and yeah, it's really a unique thing. Honestly, I don't know if I share your interest in ever doing it to be perfectly honest.
I kind of want to do it. I'd like to say I did it, but it's extreme. Let's put it that way. So it's pretty cool.
BYRON HURD: I think the closest I've ever seen to that level of public access-- This is gonna sound weird. --is actually Holly Glenn at Holly Oaks ORV Park right here in Southeast Michigan. Because that's their fast course, and it really-- it's a big, quick dirt track. But I don't want to say there are no rules there, but you--
As long as you don't do anything ridiculous and get yourself actually thrown out of the park for being deliberately unsafe, you-- there are no speed limits on that track. There are no safety stewards on that track. It's pretty much just go, and don't do anything dumb.
And if you've got a 4 by 4 that can catch a little air, and it has a little horsepower, you can spend your 20 bucks and buy your wreck stickers. And go out there and just have a blast without any nannies, really. It's strange for an American environment, especially a public park, essentially. But so then, we've got a tiny, tiny little taste of that here, maybe. Kind of?
GREG MIGLIORE: Just a little bit.
BYRON HURD: Yeah.
GREG MIGLIORE: All right. Let's see. There's a track I want to throw in here. It's the Utah Motorsports Campus, Motorsports Park, if you will. This is the one that the car dealer, Larry Miller-- I think he owned the Utah Jazz for a while. Maybe he still does. I don't know.
But he was gonna do this as basically his own track, and then, there's a lot of car enthusiasts in the southwestern US. And it just grew, and they started having events. It's a pretty nice facility. For me, why this really resonated so deeply was I drove the Ford GT there.
BYRON HURD: Nice.
GREG MIGLIORE: Sometimes, the car, the place, the setting, it just-- it really sticks with you. It's a gorgeous venue with the mountains in the background. Some elevation changes, but it's not too wild. A couple of different configurations. I don't remember exactly how we ran it.
I feel like we ran half or 2/3 of it mainly because I think they just didn't want you to get too far out. Because it's actually a pretty long course, and the layout is something that I really like. There's a few long straightaways, if you will. Some of the curves are gentle.
There's only a couple of real hairpins that really-- you've got to really mind your P's and Q's and know what you're doing. It was cool. And then, they were like, it does have some grandstands, too. When it wasn't your turn, you could go up into the press box, and do your notes, or do your voice overs, or whatever it is you wanted to do.
So not only did you have the mountains and just this gorgeous setting, it was also like a stadium feel. Which definitely was an ego pump, and really-- I remember waking up for that track day because the day before, we went out there, and we had dinner. And they drove us around in transits just to show us the track.
And they don't always do that, and when they do that, you're like, this isn't exactly a focus two-lapper at the Ford Proving Grounds. This is like you want to get ready for this. Now, I remember waking up and at 5:30 in the morning, and I was ready to go. And for me, on a press trip, the adrenaline doesn't necessarily start at 5:30 in the morning. Let me put it that way.
And I was pretty psyched, and I remember I was with our producer, Chris McGraw. And we were being driven out to the track and Journey, "Don't Stop Believing" just came on the radio as the sun came over the mountains, and I was like, where am I? Is this real? What is this?
So it was pretty cool. I would say, to me, it was the highest level of a press trip where you feel like you can safely test a really high performance car, but it's not-- sometimes, you get on a press trip, and you're almost like, should we be doing this? This really felt to me, at that point-- and mind you, this is 2017. Me reaching the apex of my abilities.
To me, everything came together. I don't know. Hoping history rhymes as somebody likes to say, so that was good.
BYRON HURD: Yeah, well, that venue was their most organized because that's where Ford hosted all of its performance driving things for customers. So I bought my Fiesta ST new in '16, and ST Octane Academy came with the purchase. So they put you up.
All you have to do is get yourself there and back, and you get full day of instruction. They had a competitive autocross slash gymkhana thing. I came in third, got my trophy.
GREG MIGLIORE: Nice.
BYRON HURD: It was an OK day. But it was a lot of fun, and anyone who'd bought a Focus or Fiesta ST was out there. They also did it for the GT350 and the GT. And ST Octane Academy for the Hatches. I don't remember what they called it for the bigger cars, but it was a really good setup.
They did the same thing with us where we rolled around in the vans. They took us out to vantage points and let us watch the other students while they were doing their laps, so they could point out, OK. He's doing it wrong. He's doing it right. And then, in the afternoon, they let us go in a mixed group.
And then, they brought us back in and then had us go out in the hot shoe cars, so that we could ride and see how the pros are supposed to do it. And everybody was really upset on the focus side because they would only run the Fiestas. Because the Focuses would overheat with the factory performance drivers out there, but the Fiestas wouldn't.
So the Focus guys were super upset, because they wanted to be out there in their cars to see what they could do. And the guys were like, well, unless you want to see your car overheat, you're not going to enjoy that quite as much as you think you will. So that was interesting. That was an interesting trip, but I agree with you, Greg. That was about as well put together as those events get.
GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. It was pretty memorable. Let's put it that way, and it was fun, too, afterwards. Just, frankly, once you do something like that, you feel like you've accomplished something, so I had more than a few old-fashioneds in the hotel bar afterwards. Props to Ford for not having a big dinner the following night. They were like, you know what? You could fly out, if you want, which, OK. I don't really want to fly out at 8:30 at night transcontinental flight. Hey, charge your room. Great wood panel bar, steak dinners, old-fashioneds.
Literally-- I'm exaggerating a little bit, but you almost needed to have a couple of drinks at that point just to let your nerves simmer down and just soak in what you're doing.
ZAC PALMER: The [INAUDIBLE] was-- I got to spend 20 minutes in one three years ago. It was one of the rawest cars of anything that I've ever driven. Literally feels like an actual race car in many senses. And so, yeah, I completely get why you'd want to go have a few drinks after taking that very quickly around a racetrack. I would probably be in the same boat with you there.
GREG MIGLIORE: How about Thermal? That's a cool one. I've never done it. A couple of you guys have. What's that like?
ZAC PALMER: Yeah, Thermal. Man, that's probably one of the more recent tracks that I've been on. BMW had us out there last fall, and I got to drive a number of BMW M things. Probably the biggest fish in that pond was the M5CS, 627 horsepower. That was easily the most powerful car I've ever driven on track. Even more than that NSX Type S.
The thing is a ballistic missile, and there is a lot of room to let that thing loose on Thermal. Some really, really nice, big, wide sweepers, just tons of run off room. Very, very safe track. I like to compare it a lot to GingerMan in Michigan, honestly, in that it just felt like a safe place to be and a really great place to exercise a ton of horsepower, which is what we were doing with that M5 CS.
We had M3's, M4's in both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. And also, BMW M240 I's, so a whole lot of really, really quick BMWs and a lot of grip, a lot of really hot temps just because we were out in Southern California. But they were all happy to do it. And yeah I just really--
It's also similar to M1 in that it's this big facility and in the middle of nowhere. Thermal, California, which is 45 minutes outside of Palm Springs. And then, all of a sudden, you're in this massive BMW Center. But yeah, it felt-- really felt like a luxury experience in that this is where you go if you have a McLaren 765 LT, you go buy a garage here and then run on the weekends when you feel like it. So yeah. Thermal.
JOHN SNYDER: I drove Thermal in the Subaru WRX, the type RA. And then, the BRZ TS.
BYRON HURD: We were there together.
JOHN SNYDER: Yeah, we were. And I couldn't really get into it. Maybe I didn't have a car as powerful as the one you were driving, Zac. But also that day, it was really windy, and there was just tons of dust and sand blowing across the track. You couldn't see anything.
ZAC PALMER: Yeah. Yeah.
JOHN SNYDER: But you did have some space to let loose with the cars a little bit, especially the BRZ. So that was cool, but yeah. As far as those private club-type places, I choose Monticello every day. And then, there's one-- we'll get to it in a little bit. --Club Motorsports in New Hampshire, which was still being built when I was there. But that track was just amazing.
GREG MIGLIORE: I drove a track in New Hampshire once with a Challenger GT all-wheel drive. It was like a snow type of thing, though, where they do, I think, the Team O'Neil rally setup is there. Which is very cool. I actually got stuck in the snow, which we may have video of that somewhere. I hope we do, actually, because it was an awesome, awesome drive.
But what was that like? We actually haven't-- we probably should come back to some of these more deep cut tracks. That's one that's barely on my radar.
JOHN SNYDER: Yeah, so it was just being built when I did the Genesis G70 launch.
GREG MIGLIORE: Oh, cool.
JOHN SNYDER: And the track was finished, but they hadn't built the garages, and paddocks, and all the facilities. But we got to drive it, drive the G70 on that. A lot of elevation change, some blind crests into turns like-- remind me of Sonoma Raceway, Sears Point.
But really nice course. And then, a couple of weeks later, I went back and did it in the Challenger Hellcat Redeye widebody. And they had some other Challengers there like the Scat Pack. And it was really neat.
After driving it and those different cars, I actually liked-- my favorite car to drive that was the Scat Pack. It was actually a little more fun with a little less power partly because you're going into a lot of it blind. But sitting at the bottom straight watching the cars go by, I just remembered how silently the Genesis went by. Just phew, phew, phew.
And then, the Hellcat comes by.
It was just a completely different experience, but it was really fun in both those cars. And they also had a little karting track that they were building, and they let us do the four cylinder manual G70 on that little karting track. Take a couple of laps in that, which was just fun.
But overall, the actual track that it was beautiful. You're up in the mountains. It's right across the border from Maine. The drive there was gorgeous, and yeah, it was just a really nice track. Some technical parts, a lot of big sweepers in elevation changes and some blind crests. And it was pretty cool.
BYRON HURD: They had the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk launch there, too. So take the Hellcat widebody and add another 1,000 pounds. It was exciting, but it was a lot of fun. And you're right, that was beautiful. They hosted us in Portland in Maine. And so, that drive was really nice.
JOHN SNYDER: Yeah, I would love to go back there. That would be the place, probably, if I was gonna join a club somewhere. That would be the one.
GREG MIGLIORE: You mentioned Sonoma? I don't think we've actually managed to touch on that one yet. Lovely track up in wine country?
JOHN SNYDER: Yeah. So I drove it when it was Infineon Raceway.
GREG MIGLIORE: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
JOHN SNYDER: Between it being Sears Point and Sonoma Raceway. I forget what the driving school is out there, but they run-- they were running EVOs out there. So we got to do some laps in the EVOs, and that's one where you come around a corner and go up a hill.
And then, you can't see anything over the hill. You're going-- it's steep. And the instructor was like, yeah, you gotta aim for that flagpole or that light pole. I forget what it was, but there was a pole that you have to aim for. And that'll take you where you need to go, and it feels like you shouldn't be aiming for it. Because you feel like you're going off the track.
But then, once you crest, you're in the clear there. But that one, that was a fun track. And then at the bottom, it esses out, and then, there's a hairpin by some walls. So you got to-- that's one of those tracks where you've got to keep your cool on it and really try and look as far ahead as you can.
Remember what you can from previous laps and do your best not to do something stupid. But yeah, a really fun track.
GREG MIGLIORE: A couple of European ones I want to mention here. Algarve, which is in Portugal. That was a very memorable trip. Portugal is a beautiful country, frankly. I humbly suggest you go there if you can. Let me put it that way.
I drove the E63S. This was back in 2018, so it was a 603 horsepower twin turbo V8. So a lot of car to drive around the track. They actually even brought out the Hammer from way back the '80s. Didn't get a chance to get in that one because I was still on the track.
So I don't know. I don't necessarily feel too bad about that. I got another lap there, so that was pretty cool. And it's a pretty configurable track. We drove like you do at most of these OEM events, a version of it. Long straightaway. There are some stands there.
The curves are not super severe, which I think is cool. I pulled up a map here. It actually is how I remember it. You get through a couple of the more tenacious curves, and then, you get some room to run. And then, there's some curves that are definitely a lot more open, some sweepers.
It was for a little almost forgiving, if you will, for journalists, which I think was pretty good. They've done some F1 testing there, too, which was nice. Yeah, it's pretty cool place, I would say. Let me put it that way. It was definitely on the--
I put that almost in my memoirs at some point. Oh, hey, I got to do that. That was pretty cool. Another one that's also in that bucket-- I drove it around that same time frame. --is-- where did I go? I lost this here. Circuito Del Jarama. I think I'm mispronouncing that, but it's where they ran the Spanish Grand Prix for most of the '70s.
So that's pretty cool. It's more of a motorcycle track right now, and I drove the Audi RS3 there. So it was pretty awesome, to be quite honest. This is one that just a lot of history there, especially going back to, arguably, a real interesting time in F1. Not arguably, really one of the iconic periods when the sport was displaying a lot of growth.
On track too. An RS3 to me is like-- it's one of the ultimate track cars. You could get on a trip because you're getting all of that five cylinder power, and it just handles like a top to use that cliche. So it was really a good car for that kind of track where-- to me, sometimes driving on track events in Europe could be-- it could go one of two ways.
One, you could feel totally disoriented because you're in Europe. At this point, I had been in Spain for maybe the second or third time in my life. Where am I? What am I doing? Or, after driving some of those routes that car companies put you on through crowded, old cities. And sometimes in the UK, you're driving on the other side of the road.
You're on the track, and it all makes sense. There's nobody else around you, and you could just focus on the car. And that's how both of those experiences were for me. I remember there was rain involved a little bit, too. I think it was with the RS3.
I finished my lap. I had gone into the cooldown phase. The rain started. I hit the windshield wipers, put down the windows. It was another one of those just surreal moments. So a couple of cool ones. You know what, I'll stick with my mythical tracks here.
I drove Mont Tremblant up in Quebec. This was the Nissan Micra. You might remember that series. It was pretty fun. We drove the race cars. They were super easy to drive. Couldn't see out of them too well just because they're so small. But got--
It was a very interesting track, too, very underrated. You tend to think of Villeneuve in Montreal where the F1 races are around the Canadian Grand Prix. But this is like-- I would almost compare it to a Mid-Ohio or something.
Yeah. Food was good. Beer was good. Good time up there. Drove some Canadian race cars. It was one of the more wild experiences. If you're ever in Quebec, I recommend that and maybe seeing a Habs game, too.
All right. I think we've hit almost everything on this list. Is there anything somebody wants to throw in before we go to-- we can do-- We'll close things out with the OEM tracks, which I think is interesting. Anything I missed here? Last call?
ZAC PALMER: --one thing that I will throw out just because we're talking about things outside of the US. I got to do this Chelsea Walsh hill climb in the UK, which was-- well, it's the first original hill climb. It's where they held the first hill climb event ever.
And we got to do it in STIs and STI type RAs, which was a blast. It's a really, really short thing. It was only about 40 seconds from the bottom to the top of the hill, which is really neat. But it was me, and there were maybe 11 or 12 other journalists. And we were all basically just over there vying for the best time up this hill.
It was-- as you got further and further up the hill, you lost the guardrail on the side, and it was just a drop. It was a pretty decent drop on the left side, so you had to watch yourself there. But STIs were a pretty safe-feeling car to throw up there. Just hammer on the throttle, and let the all-wheel drive system figure it out. But that was honestly some of the most fun that I've had with any track, hill climb, whatever. Just the history there.
We actually got to walk it before we got to drive it, which was a hell of an ordeal, honestly. It was steep, and it's a lot longer to walk than it is to drive it. We were all-- everybody was drenched in sweat by the time we actually got to the bottom of the hill after walking up it and back. But yeah. Hill climbs. I want to do more of them now because this thing was such a blast to do.
JOHN SNYDER: And it's something I would love to try, is a hill climb. It just seems like fun.
ZAC PALMER: Oh, yeah. Pikes Peak. That would be the one. That's the dream one but yeah. Maybe one day.
GREG MIGLIORE: I've never done a hill climb. That's really appealing in some ways to me. Like, hey, it's almost like a different, I don't know, like fencing or something. Just a sport that's so different than some of the other things that you might be comfortable with.
ZAC PALMER: Just like Byron, actually, I also got third in that. They were keeping times. There was no trophy. I think I got a ribbon of some sort for third place. But fun nonetheless.
GREG MIGLIORE: Hey, a ribbon counts. That'll work, I think. OEM tracks. There's a lot of them as they all have to have tests, cycles, and ways to shake down their cars. I think the best one that I've gone on, the one I probably like the most is the Chrysler one in Chelsea. It's just-- it's not that hard of a track. It was one of the first ones I went on.
But I think the best one is the GM one. It used to be called the Lutz Ring because Bob Lutz was-- that was his thing when he came on as Vice Chairman and head of product. He was like, we're gonna make these good cars. He did a lot of--
It didn't always necessarily pay off. It took a while, but he-- I think he really changed the culture, and part of that was like, we're gonna make some of our cars go really fast. And you still see that with Mark Reuss, who's the President. And he really is a good driver and cares about enthusiasts and the sport, the sporting element of it.
But just-- you might not think this, but I drove a Buick Regal around the Lutz Ring. And it was all-wheel drive. It had that turbo four. It was basically an Opel. It was a hell of a lot of fun, and some of the turns were super tight.
There was a turn they called some sort of bull. I forget what exactly. It might have been the toilet bowl. I don't know. I can't quite remember it. But it was a really tight turn, and I remember I drove it. And my copilot, the engineer who was really a great guy. I remember I think I did a feature on him afterwards, this Buick chassis engineer.
He just went through it like you name it. He just really handled it so well. Great course, I thought. So that one ranks up there for me, I think, as far as the best of the proving grounds. But a lot of them are pretty good.
ZAC PALMER: Yeah. So I've been on the Chrysler one before, and that was good. Just like you were saying, it's a pretty straightforward course. There are some forests out there. I feel like you can go ahead and get something stuck in if you go a little too hard in a Hellcat, but, for the most part, it is relatively easy.
The one that I really liked was the unofficial Honda Marysville one. I say unofficial just because Honda doesn't technically own it, but Honda is basically the only one that uses it these days. Because it's right next to all of their facilities in Ohio. I got to drive a 2019 Acura NSX on this track, and it was a blast.
It was honestly one of the more technical tracks that I would expect from an OEM one. A lot, a lot of different stuff. You get up to a pretty high speed on on the big straightaway, too. Not much elevation change, and there wasn't much for scenery because you're in farmland, Ohio. But it was a really great track with all sorts of different corners.
Name a corner, and this thing probably has it on it. So yeah, it was a good time with a fantastic car, too. The NSX really-- that SH all-wheel drive system just hammer it, and it figures out a lot of things for you. And it's not-- it's never a sketchy-feeling car, especially when you're trying to learn a new track with it. It's just fast and safe-feeling.
GREG MIGLIORE: It sounds pretty good.
JOHN SNYDER: I've never driven any Honda tracks that I can think of, but I have been to Honda Twin Ring Motegi to visit the Honda collection hall there. And early morning, sun's rising, drinking coffee, watching the sun come up over the mountains and the race course there was really cool. Have either of you guys been there?
ZAC PALMER: Never.
GREG MIGLIORE: The road course at Twin Ring Motegi was pretty awesome, and it was pretty close to the Honda museum. So as I'm collecting my thoughts, yes. I have been in there. I think it's the same one we're talking about? Yeah, yeah. So it's funny because I guess I didn't totally realize at the time it was necessarily Honda's course. I thought they just taken it over.
But yeah. I did some Acura Hybrid all-wheel drive prototypes on that. It was super cool. It's actually the first time I drove a right-hand drive car, which was on the grounds. I was not disoriented by it, to be honest. I actually rather enjoyed it, and that's a cool, cool place.
JOHN SNYDER: Really cool.
GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, and the history. And then, you go to the museum, and you're like--
JOHN SNYDER: The museum's amazing.
GREG MIGLIORE: The museum. It's one of those things where you drive that track. But then, you go to the museum, and it's just-- it all comes together. It's pretty awesome.
JOHN SNYDER: That might be my favorite automotive museum that I've been to ever in the world. And I'm not a particular Honda fanboy at all. But gosh. Just incredible collection of cars and motorcycles that they have there. It's just really amazing to look at.
They've got a Senna F1 car there. That was-- my jaw dropped when I came around the corner and saw that. We did a video out there when Autoblog visited Japan. Myself, and Chris McGraw, and Alex Marlboro went out there and filmed a bunch of stuff.
And we spent one day out at Twin Ring Motegi and went to the Honda collection hall. Had some ramen in the cafeteria, there. It was just really, really special place. A pilgrimage I would recommend to any Honda fan.
ZAC PALMER: Yeah, I would probably lose my mind out there. I'm pretty sure. That sounds like a bucket list thing that I need to do.
GREG MIGLIORE: It was pretty epic. John, to your point, I just did a little fact-checking. Honda built the place in the 1990s. So, yes, it's definitely-- this qualifies here. And I remember thinking back to the road course was pretty good. It was really curvy, but it wasn't like--
And they actually had us going at pretty slow speeds, too, which, in hindsight, was frustrating. But also, just the flight over there is pretty exhausting. I remember at the time not minding so much that they're keep it at a lower frequency, so to speak. Yeah, it was pretty epic.
And then, you go see the museum and pretty great. Had a nice dinner in Tokyo, if I recall, later that evening. So it was really quite something. Cool.
Ford Proving Grounds? There's a couple of them. There's one in Dearborn. I've driven a bunch of stuff there, including a dump truck randomly. Yeah, that was super random, made a good video. Yeah. Mustangs, things like that.
For me, it's an old course that used to be, I believe, an airport. Notice a theme here. It's really close to Greenfield Village. Some interesting curves, things like that. I actually took a performance driving course there a few years, 10 years ago.
Have you guys seen the meme a few years ago? It's actually 2006 or something. You're like, oh, yeah. It was a few years ago, and you're like, yeah. 2011? Something like that? I remember I thought I failed, and the guy-- because I was all over the place. It was total mess.
And then, the guy handed me the certificate, and I was like, oh, I get it. This is what the instructor does, is he breaks you down and tells you everything you're doing wrong. But, oh yeah, actually, you're doing OK. This is how you do it better, though, and get faster. So that was a pretty good one.
Chrysler Proving Grounds. I believe they actually still call it the Chrysler Proving Grounds. I went offtrack a little bit in the large Chrysler-- Dodge Challenger before it was all-wheel drive. So this was '08, '09. I had gotten a little too cocky and went offtrack a little bit, went back on. I didn't go far offtrack.
It was one of those press events where it was the open house they used to do, where you could show up. And you could go offroading. You could go tracking, whatever you want to do.
ZAC PALMER: That one.
GREG MIGLIORE: That was a good one. So I think we've hit all of them. GM, Ford, Chrysler in this area, Honda.
JOHN SNYDER: I gotta say, the Ford-- I've done the Ford Proving Grounds in Dearborn, but they also have one in Romeo, Michigan where-- I don't know if they still do it, but they used to offer Aston Martin customers a driving course, a two-day driving course out there. And I did the one-day journalist version of it, and it was incredible.
They have one small track that's a copy of their track that they have at their Lommel, Belgium Proving Grounds. Then they have a hill track that we didn't actually drive on that one. But there's this big hill out in the middle of this field, and they have a track going around it. Lots of elevation changes.
And got to do a ride-along with a pro, and that was scary as heck because you're flying over crests, blind crests, at 120 miles an hour. And then, we got to drive the five-mile banked oval, which was fantastic, in the second-to-highest lane.
It's completely neutral going through the curves at 100 miles an hour. So if you're going 100, you don't need to steer in that lane. Just go straight. And then, as I'm driving past 150 miles an hour, the instructor next to me says, well, yeah, yeah.
The physics start to change when you cross 150 miles per hour. Some of-- if a turkey comes across, it would just bounce off, but now that we're going over 150, it would go through the windshield and decapitate you. It's like, oh, cool. Thanks.
ZAC PALMER: Fun fact.
GREG MIGLIORE: Something that you'd like them to tell you at the traffic or the shakedown ahead of time, the safety precautions. Look out for turkey.
JOHN SNYDER: Or just wait till after, completely afterwards, than not tell me as I'm crossing that 150 mile per hour line that a turkey could kill me. But they also have a mile-long drag strip. That was really fun, too. That was a really cool spot, and I'm glad that they open it up to at least some of the public, the very wealthy public.
GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. I did an F-150 offroad drive up there, and talk about challenging offroad courses? I don't know if it's intentionally this challenging, but you're in the middle of Northeast, I think, Macomb County, Michigan, North of Detroit. You're out there, and it's pretty raw and uncut.
And I remember some of these F-150s, I was thinking, I don't really think many F-150 owners are gonna be doing this with their trucks here. And then, afterwards, like what you said, John, there. Where they're like, by the way, they're like, yeah. By the way, we almost didn't do this because it rained, and it's a little cold. And, basically, the trails were washed out. Whoops.
Really glad I didn't know about the turkeys running around though, either. That would have gotten in the way because you're really out in the middle of nowhere. It's a pretty cool place.
ZAC PALMER: Yeah, they've got deer out there, too. They've got people, I think, driving around the grounds and trying to spot them, too. So giving you a heads-up. Yeah, fun place.
GREG MIGLIORE: All right. Well, we've somewhat thematically talked about having a few after your track day. It is the waning days of August. By the time this drops, it will actually be September when you're listening to this. It's for Labor Day weekend, so it could go either way. Last week in the summer. Maybe Tuesday afterwards of Labor Day. It's fall as far as a lot of people are concerned even though it may not be super hot. Long story short, you can drink whatever you want. What are you drinking this weekend?
JOHN SNYDER: You know, I've got some stouts that have been sitting in my fridge downstairs for a few years, and I picked ones that could age well and just didn't touch them. But there's an Odd Side of Ale's bourbon barrel aged Mayan mocha stout with my name on it.
I know it's not really the best hot weather beer, but it's got that heat to it from the chili peppers in it. And it just sounds so delicious right now. Sounds almost like drinking ice cream.
ZAC PALMER: I honestly went a very similar way as you did, John, with my grocery shopping for beer this week. I went and picked up a Dogfish Head pumpkin ale. So--
GREG MIGLIORE: You guys are not messing around here.
ZAC PALMER: I went full fall. I don't know if that was the greatest choice. I also got a six pack of Oberons just to balance out the summer and fall vibes. Just whichever one I'm feeling, but yeah, no. I've already tried one of the pumpkin ales, and it's very good. It's got nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and pumpkin in it. And it just tastes like Halloween. So.
GREG MIGLIORE: You guys are not messing around here. It's a little cooler today when we're recording it, and around September, the temps start to twist a little bit early. I always like that, actually. I'm working my way through a case of the Alaska Brewing Company, and it's a variety pack. So it's pretty good.
JOHN SNYDER: Yeah, they've got some good stuff, man.
GREG MIGLIORE: Well, I've been trying all of it. Let me put it that way.
ZAC PALMER: Yeah.
JOHN SNYDER: Yeah, I remember having that when I went on a cruise there once and was like, wow. This is really good. And then, they started popping up in Michigan, and it's like, all right. Yeah, it's good stuff.
GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah the pilsner's nice for more mid-August. You get the IPA. It was a juicy IPA, a little bit higher alcohol level. But that's a nice really all-year-round beer. And then, like you guys, I've got a few of the Ambers, which, to me, is the quintessential fall beer. So I will be popping those probably really starting any time. But, essentially, as you move into September, to me, Amber ale is the go-to choice. So.
ZAC PALMER: Beer enough.
GREG MIGLIORE: It's been fun hanging out with you guys.
ZAC PALMER: Same.
GREG MIGLIORE: Cool. We'll have to do more of these track shows, more maybe special shows, if you will. Listeners, let us know what you think of this. Get in the comments. Send us your feedback, your spend my moneys. That's Podcast@Autoblog.com. If you enjoy the show, this show, any show-- And we hope you do. --please give us five stars on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, wherever you get the show. Be safe out there. Be safe on the track, and we'll see you next week.