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article details
Author Shawn Church
Categories Pilot, Others
Create Date April 08, 2003 00:56
Last Update May 07, 2003 17:28
We must be insane...
Saturday was a long day. I had too many cars to deal with on the dyno and I was exhausted. It was around 5pm and I got a call from Joe Alaniz from Alaniz Cylinder Head Technologies. The conversation went something like this:

Joe - "Hey Shawn, I think I'm going to go to Sacramento to see if Erick (Aguilar, of Erick's Racing Engines, a customer of mine and site sponsor) can break the all-motor record."

Me - "Cool, when are you leaving?"

Joe - "As soon as possible, I've got the Odyssey, but I've got no one to go with me, want to go?"

Me - "Uh, yeah" (thinking that I'd kick myself if I missed the first FWD 9-second all-motor pass) Saturday, 8:00pm: I arrive back at my shop, cleaned up with a change of clothes in my overnight bag. I park my car in the garage and just as I close up, Joe pulls up in the Odyssey. I throw my bag in the back and we're off. The navigation system says it's 397 miles to Sacramento Raceway.

8:30pm: Traffic is light and we're motoring along at 80 mph. This is my first long term experience with the Odyssey. The first thing I notice is it's big inside. There enough room in back for a small bed. Hmm, note to self, if I ever have teenagers, don't let them go out in an Odyssey - give them S2000 instead, sex is not an easy task in one of those.

9:30pm: We're climbing up the Grapevine on I-5 outside of LA. The Odyssey is on cruise control at 80 mph and motors up the steep grade like it doesn't exist. This 240 hp powertrain seems pretty sweet from the passenger seat. I actually find myself anticipating my stint behind the wheel. What is the world coming to? I'm actually looking forward to driving a minivan???

10:00pm: We arrive at Buttonwillow, CA. Joe and I know this place well as it's home to a nice road circuit that we both frequent. The fuel light is on in the Odyssey and we've still got nearly 250 miles to go. The tank sucks down 16 gallons of $1.89 a gallon gas. Damn, that's pretty cheap, but it's only 87 octane. Wait, won't we be sacrificing power on 87? I've forgotten. I mention it to Joe and he looks at me with a concerned expression. Spend more money on premium gasoline to get a few extra hp from a minivan? Maybe I should seek counselling.

After tanking up we decide to stoke our own furnaces at the local Denny's. Not a particularly fine dining establishment, but it'll have to do. Looking at the menu, Joe and I both decide on country fried steak with gravy. I also order a shake - I decide I'm on a 24 hour vacation. I briefly wonder about the olfactory ramifications of both of us choosing a gravy laden, deep fried dish. I quickly decide that if things get bad enough, I can cower by the rear ventilation ducts. There should be enough space to dissapate all but the worst flatulence. Fortunately, I never have to test my theory.

10:30pm: Back on the road again. Joe's going to drive as far as he can till he gets tired, then I'll take over. I decide to catch a few Z's. Unfortunately, that proves difficult. There are heavy crosswinds on the highway and when they hit the Odyssey just right, there is a strange whistle from the passenger side A-pillar. I'm not sure if it's just wear and tear after nearly 40k miles, or something endemic to the design. Joe cranks up the CD player and we keep motoring. I notice Joe likes to stay in the left lane all the time. One of my pet peeves on the highway. I decide it's not worth it to bring it up.

Sunday 12:00am: Joe pulls off the road and asks if I can drive. I feel somewhat rested and ready to go, but it's getting late and I've been up since 6am. Sacramento is 150 miles away. Time to move. I hop in the driver's seat and go to put the shifter into drive. The windshield wipers start sweeping back and forth. Joe laughs "No, it's the _other_ gear selector." I find the appropriate control and put the car into gear. This scenario will repeat itself several more times.

Pulling onto the highway I give the beast about half throttle and it leaps up the on ramp. Even with the auto tranny shifting at 4000 rpm, the car gets up to, and beyond the speed limit very rapidly. I'm impressed. It's got some serious oomph for a 4200 lbs vehicle and it sounds like a sporting engine.

1:00am: I'm getting a feel for the Odyssey now and I like it. The engine is a real gem, powerful, responsive and quiet when cruising. Handling is decidely minivanish, but not unpleasant. The steering provides a surprising amount of feedback. Some traditional minivan buyers might actually prefer more isolation. The tall, but relatively wide-tracked van has surprisingy good stick in the corners. There is body roll to be sure, but it isn't scary as I thought it might be. Understeer is present from the moment you turn the wheel, but it's consistent. Maybe a bigger rear sway bar would do the trick. Then I have nightmarish visions of inattentive soccer moms backing the Odyssey off the outside of freeway on-ramps. No, the handling is probably appropriate for the target market.

2:00am: We're nearing Sacramento now. I'm decidely tired and looking forward to finding a hotel. Joe's cell phone suddenly beeps and says "Time Updated". What? Then it hits us - daylight savings time. Its actually 3:00am now. Crap, that means even less time to sleep before the next day's event. We pull into the nearest group of hotels near the racetrack. We check five of them and they're all full unless we want to pay $100+ for a room. Joe's not ready to pay that much for 4-5 hours in a room. We query the navigation system for nearby hotels as I drive down the main drag. There appear to be a lot of street racers in the area, many of them quite ricey. My sleep deprived brain latches onto the idea of dusting some ricers in the Odyssey.

Judgement failing I end up at a stoplight next to a lowered Civic with a big exhaust tip and a few younger folk in the seats. They're on my left and we need to get over to turn left to check another hotel. I glance over and they're checking out the "Alaniz" stickers on the Odyssey (write off purposes). The opposing light goes yellow, then red. Our light is green and we're off. No contest, we put 4 lengths on the Civic by 40mph and then merge over. Oops, we have one more light to go. Now there's a late 80's Mustang 5.0 next to us with what sounds like a horrible exhaust leak. He's not looking over. I move off at a decent clip and then I hear him stomp it and his auto tranny downshift. I get on it briefly and match his speed, then let off for our turn. The last thing I need is to get arrested for street racing a minivan.

3:30am (daylight savings time corrected): We finally identify a hotel with vacancies about 15 miles from our original stop. Its in an older area of Sacramento. Very quaint, as if we care about that sort of thing by now. We just need sleep. Its 4:00am when we finally stumble through the door of our room and hit the sack. Why did I decide to take this trip again?
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  Odysseys are Fast
xxcaedmonxx 6
  You guys are SLOW! My 16 hour Odyssey...
TonyEX 0
  whistling in the wind
JeffX 0
  Great Story!
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