The Buick Regal

Sometimes I wonder why it is every time I pick up a test car from a manufacturer it’s always a SEDATE four-door sedan! Where the hell are the Corvettes, the Vipers, the Porsche 911s, the David
Saville-Peck Lotus or the M28 McLaren. I know…it’s the senior citizen thing! Do they think that I don’t have a right foot anymore? As I was escorted by Gary Grant…damn that sounds like I need to be cared for, to the General Motors press lot where there sat a nice bright yellow Camaro convertible and a silver Cadillac that looked like it needed some silver-haired-old-buzzard to thrash it around a bit. Right next to them was a rather SEDATE candy-apple-BROWN-four-door Buick Regal. The very nice lady who handles all the press vehicles and the ‘press’ people who want to put the cars through their paces said the Camaro had a minor adjustment needed and would be a several hour wait and the Cadillac was assigned to some other senior citizen reporter that I am sure was about to retire. It was probably Norris MacDonald of the Star. The lucky guy! I didn’t know Cadillac comes with training wheels so Norris can keep it on the road! She said the Buick was ready to go and so was I. The Buick Regal, another SEDATE four-door-sedan…NOT!

I looked the car over to make sure it had no dings from the last test pilot. The odometer read all of 117 kilometers! A virgin! I’m not going to tell you the last time I saw one of those, but I must be honest. I intended to be gentle with her and show her the ropes slowly. Now I find lower Ontario to be almost a grid with mostly straights and sharp corners of the ninety-degree type. On the gas, on the brakes and on the gas again. I spend more time watching for the clown coming through the stop sign or cutting across four lanes of traffic. I like the country to test cars and this was going to be like driving in Vancouver where the least educated drivers in the universe reside and ply their trade at destroying cars and their occupants at speeds well beyond both the driver and their mounts limits. I needed to find a nice country drive to stretch my new friend so I decided to visit an old mistress northeast of Oshawa. I needed to remind myself of her beauty. She has curves that will stop your heart and keep you breathless if you ask too much of both her and yourself. My old mistress? Mosport International Raceway as it is now known. I just knew it as Mosport when I hung around her. My experience had been totally beside her beautiful curves while wildmen and their dates threw themselves at me at well over a hundred miles an hour. In all the years that I had visited Mosport I had only driven around her on a Kawasaki 350 motorcycle in the dark. You know I did not push the bike at all that night. When I arrived at the track there was a lapping day in progress. I introduced myself and my mount to the organizers and asked if I might take the car out on the track to take some pictures of the car for the story I was doing. Lunch time was suggested as the best time as all would be having lunch and well out of the way of a car sitting stationary over the brow of Turn Four. I was told there would be one other car on the track with me. They told me the driver had been warned to my presence. I later found out the driver of the pale green Porsche with me on the track was blind! A driving instructor was guiding him around the famous old track as he bravely sat in the right-hand seat! They did not hold back as the car screamed past us at the entrance to the very high speed Turn Four. I failed to mention I had my eldest son JP in my right-hand seat on my photo expedition. I had sent him up the road just over the brow of the turn to warn the oncoming car of our presence. The beautiful Porsche slipped by the parked-in-the-middle-of-the-track SEDATE BROWN four-door-sedan at a rate that would have had the car impounded if it were on the street! We quickly finished our shoot in Corner Five as the Porsche flew past again and headed up the Andretti Straight and over the brow out of sight. I got in behind the wheel and headed for the pits. I had recently watched McLaren’s Louis Hamilton’s reaction to instructions to return to the pits when he and Tony Stewart exchanged their F1 and NASCAR mounts for a SPEED TV special. When Hamilton was asked to return to the pits he just garbled the transmission and said he could not understand them and went for another spin around the track. I did not get the same verbal instructions so I just skipped the entrance to the pits and headed down the pit straight with my co-pilot giving me instructions as I cranked up the rate of knots in the virgin. My son is a ex-motorcycle racer and I have passed an advanced driving course with no other than Scott Goodyear as my instructor. I am not unfamiliar with turning up the wick. The turn in points on the track were marked with bright orange cones and my son also pointed out the natural markers like trees on the horizon that he used as guides when he raced his Suzuki 1000 here. He gently told me to hold my line until what I thought was suicide before he told me to commit to the turn. The turn? The notorious Turn Two that falls away to your left as the car tries for all it’s might to pull you off the road and into a concrete wall that has claimed more than one driver. The car strained to stay on the road, but held it’s line as I gently fed the throttle to it. I realized that I had just driven through one of the most daunting corners in all racing! The best in the world in the sport we all love had also tightened up their sphincter muscles to get through this turn at speed! The short chute to Turn Three was uneventful, but the apex of the corner would have been hard to find without the orange cone. The speed began to build as the SEDATE-four-door-BROWN-sedan thundered toward what I knew was another blind left-hander that would funnel me down into the very steep and short climb into Moss Corner and then out and up the Andretti Straight and Turns Eight, Nine and Ten at White’s Corner. Before I took Turn Ten I slid into the entrance to the pits and safety. My heart was enjoying the flutters of the sight of a beautiful woman in my youth. The SEDATE-BROWN-four-door-sedan…she was ready for more! What I originally thought of as a responsible mature driver’s ride turned out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing! The car loved to go! Go she could and go she would, but then again you can’t enjoy the true potential of a car with this kind of breeding on the street. You can just enjoy the thought that the other guy thinks you are just tooling around in a luxurious SEDATE four-door-sedan when you could be having him for lunch!

The Buick Regal as seen in North America has some history in Europe where it is known as the Opel Insignia. In Europe, touring cars are not overly SEDATE. Our version is none too SEDATE either. Take one for a test drive. There just might be lapping days at a track near you.

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