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In defense of us mechanic geeks (archive)

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Posted by kwillmorth on August 03, 2000 at 18:43:09:

In defence of those of us who over-analyze the mechanics of things I offer the following:

While it is quite true that a great driver can make a marginal car do amazing things, this really misses several real-world realities:

1. There are a scant few Great drivers in this world. Overall, the number of marginal to average drivers, good drivers, fair drivers and just plain bad drivers out-number great drivers... maybe on the order of a thousand to one. Great drivers are a very rare commodity. However, there are at least 1000 not-great drivers who think they are great drivers, for every great driver, so it is difficult to sort them all out.

2. A Great driver in a marginal car will get his ass kicked by a great driver in a great car. This is just reality. While the great driver in the marginal car is struggling to make the car behave, the great driver in the great car is making faster laps.

3. A good driver in a great car can do well, especially if the car suits his/her personal style well. A good driver in a great car may even do as well as a great driver in a good car, but, will get waxed by the great car/driver combination none-the-less.

4. The differnce between top teams and also rans, and great cars vs. good cars, is the effort put into every tiny little, miniscule issue at every level. The ones that think and work the most, the hartdest and the smartest, win the most. This means that a great many winners are made by over-analyzing everything, considering every possible issue to its fullest and covering every single detail. God is in the details. I have been part of this experience and will attest to the obsession with detail creating winning seasons.

5. For every winning professional race driver, there is an entire crew of mechanics and engineers, on the order of 12-to-1. The idea that one person can be crew, owner and driver and be truly competitive, is, well, unrealistic today. Maybe in 1945, maybe even 1955, but not since the 1960's have single person operations made the grade. Even today, club racers at the lowest levels, are showing up with their regular group of team-mates to pull the various intricacies together.

6. For every problem, there is going to be at least three perfectly viable solutions that could be ultimately considered perfect. Each will represent a different angle on the same facts, each will represent the inventiveness of the personalities involved. Anyone who tells you they "know the ultimate solution" is wrong. Cars are bith science and art. The art part means absolutes actually don't really exist.

7. Of the number of cars and drivers on the road, few are actually racing, so using racing as a baseline is potentially invalid altogether.

8. Cars are a culture of drivers, mechanical types, romantics, and fanatics. All are valid brothers in the devotion to the automobile. So, even if all you love about your car is the way it looks, you're a valid member of the club.

The reason all of this is relevent here, is that the M coupe and Z3 coupe are a unique blend of technology, history, and passion. That's why some of us like really digging into stuff like why sway bars do what they do, or what tires to select. Some of us are in it for the machine, which is just as valid as others who just like the drive.

I love the machine, and am addicted to the drive. If I weren't I would be taking the time to write these rediculously long diatribes!

Finally, I am a fair-to-good driver, in what I consider a great car, which I feel needs little attention mechanically. So, I am having a LOT of fun!

2000 M coupe
Imola Red/Imola Red

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