Monthly Archives: April 2009

Racing on the Back Roads

The return of the Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro rivalry brings a smile to my face. The Blue Oval, the Bow Tie, and … now what were the Dodge/Plymouth fans called? You’ll have to help me out here.

Mustangs, Challengers and Camaros

In my many miles of travel, I see a lot of Mustangs, and lately, a lot of Challengers. I am anxious to see the Camaro out in the wild, untamed and looking for trouble. Yeah, that’s the way I roll. I know racing side by side on the strip is safer, but there is nothing that gets the heart pounding and the knees shaking like street racing. The cars hit the red light at the same time … the opposing light turns yellow … the engines rev and in an instant the smoke appears and the black lines lead into the distance.

The winner is always the one with the most guts, or least intelligence, whichever comes first, but the thrill is always there.

2010 Shelby Cobra GT5002009 Dodge ChallengerChevy Camaro concept

Back Road Racing

One warm, summer night in 1970, I was out with a few close friends cruising in one’s 1967 Chevelle SS 396 that was NOT stock. It had that certain something that moved the ground for some distance when it idled. Dynamometers weren’t prevalent back then, so no one knew what that 396ci delivered to the real wheels, but let’s just say, it delivered.

Another friend from school had a 1953 Chevy Bel Air coupe with nary a stock part on it, especially under the hood. It was covered in black primer (no paint) and all we knew was it had a four-speed transmission and a full out small-block Chevy engine that wound fast and high. I also suspect he had an extra juice bottle in the trunk.

I don’t think the ‘53 Chevy had ever been beat, but that night on a back road far from the lights of town, the ‘67 Chevelle pulled away half-way through 3rd gear and never looked back. Talk about an adrenaline rush. We were high on the victory for hours, talking about it for weeks, and remembering it now for decades.

I believe if the Chevelle was a “stock” 396, it would have been trounced by the old small block ‘53. I’ll never know for sure, but that extra horsepower was all used that night.

Wild & Crazy Guys

It was wilder and crazier back then. Cool cars, big engines, four-speeds, and no seat belts …

Do you have a night that you’ve remembered for decades? Relive it in the comments so we can all enjoy.

Photos:
Georgnerd
3i’s
quadrant6ix

2010 Camaro SS Quarter Mile

My interest is genuine in this new development of muscle cars. First the Mustang was reborn and earlier the Dodge Challenger. Now comes the new 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS–a factory hot rod to challenge the other two.

How does it stack up? See for yourself.

Garmin Nuvi 760 – RECALCULATING!

Garmin_Nuvi_760_1

The Garmin Nuvi 760 is nothing, if not impatient. If you miss a turn or turn the wrong direction—the verbal torment begins. RECALCULATING! is the cry that awaits any minor offense and some claim the cry gains malice upon repeated bad behavior. I can’t vouch for the latter, but the former is very true.

My original Garmin was trouble from the start. Garmin support worked on it remotely once and on first seeing the drive, the tech said, “Wow! I’ve never seen anything like this.” I hadn’t either.

He reloaded the OS, and said he would ship a map CD to me. After two months I’m still waiting. I downloaded the map file from their website and loaded it on the GPS myself. It worked twice and broke again.

Good News, Bad News

The second call to Garmin support got a RMA# with instructions to send it back to them for replacement.

The best part, Garmin sent the replacement unit before I sent in the defective one. I used the same box and packing to return the original unit.

The worst part, they sent a refurbished unit to replace my new GPS. I’m still a little miffed about that. I paid good money for a new GPS, and they replaced it with a used unit. Tacky.

But that’s enough back story. I want to tell you how it works, now that I have one that functions properly (even if it is used). Fantastic.

The first question is … how did we ever live without GPS units?

Features

After a few months, I have discovered I depend on it for things I didn’t even know it did.

  1. Speed limit on current road (center left)
  2. Traffic delay times (bottom right, yellow diamond)
  3. Re-routes because of traffic delays
  4. Arrival time estimates that are extremely accurate (bottom left)
  5. Full trip meter and current speed (in case you want to check your speedometer and odometer)
  6. Graphics of the next intersection you will encounter ( you can see how the intersection is laid out)
  7. It does a good job of locating your destination

The Garmin Nuvi 760 gives audible directions even naming the street names where you turn. This helps keep your eyes on the road and paying attention to traffic. It shows your current location and travel without a destination, too. This is very handy for seeing the names of upcoming streets. The street I need is always the one with a missing street sign.

Overall, I’m very happy with the unit, but it’s not perfect. Here are some of the improvements I would like to see on future units.

Construction Information

Garmin_Nuvi_760_2 The biggest feature missing is for construction. Where I drive, most roads are under construction and the GPS will direct you to take an exit that is closed due to construction and has been for two years. Then it begins is mournful wail “Re-calculating.” This is a constant problem.

Reporting Errors

There needs to be a service that allows reporting of mistakes while they are fresh. I find inaccurate speed limits, wrong turns, incorrect street names, and directions through parking lots and closed roads every week. With some kind of reporting service, these could be addressed using crowd-source. I’d be happy to call or punch a button on the the unit at the time I discovered a problem. More accuracy would make the units even better.

Lane Indicator

The other big missing feature is scheduled to be part of upcoming units. Help with lane choice. On freeways, you may have plenty of time to change lanes if you know it is needed. Some exits are more difficult than others to navigate, so lane directions would help a lot.

Faster Address Input

A faster way to input addresses would help. It is tedious if you are working in a town all day and every address requires you to put in the city name first. An option to keep the same city would save a lot of time. Also some addresses don’t lend themselves well to proper input. I have found that putting in I 410, 410, IH 410, can yield different results in searches, many times indicating no matches. When I do find the address, it is a simple formatting problem.

Some addresses have no match

One example is the hotel where the corporate guys stay when in town. I have to pick them up and even though I know how to get there, I enter the address for traffic information and delays. The hotel address get “no match” while using the Points of Interest/Hotels menu goes right to them, displaying the address you put in earlier that didn’t exist.

Conclusion

GPS units are a great addition to your traveling tool kit, making it easy to find restaurants, hotels, and the nearest Starbucks for a quick pick-me-up.

Here is the YouTube video review.