Life is Great with a 6.0-liter V8
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  • NorCal GOATs Summer Hooters Cruise

    Posted on July 31st, 2009 tcorzett No comments

    Wake-up on a Saturday and drive… Sounds good.
    Drive from a Hooters… to Hooters… to Hooters… What more do I need to say!

    Total Distance: 142 miles

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    The Dublin Hooters is only down the street from my house, but I couldn’t pass-up a chance to go for a cruise with the NorCal GOATs. I was originally going to meet a few of the guys at the Dublin Hooters and drive down to the Campbell Hooters, but then I was exposed to this…


    Patterson Pass Rd. is one of my favorite drives, with great curves and views… but it is also one lane and heavily traveled commute times (often in the opposite direction I’m trying to drive), so I tend to avoid it. But knowing that there was going to be a train of GTOs going through, I had to be on-board!

    I made the drive to Sonics in Tracy, taking Altamont Pass Rd rather than I-580E (just to spice things up a little). It was very reminiscent of the early morning train chasing in the RX-7 with my father. The group gathered (along with a cool little green grasshopper) and then headed-out towards Patterson Pass.

    It was really great having someone to lead the group that knows the road. As we were approaching various areas we would receive notes over the radio about turns and speeds… it was almost like having a navigator in the passenger’s seat calling out rally directions (3 left, 100, tightens). With the knowledge that the road ahead was clear of on-coming traffic, I was able to let the G8 hang-out a little more than I would otherwise… and it really shined. This was by far the fastest I’ve ever done Patterson Pass, and at no time did I ever feel concern. We stopped at ‘The Top of the World’ for some photos before continuing on to the Dublin hooters.


    Pulling into the parking lot at Dublin Hooters we were met by another bunch of GTOs. So far it was a really great showing, especially for a pre-cruise!


    T-Shirts and keychains were distributed and people regrouped for the drive to the Campbell Hooters. The drive to Campbell was not very exciting (all freeway stuff), but the radio chatter was great as always. Despite the lack-luster roads, there just isn’t anything like driving with a group of other cars… especially ones with the power to get-up-and-go when there are breaks in traffic (or some slow person decided to sit in the fast lane for miles-on-end). It didn’t take long for the group to reach Campbell.


    There was a great showing of cars (at least 16 GTOs and 3 G8s). There was the typical show-and-tell session with people popping their hoods and talking about mods, etc. It is really cool to hang with people who all have a similar interest, and to see how each person does things just a little different. I was able to show-off the dead GPS in my dash and everything!

    After lunch we re-grouped for the cruise. While we were waiting for a few more people to show-up some of the Hooters girls were kind enough to come out and pose with the cars. Being ‘the professional’ I was requested to take some photos, and I was happy to oblige.


    Once the last few stragglers showed-up for the cruise we headed out towards Calaveras Rd. Having a bunch of cars was great, but it also resulted in several people getting left behind or missing exits on the freeways. We even had to pull-over for a while to regroup… The line of cars was quite impressive though.


    Calaveras Rd. had some oncoming traffic, so resulted in a slow drive, but it was a nice chance to look out at the reservoir. I also realized that I don’t like being at the back of the pack… you tend to get all bunched-up and there is little room for ‘spirited’ driving.

    The group deviated from the planned route once reaching Sunol, and a few people got lost on the freeway trying to make various exits, but eventually everyone made it to Dublin and to the Hooters. There was not much of a meeting at the last Hooters of the day (people were all Hooters-ed out by that point). I stayed around for a little, but after getting no service from the establishment, I decided to go home.

    Like all meets, it was great to see everyone. It was nice to not be the only G8 in the pack… hopefully at the upcoming G8 meet we will rival the GTOs in numbers.

  • NorCal GOATS go to Tahoe (with a G8)

    Posted on July 26th, 2009 tcorzett No comments

    After spending a few weeks on the East Coast with a stupid little rental car I was really looking forward to driving the G8 GT. This trip has been on the books for a while and I refused to cancel it for work.

    Total Distance: 510 miles

    The cruise up to Tahoe started with a rally point at the Stoneridge Mall. A few people from the South Bay were to meet up and then head to Fairfield and then towards El Dorado Hills.

    Before getting to the mall I needed to fuel-up (see the Update on the 92 Octane? post).

    I left home a little earlier than needed so that I could program the GPS with the various routes for the weekend… unfortunately the GPS was dead! I pulled the side off the radio and tried plugging in the unit directly into another power outlet (rather than through the splitter I use behind the dash), but there was no change. I don’t know if this is an issue with power like my dad experienced or something with the firmware. Regardless, I’m going to have to pull the dash apart to fix this… I think I’ll install a USB cable as well for any future issues! So being without GPS really though a kink in my plans (I’d not even printed out the routes), but I guess it worked out OK as I didn’t have to lead any of the drives!

    I was joined by two other GTOs at the Stoneridge Mall and we headed out towards Fairfield. I was in the rear of the line and spent far too much time looking in my mirrors while we were trying to make-up time. It was nice to have some running partners while heading up I-680N. We all had two-way radios so there was a bit of chatter that livened-up the drive as well.

    This was the first cruise that I’ve been on since getting the Valentine One radar detector. I mentioned that I had it on when the group first started out, but wondered if it would really be of any use. I didn’t want to be calling out a bunch of false alarms, so kept things to a minimum. The first call over the radio I made was for a weak Ka signal from the front… which was returned by a “what is a Ka?”. I said, “5.0”… which was almost instantly returned by “white CHP ahead entering the freeway”. Given our speed and how the CHP officer was pulling onto the freeway, if I had not had the radar detector it more than likely would have resulted in a ticket (or three). The V1 got several kudos… and more than likely paid for itself!

    The three of us reached Fairfield and picked-up another GTO (and a Mustang) and headed for El Dorado Hills to meet up with the rest of the Heard. Traffic was a heavier, resulting in some fun maneuvering to keep the group together. It was fun using blockers and such… one car pulling into a lane and slowing down enough to let the rest of the group pass through.

    Just before reaching El Dorado Hills there were two CHP officers at the side of the road… one standing outside his car (perpendicular to traffic) with a LASER gun. The V1 didn’t alert until the patrol cars were visible and it received a Ka radar (more than likely off axis). I was surprised that I wasn’t able to pick-up the officers sooner (and never received a LASER alert), but after talking to another GTO owner who has a V1 it seems like we both had the same response. I guess he got a really nasty look from the CHP officer as he drove by (under the speed limit because of picking-up the Ka signal).

    The group gathered in Fairfield and headed out on Hwy-50 towards Lake Tahoe. While the first part of the road was two lanes each way, but it didn’t take long for the group to get held-up by slower traffic. Most of the really slow vehicles (motorhomes, trucks towing stuff, etc.) pulled over at turnouts, but there were still a few cars that just wouldn’t get out of our way…

    The best of the ‘slow vehicles’ was a shiny Aston Martin V8 Vanquish. I was farther back in the Heard of GTOs, so missed-out of some of the shenanigans. Well, passing lanes and big V8 let the GTOs shoot past the Aston, but the two-lane twisty section showed the refined side the GTO is lacking… then again, you can buy a few GTOs/G8s for the price of the Aston Martin.

    Other than the fun with the Aston, the drive up to Tahoe was quite mundane, but the company (and the radio chatter, was a lot of fun).

    The Heard pulled into Tahoe (did someone say traffic?) and headed to Harvey’s Casino and the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. The lunch at the Hard Rock was great… we had two large tables full of people. I had an open face sirloin sandwich that was awesome. All told the tab came to $350… and thankfully someone had a AAA card that saved us 10% (which was placed on a roulette table to help pay for everyone’s gas… without success).

    After lunch most of the group headed-out for a drive around the lake. Before starting out there was one GTO with a wheel/brake issue. It was really impressive to see everyone pull together with jacks and lug-wrenches trying to solve the problem. Once everyone was ready we grouped up and headed-out… minus the few who had a date with a craps table.

    Total Distance: 71.4 miles

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    The road around the lake is all two lane (one each way), so the driving was far from spirited… but the view made-up for it! There really isn’t anything like going up and down over tree covered hills with a gorgeous view of Lake Tahoe! The Heard stopped off at Emerald Bay to admire the view. I wanted to get some photos of the group, but there wasn’t enough room at the pullout to get everyone together. I had to settle for just one GTO with a proper background.


    I would have liked to rotate the cars through this spot/shot so everyone could get a quality photo, but everyone (other than me, who was climbing up a wall) wanted to keep going.

    After the photos, the group continued around the lake. It was quite nice to have a knowledgeable tour guide leading the drive. There was a constant supply of landmarks being called-out over the radios (the house from Godfather II got quite the attention). The Heard pulled-off at a house so the ‘old people’ could use the restrooms (again). During the stop a paintball gun was unleashed on a tree ( a neighboring house was a collateral damage). I tried to take some photos, but stupid (and blind) me had the lens in manual focus.

    Again (for the last time) we continued on around the lake. The view was again spectacular… this time close to the water. The sun was also starting to get a little lower in the sky giving everything a golden glow. The last section of the route around the lake had two lanes for some more spirited driving. To the Heard’s surprise this little Miata (with a goober in a big straw hat) did a great job of keeping-up (and even working through) the line of GTOs.

    Once the group made it back to South Tahoe it broke-up and headed our own ways. Some wanted to spend the night in the Casino, but I’ve never been too into that (I’d rather spend my money than loose it). I had reserved a room in Reno for the night, so headed in that direction. While I had wanted to take the Kingsbury Grade, I ended-up following another GTO down Hwy-50. It was not as twisty as the Kingsbury Grade, but the 2450′ decent (nearly a half-mile) over 12 miles (averaging a 7% decent) was great fun. After reaching Carson City I decided that the drive to Reno was a little more than I wanted to do, so changed my reservations.

    While driving through Carson City I started to wonder what sort of people lived there… there were several groups sitting out on the street in lawn chairs! As I drove around a little more I came across several class car gatherings… I can only imagine people were there to watch them cruise down the main-drag. I was quite tired from the driving so headed to bed rather early… but it would have been nice to look around a little more.

    Sunday morning I checked out of my hotel and headed across the street for some breakfast. I didn’t know what anyone else was planing on doing (and the anti-social part of me didn’t get other people’s phone numbers). After breakfast I headed out on NV88 towards California.

    Total Distance: 148 miles

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    As I was driving through the Carson Valley, the Sierra Mountains towering to the West, I just had to stop and take some photos. I found a nice little backroad where I could get views with the valley and with the mountains.



    After taking a few photos (please excuse the bugs all over the windshield) I headed back onto the road. The roads were mostly two lanes and in fairly decent shape. Things never became too narrow and for the most part things kept moving with reasonable speed limits.

    From time to time I found myself behind a slower moving vehicle, but the road has all sorts of passing opportunities. I must say that the G8 is great with passing lanes… just drop it into third gear and away you go! Just watch-out for oncoming CHP officers! The V1 picked him up, but by that point I was out in the passing lane… he put on his brakes as I went by, but didn’t turn around to come after me (thankfully).

    Before exiting the Sierras I stopped at an overlook to take a few more photos. It happened to be in an avalanche area (no stopping, no peds, etc.), but I didn’t think it would be too big of a deal. The photos were worth the risk of being buried under a wall of snow (all six inches of it).


    Most of the drive on CA88 was really pleasurable. I didn’t have much company on the road, but that allowed me to relax and not sweat passing people. I turned off onto CA26 to get some extra curves in before getting back into the boring multi-lane freeways. It was a really nice section of roads with lots of curves and elevation changes.

    It was at this point that I learned something interesting about the G8… it knows when you are going downhill and shifts accordingly. Most of the time I do my driving in ‘Sport Mode’, but more and more I find myself switching-over to ‘Manual Mode’ when going through the hills. I was going down hill and noticed the transmission was ‘bogging down’ the car, so put it manually into 6th gear to minimize the resistance. Well, this drastically changed the cars stopping characteristics (no nearly as much slowing you down) while going downhill. It only took a few squealing corners to teach me to keep the car in a lower gear, even if it is ‘bogging down’ (aka. doing it’s job slowing me down).

    The remainder of the drive home was typical California highway driving… nothing too special. One thing of note however was the crazy high temperatures in the valley. When I stopped in Lodi for something to drink it was 109°… when I went through Manteca it was 111°! I’m really glad that I was able to spend the weekend in the low-80’s and not in the triple digits!

    All-in-all it was a really great weekend of driving. The GTO folks were very welcoming and made the drive much more enjoyable. Unfortunately I will not be able to attend their Tilden Park Cruise & BBQ in July, but I think quite a few will be joining the G8 cruise to Half-Moon Bay in August.