2013 Scion FR-S: Kulinary Mille 2012, Part One
July 23, 2012
This year's assembly point for the Kulinary Mille was the Petersen Automotive Museum. How fitting, and convenient, since I live all of two miles from it. As such, I was one of the first drivers to show up. The collection of cars that arrived shortly thereafter, was impressive, to say the least.
Within a few seconds, I had the sinking feeling that I brought a knife to a gun fight. A 200-hp compact car with Prius tires didn't exactly instill me with a lot of confidence, but I knew I could at least keep up in the corners with some of the cars. As for the silver Ferrari Enzo, FF and pair of red 458 Italias? Not so much.
After a quick donut break and a friendly address by the Museum staff, we were off. Just as I released the parking brake, I spotted a young blonde sprinting towards my car. Apparently, the car her friends were in was full and she needed a ride.
"Uhhhhhhm, I don't know if you really want to ride with me," I said, "do you get carsick or freak out on rollercoasters?"
"Hell no!" she replied, "I love going fast and I love rollercoasters!"
Reluctantly, I moved all of my gear to the back seats. I say reluctantly because I figured I'd be cleaning up lady barf or have to slow my pace, or both. She was bubbly and cheerful now, but I feared what she might turn into later.
We made a little mini tour into Beverly Hills on our way to the 405 Freeway. Plenty of heads were turned as we cruised up Rodeo Drive. Some of the staff from the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills (it's closely associated to the Mille) stood on a corner and we made a little noise for them as we went past.
On the twisty part of Sunset Boulevard a section I know all too well I took a few turns aggressively to gauge my passenger's reaction. She reacted with an enthusiastic, "aaaaalllllllrrrriiiiiiight!" Hmph, she's cool with it. My fears were unfounded.
Quite a ways north, I stopped for gas before we hit Lake Hughes Road, a challenging mountain pass with choppy pavement. I went looking for a reputable gas station instead of an off-brand and got separated from the rest of the group. No biggie, as I knew where we were going in case I couldn't catch up to them.
In the first section, the FR-S struggled with the uphill climb. If anyone asks if this car needs more power, the answer is "YES." Once the twists and turns hit, the FR-S strengths really began to shine. It railed through the turns with precision and the brakes never exhibited any fade. Just as we closed in on Pine Canyon, I saw a glimmer of Ferrari Red. We caught them.
Actually, we caught up with some of them. I tucked-in behind a Ferrari California, Ford GT500, Cadillac CTS-V, the BMW 640i and a 1986 Porsche 911. I made a pass on the Ferrari and was about to start picking them off one by one when the lead car missed a route turn. We all pulled over and then I assumed the lead as we backtracked.
I kept the speeds reasonable, after all, the Scion's lack of power and less-than-sporty tires could only do so much. Still, I managed to open up a sizable gap every now and then. As we neared the end of this loop, the road became very wide and very sandy. I slowed way down and had some fun goosing the throttle to get the tail whipping around. Good times.
At the next gas stop, the other drivers were very complimentary, telling me that I had the Scion floating and dancing through the turns. They all had the power to pass me, but left me up front because it was fun to watch, they said. That, and I was the only one who knew where we were going. Regardless, my ego was inflating to dangerous levels.
I've prattled along enough for now. I'll post part two shortly.
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 3,150 miles