The Pen Cost Nothing. Also: $446 and the Targa Trophy was Fun

So, how'd the event go?

You see, the pen was a giveaway. But it also cost me money, as you’ll learn. Read on
Back in September, I was lucky enough to attend the Targa Trophy LA leg, shooting pictures and tagging along with Co-Hoon Jeff, Auto Blogger Extraordinaire Jonny Lieberman and former Jalopniker, Fiesta Agent and CrapCanAm honcho Andrew Didorosi.

The event was based out of the Roosevelt Hotel, and most of the participants were sleeping off their hangovers when Jonny, Jeff and I arrived to a lot full of their exotic cars. Such is the odd juxtaposition when you’re “media” at an event: us shmoes were rubbing elbows with the children of the plutocrats who own the conglomerates that own the company you work for. Lucky for us, scruffy-faced with semi-ratty attire is all the rage this season amongst the ultra-rich, so we more-or-less blended in.
An upside to not spending the previous night indulging in the good life is you get first shot at all the goodies on-hand: hot coffee, cold OJ, and the non-crappy pastries. Also: the AMG demo fleet.
Closed Course, Professional Driver. What a concept!
Closed Course, Professional Driver. What a concept!

After making our presence known to the organizers and shooting a few pictures in the fog, Lieberman and I were approached by some very nice, sharply dressed people who asked if we were interested in test-driving some of the latest offerings from Mercedes Benz’ performance division. I could get used to this “media” thing…
After signing my life away, I saddled up in a C63. My co-driver, a professional race driving instructor, explained the virtues of the C63’s tunable chassis and drivetrain (“Let’s set everything to sport”), while I focused on three things: not breaking into a fit of “ohmanohmanohmanthisissoawesome“, figuring out how the hell do you properly drive a paddle-shifted 7-speed auto, and soaking in the delicious rumble of the 457 hp 6.2L V8.
It makes glorious noise
It makes glorious noise

The takeaway: Mercedes makes muscle cars. Kickass muscle cars. The C63 is the car for the executive who spent his younger days souping up his Chevelle, but would rather not drive to work in the automotive equivalent of a Misfits t-shirt. If you like a hearty exhaust note and the ability to leave a stoplight with extreme prejudice, you’ll be happy with the C63.
About that whole “leaving stoplights with extreme prejudice” thing…I feel the need to point out that 7:00am in the heart of Hollywood is roughly the equivalent of 1:30am on a typical city street: save a few delivery trucks, 6-lane Highland Blvd is empty. I left the light at Highland and Yucca prejudicially, and was elated to see the light at Hollywood and Highland green, with no one ahead. Which reminds me of another neat feature on the C63: the center-mounted tach flashes red as you approach redline, giving you time to shift before the rev limiter kicks in.
Apparently the street wasn’t completely empty, because as I slowed down and make a right turn off of Highland, I checked the rearview mirror to find it full of Los Angeles County’s Finest.  Needless to say, between myself and my corporate co-driver there was much cursing.
“Do you know how fast you were going?” I figured he’s got me, I’d best be honest, “Ummm…fifties?…sixties?…sevent-”
He cuts me off: “I had you over one hundred
Mad_Science: [befuddled stammering], followed by “I had no idea I was going that fast” (True: my eyes were on the street and–for split seconds at a time–the tach).
License and paperwork go back with Officer Cranky, and Mr AMG Rep and I take turns apologizing to each other. I glance in the mirror again to notice we’re now in the company of four LASD cruisers: three in the lane behind me and a fourth on the sidewalk. I gotta stop checking that mirror.
While we’re sitting there, the youngest cop I’ve ever seen came up to the window to check out the car. “Wow, nice car, man” “Thanks, it’s not mine…on a demo drive.” He chuckled and winced, “bummer, man”, then re-joined the mini-conference on the sidewalk.
Sorry about that, Mercedes Benz, USA
Sorry about that, Mercedes Benz, USA

Maybe Officer Youngguy put in a good word for me, because my issuing officer came back with my license (not a sure thing) and a ticket for 90mph.
In a 35.
Given that (and Jeff’s fine for 104 in a 70), $446 doesn’t seem that bad for 257% of the posted speed going through the west coast equivalent of Times Square.
Upon returning, I was given the pen in question as a  souvenir. It was 7:15, and I’d already picked up two souvenirs, sweet. Not content to let me be the only doofus in attendance, Jeff managed to spill coffee all over himself and Jonny backed the Genesis into a Porsche. Who let these “new media” guys in here, anyway?
Jeff and Jonny have great writeups of the Targa Trophy on their other online homes, so go read up on it there. To summarize, the Genesis Coupe embarrassed more than a few six-digit cars, and in the end we took a shocking sixth place.
I’ll take a second to issue a great, big mea culpa. Going this fast on public roads, particularly surface streets in the middle of a city, is an incredibly stupid thing to do. Putting it up here for your enjoyment because I think it makes for a funny story, not because I think it’s cool to drive really fast on the street. In my defense, I will point out that the roads were empty and I ran no lights. I was driving by sight (eyes up) and feel, which is how it was so easy to take this car so fast. 90-100 in a C63 felt like 55 in my WRX. We’re here to encourage you to make bad decisions that only hurt yourself.  What I did could’ve put others at risk and that’s truly lame. If you’re going to do stupid crap, please chose an appropriate time and place.

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  1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
    Jeff Glucker

    so… you were at 257% of the speed limit, while I was at 152%.
    You were in a major metropolitan downtown area and I was in the middle of nowhere (not far from Zzyzx Rd.).
    … your fine is $446 but mine is $826.
    Next time we have a Hooniverse/LeMons meeting – you are paying… I think my wife is going to cut my AmEx into pretty little pieces soon…

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      Only if someone hands me the keys to an M3 for the week.

    2. LeftofLucky Avatar

      I've said it once, I'll say it again. By and large, law enforcement is no more interested in slowing drivers down than I am in forsaking the automotive realm to become Amish.
      Why else would they continue to employ tactics that have failed for nearly 100 years?
      Because it makes them money. Don't feel bad, Jeff. I once came under Viriginia's infamous "repeat offender" law. By the time I walked away from an 80 in a 65 (on Christmas, no less), I owed the People's Republic of Virginia $1,600.

      1. Tim Odell Avatar
        Tim Odell

        I love California.
        I pass CHP cruisers at 80 in a 65 without so much as as worry.

        1. pj134 Avatar

          PA is pretty similar. The bonus of PA is that only state police can use radar, and must have headlights on at all times while employing radar. Basically, it's impossible to get a ticket at night. Only thing they can get you with are speed strips, non exisistent on highways, or tailing at that point, and all staties are crown vics, and the crown vics have that weird X thing in their headlights. That my friends, is why NJ and DE are PA's bitches.

    3. Leo Avatar

      Jeff you didn't tell me that you spilled coffee all over your self!
      That's too funny!

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  3. Rockford_Brodie Avatar

    Hey, didn't that ticket reside at the top of the page for a while?

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      First one to notice.
      In fact, the "90 in a 35" section was front and center.

  4. engineerd Avatar

    Mmmmm…AMG goodness. I just watched the Supercars Exposed where they visited AMG and have had a stiffy for 3 days. I should probably call my doctor, but it makes a convenient play to hang the towel while I put on deodorant.

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