Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"It's the future!"

I'm not a gear-head.  Really.  The roar of an internal combustion engine doesn't quicken my pulse or dilate my eyeballs.  I'm not in need of that substitute for coffee? booze? sex?  Sure, cars are fun, and some are beautiful, but the need for power recedes as age proceeds, and besides, smart phones are actually cooler.

Nevertheless, a recent ride in a Tesla Model S did get my head to swivel a little.  The fully electric high-end sedan by the California-based car maker is nothing short of a revolution.  It's the advent of something new that is only just beginning.  As it turns out, we owe American ingenuity in this field to yet another first generation immigrant.

At times like these, I retreat to my iPad (don't they have interesting batteries too!) and look on YouTube.  There, I find comfort in videos where British gear-heads scream like children about cars.

As I watch, I conclude that being a journalist for the site "Autocar UK" has got to be one of the great jobs ever, presumably with a job description that reads something like: drive the world's most innovative, interesting and fastest cars and then talk into a video camera for ten minutes about the experience.  Well, Autocar's Steve Sutcliffe does just that about the Model S, and his verdict: "This is the future!" 

Since these kinds of things can be addictive, I seek out more videos.  Former Autocar guy Chris Harris now has his own site where he does much the same thing as Sutcliffe, reviewing really fast, really exotic cars.  His site is called "Drive" and there, after a quick search, I find him in a very special car.  The car he's describing isn't just any old electric car.  It sits at the front edge of human terrestrial motion.  His review can properly be called "a rave" because raving actually describes what he's doing.

British race car driver Paul Drayson, also known as Lord Drayson, took a gas-powered Lola to LeMans and raced it.  He came in third.  He then stripped out all its combustion components and replaced them with electric motors and batteries.  The resulting car goes well in excess of 200 mph in a straight line and emits zero CO2.  It also doesn't make your eyeballs dilate.  At least that wasn't what Chris Harris noticed.  What Harris did notice, however, was that this car made his eyeballs bobble around in their sockets, so great was the speed he achieved on the test track -- which actually turned out to be an abandoned airstrip.  His verdict of this car: "It's the future!"

Like two pioneers into some unknown land, these two adventurers have traveled into the future, our future, and returned to tell us the tale.