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What we drive, where we drive, why we drive and other observations
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Lizett Bond: She was tall, thin and tarty and she drove a Maserati

  A few weeks ago the phone rings and it is Kerry Morse asking, " Wanna drive a
Maserati? I am going out for the Grand Am race and the Ferrari Historics. You can
write up the Maser for the site because I am covering it for the magazine."
Hmmm….decisions, I’m looking at a pile of paperwork on my desk.  Let’s see,
drive a cool car or sit and work…

A day at the auto-spa
  It is a short drive from my house in the heights to the California Speedway in
Fontana, just down the 60 to the 15 to the 10. I pick up my credentials and enter
the track with the air full of mechanical buzzing. I am a little late for the orientation
and come in for the middle of “how to drive the car”.  It sounds pretty confusing, at
least what I can hear. It's noisy at the track as a practice session is in progress
and our instructor is attempting to explain above the cacophony of racecars.  Oh
well, I’m sure I’ll just be riding along anyway.  What?  I have to drive?  On the track
or through the streets of Fontana?  In a Maserati?

  I am standing in the middle of what looks like an airdrop of Italian cars. There is
a rush of people to get to the Maseratis that have been lined up for us to drive. I
have already decided that the new Quattroporte is what I want to experience.
Southern California and especially the beach areas are full of expensive high-end
luxury sedans. You don’t see many Quattroportes and for good reason. They don’t
build that many so this is a pretty special car even in la la land. The interior is like
nothing else I have ever seen in a production car. The seats and upholstery look
more like they came from Roche Bobois. If I am ever homeless and have to live in
a car, this will be my first choice.

  I can’t remember the instructions for putting the car in drive but I know it wasn’t
like my truck.  At least I don’t have to drive the first leg, my partner does.  He didn’t
hear the instructions for putting the car in drive either….at least he gets to look
dumb and not me.  The transmission is a six-speed semi automatic and is
operated by two paddles for the up and down shifting that are located directly
behind the steering wheel. The proper procedure we are told is to pull both
paddles back at the same time in order to get to neutral, then use one or the other
to either shift manually or in the auto mode. My partner and I agree to put it in D
and leave it at that. So I am the navigator for the first leg of our drive around town.
The last time I was navigator it was through the desert in a Touareg, I did that, so
how hard can this be?  “Turn left here”…”are you sure?” ….. “Of course I’m sure,
see, it says turn left on this paper”.  We turned left into a truck terminal, guess I
skipped a step.  Now my driving partner is on a straightaway and wants to see
what this car will do, the speedo gets to 120 and I’m checking for signs of an
airbag.  It’s my turn to drive, and at least we know how to put it in drive now.  Wow,
the Quattroporte is so smooth to drive, has great brakes and I feel very classy
driving around in it.  I said, “Let’s just ditch the track and drive up to the mountains
to rate how it handles”.  My intrepid partner is such a drag, he makes us go back.

Line dancing…
  With the city drive under my belt I’m ready for the track session.  At least I know I
can be a passenger on this one!  We have to wear these big open helmets, so
much for the hair.  There is another man at this station giving instructions on
riding in the car on the track.  Don’t hold the camera to your face (airbag
deployment in case of an accident), buckle seat belt, etc.  Easy, I’m excited.  Then
come the instructions regarding motion sickness and how to avoid it.  As one who
has been a close personal friend of motion sickness my whole life, the very
mention of the term brings on that queasy feeling.  “I’m not riding in the back
seat!”.  Finally, it’s my turn.  An ice blue Maserati GT coupe, on goes the helmet,
buckle up in the front seat and we are off!  I keep my eyes focused far ahead on
the track and we are going pretty fast.  Shoot, I’m not going to get sick…that little
lecture was overkill.  Then we hit the infield.  How do I focus ahead when I have to
put my foot on my imaginary brake pedal at every turn?  What if the door comes
open?  Will I fall out on the track?  What if this guy sneezes in a turn…you know,
you are temporarily blind for a second or two when you sneeze.  How fast does he
take these turns?  I feel the familiar cold sweat beginning to happen and then we
are on the straight part again.  I’m going to make it….oh no, we just passed the
pits and that means another time around those tight turns.  Hope my knees don’t
buckle when I climb out….they didn’t, it was fun.  These cars are soooo cool, can I
go again?

Shaken and stirred…
  Mercifully (or wisely), lunch comes after the track drive in the huge Ferrari-
Maserati hospitality tent.  Oh wait, is it lunch or a Bacchanal?  The food is
fantastic, the deserts are phenomenal. Jacket waiters, attentive servers, this is a
race? As on schedule Kerry appears from out of nowhere. It must be the pasta
and the espresso. He introduces me to David Seibert of the Historic Ferrari
Challenge and I leave the both of them to continue their deep discussions of old
racecar chassis numbers. Maserati sure knows how to put on a day’s

  What did I think of the Maserati Quattroporte?  I loved it, it was not as intimidating
to drive, as I expected.  Very user friendly and that’s important. The exclusiveness
of the big sedan should work in favor of Maserati selling the production run
planned for the U.S. And if the California Highway Patrol had the budget…

  Would I want to own one?  As soon as my ship comes in, I’m there……

                                                                  Lizett Bond-Jerome
                                                                           May 2005

Peace, baby
One of a fleet
A bridge too far
Press junket
Staging the tent
Seibert  &  Morse
Bond as Birkin
Work and be rewarded
Fast pass
Fontana flirt
Maser mama