Driving a Porsche from the Hertz Dream Collection

It had been yet another long week of cold 20-degree weather and snow. Spring and warm sunny days seemed to be a cruel fantasy. The cold had me stalking the house, grumbling and moody, to the point where the dogs just stayed out of my way. Then my savior came in the form of an email: “Hey, are you available to go to Florida for four days to attend Porsche and Hertz’s press trip to Sebring?” You’re damn right I was!

It was a system shock: leaving cold and snowy Cleveland, and two hours later deplaning in sunny Orlando. Hertz had provided a beautiful black 2014 Porsche Cayman coupe for my stay. It was my first time behind the wheel of the new Cayman. Like all Porsches, it was fast, drove like a slot car, and made me feel like a race car driver on holiday. I got several compliments on my car during my stay in Florida. I felt a bit guilty. After all, it wasn’t my car. Buy a shiny black Porsche if you want to be a mini-celebrity.

This highlights the Hertz’s Dream Car collection, where any citizen with a credit card can rent for the weekend a series of highly desirable super cars. Depending on the location, Porsches, Ferraris and even Lamborghinis are available for hire for the right price. Hertz has a long history of loaning out the era’s fastest cars. In the ‘60s, the famous Shelby GT350H “Rent-a-Racer” could be had for a weekend on the track. The Dream Car is a modern interpretation of that idea.

Of all the makes in the Dream Car collection, Porsche and Hertz seem to be the best-suited partnership. Porsches are driver’s cars that have a unique quality in supercars: they’re comfortable and practical, which make them great rental vehicles. Both Porsche and Hertz focus on the driver’s experience. Renting a Porsche for the weekend gives you a luxury car that’s designed to be driven, not coddled and babied like some of the Italian ilk.

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Bullz-Eye on location at Daytona 500 with Jimmie Johnson

Paul Eide Jimmie Johnson

I have never been a NASCAR fan. For a guy who loves sports, I knew more about curling than I did NASCAR. I could never understand why watching cars making hundreds of laps was so popular.

Then I attended the 2014 Daytona 500 in Jacksonville, Florida courtesy of Lowe’s and my life changed. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve watched each of the ensuing races in Phoenix and Las Vegas, intently. We interviewed 21-year old rookie Kyle Larson since then and my respect for him, and the sport, is through the roof.

The highlight of the trip? Meeting six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and Lowe’s driver Jimmie Johnson.

Prior to meeting Jimmie Johnson, I had no frame of reference for his level of success or how historically dominant he has been working alongside Crew Chief Chad Knaus.

It was only after someone aptly explained that Knaus is the Bill Belichick to Johnson’s Tom Brady (though they’ve been twice as successful in terms of championships) did I realize how much they’d accomplished as a team. Here’s Jimmie and I, laughing about our favorite recipes:

Paul Eide Jimmie Johnson Interview

After I met and briefly interviewed Johnson, I was fortunate to be invited into the Lowe’s pit for the start of the race.

Jimmie-Johnson-Pit-Daytona-500

The thing that impressed me the most was the sound. When you’re standing in the pit, you hear this groaning sound in the distance, like a gathering thunderstorm, and then all of the sudden… BOOM! The entire field explodes right in front of you, a mix of colors and shapes that you can barely discern. Then, they’re gone again and the sound dissipates to a low hum.

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Booth Babes at 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show

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We were back in Frankfurt this year on location for the motor show, and like before we have a great booth babe gallery for your viewing pleasure. As usual, the booths with the Italian cars had some of the most impressive eye candy with Lamborghini getting plenty of attention as usual, but there were great models at all the booths. The concept cars and new car models usually got the most attention in terms of beautiful women helping to show them off.

The 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show had some impressive new vehicles revealed like the Porsche 918 supercar and the Ferrari 458 Speciale, so check back for our coverage here and at Dashboard News.

  

Watkins Glen International: Why NASCAR fans have the most fun

Impossibly fast.

With a revolving mixture of amusement and awe, those two words became a chorus in my head, going off like clockwork as each lap unraveled and 43 of the world’s best NASCAR drivers roared past the finish line and screamed into turn 1.

I was leaning against the railing of Zippo’s viewer-friendly suite in Watkins Glen, New York, for the annual NASCAR event that consistently draws tens of thousands of gung-ho fans. Aside from checking out Zippo’s current endeavors (which are stellar) and cataloguing the races themselves, an additional chunk of my focus at the Glen was to find out exactly what it is about NASCAR that has propelled it to remain an absolute juggernaut in the world of spectator sports.

Is the hype justified? Do the legions of diehard fans, movies and media coverage actually represent a sport deserving of such a pedestal? Many would scoff and issue a flippant dismissal, rebutting that NASCAR is simply a redneck obsession that has nonsensically acquired its popularity.

Having avoided any groundless perspectives, I was an unbiased sponge before my arrival; ready to soak in the scene and hammer out some concrete conclusions. To make a long story short: the naysayers have it wrong – very wrong.

“The Glen”

Watkins Glen International is by all means in the country, which for us meant a rolling and scenic cruise from the Buffalo Airport.

Fate had bestowed our driver with two notable characteristics: an encyclopedia-deep knowledge of upstate New York, including the Glen, and a superhuman ability to maintain unbelievably casual conversation despite vigorously tailgating any car that deviated below the assigned speed.

Given our empty stomachs and the familiar anticipation that any traveler feels before arrival, I wholeheartedly appreciated his quirks.

You begin to sense the immensity of the Glen even before you enter the gates. Signs that designate parking and directions slowly start to pepper the side of the road, tirelessly providing a first wave of guidance and defense to the most assured calamity that was already coalescing.

Gate 2, our drop-off point, was bustling with the quintessential festival entrance proceedings, complete with walkie-talkie clad workers, stop-and-go traffic and lots of chatter. Above us, in the distance, mammoth grandstands loomed.

After bidding farewell to our driver, our Zippo rep, Hunter, arrived moments later and we transitioned ourselves into his Jeep for the final voyage to camp, or as I like to call it, Ground Zero.

It didn’t take long to realize Hunter was friendly, down to earth and adept – a great ambassador for what was to be a hearty weekend.

Upon entering camp, which was at non-event dates a sprawling grassy area, crisscrossed by dirt roads and encompassed completely by the road course, I realized several things almost immediately. For one, my North Face and loafers, indiscernible at SFO, were now about as out of place and impractical as Hannah Anderson’s pajamas bottoms amidst the Montana forest. Too soon?

Also, I had widely underestimated the degree of revelry and madness, which reared its head wildly as we slowly rolled towards our spot. I found myself rubbernecking, hastily trying to take it all in.

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Atmosphere and Queens of the Stone Age at Stir Concert Cove

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“Is this going to be like seeing The Four Tops or The Drifters at the county fair, with only one remaining member, but technically still the Four Tops or The Drifters?”

It was Sunday night and I was less than an hour from seeing Queens of the Stone Age. And I was nervous inside. Prior to the concert, I engaged my friend and musical mentor on a phone call, the man who got me into Queens in the first place. Thanks to several lineup changes since their creation, I told him I wasn’t as excited as I should’ve been to see them for the first time.

He laughed and said, “It’s still Queens, dude.”

And by god, was he right. It is still Queens, dude.

If I discovered a magical lamp with a hot genie (built like Barbara Eden) who asked what two acts I’d like to see on successive days that I’d never seen before yet loved for years, in perfect 70 degree weather, less than 10 miles from my home round trip, I would pick Atmosphere and Queens of the Stone Age on reflex alone, without even thinking, like a musical version of Pavlov’s Dog.

I spent Saturday night at the Kicking Up Dust Tour with Slightly Stoopid, Atmosphere and The Grouch and Eligh.

I wrapped up my weekend on Sunday night with Queens of the Stone Age and British newcomers Leo Gun. And I didn’t even need a magical lamp. Or a feeder bar.

The venue, Stir Concert Cove, is a great place to see a show; it is the ultimate intimate experience. Security is chill without being lax, allowing fans to unwind without anarchy ruling.

It may sound ridiculous to talk about acoustics for an outside venue, but the bowl shape of the enclosure wraps neatly around the stage and offers different experiences in sound, whether right in front of the stage or around the outer rim. The way it’s laid out lends itself to artist/fan interaction.

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