V&R Stories: The Bucket List…Sort Of

Year 50 is over!

It was a fantastic year full of triumphs and downturns. However, it yielded some advances towards furthering this career and focusing on providing the right content for my outlets.

Now that 50 is over. What about the rest of my life?

Is there a "bucket list" I want to make? Oh boy…here we go…

"Bucket lists" are for people who could see the end of their lives happen sooner than later. The items on said list could be rooted in reality, but not entirely. If accomplished, one wonders if it would never be repeated as long as they live.

We have desires. Things we do not need, but want at a distance. Yet, how do we know if these desires are attainable?

Does anyone care if there are such things as bucket lists and people actually do them as long as they're alive?

Instead of pontificating and questioning such lists, I should make one up. Keep in mind, this is not the official Bucket List of Randy Stern. It is one I figured I'd put in a theme – something fitting with this blog.

Indulge me, if you would? Giggles and reality checks are welcome.

A LAP (OR A FEW) AT ANOTHER MOTORSPORT VENUE THAT IS AS GOOD AS ROAD AMERICA: Last year's lap at Road America in the Buick Regal GS was awesome! It was not the best lap around, but I had a good feel for the track and understand Road America's tricky turns much better now. Still, the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin venue remains America's best road course. I would lap it again – and improve my feel for the track – but I could use a bit more of a challenge. But, where? The Nordschleife at the Nurburgring? Sure…it is a public venue, but I'm too much of a novice to even consider doing it without honoring its history. Silverstone? Track days there are open, but when you are a novice, you're carved up enough to want to ditch the car somewhere midway on the track. Laguna Seca? Imagine this body going through the Corkscrew. I would need better health insurance for the outcome. An easy solution would be to drive a "hybrid" venue – one originally made for oval-racing (read: NASCAR), but with a twisty and flat infield. Indianapolis, Daytona and Texas Motor Speedway come to mind. Indy and Daytona would be to honor the history of the main course before diving into the infield track. It would also mean getting an appropriate car to tackle such venues. A Lexus RC F sounds like a brilliant attack car. A BMW M4 or an Cadillac ATS-V coupe would, too! Lesser powered versions would suffice, but would evoke arguments and calls of being a "chicken."

A ROAD TRIP ACROSS EUROPE: Some have said that it is better to take trains across Europe than to drive it. True, but how many videos on YouTube have you seen of people going towards top speed on the unlimited sections of the Autobahn? Or, play with Ferraris and Lamborghinis on the Italian Autostrada? The British Motorway system may be as clogged as the Harbor Freeway during rush hour (that is Interstate 110 in Los Angeles, for those who are questioning my geography). But, still, these are roads worth trying out and experiencing. To do so, I'd start with a Volkswagen Golf GTI – the original hot hatch. GTIs are universally welcomed as a good enthusiast car that fits most places in Europe. However, my start would be in Finland. Why Finland? Because no one have ever thought of starting a road trip there! From there, it is across to Sweden, a ferry to Denmark, down through Germany, cutting across to Austria towards Slovakia and the Czech Republic…get the idea? Eventually, I would have to get to Italy, France and the UK. Though, I heard Spain has the smoothest roads in Europe. The point of this is to see the continent and experience the places where enthusiasm began. To see automobiles I would never see in North America. Even to try them on for size! Sure my language skills are poor outside of English and some Spanish from the streets of L.A., but I am told that people do speak English there across the continent. Oh, really? I better get some Rosetta Stone lessons before I go…

SPEAKING OF ROAD TRIPS… Though I am exploring some road trips for this year, one would hope for a greater budget to do more of them in places I have never been before – in my own country! Some are in the works, but there are probably dozens of such drives that would be great to do once in my life. For example – New England. Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine are calling. Even the Berkshires, Rhode Island, Connecticut and along the Hudson to Lake Champlain…places that you see on YouTube or in magazines that look too awesome to have never experienced. The South has not been traversed – though it would be a bit risky. I'm probably the type of person someone would say "we don't like your kind around here." You may never know. Recently, I was questioned about never having been to Nevada. If I could stomach Las Vegas for a minute, I might use that as a road trip up Interstate 15 into Utah and beyond…maybe heading off into the Rockies. Or, Montana. Or, Alberta. And, yet, I have never been to Kansas City…oh, wanderlust! Cars would vary according to the road trip taken. Something with a mix of performance, economy and comfort would be my only requirements. A Ford Mustang EcoBoost Premium Fastback is one idea. A BMW 328d sedan is another. Maybe an Audi A4 Premium Plus. Something that would absorb the miles away on stretches of Interstate and would want to play on the side roads and twisties when the opportunity warrants it. That, to me, is a road trip.

EXPERIENCING GREAT AUTOMOTIVE EVENTS: Pebble Beach seems like a mythical place for collectors when the Concours is on. So is Amelia Island. To be among the hundreds of thousands on Memorial Day Weekend at The Brickyard is an experience that looked awesome on television. But, to be there – what would it be like? Pushy crowds? Massive traffic? Attitudes? One could sit back and play cautious, but one must be there to get a sense of purpose of these great events. Pebble Beach would mean a new set of wardrobe – a sports jacket that fits, comfortable slacks, shirt and tie. It would also mean choosing which events to attend throughout the weekend and figure out whom to meet and hang with to make the experience better. Amelia Island is similar to Pebble Beach, but the experience appears to slightly different – maybe not as heavy with crowds as the California event. Indy is the ultimate American motorsport competition – in my humble opinion. Just need to find a spot to take in the action and access to experience Gasoline Alley and the infield. Not to mention – Woodward Dream Cruise! There is probably more great automotive events to take in here and elsewhere around the globe. I rather start stateside.

#RALLY4ACAUSE: You noticed that I have been hanging out with some participants of a couple of charity rallies over the past year. Between Central Crown and The Polar Run, there is this amazing mix of Carmmunity that involves great cars – appropriate for these events or not – and fun challenges that keep everyone engaged in these events. You could say that are part-road rally, part-balls out speed run and part-fundraiser. But, these people have serious fun! I was asked when I should get involved as a participant. Hmmm…but how? I mean, what person would be patient to be either a driver or navigator with me? What vehicle should I bring to either rally? What kind of sponsorship should I secure to offset costs? How big do I want to go with this? What kind of life insurance policy should I carry? All of that factoring into a desire to do something like this. But, it has to be right. I could list people I would like to be on my team. I could also list the kind of cars I would use for either rally – a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat for Central Crown and a Lexus RC 350 F Sport AWD (with winter rubber) for The Polar Run, to name a couple. The adventure alone would be worth it. The investment in navigational, communication and survival gear – along with petty cash for bail – would be needed to make these runs work for the sake of accomplishment.

CUBA: Both the USA and Cuba are heading for normalization of relations. It also includes opening of economic ties, including tourism. Cuba has been known to live in the past – at least with photos of pre-Castro era automobiles dancing around social media. Just to see them on the road and to explore the ingenuity of the Cuban people in maintaining them for road use. It would not be a driving experience, but a cultural one. Cultural beyond the classic automobiles roaming the streets of Havana. You might know me as an off-and-on percussionist. A conguero, if you will. These drums – modern versions of ancient African drums – came from this country and enchanted us for over a century. I have not played in a few years, so perhaps I should find a patient teacher who could give me a refresher course. Teach me how to improve my strokes, learn new rhythms even get in on a rumba in Old Havana. I digress – but you see how Cuba could be a true cultural experience between the cars and the music. To think that I would never see the day that such travel would be possible in my lifetime.

Photo by Randy Stern

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