Editorial Features

Test Track Tease

by | Aug 11, 2017

This past week, I went to Disney for the first time. I was down in Orlando for a conference and we turned the trip into our vacation– someplace I’ve never been before. I’ll admit, for someone with a bit of a Disney Universe bias, I had an incredible experience. (And don’t get me started on Harry Potter world at Universal.)

One the rides that we enjoyed, after waiting all day for the torrential Florida in August monsooning to stop so they could open it up again, was Test Track. Apparently it’s undergone some changes over the years, but this latest iteration involved designing the car– everything from spoiler size to engine configuration, and then taking a ride through, quite literally, the test track, where scores for your car appear on screen, as you encounter bad weather, slippery conditions, off-road elements and, of course, a 0-70 shot in an open cockpit car around the outdoor track. 

And can I just say, it was fun as hell.

Our car didn’t actually do all that well. We came in second and third mostly, and I’ll admit to most of the blame. You can’t do much designing in under two minutes, and I thought more as a car enthusiast and industry insider than the ride is really intended for. Too much time was spent on the aerodynamic lines and tire choices and engine configuration, and at the end of our 120 seconds, we had an orange Dune Buggy meets Subaru meets 1920s Bugatti looking monstrosity in bright orange. We definitely need points for flame decals, though.

So no, we didn’t do so hot. After all, we’re talking a ride at Disney, not the internal workings of the Porsche design hive.

Either way, I got really excited about designing cars, and with a little longer than two minutes to boot.

I’m a journalist and a writer, and no one in their sane mind would allow me anywhere near engineering, especially not a high performance automobile. But for the few minutes we were on the ride, I had the chance to pretend. I could take styling cues from the early luxury limousines of the 1920s and lines from European racing and tires from hot rods on the Salt Flats. I could concoct some amalgam of genres and eras and models to my heart’s content, before climbing into the safe and sound roller coaster seat and setting off.

Yes, it’s a ride. At Disney, land of the make believe. But find me a car enthusiast who doesn’t dream of slashing ink against paper and creating cars, find me an automotive lover who doesn’t want to play God with pistons and spoilers and racing stripes. I got my small taste of doing just that at this silly ride at an amusement park and absolutely loved it. The only problem now is that I don’t want to stop.

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