Apparently, the Okefenokee swamp has been burning for weeks. The air is perfumed with what smells like equal parts dog hair and cat feces, both on fire. Living in Los Angeles, I am no stranger to wildfires. However, nothing could have prepared me for the scope of the devastation. Thousands of acres of burnt timber and dead animals.
Thankfully, the highway before us is wide open-we use every ounce of the TechArt Magnum's muscle. And there's a lot of it. The Magnum's sweet spot is 150 mph and its 600 hp will easily touch 170 mph, probably more. The Magnum's weight (5200 pounds) and modified aerodynamics leave it feeling extremely planted at high speed. Wind, rain, bugs... nothing makes any difference to our forward trajectory.
Way ahead, we see a glimmer of a windshield and our K40 radar detector goes wild. Despite its ginormous (gigantic/enormous) brakes, we won't scrub enough speed to place us within the 75 mph limit. We do our best and are promptly followed and eventually pulled over.
The officer tells us to be careful, many deer have been crossing the road of late. And because this is a lightly traveled road, the deer seem to think they own it.
"Ya'll don't wanna hit one going too fast," he says. "Drive safely and be careful." And then he disappears into the woods.
We sit there for a few minutes, half expecting him to return with a bazooka and a ticket book. He doesn't.
Claus thinks this is some cruel trick, a new form of torture. Not this time. This time, we were told simply to be careful and use our heads. It does wonders for
Claus, who resumes driving ever so cautiously-fast, but safe.
We make it to Moroso Speedway, where we are given full access to its road course. No one is especially anxious to take the TechArt Magnum on the track, given its race-bred company. Porsche 911 Turbos, Ferrari 430s, Lamborghini Gallardos... these are the weapons of choice and their owners are amazingly liberal with the keys.
"You wanna take my Murcilago for a spin?" asks Robb Rill. "Go wild." And he chucks the keys at my head.
Robb and his wife, Tara, are part of the Darkcyd Racing crew and have brought a black-on-black 18-wheeler for support. The Rills' black Murci is wearing black Maya wheels and looks like evil incarnate. The Rills are great people and I take to them instantly. Tara will later prove indispensable as navigator for Claus during our balls-out run to Orlando. Cool, calm, collected, Tara is beautiful and smart. Oh, and she can drive too. I'm in love.
I decline Robb's gracious offer and instead hop into the Magnum. Despite its size, it behaves like a lifted 911 and is capable of positively amazing performance. Although I was impressed with our long-term Cayenne S, the Magnum feels like twice the car.
Claus is up at five the next morning and raring to go. He wants to win this next leg and it's all business now. I'm laying down in the back seat, nursing a hangover. Although I can't see what's going on, I know we're making good time. Claus starts screaming at us to scan for cops, not just on the road, but in the air, sea and underground. His mood alternates between considering us worthless bumpkins and beloved friends, a kind of Italian love-hate thing.
Eventually, we arrive at the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando, Florida. I check in, brush my teeth, make a few calls, and that's all I remember. I have a photo of myself hoisting some woman above my head. From all reports, I had a blast.
The skyline of Miami appears and it's as if pure adrenaline has been pumped into Claus' brain. We are swapping places with the Mercedes CLK DTM, and Claus is determined to win. We get stuck behind a big rig and it costs dearly-we take second. It seems good enough, though, because-clever German that he is-Claus has a few tricks in store for tomorrow.