2011 Ford Mustang GT 5.0: Kulinary Mille, Part Two
August 02, 2011
Santa Maria is a small city just about 150 miles north of Los Angeles. Our route from Dodger stadium would double that distance, making use of some of the most challenging roads in this region. As I noted in the last Kulinary Mille post, I was feeling that our long-term Mustang might come up short against the many exotic cars that assembled in the morning. As it turns out, my fears were unfounded.
The Mustang was a champ, as were the new Michelin Pilot Sports we just had installed. As a precaution, I took the tail-end position of the multi-million dollar train as we headed north on the Golden State Freeway. The first driving section was on a serpentine strip of pavement called Lake Hughes Road, but some of the other drivers exited the freeway one offramp too early and the group I was with seemed unsure of where to go.
I know this road quite well, as it's the fun way to get to Willow Springs Raceway, so I took the lead. We kept speeds on the straights to sane levels, but still managed to have a helluva time in the curves. My mirrors were filled with a silver Bentley Continental Supersports the whole time, but the Corvette ZR-1 and a few 458 Italias seemed to be trailing further back.
The pavement on Lake Hughes Road was pretty choppy, as was the case on Highway N2. This certainly kept the Mustang from truly stretching its legs because that solid rear axle had the tail shaking and shimmying the whole time. While I was battling with the wheel, the Bentley driver looked as though he was on a leisurely drive all-wheel-drive, a ton of torque and independent suspension for the win. I gave him a point-by whenever it seemed safe but he never took it.
We continued back to the Golden State Freeway, took it to highway 166, a long straightaway through farmland and then stopped for fuel in Maricopa. I tracked down the Bentley driver and apologized to him, hoping I wasn't holding him up. He laughed and told me he and his passenger were having a good time watching me toss the Mustang around and that my pace was plenty fast. Whew.
We all then hit Highway 33 (another long straightaway) until we headed west on Highway 58. Wow! What a road! The twists and turns on the early section were truly awe-inspiring, and once again, the Mustang held its own against the pricier machinery. After miles of very technical turns, it straightened out once again for a straight shot to Interstate 101. We finally rolled into the Santa Maria Inn for the night.
And that kicked off the Kulinary part of the Mille. Oh my.
Master chefs and Kulinary Mille organizers Keith Previte and Erik Kelley put together a decadent assemblage of Wagyu tri-tips and Maine lobsters that were prepared with a creative slant on the traditional Santa Maria BBQ. They also brought up the bartenders from Nic's Martini Lounge in Beverly Hills to handle the cocktails. Cigars and other beverages closed out the night. To say I was in heaven would be a blatant understatement. Let's just say I slept well.
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor