Friends On the Road
Finding KINDRED SPIRITS in the most unlikely PLACES
The sun on my face, fingers wrapped around an Alcantara steering wheel, a long grabber blue hood, two black stripes and an endless ribbon of highway stretching ahead of me. Speed limit signs read 70 and for a change, my speed is oddly close to that. Windows are down, and to my left, I see a lovely jet black late 90s SL 500 AMG join me on the highway from an on-ramp. I feel my pulse quicken as I give my 5.0L V8 a bit more gas and feel the power surge me forward as I pull alongside the AMG. I feel my pulse quicken as look to my right and I see the occupants of the AMG are an older couple, late 40’s mid 50’s. Not that it matters but it's not the people I expect to see pass me about 10 min later and given my speed they must be doing over triple digits. While I am no slouch when it comes felonious speeding I found myself on pretty good behavior given that the PA state troopers were out in force given the 4th of July holiday weekend. There's no rest for the wicked though and I started working through traffic to catch up and then pass them several miles later. We trade leading back and forth a few times and I find myself smiling as we both pull into a toll both at the same time, he takes the far right and I the far left. As far as I am concerned it's a race to get out of the gate. I grab my ticket, stuff it into the sun visor, slot the shifter into first and roll the power on. He quickly does the same and it’s a race as 8 lanes quickly drop down to two. It's world war 2 all over again as America vs Germany, raw brute force vs engineering finesse. 16 pistons roaring, trying desperately to escape their steely bores. I smile as I beat him by 2 car lengths to the left-hand lane and he has to back off to allow the other cars from the booth fall in line.
We trade off leading for the next 80 miles or so. Each of us leads for awhile or shoots forward in traffic with the other works their way back up. I find myself smiling, It's amazing how fast the miles stream by when you have a friend and another car to share it with. At one point we were side by side, winding our way up through the PA mountain passes and I can recall looking to my left and seeing the wife of the driver looking over at me and smiling. At this point, I really felt some kinship with my new found german driving friends. Around this time I feel myself getting hungry, and looking down I can see my fuel gauge starting to flirt with the empty line, something the 5.0 liter V8 is intimately familiar with. Sure you can do 25mpg if you do 55 but seriously where's the fun in that? A Boss 302 will pass anything on the road except a gas station. I start scanning road signs and resign myself to the fact that I will need to leave my new found bavarian buddies at the next rest stop. The miles keep ticking by and I see the rest stop in the distance, I feel happy because both the Boss and I are starving yet sad that I’ll lose my traveling friend but imagine my surprise when the AMG pulls off right behind me. I quickly lose them in the parking lot though and I am disappointed as I walked into the rest stop that we didn’t end up parked side by side after spending so much time playing follow the leader on the road.
As I stood in line for some Popeyes fried chicken I locked eyes with an older woman in the line for Burger King. I thought it odd for a second but when she smiled at me I realized it was the wife of the AMG driver. Here we were again side by side and enjoying the joys the road is still bringing us. She quickly pokes her husband and I introduced myself to both of them. It was funny how much we had in common despite what was likely a 20-year difference in age. As we order our food I was answering a ton of questions about the Boss, engine size, HP figures, torque, how long I have had it, how often I drive it. It became very apparent that I was speaking to a real enthusiast. I asked him a few questions about his merc and our orders are up. We quickly shake hands and grab our food, as I scanned the rest stop for a place to sit, I realize there is an open spot right next to my new found friends. I quickly sit down and we pick right up where we left off, sharing stories of cars loved, cars lost, cars of our past. It turned out we had a lot in common, and their son lives a few miles from my house. It really truly was a fantastic lunch. If I had to describe it, I would say it was cars and coffee but with fried chicken and whoppers. I spent so much time talking that I still had food left when they were ready to leave. As we parted ways, we shook hands and resolved to return to the fun should we find ourselves again warriors of the road. I woofed down the rest of my food and got in line to feed the Boss, sadly the fuel line was really slow and by the time I was back on the road my AMG friends were long gone. I briefly contemplated trying to catch them but I realized my chances weren’t that great. I resigned myself to my fate of being alone on the road again, however, my sadness was short lived. A tunnel appeared ahead and I dropped the windows, down shifted and stepped on the gas, the sweet notes of the 5.0 V8 along with a few well-placed burbles and pops made me smile ear to ear and laugh like a little kid as I drove on down the road.