Since my car threw his timing belt, I’ve been renting little front-wheel drive numbers on the weekends and recently rediscovered a naughty thing I used to do when I was first learning to drive.

Sitting in the car at a stoplight, right at the crosswalk next to another car, maybe it’s an Audi, probably it’s a Subaru, I ensure the music’s up to 11, and when the light turns green, with zero indication to the competition at my side, I gun it.

And if you’re not in a ’79 Volvo (like I was when I first started “racing”), you will always, always, always win because the other guy had no idea this was a competition.

You don’t rev the engine. You don’t look at them tauntingly. You don’t have your passenger jump out and wave a flag.


You sit there quietly biding your time until the light changes. Obviously, three seconds into the “race,” I look like I might have forgotten my foot was switched out with an anvil and then suddenly remembered and slid it off the gas because I always slow down after my back bumper has passed their front bumper.

But those three seconds are great fun.

I like to quote Clark W. Griswold in these situations, once I’m through the intersection and the other person is wondering what the hell I’m doing (“Does she have a liver in an icebox?” “Is she birthing and driving?”) I get to the other side and say — loudly if the windows are up and under my breath when the windows are down — “Heheheh. Burn dust. Eat my rubber.”

And then I pretend Rusty is in the backseat rolling his eyes.

I know there will be “no trophy, no flowers, no flashbulbs, no wine,” because I’m in town and there are photo radar thingys every five feet. On the open road, I can go the distance, and I can go for speed.

For now, with the rentals, I settle for tooling around town like a little old lady on a Sunday drive.

Unless I’m feeling kicky and am at a stoplight.

This weekend, I picked up my third rental car. It was red, which is an excellent color if you like to be spotted by cops. Its tires held the quarter up when I winched it in the tread. It allegedly had the “most power of the sedans we’ve got available today,” but when I got up to Nederland to finish helping some friends move, I got it stuck in two-inch deep slush.


That slush was so wimpy a baby could push his own stroller out of it.

I spend enough time driving in the woods and accidentally putting myself in off-roading situations there’s no way in hell I’ll buy a FWD sedan with dumb tires. I’m currently dreaming of a rusty, late ’80s Toyota pickup with sandbags in the back, a solid stereo inside and an In-N-Out Burger sticker on the back windshield. I think it’s doable. And once that happens, I can go back to hugging turns in the canyon.

Until then, if you see a crappy little rental car next to you at a stoplight with a driver not looking your way and turning the stereo up, I’m probably getting ready to burn dust and make you eat my rubber.

Jeanine Fritz writes about motorsports each Friday in the Colorado Daily.