Archive for the ‘Wheels’ Category

WFO Weekend: Texas Mile Gives Lead-Footed Drivers A Chance To Feed Their Need For Speed

March 12, 2010

Texas Mile Event

Read through some of the extraordinary experiences featured here over the years and it’s pretty clear that I like fast cars and motorcycles as much as the next guy.  That said, I think anyone who’s dumb enough to do triple-digit speeds on public roads deserves to have their license yanked right out from under them.

Especially when you consider how many places there are where you can safely run your high-performance machine wide f@#!ing open without putting innocent lives at risk.  Like the Texas Mile, for instance.

This relatively low-key event rolls onto a deserted airport runway located two hours north of Corpus Christi March 26-28 for three days of tire-smoking good fun.  Cars and bikes compete in four classes, ranging from 130 MPH to 200+ MPH, to see who can achieve the top speed from a standing start over the mile-long track.  Like my experience with the USFRA’s 130 MPH Club on the Bonneville Salt Flats, it’s a simple premise but oh-so addicting!

To get a feel for one of the few places in the world where speeding is actually encouraged, check out this short video from the folks at SuperCars Exposed.

MORE COOL STUFF:

Fast & Furious:  Frank Hawley’s NHRA Drag Racing School.

Fun With Fossil Fuels:  Detroit’s annual Woodward Dream Cruise.

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A Mondo Motorcycle Tour

February 10, 2010

Long distance motorcycle touring Utah 1088Despite a bad wreck, I still love motorcycles with the kind of completely irrational passion normally reserved for sports teams.  And given the fact that bike sales have gone through the roof in recent years, I figure I’m not alone in this mania.

But here’s something few people understand: Even though we might all look the same to the folks trapped inside their shiny metal boxes, there are basically two distinct types of motorcyclists.

The first and by far the largest group generally likes to spend their time polishing chrome or going for a leisurely afternoon ride within a couple hours of home.  Then there are the folks for whom their bike is a sort of magic carpet, a two-wheeled ticket to adventure.

If you or someone you know falls into this latter category, Austrian tour operator Edelweiss Bike Travel is offering what can only be described as a true once-in-a-lifetime motorcycling adventure. Riders on the Discover Our Earth Expedition will travel to more than 30 countries on five continents over the course of 248 days, covering roughly 40,000 miles along the way.

This never-before-attempted tour is fully supported, but you’ll need to supply your own dual-sport bike and come up with the —gulp—$101,000 price of admission. While that isn’t exactly cheap, it sounds like a small price to pay for a truly extraordinary experience to me.

Related Experiences:

Mileage Monsters: Long-Distance Motorcycle Rallies

Competitours: Amazing Race With A More Leisurely Pace

Hot Rods & Cool Concerts

August 10, 2009

Woodstock_music_festival_posterIf you were going to sit down and make a list of every uniquely American pop culture icon you could think of, hot-rods and rock-n-roll would have to be near the top of that list. Which makes two extraordinary experiences on tap for this coming weekend seem oddly patriotic:

Peace and Music

This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, the legendary open-air festival that saw 500,000 people descend on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, New York for “three days of peace and music.”  If you weren’t there, you can get a feel for the event Rolling Stone magazine called one of the “50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock-n-Roll” as the Heroes of Woodstock tour rolls into the Bethel Woods Center For The Arts, a 2,000-acre performance venue built on the site of the famous hippie-fest with many of the original Woodstock performers, including Jefferson Starship, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Canned Heat, and more.  If you can’t make it to this Saturday’s show, you can catch the tour at eight other dates from Boston to Los Angeles through October 10th.

Hot Rod Heaven

While there are lots of custom car shows held around the U.S. each year, none can come close to Detroit’s annual Woodward Dream Cruise.  This Saturday, August 15th will see more than a million automotive aficionados and their families lining the curbs along 16 miles of Woodward to watch 40,000 of the coolest hot rods, customs, and classic cars you’re ever likely to find gathered in one place roll by.  And the best part is that is that this day-long celebration of all things wheeled is free!

Fast Fun

August 3, 2009

Photo 10-AThe next six weeks will fly by as fans of land-speed racing—better known to all you cool kids out there as LSR—flock to the stark beauty of western Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats for two of the sport’s most high-profile events.

First up is Bonneville Speed Week, which rolls onto the bright-white salt just west of Wendover, Nevada August 8-14.  This is by far the biggest LSR event of the summer, with hundreds of racers vying to set new class records on three different courses at speeds that often top out at over 200 miles-per-hour.

While it’s hard to beat Speed Week for the sheer spectacle, I’m actually partial to the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association’s World Of Speed which runs from September 16-19.  While you’ll find plenty of serious record-chasers here too, what I love about this event is that its 130 MPH Club class that offers ordinary folks like you and me to take their daily drivers and, with a few simple safety modifications, run them flat-out on this legendary race course.

As is the case with all extraordinary experiences, the chance to be a participant in something this cool beats the pants off being a spectator every time!

Hit The Road jack!

April 8, 2009

qnlruqorhcwc48q35k15oamf_500Look through the extraordinary experiences featured on the pages of XTRORD.com and it’s pretty clear I’m always up for a new adventure.  Especially, a good roadtrip.

Which may help explain why I think June’s Rental Car Rally from San Francisco to Yuma, AZ sound like so much fun.  What really makes the idea of this 36-hour run so entertaining however is that, in addition to traditional rally scoring based on time and distance between checkpoints, the organizers award a healthy number of points for things like “Team Style” (think themed costumes here, and the more outrageous the better) and “random tomfoolery.”  Those two elements alone make it seem well worth the price of admission.

To join this rolling party, go to the rally’s Registration Page.  

Tanks-R-Us

March 13, 2009

163_0501_07z55-ton_chieftan_tactical_tankdriver_viewAh yes, Spring is in the air and a young man’s thoughts turn to…driving the biggest honkin’ machines he can find! Okay, well, at least mine do.

If that sounds like a heck of a good time to you too, you’ll want to check out this XTRORD.com feature story on what it’s like to play with 20-ton bulldozers and 30-ton excavators at Dig This in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. So much fun it’s hard to believe some folks actually get paid for this!

As much of an extraordinary experience as that was, however, nothing I’ve ever done tops the geeky thrill of driving a full-on 55-ton military battle tank. I had the chance to do just that a few years ago at Tactical Tanks on the outskirts of Dallas (check out the story and pix here) and all I can say is, wow, every red-blooded American should do this at least once!tanks-vertical

Unfortunately that operation closed down less than a year after my visit due to the untimely death of owner David Estes (a truly nice man). But not to fear, as I’ve got a lead on another place here in the U.S. that’s planning to make similar tank-driving experiences available to the general public. Look for that story on our Xperiences page in the months to come.

In the meantime, here are a few places in Europe that offer tank driving outings for those who can’t wait:

Germany: Panzerkutscher

England: The Dinscott Tank & Military Collection

England: Tanks-A-Lot

Giggles Per Greenback

January 26, 2009

meterLook, I watch the nonstop gloom-and-doom festival they call the nightly news and I know that times are tough all over.  But I also know that, if ever there was a time when we could all use to blow off a little steam and have a few laughs, well, this is it.

Which is why I’ve created  a thoroughly unscientific list of extraordinary experiences that I feel are outstanding values.  We’re talking about maximum yucks for minimum bucks

All will set you back less than $500.  Which seems like a small price to pay for an adventure guaranteed to make you forget all those news reports that had you feeling so freaky-freaky in the first place:

 

Heavy-Duty Therapy

Feeling frustrated?  Powerless?  Here’s my prescription: Take a few hours of tearing stuff up behind the controls of a 20-ton bulldozer or tracked excavator and call me in the morning.

 Mellow Out With Manatees

Remember the old Get Smart episode with the retrogressor gun, a device that made everyone act like a goofy eight-year-old kid for 30 minutes?  Coming face-to-face with a Florida manatee is just like that, only wetter.

Paragliding For Perspective

Sometimes, when things look bad, it helps to try a different perspective.  Like cruising hundreds of feet above the Pacific on an hour-long tandem paraglider flight from La Jolla’s Torrey Pines Gliderport.

Driven To Distraction

Car lovers looking for a little four-wheeled escapism need look no further than Detroit’s annual Woodward Dream Cruise.  If 12 hours of rubbernecking at 40,000 hot rods, customs, and classics doesn’t distract you from your troubles, nothing will.

Golden Opportunity

Who couldn’t use a little extra cash right about now, you know, for little luxuries like rent and groceries?  Well, allow me to suggest you go pick it up from the source on one of these gold prospecting adventures.

Iron Butt It!

For me, riding a motorcycle has always been a great way to decompress.  Add the gorgeous scenery and mental challenges of riding in a 24-hour endurance rally like the Utah 1088 and you have an experience that is both extraordinary and therapeutic.

Fais Do-Do At Fred’s

If there were a graduate-level course in forgetting your worries, they’d teach it during the weekly Saturday morning Cajun dance party at the legendary Fred’s Lounge in Mamou, Louisiana.  Don’t believe me?  Go ahead, show up here and try and have a bad time here, I dare you.

Run Flat Out

Life is complicated.  Which explains the appeal of running in the USFRA’s 130 MPH Club on the Bonneville Salt Flats.  Pull up to the starting line, stand on the gas pedal, grin like an idiot, and hang on.  If only everything were this simple.

Leap Of Faith

Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane may seem a little nutty, but I’ll tell you this: If there’s a more fully-alive-in-the-present-moment experience on this planet, I haven’t found it.  Plus, after watching them open that door at 14,000 feet, nothing you face in your everyday life will ever seem all that scary again.

8 Great (Affordable) Gift Ideas

December 9, 2008

It’s time for XTRORD.com’s first-annual holiday gift guide.  And, if you’re a regular follower of this space, you probably already know how I feel about giving and getting more stuff that, let’s face it, none of us really needs.  But giving someone an extraordinary experience? Ah, well, that’s a different story altogether.

So with a nod to the dark clouds that seem to be hanging over the global economy in general and many folks personal finances in particular right now, I thought I’d focus on extraordinary experiences you can give that will blow the recipient’s socks off without breaking the bank (herein defined as under $200).

In no particular order then, here are my Eight Great Extraordinary Gift Ideas:

For The Jaded: Paragliding Above The Pacific

If you give this gift to someone and they’re not completely wowed, well, I suggest you immediately check them for signs of a pulse.  And even though the idea of running off the edge of a 300-foot cliff may sound a little daunting, you can rest assured knowing that paragliding is actually one of the safest and most serene forms of flight. 

For The Athletic: Wild Cave Tour

If you’ve got someone on your list who’s in good shape and likes a challenge, six hours of climbing, crawling, and squeezing through impossibly tight cracks in the depths of Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave will give them a spelunking experience they won’t soon forget.

 For The Nature Lover: Swim With Manatees

From personal experience I can tell you there’s no more moving interspecies encounter than coming face-to-face—literally—with these gentle creatures in the crystal-clear waters off Florida’s west coast.

 For The Speed Freak: Joining The 130 MPH Club

Know someone with a lead foot? Here’s your chance to feed their need for speed by allowing them to set their own personal land speed record on the world-famous Bonneville Salt Flats.

 For The Big Kid:  Sleeping In A Treehouse

C’mon now, what kid (of any age) wouldn’t like to spend the night in a really cool treehouse?  Add the fact that most of the over-the-top “rooms” at this arboreal bed-and-breakfast have a long list of grown-up creature comforts and your gift-givee may not want to come down.

 For The History Buff:  Civil War Adventure Camp

I like historical attractions as much as the next guy. But, let’s face it, some can be a little dull.  Petersburg, Virginia’s Pamplin Historical Park changes all that with a 24-hour program that gives participants the chance to live the life of a civil war soldier right down to firing actual muzzleloaders!

 For The Sailor: Command An America’s Cup Yacht

To a sailing aficionado, being allowed to take the wheel of an 80-foot America’s Cup contender is like being handed the keys to a Ferrari.  Add the warm sunshine, cool breezes, and stunning scenery of San Diego Bay and you have a great way to spend the day. 

 For The Cash-Strapped: Panning For Gold

When it comes right down to it, who couldn’t use a little extra walking around money right now?  Which is why we love the idea of spending the day panning for gold—which is still going for around $800 an ounce—in the creeks of California’s gold country. 

 If none of these tickle your fancy, you’ll find lots more ideas on our Xperiences page.

 

This Job’s A Real Wiener!

December 7, 2008

wienermobile_yella“Man, I wish I had your job!”   I get that a lot.  And while I readily admit that publishing XTRORD.com is as close to a dream gig as I’m ever likely to get, I have to say that I was briefly tempted to chuck it all when I heard the folks at Oscar Mayer are taking applications to drive the Wienermobile

The year-long assignment sounds pretty simple.  “Hotdoggers,” as the company’s goodwill ambassadors are called, get paid to drive one of six 27-foot-long four-wheeled hot dogs around to promotional events within an assigned territory.  Every few months hotdoggers get rotated to a different part of the country for a little change of scenery.

For a little more insight into what sounds like a pretty extraordinary experience, check out this feature story on RoadtripAmerica.com. You can also learn more about the what the Oscar Meyer folks are looking for in Hotdogger candidates and send in your resume here.  And fans of The Daily Show will appreciate this classic Wienermobile tale starring Jon Stewart.

In the meantime, let’s all sing a rousing chorus of the Oscar Mayer theme song: “Oh, I wish I was…”  Now just the guys!  Now just the girls!  I’m tellin’ ya, I was made for this gig.

What’s New This Week on XTRORD.com

November 19, 2008

It’s been a busy autumn around here as I crossed the continent to squeeze in a few more extraordinary experiences before the flakes started to fly.  Here’s a quick look:

Digging Deep

C’mon, tell the truth.  You’ve driven by a construction site and secretly wondered what it’d be like to be out there tearing it up at the controls of a 10-ton bulldozer or tracked excavator.  Well, my friend, here’s your chance to do just that.

Sweet Smells

Walk by any department store fragrance counter and you’ll find dozens of “signature scents” hawked by all kinds of minor celebrities.  My advice?  Unless you really want to smell like thousands of other people, keep right on walking and check out this custom perfume-making experience.

Going Fast

I suspect anybody who tells you they don’t feel the need for speed is in serious denial.  Which means the idea of running your street-legal car or motorcycle wide-open on Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats should have nearly universal appeal. 

Leafy Lodgings

Ever want your own treehouse when you were a kid?  Me too.  Which is why I was so excited to find an arboreal bed-and-breakfast where you can take your pick of a dozen of the coolest treehouses you could ever imagine.