DWA!

DRIVING WHILE AWESOME

Experts in Automotive Opinion

The Rolex Pre Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Most of you know about 'Monterey Car Week'. When I started going as a kid, there was the historic races at Laguna Seca and the Pebble Beach 'Concours D'elegance'...that was it! Now The whole week is full of events for the car nerd. The week kicks off with 'Concours on the Avenue' on Tuesday Morning, but the not so secret hidden jem of Monterey Car Week is the Rolex Pre Reunion races held the weekend before car week. 

We have been attending this event for the last few years and we think it's better than any event during car week. If you want to join us next year, just let us know and bring your tent, because we'll be camping out at turn 6.

Below are some of our pluses and minuses when compared to the Reunion the following weekend.

Pluses:

  • Roughly 70% of the racecars
  • No traffic
  • Easy parking right next to the track
  • No crowds
  • $30 entry fee to the pits, or watch for free from anywhere around the track
  • You get to hang out with us (camping while awesome)

Minuses:

  • Roughly 70% of the racecars
  • The "parking lot car show" isn't that great

I'm Easily Annoyed (Design Rant)

Coming from a fine art/design and industial design background, I notice a lot of little things that most people would never notice. 

Just the other day I was following a 2006-2011 Toyota Camry and found myself getting worked up and bothered because the bottom of the tail lights change angle between the fender and the trunk. The difference is very small (about 4 deg), but that is the biggest problem. In design, one of the worst offenses is to have something a little off like this, because it just looks like a mistake. In this case, they should have made the line perfectly straight or dramatically change the angle. 

Now for the big one that has bothered me for at least 10 years...the logos on the back of the Toyota FJ Cruiser. The chrome logo on the car and the logo on the spare tire cover don't match at all as illustrated by the picture below.  The angles on the 'F' and 'J' on the car are off by about 9° and the angles on the tire cover are off by about 21°. You can also see that the width of the letters is way off. 

I could almost accept stuff like this on a handmade supercar, but we expect more from our mass produced cars, and you wouldn't expect this from a Japanese company.

Is anyone else bothered by these or others? Leave a comment with things like this that annoy you.

 

r-elfer Interviews DWA!

We recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by r-elfer on his popular Instagram page. 

Read the interview below and go to the r-elfer to view the interview with pictures.

http://www.r-elfer.com/#!5-Questions-5-Pictures-Interview-with-members-of-DWA-Podcast-Driving-While-Awesome/c1kiu/56f95e3f0cf226b8e6847f49

5 Questions 5 Pictures, Interview with members of DWA! Podcast (Driving While Awesome).

1. You guys started this gig out of a 24 Hr of  LeMons race, tell us about the race, the car, how you didon that race and how the hell did you go from a race to starting a Podcast?

Shitbox racing! Bryan read about the first race in AutoWeek, and we were quick to assemble a team and kill it on our application video to get accepted. Our first race was the second @24hoursoflemons race ever, this one back at Altamont, and the salvaged title Porsche #944 (car 44) we put together felt much faster out of the turns than everything else on track. If we had known anything about anything we might have been contenders, but between the unnecessary use of drifting on track, and the necessary use of sledgehammers and welding equipment off track, we ended up finishing in 44th place, mid-pack, with a beat up car and giant dirty grins on our faces. So much fun. The racing was really dirty back then, you should check out our YouTube videos to see what the early days were like.

As for the podcast, at the root, LeMons worked for us because we've got a solid group of car nerd friends who are down to make it happen, and it’s the same with this project. Years after the LeMons team broke up, Lane and Bryan were carpooling together and wanted to make something valuable out of the 3 hours on the road every day, so they began recording their endless car chatter as the "Skyline Chronicles" (never published).  It's not a big jump from those twice daily in-car Tascam recordings to our now twice weekly show with the four of us and real microphones.

 

2. Can each one of you, briefly describe who you are and your first Porsche experience?

Lane Skelton (@laneskelton): Family man, slangs carbon fiber for exotic cars @MAcarbonfiber and resident Porsche geek. I have had a thing for Porsches since I can remember, but my first Porsche will always stick with me. At 17 I purchased a 1974 Porsche #914 in Phoenix Red that I wish I never sold and to this day I can still smell the oil burning off the heat exchangers.

Bryan McQueen (@mcqueenracing): Past SpecE30 builder/racer and present project car neglecter. Porsche's "Are You Listening" 993 promo video (and the quotes by Hurley Haywood) made an impression on me in high school, along with a notable tail happy back road ride in a friends SWB #911T, but my first real Porsche experience was driving Lane's #996. Being kind of a cheapskate when it came to cars, I remember the direct steering feel and great visibility alone convinced me of the substance behind the Porsche hype.

Warren Madsen (@viewology): I was aware of the Porsche brand at a young age and about the time I learned to pronounce it properly, a family friend gave me an impressionable ride in a black G-body. I still remember the rear squat on acceleration. As a teenager my favorite Porsche, the #993, was born and I watched the GT1 scream around Laguna Seca...obviously, I was listening.

Art Cervantes (@artsees): Work in tech, but live and breathe automotive everything. Love RWD, lightweight, balanced cars and have been known to be absurdly pedantic with automotive spec minutiae. First Porsche experience, that I remember, was in the back of a family friend's #928 in the late 80's. I remember climbing into the back, sinking deep into the seat, and thinking the car felt and looked like a spaceship.

 

3.Tell us about the DWA! podcast, how has that grown and who is your audience?

In the beginning we were expecting to last maybe seven episodes before we ran out of new things to talk about, but with about two years and 120 episodes under our belt, without missing a single week(!), even posting twice a week we should be able to keep it up for a while. At the moment we have an estimated audience of a few thousand regular listeners and it’s been growing steadily and from all over the world, mostly from word-of-mouth thanks to people who simply dig what we do.

The content in our feed is usually related to what we discuss on our program(s). The podcast has been closely linked to our social media efforts, especially Instagram, where we share our daily automotive experiences. All of our content comes from us and we’re sharing what we think is awesome, from a more approachable and fun perspective than is possible with the run-of-the-mill supercar stuff - of course adding a generous dose of genuine opinions. It all follows our interests.

Our audience is a mix of DIY'ers and folks who appreciate getting into the finer details and nuances of automobiles and the ownership experience. Like us, our listeners tend to be more in tune with cars beyond the numbers and are folks who love to drive. We hear from people that the podcast is saving them on their long commutes, that they’ll turn it on in the background when they’re wrenching in the garage, or that it’s working as a stand-in for a car hangout session, when maybe they don’t have as many car friends around as they used to.

 

4. How do you guys chose your topics and what do you consider a really successful podcast?

We don’t usually pick topics, just mash on that record button and end up covering what’s top of mind; what’s been happening in our personal automotive lives over the past week, car projects, events we go to, craigslist and @brzo_app searches, audience questions, current events, sometimes talking to guests about their car history, and always trivia with Warren.

One type of a successful podcast is when we start hashing ideas out and going deeper into a single topic. With several of us in the room there’s a good chance that one of us has a different opinion about the new 911R for example, and it’s great to be able to dig in and understand why, where do the differing thoughts come from, what does that mean about the car, the market, human behavior,  future purchase potential, etc...  When a podcast goes well we seem to be uncovering a better understanding of some detailed part of the automotive world. Of course, at the same time we probably have listeners in their car yelling at their radio because they’re experts and we’ve totally got it wrong, but that’s probably part of the fun too.

We hear from listeners that the personal stories are entertaining, which is probably when we’re talking about past screw-ups, sketchy situations, things getting weird, that sort of thing - and that definitely comes up. Which ties into probably the best indicator of a good podcast, how much we’re laughing. It’s great to look at the audio waveform of the recording afterwards and see where Warren came up with some funny term and the audio levels are peaking off the charts because we’re cracking up.

 

5. What you guys do is a lot of work and dedication, what do you guys get out of it?

It’s a chance to escape from the daily grind by getting together with friends to immerse ourselves in what we’re all passionate about. It’s our vent for the automotive thoughts of the week. There’s always that project you’re working out in your head, parts purchase to make, or car that you’re poking around on Craigslist for (you probably don’t need another car btw), and it’s great to be able to toss thoughts out to a hungry audience of critical friends and discuss, and then hear more back later from our bigger audience. It’s not much different than any car buddies hanging out chatting, just amplified, when you turn the recorder on and have a dedicated time each week it seems to attract a little more focused thought and then turns it to a conversation with many more like minded individuals. It can feel like a little community, helping you make the right decisions, motivating you to do cool stuff, rightly making you feel guilty for blowing it, and challenging your opinions in a good way.

Also, it’s turned out to be a great way to connect with both the auto industry and our audience worldwide. Each of us will always be into cars, and so making connections through DWA spills over into our personal lives and allows us to get more out of this hobby. With the ease of connecting through social media today, and so much good stuff going on - rad #adventuremobile and sports car builds, cool aftermarket companies, auto manufacturers releasing interesting products, other automotive podcasts, auctions, track days, back road rallies - it’s fun to add our two cents and just be mixed up in it all.

 

 

 

DWA Coastal Range Rally 2016

Any gearhead is familiar with rallies, but no one has quite been able to pin down an exact meaning. We're all familiar with stage rallies, regularity rallies, rallycross, and road rallies. Rallies were the precursor to most modern forms of motorsport, and yet, none of that has much relevance to the DWA "Coastal Range Rally".

In the old days, it was about survival. Guts. And camaraderie. And that's what DWA sought to recreate on a sunny weekend over some of the best roads in California.

It all kicked off at a franchise coffee shop in the lovely coastal town of Carmel, CA.

The main difference from the usual concept of rallying as we know it was that the ultimate list of entrants was culled from a list of applicants who were chosen based not on speed or efficiency but on being awesome. And we offer our sincere apologies to those who did not get in.

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Jay Leno once said that rather than cars that make people say, "You showed up in that?", he prefers to drive cars that make people say, "You showed up in that?"

Unfortunately, the very nature of having a classic that needs miracles to complete journeys implies that you're living very close to the edge.

For the team in this 240Z, the miracle never came, and shift linkage failure past the 140 mile marker left them stuck in 4th and unable to continue their journey once they arrived in Paso Robles.

Not every car that was accepted into the rally was able to come along. As for this author's Porsche, which is Arena Red, optioned to the hilt, and now old enough to drive, it was not able to come along on this rally. A broken suspension piece the weekend before the rally sealed the deal and thus my daily driver, this Scion FR-S with "C Stock" class modifications, would be my chariot.

Others' fate was sealed in similar ways. The owner of this Ford Ranger was supposed to bring his '69 Austin Healey, but electrical problems set him back. No worries, because even this ultra-clean truck is awesome (!).

Our first stop was at a gas station along the way.

I wonder how the people who work at these remote gas stations feel when a caravan of cars comes rolling through. On one hand, cool cars surely aren't common in the middle of nowhere. On the other hand, these stations are right off an awesome road, so maybe these sightings are normal?

We continued to the fork in the route. At this point, participants had to make a choice: the shorter route, which contained a hard-packed dirt section, or the longer route, which was entirely tarmac.

It seemed like the majority of people wanted to do the dirt route, which made sense.

However, I chose the tarmac route for exactly one reason: I was following Art in his 993, and he had chosen the tarmac route for fear of damaging his car on the dirt route. This turned out to be a fairly ironic choice, because the route we took was clearly not in constant use, and as such was littered with rocks. I destroyed my windshield and got plenty of rock chips all over the front of my car on this part of the route, but was it worth it? Oh yes. Live by the sword, die by the sword, as they say.

The funny part was that we weren't even the only ones meeting up at this particular desolate junction; across the street was a group of motorcycles.

It's incredibly relaxing to hang out in such a peaceful place, but we had roads to drive. Onward!

Our next stop was the Parkfield Cafe, which lies right on the San Andreas Fault, and is one of the leading places in the world for earthquake research, believe it or not.

Creepily, their motto is "Be Here When it Happens!" because so many earthquakes happen right here on the fault.

The cafe, however, was outstanding. It's the type of place where you park next to a horse, and all the food you eat is grown right there.

I'm not gonna lie; I felt pretty nervous being around that much raw horsepower.

Check out this Bristol 408, certainly the most unique car that came along.

Powered by a Chrysler V8 and made in England from 1963-1966, only 83 of this model were produced--with this particular car being the only one currently in the USA.

Another hallmark of modern rallies--particularly the DWA Coastal Range Rally--is the slow-paced, relaxed element. It's not a race!

We all got to hang out, enjoy each other's company and cars, and then eat some great food.

A great aspect of this rally was the variety of cars. Far from being "just some cars on a drive", it was a veritable grab bag of interesting rides.

Are cars from the 90s still considered modern? In any case, there were several 90s era rides mixing it up with stuff from the 50s and 60s.

You just don't see scenes like this in your everyday life.

After lunch, I took some time to walk around. Just a block from the cafe I saw this old Dodge truck...still being used as an everyday work truck!

We had two C3 Corvettes along; one coupe and one convertible.

And they were both equipped with three pedals and a four-on-the-floor!

I can't resist showing some detail shots of the Bristol. Look at that patina.

And check out the ashtray in the dashboard! Definitely a product of a different era.

At this point, we had one more destination for the day: our hotel.

Of course, the roads on the way were sexy, but we had plenty of time so we took a detour and scoped out some places to shoot photos.

We parked right up front of Mission San Miguel and hung out.

There was a spot right across the street that Art had seen on his previous travel. Luckily I had the right lens, so I made it happen.

That night we hung out in Paso Robles, and unfortunately for this article I left my camera sitting in the hotel room.

But the next morning we were up bright and reasonably early, and everyone met in the hotel parking lot.

This gave us yet another chance to salivate over each other's rides, and from a photography perspective it was outstanding due to the low, diffused light.

Brian led the meeting, first of all thanking everyone, and then explaining what the day would be about.

And then, we were off to Mission San Antonio de Padua.

We took over an entire parking lot, and it was glorious.

Whoa there, this NSX looks like it's about to fly away on that stock suspension!

Simple and basic. Whoever originally bought this 911T back in 1969 was ready for some cheap thrills. Base model, steel wheels, no side mirror. Hey, at least it has the flat six!

This Factory Five Racing Cobra was barely big enough to contain the smiles of its passengers. The driver came up to me at one point, gushing about the quality of driving we were experiencing. Far from an awkwardly slow parade, everyone on the rally drove at the pace they were comfortable with.

Another modern Japanese "future classic", in the shape of Honda's S2000. You're never really surprised that a Honda turned up anywhere, but it's always nice to see something with both rear-wheel-drive and VTEC.

After the rally, a survey was sent out asking a few questions. Among them was, "If you could have driven the rally in any other car that was on the rally, which would you have chosen?"

Unsurprisingly--well, at least to me, because it's what I chose--this 1961 356 won by a landslide.

A weekend spent in a beautiful classic car on beautiful roads with your significant other. So who can be surprised at their sparkling attitudes? In fact, the same can be said about many of the participants.

Unfortunately, the Mission was under renovation and was not picturesque in the slightest. What a bummer! So we mostly hung out near our cars in the dirt lot.

Pretty interesting that this 944 is older than this 911, despite the latter's body style being much newer.

From a photographer's perspective, I have to give a shoutout of appreciation to this 2002, whose near-fluorescent hue attracted my camera lens like a moth to a flame.

Seriously, how good does that look?

My research is now complete--it has been proven that good attitudes are contagious.

Speaking of 2002's, the owner of this car was the youngest on the rally. There may be hope for the future of car enthusiasts after all!

All rally participants got a great grab bag with a bunch of neat goodies inside. Among them, these not-yet-on-sale DWA socks! Comfy, snazzy, and they provide great protection from heel to toe.

Off to the next checkpoint!

Unfortunately, the road leading in to Mission San Antonio de Padua is controlled by the US Military, and we had been warned that they are extra militant in this area about speeding. So despite the excellent roads, we all kept the pace to a minimum, which led to a bit of a parade.

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Hey, at least if we're going this damn slow, I can safely take photos, right?

On the way out to the coast we encountered one of the gnarliest roads so far. Barely over a single lane wide yet accepting traffic in both directions, this road carved out of the side of a hill was a bit nerve wracking to drive.

But the immensity of the scenery? Stunning. In fact, I hardly took any photos here as I appreciated the view of nature.

That is, until we heard the roar of internal combustion.

Here they come!

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After that, there was one more meetup spot, but I have to admit---with more than a hint of embarrassment--that I got lost on the way there, so I don't have any photos of that bit!

Anyway, after the aforementioned meetup and then lunch in Big Sur, it was time for the conclusion of the weekend. Or was it? The sun was still shining and we still had to head home. Art and I decided to stop by one iconic place on the way back up the coast: Bixby Bridge.

Iconic spots like this cut both ways: their beauty is self evident, which also means that popularity is sure to follow.

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After climbing 15 feet up a rock wall (and falling once in the process), I managed to secure the perfect photo spot. And then a couple old farts decided that "right in my way" would be the perfect spot for their photos!

Like many aspects of life, however, patience paid dividends. I waited and waited and waited, and then BAM! 1/50th of a second later, the deed was done.

Art and I then drove up the coast to Santa Cruz to grab some food and see our friends. Then we got on the legendary Highway 17--aka Cop Heaven--and cruised back to our respective domiciles. Wow! What a weekend.

But wait! That's not all the photos. I couldn't fit everything into one post, so make sure to check out my Flickr album with all the pics from the weekend. I tried to take as many pics of as many cars as I could, and I apologize if I didn't properly capture your car.

One last thing--I would like to thank everyone on the rally for their participation. To all of my friends who I saw again and to all the new friends I made along the way, you deserve a sincere THANK YOU. Cheers!

This article was written by Matt Brown, aka hushypushy (or "hooshypooshy" according to the DWA podcast). Check out his website and follow him on Instagram (@hushypushy). Want a photoshoot of your car? He does that too. Just don't ask him to recommend a restaurant.

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