By on July 16, 2013

pwc1

Well, TTAC, the day has come: I’ve written a book. Not a real book, mind you, but rather an electronic one, which means it may, at any moment, run out of batteries.

My book is called Plays With Cars, which mimics the title of my website, and also my life purpose. It’s available right now on Kindle and Nook, and soon to come for Kobo. If you don’t have a Kindle or Nook, don’t worry: you can still view it using your PC, or your Mac computer, or through the free Kindle app for smartphones and iPads. In other words: you have no excuse for not buying it.

To further prove that, I’ve set the price at $2.99. This is a very small amount of money for which you can purchase basically nothing except this book, or maybe a plastic toy from the grocery store. And I promise this is more entertaining.

Plays With Cars contains many fun car-related stories, including:

- Driving a Lotus Elise without air conditioning across the country in the middle of July
- Visiting the Tail of the Dragon and evading the police using a pontoon boat
- Taking my Lotus to an autocross event, and regretting it
- Bringing my E63 AMG wagon on a mountain run with a Carrera GT
- Buying a Cadillac from someone who was hours away from being deported
- Buying a used Toyota Land Cruiser with 237,000 miles from a public auto auction
- Attempting, unsuccessfully, to sell a Toyota Prius on Craigslist

It also includes reviews of various cars I’ve owned, from a Porsche 911 Turbo to a 2012 Jetta and a first-generation Toyota Prius.

If that doesn’t sell you on it (c’mon folks – a Jetta review!), I’m going to be posting selections once a week for the next few weeks to entice you further. Today’s is from chapter 20, entitled “The Wagon and the Dragstrip” – a story about taking my E63 AMG wagon to a dragstrip in rural North Georgia. Enjoy!

==

dragstrip-wgn

We drove to the dragstrip on a Friday night. In Denver, amateur drag racing was done on Wednesdays, presumably so participants could spend Fridays pursuing some form of entertainment that wouldn’t leave them partially deaf. But in Commerce, we were the entertainment. This was illustrated by the large crowd, which consisted of beer-drinking locals gathered to watch other beer-drinking locals pilot their daily drivers down the strip. Tonight, they would get an extra treat: a Mercedes station wagon driven by three cityfolk who coulda bawt a dually instead.

We arrived around 7 p.m. and paid our $20 entry fee. Before we could race, we had to submit to a tech inspection, which was performed by a local mechanic in NHRA overalls. The inspection consisted of the mechanic a) opening the E63’s hood, and b) remarking on the size of its plastic engine over. He also searched for the battery, but was unable to find it. As a result, he judged the car to be mechanically sound.

We pulled up to the staging area and discovered the interesting assortment of vehicles owned by our fellow drag racers. Some highlights:

1. At least half of the cars in attendance were modified Mustangs and Camaros. The most popular modification, in case you’re wondering, involved junkyard body panel swaps. Oddly, most of these cars had valid license plates, proving that “street legal” means something a little different in North Georgia.

2. There was an SRT-4 that was approximately as loud as a space shuttle launch. This is a mandatory component of dragstrip amateur nights. In fact, the NHRA could shut you down if there isn’t a loud SRT-4 in the vicinity, unless you can prove your venue contains at least one dubiously modified Eagle Talon.

3. Around 20 percent of the entrants were driving pickup trucks, including a few huge diesels with actual smoke stacks. They made so much smoke it looked like someone put wheels on Depression-era Cleveland.

4. The highlight was a Nissan Titan that looked stock except for tiny rear tires that may have come from one of those electric shopping carts they give the elderly at grocery stores.

We piled into the wagon with me behind the wheel for the first run. In the other lane was a red Mustang with a gray front fender. I stopped. The Mustang stopped. I waited for the light, energized by the fact that I would soon be driving a Mercedes station wagon on the same dragstrip where Top Fuel dragsters compete to see who can make it furthest without blowing up.

And then, after a few seconds … GREEN! We were off, way ahead of the Mustang, so far ahead that his next dragstrip conversation may be about where to find Calvin peeing on the Mercedes logo.

It must’ve been a sight to see, but were too consumed with laughter to notice. Here we were, moving quickly down a dragstrip in a three-row station wagon that was savagely beating a modified Mustang. We were also quite comfortable, what with the ventilated seats.

We ended the run several yards ahead of the Mustang. I pulled off the track and drove to the time booth to pick up our time slip. It was there we were informed in no uncertain terms that we had committed about eleven sins of drag racing.

One was too many people in the car. It turns out a car as fast as the E63 couldn’t run with passengers. That was a downer, as I had planned to sit in back and wave to drag-tuned Camaros from the rear-facing third row.

We also committed a helmet violation. It turns out that 13.999 seconds or below requires a helmet. Apparently, an accident without one meant instant death, while a driver who wrecks at 14 or above will walk away with only cuts and scrapes on his soft, helmetless head. This was undoubtedly was established after years of scientific testing from the drag racing people.

So I donned a helmet for the next run and ditched Andrew and Sam. Once again, I arrived at the line, hit the brake and gas, and released the brake when the light turned green. After an initial struggle with traction, the E63 launched with all its might. My time slip said 13.6, now delivered with a warning against spinning my tires at the starting line. Tough crowd.

When I returned to the prep area, Andrew and Sam told me about the announcer. In Denver, the dragstrip was quiet, since no one in their right mind would want to spend an evening doing a play-by-play for an amateur drag racing event. But since this was the happenin’ place to be on a Friday night in rural Georgia, the Atlanta Dragway employed an excitable commentator with a southern accent that rivaled Matthew McConaughey’s in A Time to Kill. Apparently, he had some choice commentary about the wagon that included lines like “mom’s home” and “look at them roof rails!”

To shut him up, I decided we had to run a “twelve,” which is what racers call a quarter-mile time in the twelve-second range. If you “run twelves,” you’re anywhere from 12.00 seconds to 12.99 seconds. Dragstrip precision is shocking.

But it wouldn’t be easy.

==

@DougDeMuro is the author of humor books Plays With Cars and From My Perspective, and the operator of PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

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87 Comments on “I Wrote A Book About Cars!...”


  • avatar
    mike978

    Hope your book works out for you since I enjoy your writing. Will look it up on my nook tonight.

  • avatar
    wouldj

    Purchased. Love your writing on here and always happy to support TTAC writers.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    Is TTAC battling a DOS attack the last 24 hours or is the new glasnost showing an ugly side?

    Super, super slow page loads and it’s not my ISP.

    I’ve spent more time watching “Waiting for http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com...”
    than reading content.

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    OMG you wrote a book! When will you be proofing it?

    “This was undoubtedly was established after years of scientific testing from the drag racing people.”

    Amusing but calling it a book is like calling NY Post a newspaper.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike

      Mama always said if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. The good news is, you don’t have to buy the book if you don’t want to. If you’re into depriving yourself of excellent automotive satire, that’s your business. It takes guts to put your works out there like Doug has. Criticism should be constructive rather than insulting.

    • 0 avatar

      The line is a joke, but you’ll understand it better if you read the first bit of the story. Believe me, choosing selections is really, really hard as a writer who frequently references earlier portions of his stories.

  • avatar
    Eggshen2013

    Love your writing Doug, however I also love books, the printed kind.
    I am kinda old fashioned in the way I love the way a book feels in my hands and how the words just flow off a printed page into my brain.

    I do not get the same experience with an electronic book.

    Get yours printed please!

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t disagree with you. However, no one is crazy enough to print what I write!

      I promise you won’t lose TOO much of the experience if you buy it electronically. Think of it as a longer version of TTAC!

  • avatar
    Freddy M

    Well it’s either your book or a Happy Meal toy for my niece. What has she done for me lately? Book it is.

    • 0 avatar

      Hah! Appreciate it. I promise it will last longer than that happy meal toy anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        Is it prophetic that I read about your cross country trek in your Elise, then as I headed home from work an Elise was tagging along on my route all the way home? Albeit this one was yellow, and mercifully had his roof off. It’s 35 degrees C — which is pretty hot, and all I could think was how stifling you were in that sardine can.

        • 0 avatar

          It was really, really rough and very, very humid. I’ll never forget it, even though I’ve tried. What year is yours?

          • 0 avatar
            Freddy M

            Sweet Jimeny Crickets, I wish I had an Elise! No, no I was driving home and there was an Elise keeping pace in the lane beside me the whole drive.

            Don’t know what year it was but my word it looked brand spankin’ new, and it was so low and compact I swear if I popped the hatch and he rear ended me, it’d probly fit quite nicely inside my car.

          • 0 avatar

            I see now! I’m an idiot and apparently I can write but not read. Believe me: you might THINK you wish you had an Elise. But spend a little time in one and you’ll change your tune!

            The other day at Cars & Coffee locally someone brought an old military hummer pickup. Swear the Elise could’ve fit in its bed, just as you say.

          • 0 avatar
            Freddy M

            Ok, ready for some constructive criticism? Well, thinking it over, more like observations I guess because I wouldn’t want you to act on any of the points below.

            1. It’s too entertaining. I’m already over 56% of the way through it. Though to be fair it still outlasted the expected life of that Happy Meal toy.
            2. Reading it at the office or during lunch makes me look like a special needs case as I burst out in fits of giggles for seemingly no reason.
            3. 4 inches of snow shuts down Atlanta? Really?

            Great read so far. Let us know when you publish another.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    Just downloaded it to my Kindle :-D

    I’m uninterested in the cars you write about, but you do it so cleverly….

  • avatar
    Matt Fink

    There are certain rules I abide by in life including don’t listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving and don’t read books on a computer. Crap, now look what you’ve done! You’re going to make me break one of my life rules. When you said it was like a long version of TTAC I was sold.

    Also, I love the image for the book. Pretty fun to identify all the cars you’ve owned in there. Makes me want to make my own “logo” of cars I’ve owned, though a Toyota Avalon silhouette seems very boring.

    • 0 avatar

      Hah! Those things were a lot of fun to create. If you want one, go here:

      http://the-blueprints.com/

      Once you’ve paid for them (and sadly they aren’t that cheap) you can do the rest without THAT much work in Photoshop. That said, they might not have a Toyota Avalon, which would be a real shame.

  • avatar

    COngrats Doug! Sadly I’ve never downloaded a book and don’t even know how to do that. Seems you need some app or other. Hummm sounds tricky!

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      Marcelo…dude…you’re in a masters program for some kind of public policy degree, no? Or is it law school?

      I’m pretty sure you can handle this (sheesh, sorry it’s so long) :

      http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=amb_link_355960802_3?ie=UTF8&docId=1000426311&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=auto-sparkle&pf_rd_r=AF92E4901C54463292C8&pf_rd_t=301&pf_rd_p=1362584282&pf_rd_i=kindle%20app%20for%20pc

      • 0 avatar

        Hey thanks! Glad you came through! I was kinda hoping for some help like that when I wrote, besides exposing to Doug, in a roundabout manner, that there are some old fashioned people out there who’ve never done it and could use a few pointers.

        • 0 avatar
          Summicron

          My pleasure. In case you use a Mac just look up at that skinny gray banner under the search box and click “Free Reading Apps”. There’s even a separate reading app for Windows 8 in case you’re not an XP diehard like me :-)

          • 0 avatar
            Sam P

            XP? Daaang. My work box has been on 7 for a while. I still refuse to touch 8 if I don’t have to.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            Well, I do use 7 at work and I guess it’s OK. Also have a 7 laptop at home because my wife tired of its size & weight.

            But my main machine is an old Dell laptop with a 4:3 screen ratio that I so prefer over these new, mail slot ratios that have killed everything else off.

            It has XP, all my language software runs beautifully on it, it’s heavy & clunky & solid and I’m going to use it till I cain’t no more. I detest the wafer thin, feather light, squashed-screen ethos that has enslaved laptops the past 6 or so years.

            Won’t even consider 8. I’ll go back to Macs first and run my core software on an emulator.

    • 0 avatar

      Haha. I promise it isn’t that hard. As you know, I’m not the most tech savvy person on earth, and even I figured it out.

      What type of computer are you using?

      If PC: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000426311

      If Mac: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000464931

      The real question is: can you even get it in Brazil? THAT is what we’ll need you to test.

  • avatar

    Would you consider putting it on Apple’s iBookstore? I like the format better from there, and they actually give you a higher percentage of the purchase price than Kindle.

    D

  • avatar
    alex159569

    Hit the buy button before I finished reading the article title. Reading now, this is like Christmas in July for a big fan of your work!

  • avatar
    Autobraz

    Really enjoy your articles so I just bought it from Amazon.ca for CDN$3.16

  • avatar
    mitchw

    I’ve got jury duty next week, Doug. Now I know how I’m getting through voir dire. Just bought a copy for Kindle and I appreciate it!

  • avatar
    SteelyMoose

    When I read the headline of the post, I immediately followed it up in my mind with, “…and I bet it’s funny!” Looks like I was right; good stuff once again, Doug.

    I live about 10 miles from that dragstrip. When Top Fuel is running, you can hear them all the way to my house.

  • avatar
    carr1on

    I just bought it. I like your articles and look forward to reading on my vacation next week.

  • avatar
    Mike

    Very important question. What’s a Nook?

    Just kidding. Congrats, Doug! I’m a buyer! Looking forward to the read.

  • avatar
    scrubnick

    Dude, check out lulu.com to get it printed. Someone I know wrote a long (430 page) ebook that they printed for me. Beautifully done, just like a regular bookstore book for 16 bucks. Set something up like that and I’ll buy a real copy.

  • avatar
    vaujot

    I am a bit surprised nobody has objected to your advertising of you own book here. I have mixed feelings about that. How would people have reacted if Bertel would’ve done that?
    The important question: Did the E63 run a twelve and how hard was it?

  • avatar
    chapel

    In defence of the ‘precision timing’ of drag racing, running ‘in the 12s’ is a big deal
    Yes, there’s a HUGE range, but most racers worth their salt will say “High/Mid/Low” to explain how fast they run. Obviously it varies race to race both due to driver, car and environment.
    The real problem comes when someone says they have a ’12 second car’… like you said, that could mean it ran a 12.99 ONCE in perfect conditions but is otherwise a low 13 second car.
    A single bad run could cost you a whole second, so that’s why it’s so imprecise.
    That said, plenty of losers like to use blanket statements to make it seem like they’re faster than they are.
    Once you get into the low 11s, people get more precise. Precision starts in the low 11s, high 10s. The difference between a car that runs 10.8 and 10.5 can be a totally different class and these guys will run CONSISTENT times at that too.

    I find drag racing fascinating for what it is.

    • 0 avatar

      I actually go on a whole tirade in the book about how drag racing is way more fun than people realize. I love doing it. The best part is it’s a night where you think about NOTHING but having fun and driving fast.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Got it! Gee you’re a busy guy, published 2 books in 2 days. I heard that you’re the author behind that Galbraith name too..

    • 0 avatar

      Haha – yes, it was very challenging. Finishing the first one then, moments later, writing the second one. Funny you mention the Galbraith book, as I think this one will be approximately as popular. Sadly I have no secret to reveal that will send it to #1 on the best-seller charts.

  • avatar
    Power6

    “SRT-4 that was approximately as loud as a space shuttle launch”

    Haha made me laugh. I had an SRT-4 and as you may know, they come stock with no mufflers, very loud. What do the kids do as soon as they buy one? Pull that exhaust off and replace it with one that is EVEN LOUDER.

    You have sold me on the book, and I don’t read many books…

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    Bought the Kindle version just now. Soon my wife will be asking what I am chuckling about.

  • avatar
    Acd

    Just bought both books Doug–should make for good reading on the plane this week.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    I just bought the book on my Kindle. It made a crowded bus commute home a lot better.

    Doug, your writing style reminds me of former C&D scribe Stephan Wilkinson. Keep up the good work.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I categorically deny ever peeing on a Mercedes star for pleasure or profit. A few Mopar stars, maybe, but that was after the split. Any copies you find are bootlegged, photoshopped fakes… That’s my story and I’m sticking to it

    Congrats on the book

  • avatar
    niky

    Congratulations, Doug. Looking forward to this. Wish it were in print, though… balancing a laptop on your lap in the bathroom just isn’t the same…

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I want the Land Cruiser story!

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Three chapters down and enjoyable. As a cube driver, I liked the dragstrip story much better than your cube review. As an old guy there is something I really enjoy. The control and + buttons on my computer. I have had to just about quit reading hot rod or car craft because I can’t see them. Electronic books are great.

    • 0 avatar

      You should know that everything I say about the Cube I really mean with the utmost kindness. I’ve really grown fond of it. I’ve promised myself twice I will sell it and yet it’s still sitting there… in front of my house. And as I noted in that review, it’s actually a surprisingly decent car to drive.

  • avatar

    Doug, Love you’re writing so I’m in. Looking forward to starting it on my kindle when I get home from work

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    I just drove to the beach and back 2 hours away in the middle of the afternoon, it was in the 90′s with no clouds, and I didn’t use the AC. The only time I ever use the AC is when the passengers start bitchin, and even then I usually give them a gas-mileage related excuse. I’m not sure how this is special.

    Who cares, you’ve got my money.

    • 0 avatar

      Hah! WHY?!?! I don’t think I’ve turned climate control off since approximately 2008. Just push “AUTO” and forget about it forever. Unless I’m in the Cube, in which case you blast either the heat or the air and ignore all the more moderate temperature settings.

      • 0 avatar
        Compaq Deskpro

        Admittedly, my Vic has much bigger windows than your Lotus, but there is no way I could drive with the windows shut if the temperature is anything more than 40 degrees, or downpouring. It feels very dead, like I’m playing Forza Motorsport (great game, no offense). I can see it, but I can’t hear it or feel it or smell it. I should look into those plastic things that along the window frame to block water from falling in.

        I love heat. I live in Massachusetts where 2/3 of the year it is either snowing or just blowing bitter cold wind, and the freedom from shelter that decent weather affords you is rare, so I’m going to waste a minute, not even if your hair is blowing around.

  • avatar
    Maintainer

    One of these days I’ll tell the story of daily driving a “round arch” Midget through a Chicago winter with no more than the Tonneau cover.
    I’m in for sure on the “book”..

  • avatar
    BadaBing373

    Yaaay! A whole, entire book by DeMuro :-)
    Kindle purchase, completed…
    Thanks Doug !!!

  • avatar
    08Suzuki

    Naturally, it’s going on my reading list.

  • avatar
    ZeBear

    Just bought both your books on Amazon. At just over £2 per book its a great deal.

    Looking forward to any future books you write.

  • avatar
    Tinn-Can

    First book I’ve actually bought for my Kindle… Kind of mad you are younger than me though… I need to re-examine my priorities…

  • avatar
    drtwofish

    Just finished it last night – great read, Doug! You really should have driven a properly maintained e36 M3, though…swing by the next time you’re in southwestern VA, I’ll let you have a go! :-D

    Seriously, though, best 3 bucks I’ve spent since the last time I bought 2/3 gallon of gas. I look forward to volume 2!


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