The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

9 October 2006

Let's put this baby to the test

You do not want to watch me during a test drive. I don't think I'm particularly hard on a car, but it's going to have to be able to do some pretty weird-looking things to get me to sign the check, and this means scary roll angles, braking at odd times, and 30-mph curves at 55 or so. While I consider these things essential to determining the vehicle's suitability, I don't think the general public benefits by having to see them take place on local surface streets, and other drivers may well be put into a state of shock, which doesn't enhance anybody's safety.

The city of Naperville, Illinois now takes a step forward with its new municipal test track, intended for customers of the dozen or so local dealerships. Here's what it offers:

  • A 100-foot-long cobblestone surface to simulate driving on a brick road.
  • A 10 percent hill climb incline intended to replicate driving on a dirt road.
  • High-bank testing area with a 10 percent cross slope.
  • Rough-road testing on concrete pavement with embedded boulders.
  • Suburban driveway and curb comprised of standard concrete driveway.
  • Skid pad area consisting of asphalt pavement, irrigated so that it is constantly wet for wet braking tests.
  • Three security/Web cameras used to show activity on the track and allowing for live feeds to participating car dealers.
  • A simulated railroad crossing.

Except for maybe a high-speed straightaway, this is just about everything I'd want. Right now, the only thing locally that comes close is the franchise-mandated test course for Land Rovers behind Bob Moore's Autoplex. (I came this close to climbing it one day, mistaking one of its paths for the entrance to the Infiniti service department next door, which demonstrates further the value of getting me off the road.) I'm not saying that Oklahoma City, or its car dealers, should pony up the bucks for a replica of the Nürburgring, but there has to be something better than just flying down the Broadway Extension.

Posted at 7:27 AM to Driver's Seat