The day began with a kickstart at Panther Coffee, where many a Miamian goes to meet, mingle, and plan whatever world-waking moves to make next. Earlier in the week the good folks at Tara Ink had offered me a chance to participate in one of Imagine Lifestyles’ much-ballyhooed Ultimate Driving Experiences, which involves getting behind the wheel of a Ferrari or Lamborghini and taking it out on a track at top speed. So on this particular day, the plan revolved around a road trip to Homestead Miami Speedway and how best to get there in style.
Fortunately, a much buzzed-about company called Car2Go had just staked its claim in the MIA, and they too were eager for me to see how their wheels turn. Not that I was completely in the dark about the car-sharing concept, mind you. I’d already previewed the company’s Wynwood Walls launch for NBC6 and interviewed C2G’s CTO for a post-party follow-up on Product/81’s Culture Designers, but I’d yet to actually go through the motions required before actually hitting the road in a Car2Go. As it happens those motions were few, and the buzz I’d helped to generate did indeed herald one of the brightest new concepts in local travel.
The car itself is at once cute and cool, not to mention inherently pragmatic. Put together by the fine minds at Daimler, makers of mighty Mercedes and longtime keepers of luxury keen, the vehicle might fit in a jolly giant’s back pocket; yet it’s also large enough to accommodate all but the very biggest of beings. At 6’1”, your faithful correspondent had leg- and headroom to spare. Later over the weekend, on a mission to The Federal, Crobar Worldwide’s 6’4” Kenny Smith would find he too fit comfortably in both driver’s and passenger’s seats. Add the fact that the ride gets about 50 miles to the gallon, leaves virtually no carbon tire tracks, and can think and steer on a dime, and it’s little wonder why Daimler christened it a Smart Car.
This being the ever-popping Panther, however, my sidekick Mark Diamond and I were sidetracked before we even hit the highway. The longtime lensman didn’t mind the distraction, though (he was there to photograph come what may); nor did I, especially since the sidetrack concerned the most recent offering from Dogma founder and Metro Organic Bistro owner David Tunnell. Yes, I’m talkin’ about the soon-to-be Lagniappe, a Big Easy-esque spot over on Northeast Second Avenue. Tunnell was kind enough to give us a quick walk-through before we made our way south, and lucky for us that he did too. Because it’s not every day that one gets a sneak peek of a place where they’re sure to be spending a large part of their fall.
Duly inspired by Lagniappe’s organicism, Diamond and I hit the highway. To say we were fully expecting not to be able to keep up with the hard flow of Miami traffic would be somewhat of an overstatement; like most full-sized car drivers though, we did have some reservations about how the Smart Car might handle off the side streets. But those reservations were completely unfounded, as well as unnecessary. Not only did our Smart Car2Go perform most admirably; it did so with an elan that can only be described as nifty.
Pulling up to the Speedway (with barely a blip on the gas gauge, btw), our wheels were an immediate hot topic of conversation. “You drove down a Car2Go in order to race a Lambo?” Indeed we did. And there’s no doubt we’d do it again any day. I mean, how better to preface an Ultimate Driving Experience than with another ultimate driving experience?
Inside the Speedway, the cats (and kittens) of Imagine Lifestyles proved to be as imaginative as their name, not to mention speedily efficient. In no time I was signed in and taking the 20-minute class required before embarking in a supercar.
Unlike NASCAR, which uses Homestead’s oval, instructor Bob informed us we’d be speeding along what’s called the road track, a 2.21 mile stretch of twists, turns, and S curves where Grand Prix types ply their trade. And like those international supercar stars, some serious skill would be needed if we were to make it around without wiping out. There’d be a co-pilot along for the ride, but aside from helpful suggestions (“aim for the apex”) the drive would be fully in each of our respective hands.
And what a ride it was. I got the Ferrari F430 up to 117 mph on the front straightway with nary a discouraging word from the pro by my side.
The Lamborghini (the LP-560?), which was a little harder to navigate, I got up to 112, despite a near-constant barrage of “brake brake brake”. In both instances the mad rush of blood to my head ricocheted right down to my fingertips, and it didn’t stop till there was tingling my toes.
I’ve gotta hand it to Jared Jukel, who with Ryan Safady owns and runs Imagine Lifestyles, who realized the dreams of hundreds without breaking a sweat, proverbial or otherwise. Of course having a crack staff was a tremendous asset. So was having said staff led by the likes of Zac Courtney. If they’ll have me, I’ll gladly be back.
Zero-to-117 in the blink of an eye is all fine and dandy, and a road trip is rarely not fun, but in the end it’s getting from A to B that’s of more concern to me (and the majority of Miamians). So once we got back to civilization, I took the opportunity to see how C2G would fare in multiple runs around town.
In Wynwood I C2G’d to Jimmy’z for a meeting with Laura Quinlan, whose Rhythm Foundation is about to celebrate its 25th year of event-producing goodness. From there it was off to Gregg Shienbaum Gallery to pick up noted street artist Ahol Sniffs Glue for an interview at Joey’s before his Second Saturdays Art Walk solo show. Then it was down to the Arsht Center for a quick C2G look-see with Green Family Foundation president Kimberly Green before she and a pal caught Ailey. In each case the trip would’ve cost about a dollar or three, and it would’ve been a dollar spent very, very wisely.
Meeting the next day’s agenda proved equally efficient, even though it concluded with picking up artist Nicole Soden and hitting The Standard for Corpo Yoga Studio’s Kelly Brandon’s waterside birthday party, which, at $13 an hour, still beat the price of valet and gas. There was the quick trip to the Upper East Side to grab the aforementioned Kenny Smith and that subsequent stopover at The Federal; a pop-in at Magnum to say “Hey!” to the fabulous owner Jeffrey Landsman; and an earlier glazing at the Biscayne Balans, where a planned brunch unfortunately ended up becoming an unplanned drive-by. All told, I spent less than half of what it would’ve cost to cab it, and I enjoyed a compounded amount of convenience to boot.
I also got a whole lotta thumbs-up, an onslaught of smiles, and an array of double-takes too numerous to fathom. I got to fill folks in on the program, and I got to look keen doing so, too. And after rather wowful weekend I had to conclude that Car2Go is more than just a way to get there, it’s a way to get there with a gleeful giddy-up and go-go.