Driving an Audi Past 150 MPH on the Autobahn
There's a great quote from Edgar Mitchell, one of the Apollo 14 astronauts, about looking at the Earth while on the Moon: “You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch’."
A few days ago, I drove 150 mph on the Autobahn in Germany; not the moon by any means, but I think I now know the feeling that Mitchell was talking about. Just outside of Munich, near the Monaco-sized hamlet of Ingolstadt, home to Audi, I drove into my destiny.
The hilariously generous Germans of the Audi Communications Team thought it would be a fun activity to send a battalion of journalists (without even glancing at our driving records) on a three hour tour of The Sound of Music set, unleashing us into the Bavarian countryside in our very own 2015 A3's.
Pause for a second to understand that Germans don't have to pay for satellite radio. They have something called DAB, which I understand to be a hybrid of Sirius and HD radio. There's a station called "Klassik" that on this day was exclusively playing Mozart, a composer I had become most familiar with after just re-watching Amadeaus on my flight from JFK to MUN.
Unpause and I'm on the autobahn, and as I look up from behind the wheel of the A3, I see a sign that flashes a succession of three bright white LED lights through a circle. I would later learn that this was the German equivalent to the start gun at Churchill Downs. The race had begun.
60 mph: Nothing much to report.
86 mph: A slight ffbbbttt from the engine as it oozes into 5th gear; I'll take it.
105 mph: Mozart at full blast, the hills are alive with the sound of music, and I'm being overtaken by what appears to be a stealth bomber — but it's really a murdered out Porsche Panamera with a carbon fiber body kit. Germany is insane.
124 mph: I accidentally change the station. Swedish hair pop rock band Europe blasts from the Bang and Olufsen speakers. I immediately flip the switch back to Mozart. Passing a family of 5 in a station wagon, my speedometer read 200 kph... only later did I learn what that actually meant.
140 mph: My hands have welded with the steering wheel. I am a cellist in Mozart's concerto. I am F. Murray Abraham. I am The Sound of Music.
155 mph: I catch the warning sticker in the bottom left corner of my eye instructing me not to drive past 210 kph while snow tires are equipped. I momentarily wondered if Dvorjak would have cared if Mozart had driven 250 kmph on snow tires.
I recognize that I might be hallucinating as I become one with the universe. There is no past. There is no present. Only the immediately approaching Exit — that's Ausfahrt in German — off of the B23 stretch of the motorway.
93 mph: As I decelerate, relief washes over me like an awesome wave. There is no more war. Wolf Blitzer has found the lost Malaysian flight. My girlfriend is no longer mad at me for staying out a bit too late last Thursday. All is right in the world as I flick on my right turn signal to ausfahrt the B23.
70 mph: Exiting now, I feel like I'm the fat kid on the soccer team again. Even though I'm taking a turn at 70 mph, I seem to be standing still.
18 mph: Slowing for stoplight. I try to determine how many people have masturbated while driving, and guestimate that the number has to be north of 100,000 by now, based on a McKinsey application question I once clicked on Reddit.
0 mph: Sitting at stoplight. I quickly contemplate if what I had for lunch is reflected in the current taste in my mouth. Hmm, schnitzel. Delicious.
10 mph: Pulling into Audi's equivalent of the Roman Colosseum (appropriately named the Audi Forum), I look down at my hands, my right foot and my left, and realize that after 150 mph on the autobahn, I will never be the same again.
0 mph: Parking at the Audi Forum I turn the volume down on the stereo before hitting the stop engine button. But this button doesn't turn off the music (a stroke of genius!) and I continue to sit for the next ten minutes listening to the Amadeus soundtrack. A girl knocks on my window. She's beautiful. Intimidating. German. The human incarnation of an Audi. She knocks again with a wider, knowing smile. I roll down the window: "you know that we had GPS speed trackers on you this whole time."
My face turns white.
Her smile broadens.