Last year, I took my grandmother’s ‘98 Buick Regal LS out to the Altamont Pass Wind Farm, near Livermore, CA with a buddy of mine. Not sure how we got in, but I learned how to do the tactical driving move of my people known as the Scandinavian Flick.
The flick is the only good way to get that softly sprung 4,000lb front engined, front wheel drive boat with no handbrake sideways- it kind of seems like no one intended for a car like that to get sideways- but get sideways it did.
The conditions for this happened to be just perfect, as it had rain just a few days prior leaving the gravel roads damp enough to give those cheap all seasons just enough grip, with the added benefit of great dust mitigation to give us a bit of in-cognizance to those who might’ve preferred us to not be there.
Without telling my friend, I carefully studied the road while it took us up more than 1,000 ft in preparation for the trip back while he looked at the bobcats (not the tiny industrial equipment kind), coyotes (not the engine kind) and rabbits (not the VW kind).
I tried to not think about the lack of guard rails and the subsequent +200ft of rolling the car would do should it loose control and lack of any kind of cell service should it all go wrong as we reached the top.
At the top, I looked over at my friend, who had been asking about how he could get his VW Bora 1.8T sideways earlier that day while at In’n’out, and said, “would you like me to show you how to get a FWD car sideways?”
“In what? This!?” he responded. “Of course, you don’t need a handbrake,” I replied.
We got in the car and started to head down into the canyon where I quickly learned the car’s balance of grip, and the way the weight transfers by weaving back, and flicking forth.
Gradually, I was gaining more and more angle by tapping the brakes and flicking harder and gingerly hitting the throttle to straighten out. “Wow, this is actually working,” I thought to myself.
Eventually, I was holding angles through entire corners, my buddy screaming and hollering the whole way down. One of the corners was a particularly large right-handed horseshoe with a cattle guard at the end and amazing transitions. Somehow I managed to hold angle all the way through, straighten up before the guard and swing it the other way for the next corner.
The whole experience was incredibly fun and incredibly dangerous (I find that the two typically go hand-in-hand.) The car didn’t deserve the abuse and was never intended to do anything of the sort, but it took it all like the champ that it is. I washed it as soon as I got home so Dad wouldn’t notice, but it ended up taking hours to get all that clay out of the wheel wells and Dad found out anyway. Worth it!