By on May 20, 2009

Let us begin with this: it is possible to go much faster on North American public roads than the law allows. Much faster. If you are interested in exploring the upper limits of this possibility, read on. If you find this idea morally, legally, ethically or spiritually repugnant; please return to your regularly scheduled bailout coverage. If you’re a member of law enforcement, please consider this a work of fiction.

In theory, I’ve been driving “too fast” on public roads for more than twenty years. In that time, I may have learned a lot about what works and what does not. I will share this hypothetical knowledge—bought and paid for in terror, twisted steel and sleepless nights—with you. Or not.

Before we begin, a caveat. The fast-road driver needs more than skill, more than training, more than a fast car. He (and it is almost always he) needs luck. Luck eventually runs out. When that happens, people get hurt. Sometimes innocent people get hurt—if any of us are truly “innocent” in this world. Sometimes the driver will go to jail or beyond that to the penitentiary. Sometimes people die. You have been warned.

To drive truly quickly, you will need a level of preparation and skill roughly equivalent to what is found in NASA’s Time Trial class. Your car needs to have its fluids at the appropriate levels, its tire pressures checked and its suspension components torqued. Your tires need full tread, no plugs, no camber wear.

You, as the driver, need to be alert, sober, rested, and ready to look all the way down the road. The trained fast-road driver scans the horizon and looks to the end of his available vision. That’s where the cops are, that’s where the accidents happen, that’s where you start to intuit the movement patterns of your fellow drivers. Practice identifying cars in the oncoming freeway lanes as soon as they are visible. At any time, you should be able to close your eyes and recite the makes and models of the cars around you.

We’ll use a limited set of the race driver’s toolkit in our pursuit of maximum street speed. Trail-braking is out, deliberate contact is out, drafting is out. Instead, we follow the old Bondurant curriculum. All braking is done in a straight line, every time. If you have ABS, don’t be afraid to engage it. We never steer and brake simultaneously, particularly on the freeway. We don’t accelerate out of turns with the steering wheel “pinched” and we use formula-car hand positioning on the wheel. No shuffle-steer. Ever. This isn’t autocross. Get the wheel straight and put your right foot all the way down.

Traction control is left on at all times, with the exception of when we need a Jarno Donut (to be covered later). Turn the radio down or off. Sit close enough to the wheel that your wrist falls naturally on the rim of the wheel. If you have a CG-Lock, you can left-foot brake. If you don’t, don’t, because when you panic-brake from high speeds you will have nothing to keep your body in the seat. Get your heel-and-toe together, pronto. And for God’s sake, put your seatbelt on because you’ll eventually need it.

We’ll start with freeways. Speeding on the freeway is easy. Anybody can do it. The trick is in maintaining a consistent pace of twice the pack speed or higher. To do this we extend our vision to the horizon as mentioned above and watch the cars ahead. Look for lane changes, look for shifts in traffic, look for drivers who are slow, distracted or wobbly. Most of our passing is done to the right. This offends wanna-be Autobahn drivers, but we don’t care.

Cops expect you to speed in the left lane and they tend to look down the left lane. Stay to the right. Truck convoys are the exception. They will punish you for right-lane passes.

Our passing method is simple. We come up on a car-to-be-passed from directly behind. We do this to attract the driver’s attention into his rear-view mirror. When we are two hundred feet behind, we change lanes (to the right, if possible) and pass as far away as possible. While we prepare the pass, we look at the adjacent lane and we have a backup plan in case the car we are passing wobbles.

If there is no lane, evaluate the shoulder for heavy marbles, dirt, obstacles. If we see those, we dial back the speed to 100mph or less. Get in the habit of driving on the shoulder. We learn to drive on the shoulder because we’ll have to do it many times in the future, both to avoid panic-swerves and to pass recalcitrant lane-blockers.

In Part II, we’ll discuss night freeway driving and basic evasion techniques.

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118 Comments on “Editorial: Maximum Street Speed Explained...”

  • avatar

    I’m horrified and intrigued.

  • avatar

    Please tell me this is a joke?

  • avatar

    Shoulder passing. Not the best idea nor remotely legal. If you want to get the attention of LE this is a way to do it.

    When cannonballing on a motorcycle you have the advantage of a small footprint so you can slip around people. Of course one miscalculation and you’re dead but that’s the deal.

    Jack is preparing for a raft of shit over this series but we need to be fair and let him proceed. After all the stories are written well and as adults we are free to ignore his writings.

    Or not. If you need to get across country in a hurry these suggestions may prove valuable.

  • avatar

    i am intrigued by your ideas

    how do i subscribe to your newsletter/pamphlet/Watchtower…

  • avatar

    I know it’s wrong, but I’m looking forward to part II.

  • avatar

    I can only agree with your fourth paragraph. That should be the state of mind of all drivers.

  • avatar

    The following quote may be appropriate: You can’t handle the truth.

  • avatar

    Two things can be learned from the basic training of any good motorcycle rider:

    Whenever one wants to drive quickly through a turn, the best technique you can use is to look where you want to go. Turn your head and look through the turn, past the apex – never straight ahead, never into the middle. Learn to scan the road surface in your peripheral vision for obstacles, potholes, bumps, and gravel. Correct as needed but don’t make the mistake of looking at your obstacle – this creates what we call target fixation. You tend to go where you are looking. If you are looking at that log in the road, you will probably hit it. The same goes for slide/skid control. Look where you want to go and you’ll have a much better chance of getting there, if you know how to wrangle a squirrelly vehicle (if you don’t nothing will save you but luck).

    Second, drive like EVERYONE on the road is actively trying to kill you. If you always assume the driver ahead of you will cut you off, merge without signalling, or generally do something idiotic that will get you killed, you will never be surprised when it happens. Unlike the rest of life, assuming will keep you alive on the road. Assume that car will cut you off. Assume you are always in someone’s blind spot. Assume that blind corner has a moron drifiting over the centreline in the opposite lane. Assume the traffic cop is hiding under that overpass or on the lumber road.

  • avatar

    i am seeing shades of alex roy and a blue e39 m5 done in polizei livery

  • avatar

    Looks like that picture comes from Interstate 270. A great 56 mile ring around the hellhole of Columbus, OH. (The southern half is MUCH easier to go fast on than the northern 1/2, even with the increased number of lanes, due to law enforcement reasons).

    Best personal “ring” time: 34 minutes, plus a few seconds.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    I guess this explains the high-speed traffic in the right lane when I’m motoring along in the middle highway lane, going with the flow. When I’m merging right to exit, it would be nice to know that I’m not about to be rear-ended by someone going 20mph faster than me. Sheesh.

    Every now and then, I see someone in a car doing flash-to-pass in the second lane from the left when they clearly could pass on the left. Is that part of this secret society, too?

  • avatar

    I understand the appeal of (significantly) higher than legal speeds, and if the only person at risk was the person driving, then so be it.

    But they usually aren’t the only people at risk. I am, even though I choose not to do it myself. More importantly (to me, at least), my children are at risk.

    The most important part of the article is paragraph two:
    “Luck eventually runs out.”
    “Sometimes people die.”

    I don’t care how good you are or how awake you are. You don’t have the right to risk other people.

  • avatar

    Bizarre and wonderful and strangely 18th century.
    Yes, bring on part 2 of what is truly a DRIVING DEATH WATCH.

  • avatar

    Passing on the right… Jeesh…

  • avatar

    On the German autobahn – at least it used to be – when you see the sign with the circle with the three lines through it like Wolverine hacked at it, you could put the hammer down. I traveled once from Frankfurt to Berlin, a trip that at normal speeds takes approx. 8 hours, took less than 5. I had a 98 Ford Contour SVT hovering at 150 mph for nearly two hours straight and have a little anecdotal insight.

    1. German drivers are far superior to American drivers. At the time, it cost nearly $1500 and one year of a kid’s life before he/she could get their license. They would have to drive at all speeds, at all times of the day, in all traffic and weather conditions, twice, before being passed as a safe driver. Americans take scissors and cut the cereal box tops off to send away to get our license.

    2. German roads are better. They have sprayers on the sides where de-icing solution will spritz to keep the roads frost free. The autobahns are meticulously maintained and are virtually trash free.

    3. Everything comes at you incrementally faster as you increase in speed. The car 1/4 mile away is suddenly behind you as you fly by it fast enough to feel the color of its paint. [email protected]#$ the radio, climate control or any passengers in the car, concentration takes every bit of your mind.

    4. Awareness is heightened. Anything can go wrong and if it does at 150 mph in a Contour – albeit the nicest one – you’re street pizza. One rock that shouldn’t be there, patch of oil or water, dead bird, moron in a cheap Fiat cuts into your lane, engine temp suddenly going Chernobyl under the hood, anything can happen and its constantly on you mind.

    5. Its WAY adrenalizing. And very addictive. I highly recommend doing it at length at least once.

    I agree that some roads in America could use higher speed limits. Just about any highway that runs through TX, OK, KS, or NB comes to mind. However, America has got to get some better driver education and better roads.

  • avatar

    Some of what you are saying is how Germans drive on the autobahn.

    Other parts of it, such as passing on the right to avoid being ticketed, is something I cannot safely respond to in a family oriented manner.

    Public roadways are NOT racetracks. American drivers are NOT trained anything like well enough to cope with Autobahn speeds.

    There is a real-world reason that it takes the equivalent of months to years and thousands of dollars to obtain a German driver’s license.

    If you want to go fast, get a racecar and rent a track.

  • avatar

    Seriously? Three for three on these articles…

  • avatar

    Solid post from a gent who knows what he’s talking about.
    I drive this way sometimes (sorta, although not to the degree discussed here), often on long-distance trips. As such, I’ll often pass on the right (often at 20+mph faster than the passed vehicle) because every roadway is choked with morons driving 56mph in the left lane (and think that it fast, lol) while the right lane is often empty (or less crowded at any rate).
    It’s not proper, and I wish it didn’t need to be that way, but the US isn’t Germany and what Mr. Baruth says regarding LE is correct.

  • avatar

    Know what else is fun? Drugs. Lots of them. Being loud and drunk in public, too. Sleeping around and hurting people. Joining the KKK.

    Just because you can do things, means you should!

  • avatar
    A is A

    If you find this idea morally, legally, ethically or spiritually repugnant; please return to your regularly scheduled bailout coverage

    We do not “find” the idea “morally, legally, ethically or spiritually repugnant”

    It is objectively ethically repugnant to risk other people necks for quicks and giggles.

  • avatar

    While I don’t come near the speeds that Jack is talking about. Much of what is said is simply good driving technique at any speed. As for passing in the right lane, I often do it myself on three lane roads as it is much easier to negotiate a pass and speed without having to worry about the moron going even faster than me coming up from behind. With right lane drivers, their style is much more conservative and predictable. That said, I don’t usually do above 80 mph and often less than that.

  • avatar

    Also the same techniques you need to drive a motorcycle at any speed. Or my scooter at 70mph on 13in rims with a front disk brake and rear drum.

    I have hit 100mph a few times on I40 between Gallup and Albuquerque in my F150. That was pretty scary given the hilly and curvy nature of that road.

    (Disclaimer as a former Ohioan: Don’t try any of this in Ohio, we’ve got more State Police than just about any other state per capita.)

  • avatar

    Few quick points….

    Passing on the right always bad

    German driver’s license requirements good

    Drinking (Europeans do not understand why we have cupholders in our cars), talking on the cell phone, fiddling with Navi screens, eating, also all bad

    There is nothing inherently wrong with traveling at a high rate of speed, however Americans have shown a great disdain for any restrictions on their ability to operate non-roadworthy clunkers, as well as for any tax structure which would actually pay for the maintenance of 46,000 miles interstate highways.

    In keeping with all the cliches, we’re fat, lazy, uneducated. People blame speeders, though everyone does it to some degree, because it’s easy, like saying the government is inefficient then doing nothing about it. At least half of the drivers and vehicles on the road have no business being there.

    Solution (no fun if you don’t have one): increase drivers license fees and tetsing, inspect ALL motor vehicles (like England’s MOT), increase taxes on heavy trucks, increase gas tax (instead of CAFE), actually maintain the roadways (ACSE says our roads get a grade of D)….then one can drive at 150 all day long safely and legally…political third rail due to the aforementioned, fat, lazy, et al

  • avatar

    I guess this explains the high-speed traffic in the right lane when I’m motoring along in the middle highway lane, going with the flow. When I’m merging right to exit, it would be nice to know that I’m not about to be rear-ended by someone going 20mph faster than me double the speed limit Sheesh.

    There, I fixed it for ya.

    On another note — who thinks we should get a pot going to get Mr. Baruth, say, a 2001 600cc sport bike to do his speeding trials on? At least everyone else’s family here would probably be alot safer if he rear-ended/side-swiped them.

  • avatar

    A long time ago I drove fast and I enjoyed doing so (and was lucky) but now living in the crowded city of Phoenix I have given up stick shifts and any hope of finding much open road.

    I really agree with dolorean23’s advice above: [email protected]#$ the radio.

  • avatar

    OK, I speed. But TWICE the speed of traffic? No way. 20% over the posted limit is plenty for me.

    An important, if seldom mentioned, feature of driving on a race track is consent: the consent of the other drivers around you.

    Please do not suggest passing on a shoulder. There is too much junk there and often the slope differs from the main roadway to afford better drainage. The last guy I knew who passed on the right on a shoulder (at, you guessed it, twice the speed limit) is now a quadriplegic. The relatives of his dead passengers have not forgiven him and his family is bankrupt. The guy before that killed himself and his wife and left behind a long wake of law suits.

  • avatar

    DaddyofPayton, you should have been around when 270 was completed (maybe you were) and there was little traffic (back in the mid/late 70s). The stretch running from Westerville past Gahanna (up to where 670 is now) was dead straight, no hills, and was our favorite place to run flat out. Never did a timed running of the whole thing however.

  • avatar

    I pass no moral judgment on any of this, but I have to point out the big obvious problem with your whole “200 feet/pass on the right” concept. Suppose that I am proceeding at 65 mph in the left lane on a three lane highway. Let’s assume you coming up behind me at 125 mph and that the middle lane is unoccupied for some reasonable distance around me, but not the rightmost lane. My math may be faulty, but I believe you would be closing on me at about 90 feet per second. Suppose that I happen to spot you in my mirror when you reach the 200 foot distance (you will be covering ground so quickly that I may not have observed you even if I had checked my mirror just seconds before). I, having no knowledge of your plan to pass me on the right, will likely do the conscientious thing and put on my blinker and attempt to change lanes. Meanwhile, you will have begun your own lane change just as you observe my blinker come on and conclude that I am going to change lanes myself. You now have a choice to make. Do you abort your lane change and attempt to pass me on the left? Do you continue to pass on the right assuming that I will see you doing so and abandon my own lane change? Remember, the right lane is crowded, precluding a double lane toss. So you make your choice. Meanwhile, I observe your behavior in my mirror and make my own choice. Perhaps we pass unscathed, or perhaps we have both chosen the same lane and must repeat the same dance, with another second or so elapsed. And time is distance. Are you seriously willing to risk my life on your ability to maneuver around me at less than 100 feet? Note that I don’t give a hoot about your own life.

    Okay, after doing the math I have changed my mind – I am passing a moral judgment. I own a high performance car have been known to drive above the posted speed limit on the highway, but never at a speed that would actually require me to violate standard driving conventions or otherwise behave unpredictably merely to avoid killing myself or others. This is just stupid. Please stop trying to kill me and my family with your two ton high speed projectile.

  • avatar

    trolling at its finest. my hats off to you if you pull this off.

  • avatar

    I drove a tractor trailer for 35 years.
    1. I know every trick in the book to run a maximum speed without getting bagged
    2. You’re a rookie and dangerous.

  • avatar

    Passing on the right shoulder is a great way to really piss off a cop or a trucker…also a great way to get killed by a sleepy senior citizen.

    That said, here is a great video of a couple kids joyriding daddy’s GT3.

  • avatar
    Jan Andersson

    I eventually learned to drive fast when it’s possible, and take it easy and follow the traffic when it’s not. It’s not the speeding that is risky, but the accidents.

  • avatar

    I got a star on my car and one on my chest
    A gun on my hip and the right to arrest
    I’m the man who’s the boss on this highway
    When you see me coming, get out of my way
    If you break the law you’ll hear from me, I know
    I’m working for the state, I’m the Highway Patrol

  • avatar

    Jan Andersson :
    May 20th, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    I eventually learned to drive fast when it’s possible, and take it easy and follow the traffic when it’s not. It’s not the speeding that is risky, but the accidents.

    It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop at the end. lol

  • avatar

    This whole article seems like post bait. But..

    One thing I have learned is that it really helps if you drive a car that doesn’t look sporty. I used to collect ticket in my Porsche for not going very fast. I started driving a wagon (a WRX, but very subdued– no fancy rims, looks like an economy car) and I swear I never, ever get a ticket. Once a guy I was passing (on the left) was pulled over! He was driving a BMW and I am sure the CHP looked at him first.

    People who change lanes suddenly, drive too fast on city on residential streets, pass on the shoulder– are fools. The time you save is not worth the risk that someone else will cause a dangerous accident, no matter how great a driver you are. If you love to drive– go to a track or an open country road.

  • avatar


    “Please tell me this is a joke?”

    Exactly what I was thinking. Is it really April 1st?

    Hey, about this? I drive a 35 mile comute each way to and from work. On a 3 lane interstate. 70 MPH posted. I go 65 MPH. And guess what? I get there only a few minutes later, I’m more relaxed and refreshed, and I can even drink a coffee and listen to the radio while I do it and still be fully aware of what going on around me. I just let everyone pass me as I go down the right lane and save gas (even though my car is a 4 banger with a stick, 5 MPH makes a real difference). I would like to see one of us write an article about going slower.

  • avatar

    I live in Idaho. One of those states that has way more open space then drivers. I am from Montana, the state that does have good roads and did for a while, remove it’s speed limits, until they discovered that the tourists coming to Montana to drive without limit were killing off too many of the local taxpaying citizens. Being from these states, and owning a Saleen, I am not ashamed to say that it is not all that uncommon for me or many others to exceed into triple digit driving. What bothers me the most about this article is not that it endorses driving fast; it is that it arrogantly defies what the rest of the general public expects of any mature driver. I would ask Jack to consider reading the previous article about driving Nürburgring Nordschleife. Where the professionals know enough and by habit train themselves to pull to the right when you see some on approaching from behind, so that the faster vehicle can safely pass to the left. Risking others people’s lives so you can avoid Johnny Law is immature. I have 5 sons between the ages of 18 and 25 who I constantly have to rebuke for driving like they are in a video game. Jack needs to grow up and realize he is not invincible nor are the others on the Road. If you want to drive fast in America, there are more than enough lonely roads out there to be as dangerous as you like without hurting anyone but yourself and maybe the cow or coyote that wanders out in front of you. To even imply that it is somehow acceptable to play NASCAR or F1 with a bunch of commuters in Prius’ and Soccer moms in vans and SUVs is shear lunacy. Any drive that would follow these instructions should be locked up fast. They are the ones that make it harder on those of us that do respect the right and or the confidence of the majority of other drivers on the road who do not feel they need to push the limit of their vehicle or expertise.

  • avatar

    Jack, did you apply any of these techniques for your last piece where you described your chance escape from a deadly accident while doing 123 MPH down I-95? It certainly got a lot of replies and controversy certainly does keep the page hits coming but this is just plain irresponsible and also very misleading advice. If you happen to have the means, time and inclination to risk your life in this manner, please keep it on the track where it belongs.

  • avatar
    Matthew Danda

    There was a time when I would have found this interesting. But getting older is weird. These days in my car I’m more interested in Bloomberg on XM than on hauling ass for the fun of it. Age is a funny thing.

    But I do love that photo!! 308 is it?

  • avatar

    @WildBill & @DaddyOfPayton

    Yea. Good ol’ 270. is a popular site, where people organize (thousands) in the central Ohio area for racing and runs.

    Recently (due to some deaths) Columbus and Highway Patrol are cracking down on street racing pretty heavily.

    This article is good. And going fast as hell (just got rid of a 350z) on the highway is an awesome rush. And although your article is controversial it does cover important things such as vehicle maintenance etc. Even in a my Z I made sure everything was top shape before going 100+mph.

    Passing on the shoulder is a no-no however. If you are going for max speed make sure you have lots of room to do it in, 3+ lanes and minimum traffic.

    Anways. Good stuff! Looking forward to more articles.

  • avatar

    ok, NOW you are officially trolling with these posts. I love them and I wholeheartedly approve of the sentiment.

    I can’t imagine holding (attaining yes) the speeds you mention on public roads though, and passing on the shoulder is a seriously dangerous move, worse even than doubling the speed limit. I also don’t own a Porsche, Phaeton or A5, all of which are cars that can handle those speeds with relative aplomb. Still, passing on the shoulder is bad advice (if I thought I might need to I’d slow down first), keeping an eye on the shoulder for evasive reasons is as far as I would go. Maybe that’s what you meant though.

    As to passing on the right, I do it too now, and it’s still a huge pet peeve of mine. I’d rather pass on the left and risk the ticket. Too many American drivers simply do not care about lane discipline, mostly because they don’t want to be bothered by merging traffic (too scary I think). The alternative is to terrorize people out of the left lane, which ends up causing a lot of aggravation and bad driving all around. On the other hand the idiots left lane clogging are causing the faster traffic to deal with mergers and hugely increasing their own risk of being sideswiped. I’ve heard people say words to the effect of “not my problem” with regards to the faster cars being forced right, and I’d say they are dead wrong about that, and might be officially too stupid to drive.

    I doubt you are dodging many tickets in the right lane btw, NYS troopers have fixed radar front and back that identifies the fastest target as well as the biggest (or is it smallest?) for each end of the car. If they’re parked parallel to traffic flow they’ve got a number for your car everytime if you fit either criteria. You may be dodging laser hits, but they’d still eyeball you in that case and be able to write an estimated ticket. I’ve got to assume that what you actually do to avoid tickets is use detection devices. If not you have huge, rhino sized balls.

  • avatar

    u can find really good driving advice here:

    i took it and i was suprised what a bad driver i am (was).

    Lots of advice on how to avoid accidents, some of it mirrored in this article. Keep away from everyone, give yourself an out, etc. I drive alot for work, we took this course, its good for anyone, but especially for those who need to got from place to place quickly and safely.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    I once was an hour away from my wife (then girlfriend) at a party when she called me and told me she was fearful of getting sexually assaulted by a drunk guy.

    I owned a 1988 thunderbird turbo coupe in ~2003 with 140-150k miles on it. Lightly modified.

    I drove ~130mph on two roadways where the flow of traffic was ~65-70mph, at night. I passed on the left, right, and shoulder at one point when someone unexpectedly cut me off.

    I looked downlane about 1/4 mile at a time, avoided obstacles, and usually only braked when there was no clear choice.

    I regret that evening, but moreso I regret what I had to do, not that I did it. Sometimes you need to know how to drive an absolutely obscene speed.

    I think the wisdom in this TTAC post is not in the education behind speeding, but in identifying when the risk/reward sways in which direction.

    Btw, I’m guesstimating 130mph. The speedometer ended at 85 but had notches to 95mph. But 4500-5000rpms in 5th gear indicates I was hauling.

    Nowadays, when I’m driving 65, I can close my eyes and name every car around me including make, model, and where I expect it to be 5 seconds later.

    But that took years to develop.


    • 0 avatar

      @Joe O Way old thread, I know, but I am doing a Jack Baruth reading retrospective.

      A shame you got stuck with an 85mph speedo on your Turbocoupe. I had an 88 Supercoupe, with the 302 V8, and it came with a full speedo, at least 150, I think 160 tops.

      The car was rated at 143 tops, and I had previously calibrated the speedo to be accurate to within one per cent or less.

      There was once a massive fogstorm rolling in all up and down the east coast, and the highway patrols of several eastern states where I95 and I85 ran, announced over radio broadcasts that were EVERYWHERE on the dial, that they wanted people to get where they were going and get off the road as soon as possible. A few years before dozens of cars and more people were wiped out in a similar fog storm in California, and they promised no speeding tickets…just reckless driving. If you drove sanely they promised not to write anyone up for speeding.

      And they kept their word. I made a run from the Atlanta beltway to downtown Richmond, a distance of about 535 miles IIRC in five hours and twenty minutes, including one fuel stop and a wolfed down Carolina BBQ sandwich. Hit 143 once, when a Porsche 944 tried to pass me while I was going 120, and I decided to show them their top end was less than the Supercoupe’s. My actual on the road time was closer to four and half hours.

      Didn’t try to run flat out the whole way, though, as there were still a lot of people “loafing” between 70 and 100mph, so when there was a lot of cars I slowed down. But when I had clear road, it was Katy bar the door, once I rolled by a couple of packs of troopers on the side of the road that just watched a pack of us doing 90+.

      One of the the best car days I ever had. And one of the best cars I ever had. The TC had a higher HP rating (but not every dynoed, AFAIK), but due to its narrow torque curve and turbolag, could never shut me down at lights except for one guy who admitted he skinned me with a 100 shot at a traffic light.

      But I’m glad things turned out OK in the end for you.

      My other ratrace was when my wife called me at work in Cherry Hill NJ on her way back to our home in Dover DE, after leaving a doctor appt, to tell me her water had broke.

      I did a lot of what JB suggests, though the traffic was too heavy to keep it above 130 continuously. But I made that approximately sixty mile run back to a hospital in Kent Co, where our son was born the next morning, at an average speed of well over the ton (100mph, Britspeak).

  • avatar

    Very mixed emotions in reading this… I love speed and I have yet to experience anything like the feeling of speeding on the street. I spent the first ten-twelve years of my driving life generally going as fast as possible on motorcycles and in cars, both here in the US and the UK and Germany where I lived for a number of years. I was lucky in that I never had a major high-speed accident and I never hurt or killed anyone, though I did rack up a fair number of offenses, including multiple license revocations in the US and a three month ban in Germany.

    So I get the need for speed thing. Completely. But I also recently had a child and boy has my driving changed. I still do get over to Germany occasionally for business, get a nice rental car and do a 155mph blast on the autobahn but never high speed in the US. Too much risk to me, my family and others families. So I understand where you are coming from, but I hope that you and anyone else taking your column’s advice, gains similar perspective before showing up in my rear view mirror and putting my family at risk. Just schedule a trip to Germany and get it out of your system – you can probably pay for the trip with the saved legal expenses!

  • avatar

    “Let us begin with this: it is possible to go much faster on North American public roads than the law allows. Much faster.”

    This is because all of our roads are straight. You’re heard of the tail of the dragon? Well how about the tip of the arrow? 318 miles, one turn. The longest, straightest road in the world.

    BTW, take your junk to the track comma monkey.

  • avatar

    From us race drivers and experienced high performance driving instructors (what do we know about high speed driving? anyway…well not much I guess). However I am now laughing as from previous author’s article regarding his talented escapes from 100mph+ public road driving exercises that this “track & racing experience” didn’t count for anything – but for some reason the learning how to properly use your vision does.

    We all speed (even me) but: double the speed limit; 100mph + in light traffic; driving like you are a time trials racer through traffic, etc.

    How about this analogy (it is a slippery slope but oh so relevant)…it is illegal to discharge hand guns in public…but it’s not illegal if you don’t get caught right? So what’s wrong with just discharging guns in public when we are careful where we aim (such as a trained professional sharp shooter) – remember their skill doesn’t count for much, or it does (I’m confused now by the author’s point in this regard). I think I can let off some rounds into / nearby a small crowd where I’ll make sure the aim (hopefully) won’t hit anybody as I’m good b/c I can do it often and not get caught.

    Moral of the story: It’s the professional and mature attitude that stops this behavior in the first place.

  • avatar

    I assume the context of pointing out the stupidity and/or inexperience of US drivers as compared to Germans is to reinforce the idea that high speed driving on US roads is not comparatively safe. Otherwise, I don’t see the point.

    The right lane is usually empty because that is where the on-ramps are, and it seems most US drivers don’t know that accelerating to highway speed is supposed to start on the on-ramp. While I would like to drive in the right lane and let Speed Racer use any of the other lanes, I don’t like slowing down to 56 every time Soccer Mom decides to use the freeway for two miles.

    During peak traffic flow (meaning three hours in the morning and three hours in the evening) the “passing” lane is full of commuters. That’s where I am. I want to go fast. So does he. I know this because I can see him dodging in and out of lanes behind me for the last couple miles. This is fine. But I don’t wish for him to cut me off like he did to others six times in the last 90 seconds. So I will leave a gap, which he will fixate upon while enthusiastically attending to the accelerator. The gap will start to close. But not abruptly. In fact, he will need to make a decision about how fast the gap is closing and decide if he can hoon his way in front of me. It’s unclear whether I’m oblivious to the situation or I’m doing it deliberately. That’s why it’s so exasperating.

    For him.

  • avatar
    Daniel J. Stern

    @Matthew Danda:
    There was a time when I would have found this interesting. But getting older is weird.

    Yep. Live to drive (then) vs. drive to live (now).

  • avatar

    On second thought, I don’t have as big a problem with the article as I do with the fact that it has been posted. Either this is a joke (in which case it’s a lousy one), or TTAC believes this is an appropriate driving practice (in which case I expect more from a supposed “car enthusiast” site), or it’s a shameless attempt to rile up the readers and drive site traffic (in which case it is highly unprofessional).

    Feel free to ban me for the observation, because I will no longer be commenting – you have just lost a reader.

    Respectfully yours,

  • avatar

    I really don’t like your pass-on-the-right preference. As other posters have mentioned, if I see someone coming hot on my tail I’m moving right to let him by. I’d hate to get rear-ended, or induce instability in my vehicle trying to duck back into my original lane.

    That said when I’m riding fast (on my motorcycle, my car doesn’t do fast) I will pass on the right when necessary, but my preference is always to pass on the left. On freeways with traffic I usually cruise at a max of 90-100, so I’m not close to your speeds. I’ve also got mondo brakes, so I can haul my speed down in a hurry, and I’ve had to on a few occasions. No ABS, though, so my adventures are strictly on dry pavement.

  • avatar

    …..definately a troll.


  • avatar

    Great article. How about following it up with a “how to” on Russian roulette?

  • avatar

    I find it amazing how people can treat speeding like a moral issue and become utterly indignant when anyone brings it up in a positive light.

    Please take it lightly, and with a big ol grain of salt. It’s an editorial, and last I checked that was the realm of opinion, hearsay and personal choice. So I don’t find this article shocking in the least. At least the writer is being intelligent enough to think ahead and devise strategy – unlike 99% of drivers, particularly the minority who drive like maniacs without the skills or forethought to pull it off (I know many of these folks, and they are mostly dead). I don’t condone driving at hyper speed. But I’ve been there, and I’d be a hypocrite if I pointed the finger and said shame on you.

  • avatar


    The behavior you describe can best be described as childish, irresponsible and anti-social.

    Let’s think for a moment about what it would mean if a noticeable but still insignificant fraction of the drivers out on the road (~1%) started to drive this way. Chaos, right? And a lot of unnecessary misery.

  • avatar

    Back when I was younger and more foolish, I explored the out limits of my sportbike’s capability on Boston’s route 128. That ended one day when a State Trooper pulled me over. He could easily have arrested me, but he wrote me a normal three-point $50 speeding ticket. That day, I realized that he did me a huge favor and ever since then I have not driven even remotely like that on the street. I’m sure the officer in question has long since forgotten me, but I remember what he did for me 22 years ago. I’m still alive, still riding and still enjoying it. That was my last speeding ticket.

  • avatar

    I’d rather not pick off truck convoys by using the right lane, but any traveler of I-81 knows it a survival tactic.

  • avatar

    Well said. Being of German descent, I have made the trip many times, and have been fortunate to be behind the wheel of a 911 turbo on the Autobahn. I will also add a number six for you.

    6. When you are going 150, cars ahead that are doing 70 look like they are backing up.

  • avatar

    “in which case I expect more from a supposed “car enthusiast” site”

    what? What other forum would be appropriate for discussions on speeding? Nevermind one that highlights the danger involved and focuses on accident prevention (something I’m not sure I’ve ever seen presented so baldly).

    Lets not kid ourselves, the vast majority of readers on any “car enthusiast site” break the law on a nearly daily basis, just like the rest of the population. This article merely addresses our particular brand of selfish lawlessness in detail. Being so outraged (a little outrage I get) is akin to visiting the High Times website and being SHOCKED by discussions of excessive drug use and how not to get busted.

  • avatar

    Sorry Jack, I can’t avoid both to read your piece nor to make comments on it. I’m one of those assholes that usually don’t go more than 20 km/h more than the speed limit. I have personal reasons (death of a close one) to do that.

    I don’t understand why you feel the need to write about your “skills”. Are you just bragging about it? Do you think you’re doing some kind of community service, by sharing your “experience” with other potential killers high speed drivers?

    As many other assholes like me, I would like to know: why do you cool jocks have to speed in a highway full of traffic (i.e. I-95)? If you can afford cool performance cars, why can’t you go to some road in the middle of the desert where you will be less likely to kill anybody but yourself? I mean, you really don’t give a shit for my life, do you? How will you feel the day you just “run out of luck” and hit a soccer mom and kill her kid? No question, it will be her fault and not yours, for changing lanes at the wrong time, or driving too slow, or not being as skilled and smart as you, but still…

    I can even see some kids saying: “Hey, I will just follow Jack Baruth’s advice, that guy knows his stuff, speeding is easy if you follow his rules, he does it all the time!”. The difference is, the kid will be 18 and with no experience racing cars like you, but go tell him… Next thing you know, somebody is burying his girlfriend/son/whatever, because the kid just wanted to do as Ol’Jack does…

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    Is this where I sign up for the economy drive shootout comparison test Insight x Fit x Yaris x Prius x Tercel?
    Mika Häkkinen.

  • avatar

    I think one thing people forget to realize is that ANY driving involves a trade off between safety and convenience/speed. We could set speed limits to 1mph everywhere and virtually eliminate traffic accidents, but nobody would get anywhere.

    If you take that into account, then it becomes a question of “when does the trade off of speed for safety become not worth it”. I have no idea, but I can definitely say (in my opinion) that the speed limit is not the ideal compromise. I don’t go to the lengths that Jack does, but I definitely couldn’t care less about speed limits. There are pretty much 2 things I focus on when I drive:

    1) Always have a backup plan/escape route/think every other driver is an idiot out to get you
    2) Always drive in a way that, if everybody were to drive like me, I could still reasonably expect to get where I’m going without being killed

    Sometimes this involves going under the speed limit (when it’s raining heavily or snowing) and sometimes it involves speeds that are double or triple the speed limit

  • avatar
    Joe O

    The most dangerous thing I’ve seen on the road was only 24 hours ago (i’m still young I guess).

    A ~2001 Ford Explorer was on my right as we were approaching a Y on the road where two seperate highways develop. He started to edge into my lane so I backed up. Without a turn signal, he switched into my lane about 5 feet in front of me.

    He then paused and, with no warning, violently went into the left side of the Y at the exact moment of where the concrete wedge divider began to form. I swear I don’t know how he missed the divider.

    I then proceeded to watch the top-heavy SUV begin to do the bouncy-bounce. His rear end slid across both lanes and onto the shoulders as he overcorrected the out of control, top-heavy vehicle. He nearly flipped.

    Now he was going 55mph and only by the grace of God was no one around to be slammed into, or that he flipped and killed himself. And all he did was panic.

    People are outraged over very high speeds, but you need to put it into perspective of people driving tired, texting, or driving top-heavy 5000 pound vehicles. The dangers of someone driving a car ultra-fast may not be as great when that person is suitably trained and ultra-aware, compared to the guy in the Dodge Durango kissing my bumper at 85mph and weaving in and out of traffic.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    in continuation of my mild defense of this article…

    If you don’t have a problem with a 5500-6000 pound SUV doing 65mph, or 70mph, or even 75mph (quite normal and accepted almost everywhere) in traffic, then why do you have a problem with a 3000 pound car, designed to go very very fast, doing 100-120mph in traffic?

    Both are likely to be operating at the limits of the vehicles capabilities.

  • avatar

    Passing on the shoulder at 100 mph?

    This is nuts.

    Articles such as this are nonsense, and only make it harder for those of us who want to raise speed limits to more realistic levels (in Pennsylvania, for example, that would mean raising it from 65 mph on rural limited access highways to 80 mph).

    The first time some dimwit attempts to pass at 100 mph on the shoulder and wipes out a family in the Dodge Caravan, the immediate response from the “speed kills” crowd is to crack down on everyone driving at 75 mph. As if that is the real problem…

    I hope no one takes this seriously.

  • avatar

    Joe O,

    “If you don’t have a problem with a 5500-6000 pound SUV doing 65mph, or 70mph, or even 75mph (quite normal and accepted almost everywhere) in traffic, then why do you have a problem with a 3000 pound car, designed to go very very fast, doing 100-120mph in traffic?”

    The vehicle is designed for that speed, but the driver… not necessarily.

    Besides, 90% of the traffic is moving around 70 mph or whatever, because that’s what they’re expected to do. Driving at 120 mph under those conditions is like heading towards a brick wall at 50 mph… and hoping to find a hole in it to get through.

  • avatar
    bill h.

    Regardless of whether one agrees with some of these methods (even finding a garbage-free shoulder on US highways in their current state of disrepair is a hoot), I do find it interesting that the techniques involved seem to differ depending on who is talking/writing.

    No shuffle steer ever? Exactly the opposite advice of a driving instructor who was profiled some years ago in Performance Car. OTOH, I can understand the logic in keeping to braking in a straight line only–excessive loading of the front wheels by trying to make them do too much at once during a turn can cause them problems (especially in a front drive car). But I thought Bondurant WAS the school of driving that advocated trail braking?

  • avatar

    Wow, is this article for real? Some of the “advice ” is good (defensive driving), but the company it keeps? No thanks.

    I too believe this sullies TTAC’s brand. Hey, it is cool to march to your own beat–but not killing people as “luck” versus “choice” is somewhat sickening.

  • avatar

    passing on the shoulder is simply batshit nuts.

    Ride his bumper and flash your lights. Honk if necessary. He’ll get the picture.

  • avatar
    Brendon from Canada

    Interesting article – curious to see the upcoming follow-up.

    I really didn’t take this article as a comment on Mr. Baruth’s skills or judgement (or lack thereof, if that’s your point of view). Given the amount of preparation that he advocates, I suspect most people simply wouldn’t have a vehicle maintained/inspected well enough to even start the process; since this is a significant pet peeve of mine, it probably explains part of the fascination. Here in Ontario, the draconian speeding “laws” (I use that term extremely loosely) keep most traffic at below 95mph or so, but even so, the number of vehicles traveling at 85+ mph that simply shouldn’t be is rather staggering.

    I have seen the shoulder pass at ~80mph a couple of times and while I’m not an advocate of ever passing on the right (though I’m certainly guilty of doing so on occasion), nevermind the shoulder, it didn’t seem particularly dangerous, nor difficult from my vantage point a few cars back.

    For my $.02 most of the comments here seem fueled by emotion rather than any rational thought – and I don’t advocate the practice of any high speed driving on populated highways…

  • avatar

    I suggest this. We all take our cars around to the neighborhoods where people think its find to go double the speed limit and make sure we drive by at 2x – 3x the speed limit when they or their family is out front. With “luck” we’ll make sure we don’t harm you…but is that all you need for you o be safe?

  • avatar

    Jack Baruth you are a selfish scumbag

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Please translate:

    NASA’s Time Trial
    the steering wheel “pinched”
    Jarno Donut

  • avatar

    Jack, you magnificent bastard!

  • avatar

    I am assuming that this is meant to be humor. Because if are serious about driving in and passing on the shoulder, then you honestly need to do a little quality jail time and put some real thought into what you’re advocating.

    I am by no means the slowest car on the road, but I do go to great lengths to avoid tailgating or passing on the right, and I would not make a habit of driving outside of the lane lines on an interstate. I would rather get the occasional ticket and slow down when appropriate than be a menace to society or get myself killed.

    Let’s face it, we don’t maintain our roads well enough and haven’t conditioned our drivers enough to watch for high speed drivers to support 100+ mph traffic, so this is not the best place to max out your speed. And driving on the shoulder and passing on the right are never good ideas, especially when your speed is so much higher than the prevailing flow of traffic.

  • avatar

    Someone mentioned Alex Roy. He broke the cannonball run record. Drove from Jersey to San Fran in 31 hours 4 minutes.
    His book has some very enlightening tips on how to drive fast. Some things remain constant in interviews I have seen. Main one being:
    If you drive egregiously, no matter how much anti-speed detection devices you have, you will get caught. Do not pass on the right. Do not pass people going 40 miles faster than them. They will call the cops. Do not tailgate. Do not weave. DO NOT PASS ON THE SHOULDER! Main point is, be invisible. People will see you speeding but forget about you seconds after you pass if done properly.
    And watch out for SUVs that speed. Trucks and SUVs tend to be driven by a certain “personality”. The fastest I have gone in my A6 is 170km/h. I did so to get away from a F-350 that was FIVE feet from my bumper on a 120km/h highway. I figured speeding was safer than the certain death I would experience if a deer jumped out in front of me and I had to slam the brakes.
    If you want to drive as the article suggests, here is a clip of a Ford GT running from the cops:
    On a side note, nothing gives me more pleasure than dusting an SUV or Truck on the highway as they try to be speed demons.

  • avatar

    The first rule of Maximum Street Speed is, you do not talk about Maximum Street Speed.

    Seeing as we’re writing a movie script.

  • avatar

    This is a troll. No way does anyone drive twice the limit and pass on the right without someone full of righteous indignation and a cell phone calling the law.

  • avatar

    As always, thanks for reading. A few random responses:

    * A few people mention Alex Roy. Mr. Roy, with whom I have corresponded, was interested in setting a cross-country record, whereas I am only interested in saving time and breaking the monotony of civilized life. As a result, we are likely to see things a bit differently. As we will see in later installments of this series, not running against the clock is a great help in going quickly.

    * It’s been suggested that I buy a 600cc sportbike. I’ve had a couple of ’em. As I’ve broken my neck and legs in bike accidents, I no longer find it comfortable to operate something like a Gixxer Thou. It was also suggested that I try racing. I was the winner of this past Saturday’s NASA Great Lakes PTE race. It’s been suggested that I step off a cliff; I’ll keep that option open :)

    * The original Bondurant curriculum did not, to the best of my knowledge, advocate trail-braking, and neither did Skip Barber. They do now, of course. On the street, we don’t trail-brake because such a technique depends on consistent traction conditions.

    NASA’s Time Trial: a type of motorsport in which drivers share the track but compete for lap times, not position.

    Trail-braking: leaving the brake depressed during the entry phase of a corner, rotating the car more than steering alone.

    the steering wheel “pinched”: having one’s steering wheel not perfectly straight at the clipping point of a corner, thus slowing the exit.

    shuffle-steer: steering the car by maintaining hand position and “shuffling” the wheel between one’s hands. This is the greatest sin known to man in this post-Christian era, roughly equivalent to the Arian heresy eighteen centuries or so ago, and is punished by death. Demonstrated here:

    Jarno Donut: a fun way to complete U-turns in traffic, discussed in future articles.

    CG-Lock: a device which takes the slack out of a street-car seatbelt, allowing the use of the left foot for braking instead of bracing.

  • avatar

    So, shall I take it as flaming the editor is allowed, this editorial is actually a Farago-approved piece of official trolling? Messages like that needs responses on a similar level, so it seems appropriate.

    Nevertheless, someone seems to have misunderstood the joy of driving. Absolute speed at all costs is not the ultimate goal of a driving experience. Long straight highways are actually dangerous, because driving them in a monotonous speed makes people relax and concentrate on other things than driving. The fact that it’s boring makes people fall asleep. But that shall not be taken as an excuse for hooning…

    The most fun I have on public roads, are narrow and twisty backroads, with a speed limit of 90 km/h, or the equivalent of perhaps 55 mph. And the joy is to acheive flow, when man-machine becomes one. The cars different mechanical parts becomes a part of your body. That kind of feel when you do exactly everything right. heel/toe, accelerating, lifting the gas, going uphilll, downhill, between bends and curves. And you feel that kind of nirvana, that puts the experience on par with having really great sex. And the point is, you can have that kind of fun, within legal speed limits, with about every kind of car. Because the joy isn’t speed above everything else, but optimizing all the factors involved in the most harmonious way.

    Taken from that perspective, what Jack Baruth and consorts are doing is nothing but jerking off. And putting other people in danger. That clock you are speaking of, Jack, where the luck runs out in the end. The problem is that you are not only ticking your own clock, but everybody elses as well, that comes in your way. Playing god usually ends up with people getting hurt. Are you prepared for the responsibility it means to have other peoples lifes on your hand? Or spilling their blood?

  • avatar

    I’m curious about this Jarno Donut to be discussed :) Thanks Jack.

    My only comment is that I highly recommend not passing to the right at speed.

    I totally understand the need to pass to the right – there are a lot of drivers on North American roads that like to hang out in the left lane, and never exercise any lane discipline.

    Unfortunately, there’s a subclass of this type of driver that absolutely hate being passed to the right. I think half of these people suddenly realize that they’ve forgotten to exercise any sort of lane discipline and try to overcompensate by suddenly moving into the right lane.

    The closest I’ve ever been to a high-speed accident, I was passing to the right, and the lane-hugger to my left merged into the right lane (my lane) at the last second.

    I didn’t have enough time to slow down, and narrowly missed an accident by merging into the left lane where they were. It might have been the adrenaline of the situation, but I think I avoided collision with less than a foot to spare.

    Ever since then, (this was 10 years ago) I always slow down to their speed + 10mph if I need to pass on the right.

    I really wish we had German-quality driver education here. You really should not be able to obtain a drivers license without being able to demonstrate that you can maintain properly inflated tires, know how to emergency brake, and exercise proper lane discipline.

  • avatar
    Sean H.

    The advice here is helpful if you’re in the exact situation that the author is in, however it’s sketchy at best if you are on a different type of road.

    One thing I picked up from the article is where you said that cops “look down the left lane”. I assume you either mean when they’re on the opposite side of the highway, or when they’re on the same side but further behind. I’m pretty sure a cop doesn’t hold his cone of vision to one lane. If he sees something flying like a bat out of hell, he’ll stop you regardless of what lane you’re in.

    And I have yet to see a cop parked at a turn trying to catch someone. People always slow down before turns. That would be the dumbest place to be for a cop.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with most of that…then you wrote the part about cops not being around a corner.I saw 3 just around a bend in the road yesterday locally.
      One had a radar gun,the other was waving drivers over.CAUGHT drivers.There were 4 cars waiting on the shoulder for tickets at the time as I drove by,with the third cop writing their tickets.When you saw them,it was too late.Those cops didn’t look too dumb,but the dorks on the roadside were feeling it.Lucky for me,I’d seen them setting this trap up on the way out earlier.

  • avatar

    Let me reiterate something: Every single time we drive, we ALL put other people’s lives at risk. There’s no way around it, making a 3000+lb hunk of metal travel at highway speeds (even if you obey the speed limit) puts other people at some kind of risk. So the argument isn’t that Jack is putting other people at risk and the average driver isn’t-it’s that he’s putting other people at greater risk than the average driver.

    If you look at it that way, the next logical question is “how much more dangerous to his fellow drivers is someone that drives like Jack when compared with an average driver”? I bet the answer is “not as dangerous as you think”.

    I’m not trying to justify his (or my) behavior on the road. I’m just trying to frame this as a logical discussion instead of an emotional one.

    There are all sorts of activities that put others at risk that nobody seems to have a problem with. A recreational pilot could screw up and crash into a house and kill an entire family. A recreational pilot also has no other reason to be in the sky aside from his personal enjoyment. Should we ban recreational flying because one man’s enjoyment is putting innocent people at risk? Of course not, because the danger he’s posing to others is minuscule and well worth the tradeoff for the enjoyment he gets out of flying.

    The above may be a fanciful example, but the point remains the same. If Jack is only posing a little more risk to his fellow drivers, but enjoying himself and getting where he wants to go faster, how bad should he really feel?

  • avatar

    Shuffle steering works well when you break traction. But I don’t think there’s a best steering practice for every driver. To each his own, there’s been great drivers that favor different techniques and style obviously. But I like shuffle steering a lot. And I’ve never been in an accident behind the wheel in 20 years of driving. And I break traction a lot, and go fast a lot and pass on the right all the time, but only when there’s lots of room on the right. I’m with Alex Roy though. Jack’s “advice” sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. I’ve passed on the shoulder once, only once and it was when I was 20 faster than a driver who suddenly cut me off just as I was passing him on the left. He basically forced me into the shoulder. I wouldn’t do it under any other circumstances.

    To me, there’s an art and style to going fast. And it’s not about a white knuckle grip on the wheel and heart pounding adrenaline. It’s about being patient, relaxed, staying back, not tailgating, waiting for that pocket 1/2 mile up ahead to open up, then punch it and leave everyone far behind, including the guy in the SUV tailgating 20 over 10 feet from your back bumper in the left lane.

  • avatar

    the problem is, all the Jack Baruths of the world doesn’t have complete control of everybody else. Just because you yourself is a perfect driver, doesn’t make everybody else perfect. Going 120 on the right lane could be dangerous, as some idiot who could not have foreseen the situation moves from the middle lane to the right, right in front of you. You have to take into consideration that everybody on the road are idiots by default, and drive accordingly, with care.

    Actually I like the nautical world. Where I come from, most of the rules for how to behave at sea is not written down, but parts of a culture. As a skipper, you have a tremendous freedom, but also a responsability for your own actions. The rules could be described as to behave according to “good boatmanship”. Like driving your vessel at “safe speed”. so, what is safe speed? Safe speed is where no accidents happen. If you are a good driver and have a fast boat, it could be a higher speed than for a slower boat with an inexperienced skipper.

    The point is, driving your vessel safe means you have absolute control at all times, of all situations. And if anything happens, if it’s your fault, then you haven’t acted according to good boatmanship or driven at safe speed, and are then automatically guilty by default. Safe speed is having absolute and complete control, of your entire surroundings, including planning for obstacles like any other boat on the horizon.

    If people drove their cars at “safe speed”, absolutely no accidents would happen. If that means driving at 5 miles per hour, then so be it. But driving like Jack Baruth is neither safe nor good drivership. And that means he puts himself and other in danger.

  • avatar

    Truck convoys are the exception. They will punish you for right-lane passes.

    Sigh, you’re making me nostalgic for my old Frieghtshaker. And yes, you’re right, we would. Always prime late night entertainment to keep some guy that had been previously barreling along at 115 in a rolling box (trucks on all sides) doing the speed limit.

  • avatar

    One thing about tearing up and down the twisty backroads: People who pull out from side roads or driveways have a tendency to assume that oncoming traffic is going at or near the speed limit. Speeders like me have to keep that in mind.

  • avatar

    Shades of Car and Driver, circa 1973. Anyone up for a Cannonball run? Can we discus radar detectors next?

    (Glad RF decided against the subscription idea.)

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    Jesus Christ Jack, you’re a douche. I love it, though. :)

  • avatar

    So Jack says,

    “Sometimes innocent people get hurt—if any of us are truly “innocent” in this world. Sometimes the driver will go to jail or beyond that to the penitentiary. Sometimes people die. “

    Jack’s conclusion: sometimes people die, but they’re all suckers and I don’t give a shit.

  • avatar

    Pass me on the left,
    like a pro,
    and I let you go,
    and go, and go.

    Pass me on the right,
    like a moron,
    and I call the cops,
    on my cell phone,
    and give them your,
    twenty, vector, desctiption and plate,
    and I’m gonna pray the cops bust your ass,
    before you kill someone.

    (sorry the 2nd stanza doesn’t rhyme,
    but then the sentiment is more important that the form here…)

  • avatar
    Ken Elias

    The NHTSA site has some interesting facts about speeding and fatalities. One of the most interesting is that ratio of fatalities in non-speeding accidents is about 2.5x the number of fatalities in speeding accidents. And if you reduce the impact of alcohol impairment in speeding fatal accidents – which is about 40% – then the fatal numbers in non-speeding accidents goes up to about 4x the number of fatals in speeding accidents. The ratio would go even higher if you took out all the young males with testosterone coming out of their _____ that were both impaired and speeding.

    Bottom line – young males shouldn’t drink and drive!

    Btw, only 12% of speeding fatalities occurred on Interstates.

    (Note: Not condoning speeding…just looking at facts.)

  • avatar

    Jack, you’re a glorious bastard.

    That said, interesting piece… though I wouldn’t condone using the shoulder on an unfamiliar road. If you don’t know the condition of the pavement or the level of garbage/dust/detritus on the shoulder, it’s not advisable. The best places to do good highway pace have at least three to four lanes, giving you ample space to pass those idiots doing 45 on the left lane… legally.

    It takes a fair amount of telepathy to anticipate the actions of the cars in front of you. And learning this is perhaps more important than learning how to drive… and is something even “slow” drivers should learn.

    Threading the fastest line through traffic without eliciting honks, brake squeals or middle fingers is quite satisfying. Especially if the guy in the Bimmer who was riding your ass fifteen seconds ago is still stuck in the wrong lane tailgating a semi.

  • avatar

    i think it’s a bit late in the day to complain about the author’s writing and driving style

    didn’t he get the same response in his VW Phaeton escapades at over twice the national speed limit?

    does he actually drive like that? does he actually condone or carry out what he writes? who knows? who cares? maybe it’s just plain fiction

    it’s just words on a screen… you can watch videos on youtube of that stuff if you really want to

    i kinda believe the author was probably born at the wrong time… he sounds like he belongs in the same era as brock yates

  • avatar

    breaking the monotony of civilized life.

    If done frequently enough, it’s civilized life that gets broken.

  • avatar

    Mr Baruth is dangerous. Driving is a social experience – many US drivers can’t handle being passed by at triple digit speeds.

    Having said that: You’d think there’d be a satellite, cell and/or CCTV tool that could give a driver with Mr Baruth’s idioticparticular tendencies traffic data 5-10 miles ahead. Average/hi/lo/σ speeds, vehicle density, & law enforcement locations. Maybe Google can manage something with Garmin.

    To me, there’s an art and style to going fast. And it’s not about a white knuckle grip on the wheel and heart pounding adrenaline. It’s about being patient, relaxed, staying back, not tailgating, waiting for that pocket 1/2 mile up ahead to open up, then punch it and leave everyone far behind, including the guy in the SUV tailgating 20 over 10 feet from your back bumper in the left lane.

    +1. You can speed on public roads without being a hazard.

  • avatar

    Anyone else ever roll a joint while steering with your knees on the interstate?

  • avatar

    Jack’s article is only incidentally about driving fast. It plausibly appears to be relevant to this site because the site regularly hosts content hostile to traffic law enforcement.

    The article and actions are really about pecking order. Pecking order on the racetrack, the highways and this website. A mentality so disturbed by associating with better racers that they have to turn to the highways to achieve the rank of BEST. Since the other “competitors” are such easy prey because obviously they aren’t even playing the game, it requires taking the game to psychotic levels to disgiuse how hollow are the “victories”.

    Then there’s the attempt to coax more mileage out of the wins by describing them, and the superior skill and equipment that allows such lopsided triumphs, on this car/driver-oriented website.

    Practically every website with discussion has an undercurrent of pecking order dynamics. It’s too bad the most ardent pecking order competitors don’t have a website set up for just that purpose where they could duke out who’s the meanest, toughest, wealthiest etc hombre out there. Rather than the hot players spoiling innumerable websites with their easy pickins and snobbery.

    Fast drivers ask us to believe they sometimes must speed to save time. Well, if they count the time needed to acquire the vehicle and some skills needed for this negligent activity, they sure don’t save that much time speeding.

    This is merely neurotic if they only talk about it or confine it to venues where everyone is playing the same game, like a racetrack. But forcing this game on people who aren’t playing it, to the extent of risking their lives to the degree described, is pathological. No one’s ego has a valid claim on someone else’s life.

    I agree with the poster who describe how developing your “flow” of driving can be deeply satisfying, despite it not being in other driver’s faces like going 200mph.

    I would venture that great achievement at driving skill is less impressive than, say, working one’s way up the pecking order of those who contribute to making the world a better place. In that context, street racing seems kind of infantile.

  • avatar

    Well, some people just “have to learn the hard way” that every time they get into a car, they need to drive “as if their lives depended on it.” Because their lives DO “depend on it.”

    Crashes in the right shoulder are actually quite common, and often deadly — generally the moving vehicle is speeding, and it hits a non-moving vehicle. Air bags and seat belts aren’t going to help you much — you might as well just grab a handgun, load one bullet, and play Russian Roulette. Your odds are pretty darn similar.

    I subscribe to a free service called “flashnews” in my local area — most of the “news” is in the form of up-to-the-minute press releases by law enforcement agencies. Gosh golly, there are fatal accidents just about every day. And the agencies provide plenty of pictures — it’s just a daily parade of, usually, “plain and simple poor judgement.”

    Speed is fun, but you only live once. And all of the other people on the road who you put at risk aren’t having fun when you risk their lives, either. You might be the best driver in the world, but you just can’t know whether that one car in front of you is going to stomp on the brakes when you have no-where else to go — it just takes one move by one car, and you could wind up with some guy sweeping parts of your skull off the pavement, and tossing them into the garbage.

    The concept is “respect” — respect your life, respect the lives of the passengers in your car, and respect the lives of all the other people who have to share the road with you. If you insist upon “learning the hard way,” it’s quite likely that you’ll take a few of these other folks out along with you.

    I’ve got no problem with hustling a little bit, “making time” on a road trip, and so on — but there are times when it’s worth your while, and times when it’s not. The game isn’t “push it and try to get away with it” — it’s “drive competently with safety as your number one priority.”

    If you really want to drive fast for the sport of it, well, there’s plenty of “sport” to be found on local racetracks all over the country. Wherein you can find “controlled” environments, and protect your life and limbs with safety equipment on your vehicle and on your body.

    Here’s hoping that my fellow TTACers with the “need for speed” will satisfy it on a race track, rather than winding up in some “flashnews” message in my Inbox.

  • avatar

    I suspect a good bit of hypocrisy in some of the responses here. Jack’s biggest transgression is being honest about the stupid/irresponsible things he’s done. I could easily list a handful of things I’ve done on the road that are more dangerous, immoral, and would elicit a higher “you belong in jail” reaction than the antics Jack’s described in his articles, and yet, I consider myself to be a reasonably safe, aware driver most of the time.

    We all do stupid, irresponsible things occasionally. Having lots of skill and/or a competent vehicle raises the limits of what you might get away with. So does luck. I recently bought a 1000 cc sport bike, and hitting triple digits is cake. I did it during my 15 minute morning rush hour commute just this morning. I was not pushing the bike, nor my comfort level. The same could/would not have happened in my ’92 Jetta. Of course, all arguments wouldn’t matter if something actually went wrong…

    This is a car- and driving- enthusiast website, yet judging by these responses a reader is led to believe that no one here is ever interested in playing with the limits of their car, nor engaging in challenging driving. Of course respect for your fellow motorist/man is important, but no one here has advocated getting in other traffic’s way. Much to the opposite, actually.

    I don’t go on “The Truth About Being a Trophy Wife” and call people names when an SUV nearly swerves into me because the driver’s turned around fussing with her kids, nor do I rant on “The Truth About Being a Pompous Businessman” when someone on his cell phone runs a stop sign because he was busy checking his email. I accept that people do stupid shit sometimes, and as long as nothing was harmed, I continue my day and try to keep a watchful eye out. Is it so much to ask that people don’t come at me with flaming torches because I passed them at a higher rate of speed than they were expecting?

    I hope Jack keeps up with these articles, because if nothing else, I look at it this way: presumably whether he posts this stuff in public or not, it’s probably not going to change Jack’s driving behaviour. So his in-your-face writing style and brass-balled antics may as well provide me with some entertainment.

  • avatar

    I am no fan of the speed limit and I agree with everyone else above who describes the typical American driver training as woefully subpar, but Mr. Baruth’s driving, as described, seems to be a sure way to reduce his (and perhaps others’) life expectancy. Not that I would expect anything else from the author of:

  • avatar

    # Ronnie Schreiber :
    May 20th, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Anyone else ever roll a joint while steering with your knees on the interstate?

    Nothing’s as impressive/stupid as changing into uniform on the way to work at 55. Bonus points for juggling a cup of coffee and a sandwich at the same time.

    Ah. The things we do as kids when we’re young, stupid and immortal.

  • avatar

    I’m not going to argue OP’s points and “tactics”, but a lot of it seems utterly reckless. The main point that many people are hitting as far as disagreement goes is “passing on the right”:

    1.Lets say you know the stretch of highway like the back of your hand and you see that the right lane is perfectly open (like it usually is and you know for a fact that there is no merging lane or exit for a few miles), with the common tendency of traffic (including tractor trailers) to stay in the lane next to the right lane. Maybe one would go ahead and use this lane to pass (I’ve done it when I lived in an area closer to interstates). This is what I’m assuming the OP meant.

    2. Lets say you are driving down a divided two lane highway (2 lanes in each direction), and somebody is perfectly content driving 5-10mph under the speed limit. The right lane is wide open. Are you going to honk your horn and flash your high beams? Maybe you’d opt to pass on the right.

    I used to drive fast(er), but I don’t own cars anymore and the appeal really disappeared after a few events in my life happened and after gas shot up to over $4.50 a gallon in the states. Plus where I live now state troopers will pull over multiple offenders for going 2mph over the posted speed limit. Just doesn’t pay for me, so I’m usually the guy bumbling along in the cruising lane going exactly the speed limit. I’m not at all opposed to driving above 100mph on desolate roads (if nobody else is there the only person you are likely to hurt is yourself). However, 100 should be a cutoff in more urban areas for those with a “need for speed”. I’m not here to scold, if you want to drive fast by all means, just don’t complain about gas, vehicle maintenance/issues, or tickets. But if you drive at those speeds you have a lot of money to blow or somewhat immature (for me it was the latter).

    To me, there’s an art and style to going fast. And it’s not about a white knuckle grip on the wheel and heart pounding adrenaline. It’s about being patient, relaxed, staying back, not tailgating, waiting for that pocket 1/2 mile up ahead to open up, then punch it and leave everyone far behind, including the guy in the SUV tailgating 20 over 10 feet from your back bumper in the left lane.
    +1 more. When I was into speeding, this was pretty much how I drove. Never tailgated, just waited for a patch of empty highway.

  • avatar

    I too drive a Phaeton V8. Everything you say makes sense. I find that if I blast around folks on the right they really do not know how to react.

    They get just a little over-stimulation / emotional-overload and then go right back to whatever they were doing. I tend to let the weather be my guide. Generally, if it is a day when no one would want to stand next to a car, the road is pretty much yours.

    In the state where I live, we also have to keep an eye out for State Patrol airplanes. The highways have marks that measure-off a mile and they use those marks to calculate your speed. When it is really overcast, that system does not work well.

    As you are well aware 130-135 is totally do-able and not at all scary in a Pheton. That’s all mine will do, but it does it very well.

  • avatar

    The people that speed for the thrill of it don’t scare me near as much as the folks who speed because they’re late for work. A good tip for driving in general is to keep emotion completely out of the equation. Don’t believe me? Piss off your wife while she’s driving.

  • avatar

    Brandloyalty: “But forcing this game on people who aren’t playing it, to the extent of risking their lives to the degree described, is pathological. No one’s ego has a valid claim on someone else’s life.”

    Your note caused me to ponder the pathologic and sociopathic aspects of the behaviour described in the article… and I think the following gives a nice summary…

    “Common characteristics of those with psychopathy are:
    – Grandiose sense of self-worth
    – Superficial charm
    – Criminal versatility
    – Reckless disregard for the safety of self or others
    – Impulse control problems
    – Irresponsibility
    – Inability to tolerate boredom
    – Pathological narcissism
    – Pathological lying
    – Shallow affect
    – Deceitfulness/manipulativeness
    – Aggressive or violent tendencies
    – Lack of empathy
    – Lack of remorse, indifferent to or rationalizes having hurt or mistreated others
    – A sense of extreme entitlement
    – Diminished levels of anxiety/ nervousness and other emotions
    – Poor judgment, failure to learn from experience
    – Lack of personal insight
    – Inability to distinguish right from wrong
    – ein echt winzig Schniedel”

    And then I realized that we may have found the adult manifestation of at least the first symptom in the MacDonald Triad. (

  • avatar

    This is automotive Taboo. reaching the indicated top speed is not all that of a thing… but sustaining high speeds on public roads is not what i call a smart thing to do. jersey seperators and right emergency lanes do not behave like Armco’s when you hit them which you will eventually do, and only luck and i mean LUCK WITH A FAT L, will keep you alive in case you crash at those speeds.

    if you want to speed on a public road, get a flight ticket and drive the Autobahn, if Germany is too bureaucratic, go to the back highways of the UAE, endless stretches of 6 lane highways, with not one car in sight, and in the back roads, cameras do not exist… there you can easily top out a car for sustained periods with no worries of other traffic to deal with, and whole lot of room to spin out of control and stop without hitting anything, if you happen to spin toward the right that is….. just watch out for Camels,

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    menno :
    Some of what you are saying is how Germans drive on the autobahn.

    Other parts of it, such as passing on the right to avoid being ticketed, is something I cannot safely respond to in a family oriented manner.

    High speed differentials demand one thing: Lane discipline. Never, ever, ever, pass on the right. If a German passes on the right on the autobahn a few times he faces a few months of driving ban.

  • avatar

    Sadly, in the US, it is not unusual to see individuals driving 10mph under the posted limit in the far left lane, no matter how many lanes are available. Even if they eventually move over (which many will not), it is only after one has dropped to their speed and they FINALLY noticed you.
    Then repeat again ad-nauseum a mile or two further down the road. Top it off with LE watching for ya, which is why they are typically found in the median, rather than on the right.

  • avatar

    With all due respect to the Europeans posting here: If you haven’t driven in North America, please don’t tell us how to drive over here.

    Driving styles between Europe (I’ve driven in France, Germany, and Switzerland) are very different than what we experience over here. Your reality is not ours. Of course everything would be safer if we practiced proper lane discipline, but unfortunately it goes both ways. People simply WON’T get out of the left lane. I spent the first few years of my driving life trying to “force” the European (and logical) convention of “stay right except to pass,” and the reality is that it just doesn’t work. At best you wind up stuck behind someone in the left lane going 5 under the speed limit, even if he’s the only car on the road, and at worst, they slam their brakes on you for having the gall to flash your high beams to suggest they move into the right lane.

    In this driving culture of doing whatever you want, the rapid driver must find the clearest, most predictable place to pass. Often, this is the right lane.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Can’t wait to read the REAL follow-up article, on one of three subjects:

    1. Jack Baruth’s obit after he dies in single-car accident. (This would be the least tragic scenario.)
    2. Jack Baruth’s arrest for negligent homicide after causing an accident where innocent drivers or passengers were killed.
    3. Jack Baruth becomes a ‘born-again’ safe-driving advocate, lobbying for better driver-training standards, increased traffic-law enforcement and slower national speed limit after a member of his family is killed by a driver who read and followed his ‘advice’ from one of these socio-pathic articles.

  • avatar

    “Anyone else ever roll a joint while steering with your knees on the interstate?”

    got caught rolling a cigarette once (in college) if that counts, no ticket.

    Let’s escalate…How about road head at 70+mph?

  • avatar

    JuniperBug, I don’t think the Europeans posting here should be dissed too much. They are used to driving around much more competent drivers.

    To be honest, with the roads being smaller in size and “lorries” (heavy goods trucks/semis) being similar in size to the US, plus overall crowding on the roads, and so forth, you HAVE to be more competent in the UK/Europe to stay alive.

    Hence, the governments are responsible enough to mandate better training before allowing folks out as drivers, on the public roadways.

    Yes, it is true. There is no way for a handful of people (like TTACers) to try to get the slow-pokes out of the fast lane.

    Flashing lights only infuriates them; they do not understand that you are simply saying in Euro-driver-signal-language “please move over to the right so I may go past thank you.”

    The typical driver here takes it as an affront to their manhood (or perhaps femininity) and you are likely to end up going slower yet. Then eventually slowly passing them on the right (assuming a two lane road in your direction), regretably.

    Passing on the right at speed differentials higher than about 10 mph is potentially lethal in the US.

    But I see it all the time, especially in southeastern Michigan where drivers’ brains obviously all fell out.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Back from a short holiday.

    For the record: I think this piece is no more than cheap hedonism: “it feels good, so I’ll do it”. As such, it’s totally immature and unimportant. Baruch cheapens himself with such material. It’s sad that a writer with such talent wastes it on stupid things.

    And it’s only because I’m not allowed to voice an opinion on what this says about TTAC’s editorial policy that I won’t.

  • avatar

    quite often the only way to pass is using right lane, reason folks will hog up middle & left lane at the speed limit or 10 mph above, u cant go anywhere thats all, only right lane is open.

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