Triple Nickel with Fast Friends

The winding roads of eastern Ohio are best enjoyed with others.

4y ago

I read the email that came across from former Road & Track Editor & current Hagerty Insurance content king Larry Webster with both excitement and a fair degree of consternation. Larry's plan was to revisit the back roads he'd become intimate with while attending college in Ohio. He aimed to return with friends, and tackle them. This time, he'd be bringing his Porsche 993... and a bunch of friends.

That in and of itself may not have seemed daunting. Even still, he'd invited me because I'd just bought my first Porsche, a 964 that had caught fire the day I'd picked it up... and that wasn't that long ago. Further, other recipients on the list didn't suggest this'd be a run for novices. Jack Baruth of Road & Track fam (and part-time racer), plus a 918 owner who'd spent some time in IndyCar. Oh man...

With a five hour drive to our meet up point, I decided to take this first run a little more conservatively, opting for my augmented Audi allroad - lowered, with RS 4 Avant brakes, rear sway bar and Michelin Pilot Sports. It'd mean my new-to-me 964 wouldn't end up in a ball of fire or balled up in a ditch, and I'd get a schema for what might be expected on a Larry Webster boondoggle.

The reality of the event was such. Cars were a mix, ranging from an MG-A to the aforementioned 918. The MG wasn't capable of high speeds and the 918 owner was all too familiar with the magnetic personality of a Speed Yellow Porsche 918 and also stuck relatively close to the limit. There was a slower group who'd motor into pre-determined rest stops after the lead group.

What of the rest of us? When you look at cars like this 993... you get the idea. It's probably the most radical of the group, a rear-wheel-drive converted 993 Turbo. Its owner explained that it was once red and resided in California, and then it got washed away in a flood. He rescued the car, ditched the all-wheel drive system, repainted it Viper Green and then set about adding in some additional improvements. Not surprisingly, he was always at or near the front of the group, and I learned he's got a C5 Audi RS 6 Avant with manual transmission that he'd built himself back at his fabrication shop in Michigan.

While I don't care to share any specific points of speed and skill (pleading the 5th), it is worth highlighting Ohio's route 555 (a.k.a. the "Triple Nickel") and the other roads in the area. They're a fantastic mix of curves and elevation changes, mostly two lane and mostly with a surprisingly high speed limit of 55 mph. They're popular amongst motorcyclists for obvious reasons, and were a perfect choice by Mr. Webster.

In the end, I proudly hung with the fast group. The Audi station wagon held its own, though the Michelin Pilot Sports it was wearing seemed to pay the price. Pushing a car that heavy around at the pace of a lot of these lighter Porsches comes a ta cost.

Next time I'll take the 964. I've got a whole summer of miles on her now, and know she's unlikely to catch fire unless she's over-filled with oil as she'd been the day I purchased her. I probably won't hang with the fastest group... because I'm not a racecar driver, not a Road & Track writer, nor egotistical enough to think I am. Even still, I'm counting down the days until another return to mix it up with this fine group of hooligans.

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