160, 161, 162 MPH…
My hands are sweating. I should have brought driving gloves.
163, 164, 165 MPH…
At this pace, objects pass at warp speed. It’s like someone sped up the film of my life. I look over at Julie. She’s looking ahead, not speaking for fear of breaking my concentration and killing us both. We blow by cars to the right as if they aren’t even moving. The S Merc not too far in front sets the pace, not far behind I can see that 5-Series drifting back.
166 MPH. Okay, that’s today’s record.
Traffic begins to build up, and we all quickly slow to a respectable 110. Porsche has done it again, I think to myself, as a grin takes over my face. “The Autobahn is fucking awesome,” I say aloud, then start to ponder the clown show that exists on the streets back home. “If only Americans could fucking drive. How hard is it to just stay to the right and let people pass?” I am already an arrogant European driver.
Folks, this is what it feels like to go pick up your brand spanking new Porsche Carrera S 991 at the factory and drive it all over Europe. It’s like nothing else exists for any reason except for you to blast by it as fast as you can.
I’m not supposed to get to do this. This is a dream I’ve had for my whole life, and dreams aren’t supposed to come true.
A few months pass. Now I’m about to get on stage to speak. I’m going to explain to a room full of people how my European vacation fits under the lens of “user experience”. The person who asked me to speak not-so-secretly hopes it’ll flop for being so ostentatious. But I have faith. And I give my talk, and don’t feel that I upset anyone. They listen attentively. They laugh. They clap when it’s over. I watch the video later and don’t squirm too much. Mission accomplished.
Julie gets us invited to a private Porsche party at a downtown LA loft belonging to Magnus Walker, the Urban Outlaw of Porsche, and his wife Karen. I was shell-shocked enough from seeing Magnus’s collection of P-cars online, and now I am standing in his incredible goth-rock palace with a bunch of Porsche execs. Everyone is in awe. It’s like a vampire’s lair: the furniture, the finishes, all of it. Amazing.
My friend Jay, who sold me the car, is introducing me to Detlev, Porsche’s North American CEO. We chat a bit; he’s interested in what I did at Disney but I’m intent on telling him about my European Delivery Experience. We trade cards and then Karen shows us around the massive complex which must take up an entire city block.
I’ve watched Urban Outlaw about a dozen times, and now I find myself living in the film. I look around and expect to see Anthony Arendt standing there with a Red.
The lower floor houses not only Magnus and Karen’s clothing business, but Magnus’ notorious collection of outlaw 911s. Everyone is standing around him as he tells stories about each machine, without a hint of arrogance. He’s nice. He’s cool. He looks a lot like Rob Zombie. I can’t help but think that he’s done this same walk-through 100 times before. But each time might be brand new to him.
A few days later I email Detlev a link to the video of my presentation. I receive a lengthy email back from him, challenging some of my points. I show my Dad the correspondence and he seems slightly impressed. No small feat. Suddenly, I’m headed for Atlanta to meet with Detlev and his colleagues. I ask myself what my true intentions are, but it doesn’t come to me, so I go along for the ride.
They can see my presentation online, so I bring a totally new one that compares Porsche to the Beatles and begins by asking why there is no The Beatles: Rock Band equivalent of a racing game. “Porsche is in a class by itself,” I say. “Think about it — Paul McCartney won’t let Hey Jude be listed next to Slow Ride, so why would a 959 be featured in the same games as a Ford Focus?” The room nods. We do need more Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed strategy. We have a great discussion, and they share a bunch of things I won’t divulge here. Classified stuff.
They show me plans for these things they call Experience Centers. We brainstorm about how much someone like me might be willing to pay to drive around a track in a 911 Turbo on a sunny California afternoon with his young kid in the tiny back seat. I explain that, without that experience, it is doubtful that that same kid will grow up to care about cars, let alone own one. The amount we come up with is $500. We talk about how Porsche should transcend the physical. Go big on Porsche Digital, I tell them, because in 25 years no one will be buying automobiles and it’s time to start preparing for that.
However, when later asked, point blank, about my exact intentions, I’m a little cagey. I don’t know what to say because I am not sure what is happening. Am I being offered a job? I don’t know. I don’t want to be presumptuous. They send me on my way with a Porsche tachometer clock. That night I have dinner with my friends Chris and Chris who are in Atlanta shooting the first season of their new television show. At the next table sits a larger-than-life Charles Barkley. We’re not even in LA.
I take them back to the moment when I was supposed to tell Porsche that I was their man. Hire me, and I’ll revolutionize Porsche in digital. It would have been the perfect time to take what should have been mine but it didn’t happen. Well, I didn’t make it happen.
Somehow, right now I’m sitting across from Adam Carolla in his studio, recording a podcast. He ‘Porsche humbles’ me big time by revealing his latest purchase — a 935 race car. The actual 935 that used to belong to Paul Newman. I know this already, and how much he paid, but I don’t let on. I can’t think of anything to say into the microphone but “whoa.”
I’m sure I’ll squirm a bit when I listen to it later. Or maybe I won’t. But for now I’ll just fantasize about the new GTS 911 that was just announced.
And remind myself not to dwell on missed opportunities, but attack those of the future at 167 MPH.