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Car & Driver: Pile on the Pylons
by Terry Moore

At the invitation of Ford PR consultant Tom Lang, Jack Berry and I visited the famed Ford test track in Dearborn last month. Berry wrote the accompanying story about Kathy Stockton winning a players' wives driving skills competition last year during the Ford Seniors Players Championship. To give us a better idea of what kind of afternoon Kathy Stockton went through, Lang was nice enough to include us in an already scheduled outing at the track. As such, we piggybacked on a visit arranged for about 20 college students, drawn from some of the best Business Schools in the land, who will be summer interns at Ford.

After a brief orientation period and explicit instructions not to exceed 45 mph, Jack and I took advantage of the first segment of the program, the opportunity to test-drive several new Ford vehicles. Having a keen eye for a roadster, Jack jumped behind the wheel of a sporty Miata convertible and sped off with the wind in his hair. Unfortunately for Jack, the gates to exit the track were closed so he was forced to return his little, green gem to where he found it. Other vehicles included for sampling were a new Lincoln Continental which we were asked not to photograph because of some new features, an Explorer, a snazzy Jaguar (yes don't forget, it's owned by Ford), a powerful SHO Taurus, a Nautica Villager and a hot Sable. In our unrefined opinion, they all seemed to be fine cars and trucks. Jack didn't say what was his favorite, but he did take that Miata for a second spin. All in the interest of thorough researching his subject matter of course.

The fun part of the outing was when we donned test helmets and competed in a miniature time trial around a short pylon-laced course. If you knocked over a pylon, a penalty second was added to your time. The college kids were having a grand time. After giving their name and school to the timers, they put the pedal to the metal -- and most often put the tires to the pylons. One lead-footed student from Texas got pretty excited on the track and was knocking pylons all over the place. To the utter delight of his intern cronies, the student finished his trial with a pylon still ignominiously stuck under his car. It took some doing to extricate it but at last report the pylon was going to be the Texan's surprise gag gift later that night at dinner. Watching all of this, the wily, veteran Berry eschewed speed for accuracy. With no Sandra Bullock in the front seat to tempt his right foot, he motored his Contour around the circuit in fine, conservative fashion. The pylons were safe and still standing -- as was the course record.


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