Never Stop Driving #72: Let’s Cruise!

Brandan Gillogly

Oh, California, you give us hope. Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed and approved a bill,  simply named “Vehicles,” which removed the existing laws against lowriders and cruising. Time to go low and slow again, baby! This reversal, some 20 years in the making, is welcome from a state that has aggressive EV mandates. The biggest car-related news from California, however, is the sudden suspension of Cruise driverless taxis. In a statement, the California DMV said it determined that “the vehicles are not safe for public operation.” There is no set duration for the suspension and the company can operate its vehicles if there is a safety driver behind the wheel.

The spark for the suspension, according to Reuters, appears to be an October 2 accident between a Cruise vehicle and a pedestrian. This development speaks to the high safety bar expected of driverless cars that may be impossible to clear. After all, humans create plenty of chaos. Do the robots have to be perfect or were the Cruise vehicles simply stupidly sloppy? We’ll learn more in the coming weeks.

Last week, I was on a different sort of cruise during an eight-day work/fun road trip that provided another slate of rich experiences. In rural southeast Ohio, a gas-station attendant noticed me staring at the Powerball lottery poster. A handwritten number on the poster indicated that the prize was $1.8 billion. “Yep, that’s billion with a B,” the attendant said. “People are going crazy over it.” As I pulled out three dollars to buy a ticket, I asked if he’d seen the studies that claim lottery winners usually end up less happy. “Yeah, well,” he replied, “If I win, I’ll be gone well before they can ask me.” True that.

I felt a bit guilty for playing but then again, I did have a few pleasurable minutes thinking about what I’d do with $1.8 billion. First thing would be to buy this Toyota Celica race car built by Dan Gurney. It’s still listed although the experts at Hagerty Marketplace have intel that suggests it already sold. I’ll live just fine without it.

My trip culminated with a two-day driving rally I organized for friends. I do this every year or so, usually in Ohio, but switched things up this year and hosted in Asheville, North Carolina. I started running these rallies about eight years ago because I simply enjoy sharing the driving experience with others. When folks tell me they want to join but can’t find the time, my response is, “Got it. Just remember that we’re all gonna die someday.”

I enjoy planning the routes and anticipating that participants will feel the same joy I do driving them. That said, it’s a nerve-wracking job. People are spending scarce resources—time and money—and who wants to join a disorganized event? I’ve found that if you have a solid baseline—a few stops on the routes and dinner plans each evening—the rest usually works out. Barring an accident, the unexpected usually adds to the experience. This year, one of our drivers hit an object in the road and bent a wheel, which sent him on a tour of Asheville to find a fix. The locals guided him to a welding shop, where the owner heated the wheel and banged it back into shape. Then he found a new tire. That night, the bent-wheel guy had a terrific tale to share over dinner.

The driving was fantastic, the camaraderie even more so. A shared experience binds people. Since it’s never been easier to organize your own event—I use the Rallista app—I hope you’ll follow my lead and create your own. We need more connections between us.

Speaking of connections, did you see that some 33 states banded together to sue Meta, aka Facebook? They’re alleging that the company employs purposely addictive features to hook kids. Wow. I want to be a free-market libertarian, but I’ve fought the phone fight with my three kids for over a decade and I’m exhausted. You’re hosed no matter what you do: Ostracize the kid from their friends by not permitting a phone or allow one and then watch them go down the rabbit hole. I do think phones are one reason why kids no longer just roam their neighborhoods, a beneficial experience. As a parent, you’re forced to arrange or imagine ever more compelling experiences to compete. I understand Meta’s defense—kids use way more apps than just Instagram—so maybe this is a start of, I don’t know, something?

Sorry for the rant but we all see the empty-calories junk content the algorithms encourage people to create. Here at Hagerty Media, we’ve taken a strong stance against wasting our audience’s valuable time. I hope you agree and if you do, please consider supporting us by joining the Hagerty Drivers Club.

This week, we are buzzing over the rumor that Dodge’s gas-powered muscle cars might not be dead. In a terrific turn of ingenuity and energy, a Ford enthusiast created a replacement engine block for Ford Model As. Super cool! And since many of us are getting ready to store our cars for the winter, here are some tips from Rob Siegel.

Have a great weekend,

P.S.: Your feedback is very welcome. Comment below!

Please share this newsletter with your car-obsessed friends and encourage them to sign up for the free weekly email. The easy-to-complete form is here. And if you’d like to support the efforts of Hagerty Media, please consider joining the Hagerty Drivers Club.

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    Is that banner photo (No Cruising) real? I would say 2 times in 6 hours is called going to the store and back.

    Good column – thanks!

    While I understand what you have gone through with your kids, Facebook and its ilk have been shown to do serious damage psychologically to that age group. I am a professional educator working in grades 7-12. They are so addicted to HAVING to check to see if someone wrote something about them. But it’s adults, too! The kids are only doing what they see their parents doing. How many times are you in a restaurant, a couple at a table.. are they talking? NO, too busy reading/scrolling/texting. Yes, I do have a phone, a tablet and am very active online, but it has its place and that is not 20 hours out of the day.

    This may sound crass, but realistically, if a human driver “causes chaos”, at least we know who to blame (and possibly punish). If an autonomous vehicle screws up, who/what is responsible? The owner? The car company? The designer? How about the dozens of software engineers who worked on the algorithms? The governmental agency that approved the vehicle as safe to be on the road? The camera manufacturer? All of them? If a self-driver runs down a pedestrian, does that person (or their surviving family) have a clear path to get compensation and justice?
    We have this terrible penchant for creating tech and unleashing it into the world without considering all of the ramifications and planning for them. Larry mentions several of them in his “rant”, including autonomous cars, social media, and smart phones. Those of us old enough to remember before any of those existed are often derided with, “Okay, Boomer” remarks, but I can truly say we had a simpler, more pleasant life than the one being lived today by most.

    I found this report about the accident that included an autonomous vehicle.

    “In the Oct. 2 crash, a human who was driving in a lane next to a Cruise car struck a pedestrian, tossing the pedestrian into the path of the driverless Cruise, according to San Francisco police. The Cruise vehicle used its brakes but didn’t have enough time to avoid running over the pedestrian, the company said.”

    Everyone is blaming the autonomous vehicle. Did we forget about the driver that initially caused the accident?

    One way to look at it is this: Who would rather share the road with on a weekend night after 10PM? I’d take the AV any day as that’s the most lethal time to be on the road. It’s complicated.

    Larry, I too share your lust for the AAR Toyota Celica. I first noticed this creation at the Daytona 24 Hr in the 80’s (can’t remember which year exactly- we went 30+ years in a row). There were so many interesting cars entered but watching the race at night from the grandstands I kept seeing one car which was extremely fast on the oval as well as the infield. After the race we got to see the Celica up close- it was beautifully constructed and very compact. I fell in love on the spot.
    I look forward to your column each week and in the Hagerty magazine.

    I have been an Automotive Enthusiast and On-track Competitor for 62 years.
    I look forward to EVERY ONE of your Columns. Please be aware of an
    Automotive History/Narrative book:
    “DON’T MENTION RACING unless you have an hour to spare (100 Stories, 60 Years, 1 Driver), 293 Pp. (2022).
    Author: Roger Allan French
    Publisher: Coastal 181
    ISBN: 13: 978-1-7362561-2-1
    I have purchased eight (8) copies and mailed them out to fellow Enthusiasts.
    Purchase a copy; enjoy the next 18 HRS!

    Love small friend/group rallies. Last year I put one together for an old friend and his wife to tour Northern California. Some beautiful driving. He and his wife were stunned by the scenery.

    We are coming to Asheville over Thanksgiving. Can I get your route?

    Sad state of United States industrial prowess when Terry Burtz needs to go to China to cast Model A engine blocks!

    I enjoy reading your articles Larry. Went to Ohio Univ, and rode my bike a lot there. Know the roads well, pumped through Hocking Hills to Columbus one year. Live in E. TN. now, not far from Asheville, and Banner Elk/Blowing Rock, NC. Would love to join up with your group sometime, could help with local logistics. Thanks for what you do Larry.

    I started running rallies about 35 years ago. I gave them up when someone pointed out that if there was an accident, I could be held liable. At that time I had assets! My third wife relieved me of that burden… So now I intend to put together a spring Rally and see what happens!
    As for autonomous cars, I think lawyers can’t wait for them! Imagine an autonomous car in an accident with an old fashioned “self driven” car. The debate over whose fault it is and the sale of the belief that technology is infallible, should tie the court systems up for centuries!!!!

    That was a rant for sure. Touched on many point and never made one point.

    Newsom did no one a favor. He shakes your hand here saying welcome back but will stab you by legislating your car into oblivion if it is ICE.

    As for Autonomous. This is less likely to work than the EV cars. Much needs to be done and we need to fight for our right to drive. Once we hand that off others will control what you do where you go and how the car chooses.

    A rally is fun and S Ohio and WV has road most have not discovered yet that make the tail of the dragon a kiddy ride.

    As for power ball save your money. Use it to go to Vegas where they will at least kiss you before they *&$$ you.

    And if you are going to dream dream big. There is one car of Dan’s that is a must to buy. His winning Eagle for the Belgium GP.

    That is just the perfect car of performance and beauty. Also any thing from Dan is a Prize. I have has a few run in’s with him and traded E mails for a while. I will always prize my signed book he sent me with a personal note. Also he tossed in a couple DG for prez bumper stickers. It does not get better than that.

    “When folks tell me they want to join but can’t find the time, my response is, ‘Got it. Just remember that we’re all gonna die someday.’”

    Hear, hear.

    I do a fair bit of tour and rally organizing here in the Pacific Northwest, and over the years I have concluded that most people who own collector/classic/vintage/special interest cars are not, I repeat, not, drivers. They are owners. They grasp at any lame excuse not to drive their status symbol, er, car.

    Oh sure, some few of them occasionally show up at some parking lot meet-up, but driving to a car show is not driving your car, it is just “repositioning” it. Driving to some parking lot with an attached coffee kiosk to see who is this week’s “toast of cars and coffee” is not driving your car.

    Drivers are a rare breed, and if you’re ever out this way – the region of Portland, Oregon – look me up and we’ll go for a drive.

    Wow. who knew I would be so lucky as to read the words of the all knowing, all defining driving god. If what I do does not align with his beliefs I am just a disappointment who is doing nothing for the car community.

    Who are you to say there is only one correct way to enjoy a car or this hobby? It’s people like you that make the hobby shrink. You’d likely gain something from trying and be more open minded, or you should learn to embrace being called various versions of a jerk.

    Isn’t there room for ALL types of enthusiasts here? Drivers, Cruisers, Wrenchers, Parking Lot Show-ers, Coffee-Drinkers, Collectors, WannaBe-ers, etc., etc., etc.? Why can’t we all just get along?

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