"I got 92 auctioned cars to process," he said. "You're gonna have more fun than me."
Swig had spent the Pebble Beach weekend equally winning races and conducting auctions. "I passed Bruce [Canepa] on the last lap, right in front of the Rolex people at turn three," he grinned. He had been on the tail of Canepa's Lister for the entire race, when Canepa suddenly became bogged down by some slowpoke about to be lapped, who was -- get this! -- also driving a Lister. Swig took the inside, roared past the two Listers, gave a stout salute to the fogeys in the turn four suite, and spent the rest of the lap contemplating whether he'd be able to make it in time to the Jaguar Playboy party.
In the end, he didn't make it there. No $27.5 million NART Spiders at the Bonham's auction that he hosted -- which was a ludicrously silly price, he thought -- but a record auction nonetheless, the biggest yet for Bonham's in America. He even walked away with a little something: a beautiful little Alpina BMW 2000 Touring, a lithe silver hatchback with Bilstein shocks and engraved Alpina wheels that was clean enough to eat off every surface. It will look nice next to the little Lancias that could.
As a member of the lizard scum infesting Los Angeles, it's refreshing to see trees again -- yes, actual trees! Tall and verdant and skinny like a child's drawing. At the Gold Run Rest Area off I-80, before Emigrant Gap (elevation: 5,200 ft), I pulled over to fill the tank. An old man dragging a dustpan and broom shuffled towards us, peering quizzically at the car and then at me. "Have you ever been to Modesto?" he asked.
Then the turn signals went. I pretended not to notice.
But it became especially irksome when the adaptive cruise control and Audi's automatic braking system failed to comply, rendering a fun new state of frustration for the Great White Whale. Have we become spoiled by technology? the pundits ask. To which I say, most certainly: after all, how was I supposed to cruise across the Great Expanses of America in sybaritic comfort, traversing the continent at near-illegal speeds? Am I supposed to use my feet, like a peasant? The outrage!
I ended up in Fernley -- at yet another Super 8, coincidentally. Fernley smells like mine tailings and also happens to be the terminus of Highway 50, the Loneliest Highway in America. I had the chance to drive 50 a few years ago, for which I received a commemorative pin and certificate of accomplishment from the tourism board of Nevada. "I survived," it read.
It wasn't very lonely. In fact, it should have been renamed the Road Constructionyiest Highway In America -- a fact that, combined with ten-mile stretches of single-lane traffic and a ruthlessly inefficient system of pilot cars, dispelled any notions of tearing across the desert to make up for lost time. This time, however, I'm sticking to my guns on Highway 80.
Perhaps Pathfinder Man had put a curse on me. After hearing about my electrical woes, a friend said, "drive fast. Don't turn." Fair enough. The important bits still work, namely the engine, the transmission, the brakes, the Bluetooth, the night vision, and possibly the seat heaters.
For now, anyway.
Mileage: 380 miles
Fill-ups: Chevron (car), gummie bears (human)
Cheap motel: Super 8 (again)
Ghosts in the machine: 3 (cruise control, turn signals, spoiler)
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