Beauty and Power

Bench Racing

by Ryan King

The car hobby is a fascinating culture to study.

People's interests range widely, but two very popular subjects are beauty and power.

Personally, I enjoy both beauty and power, but only to a certain degree.

I can appreciate a Riddler winner, because that is some serious artistry, skill, and vision. Not to mention dedication and discipline. However, to me, it's like appreciating a China doll. It's not something that can really be played with because it will break – so, while I can appreciate the beauty, the appreciation stops short for me because I can't enjoy it in my way.

I can also appreciate high horsepower engines. They are amazing. However, just like the Riddler winner, if it can't be used, it loses value for me. So a 500 horsepower engine in an average show car or even a driver, holds little value to me, because it isn't used.

Basically, while I appreciate those two very popular interests, if it can't be used in a competitive way, pushing it to the ends of its performance limits, I don't really care all that much about it – the appreciation is really only academic.

If you want to really grab my interest, tell me how quickly your car lapped a road course, or ran a quarter mile.

I will take a 16-second drag pass to being able to say I have a 1000 horsepower engine any day of the week.

I will take an 80 mph putter around a race track to having an award-winning show car any time.

Just having an object, owning it, calling it mine, is kinda boring. I have no need for a lawn ornament or a garage decoration. While I do use automobiles for transportation, were going from point A to point B the only thing I did in a car – even if I got spirited once in a while and "stepped on it" – I would consider it an appliance with no more value than a washing machine or a Prius.

Seriously, I am extremely practical. I am so practical that, if I were only going to go from point A to point B, I would never, ever own a performance car. A Z06 Corvette with 650 horsepower that only sees commuter duty IS just a Prius that gets really shitty gas mileage – for all practical intents and purposes.

I have absolutely no need to own a "cool car" for the sake of owning one.

For me, a performance car – modern or classic – is a race car, pure and simple. It's purpose is to be flogged on a race track. End of story. I don't care if it's my '66 Mustang that has a 2-barrel 289 and drum brakes, or a blown Z06 Corvette. It was built to be pushed to its very limit as far as I am concerned, and any other value is merely an after thought.