Driving 70 MPH on a Southern California freeway is no big thing, people do it all the time. This 'limit' begins to increase as the number of vehicles dramatically decrease each hour after the sun as set. So when I tell you that the other night we were driving home at the rate of 82 MPH, well that's not really worth writing about.
So what if I told you that while speeding down the road, trying to shave minutes off my best time from Orange County to Los Angeles I looked up from the dash gauges after hearing a peculiar noise to see a white BMW, fifteen yards in front of me, also traveling at 82 MPH but sideways, perfectly perpendicular to my own car.
Time froze. And then it started moving slowly from a solid to liquid state.
There in front of me a man-made object was seemingly defying the laws of physics, because it remained sideways moving at the same rate of speed with puffy white smoke billowing from the tires â€” the sound and smell of rubber being scrapped across pavement, in a way it was not designed to, filled the air around us.
I quickly scanned the area around me. To the left, in lane one was a Latino family crammed in a small orange Asian import vehicle. A car length behind them, in lane two, was a full-size white pickup configured with a contractor package, complete with a ladder. The third lane was dominated by German engineering: The smoking, sideways BMW and my own Reflex Silver Volkswagen. The last lane, number four, was unoccupied and depending on how the rubber gripped the road it was my intended escape route.
As my wife hit the hazard lights, I started working the brakes to bring our rate of speed down to a more manageable 55 MPH, traffic around me did the same. The BMW continued to slide and I thought for sure it was going to launch into an uncontrolled role as soon as one of the left tires connected with the round heavy plastic dots used to indicate lanes.
It never did. Instead the back of the car started to slide a bit past the front and the vehicles momentum started to carry the car forward into the second lane. The smoke disappeared as all four tires started to grip pavement launching the vehicle towards the concrete sound barrier wall ALA Dale Earnhardt. I thought for sure the BMW was going to become half of it's length in the next second and that the family of five, still in the first lane, would t-bone the wreckage requiring multiple ambulances and a SIG Alert.
The car did hit the wall straight on but instead of crumbling it was, as if from by divine miracle, spun around â€” facing the Latinos, then the truck, then us. It spun a full 270 degrees until it was once again back in a lane heading down the road in normal fashion. The brake lights went on and the wife reached for her cell phone to call for help, surely the people inside would require some medical attention.
Instead the BMW increase speed and started to flee the scene. I looked over the right to see the family also looking in disbelief as they pulled over, probably to collect their thoughts and stop hypervenalitang. After all we had been through, all seven seconds of it, these clowns were just going to drive away. What a load of crap.
I looked over at the wife, "Follow them", she said, "what if they are drunk or hurt?" Upon instruction I downshifted into third, the RPM gauge jumped by 1000 revolutions and we started pursuit. As the wife dialed the phone the BMW continued to speed off.
It wasn't until I reached 110 MPH that I was able to get close enough to read the license plate but even that was made more difficult as I didn't want to get close enough to come in contact, or be put into a position where that would happen.
As a side note I would like to add that at 100+ MPH the Vokswagen Passat performed admirably, feeling even more solid the faster we traveled. While the sound of the engine was louder than normal, it did not compete with the fantastic sound delivered from the Bose Monsoon stereo system. I can't say that this is the perfect car to pursue idiots on the California freeway system but it is certainly up to the task when neeeed.
The BMW swerved into the next lane the Rocket Scientist barked to the person at 9-1-1, trying to explain what was taking place on the 10 freeway. As we approached a sign advertising the next exit the BMW started to make their way over, the wife still reading off the license plate to the dispatch officer. With our crappy Cingular cell-phone connection a few numbers had to be repeated all the while the car was making it's way to the exit.
As this whole thing was not a good idea I was not about to compound the problem by getting off the freeway and into a neighborhood that I knew nothing about. Especially since we were speeding through East LA. Nice enough in the daytime I'm sure but there is a reason the area has never received an All American City award.
Just as the car left the freeway the last number was read and as the wife left her contact information I slowed our rate of speed back to a more manageable 80 MPH. The rest of the trip back home seemed very boring and uneventful.