Automotive

Roads to be travelled

The journey is the destination. And on National Odometer Day, Americans celebrate precisely this fact. And the odometer. Three routes, sometimes more, sometimes less serious, that they should have travelled in their lives. Or have already done anyway.

  • Text
    Michael Petersen & Martin Trockner
  • Photo
    unsplash.com / Melina Kiefer

Atlantic Ocean Road

In his last film as James Bond, Daniel Craig has a wonderful fleet of fancy sports cars at his disposal, from the classic DB5 and V8 Saloon to the DBS Superleggera and Valhalla supercar. But the cars aren’t the only things that are spectacular in No Time to Die; so are the drives, especially the Atlanterhavsvegen in northwestern Norway. A British newspaper of all things voted the Atlantic Ocean Road the best route in the world. And what about us? Without further ado, we’ve named it the most exciting road of all the Bond films.

unsplash.com / Leonardo Venturoli
unsplash.com / Leonardo Venturoli

Why? Because the 8,274-meter-long core section of the Atlanterhavsvegen is so picture-perfect in itself that the car doesn’t really matter anymore. Between Vevang in the municipality of Hustadvika and Kårvåg in the municipality of Averøy, the journey passes over eight bridges connecting eight coastal islands. The most striking is the Storseisundet Bridge, called Storseisundbrua in Norwegian. Winding and hunched like a cat in attack mode, the engineering marvel spans 260 meters in length and up to 23 meters in height over a sea that is in constant flux. This is due to the light and the winds, but also to the tidal range at the exit of the fjord over which the Atlanterhavsvegen runs. This wealth of ever-changing images leads us to make the clear recommendation of traveling these eight kilometers more than once, in both directions.

Your senses are kept so busy during the drive that there is hardly any time or space left for other feelings. Which may be why a travel guide recently described this section of the Norwegian coast as the best destination in the world for alleviating acute heartbreak. That makes it a good place for Bond, who is nursing a broken heart of his own.

Hot Wheels GND92 

Two loops can ruin a man for life. The simple-looking design of the Hot Wheels® GND92 Energy Track™ track set with two loops is like a gateway drug for fans of rally driver Ken Block in this and any future world. Because the principle of loops, in which a section of track turns the driver vertically in a 360-degree curve around a horizontal axis, is not a question of size. No Nordschleife can compete here, no corkscrew in Laguna Beach will surprise you with a ring of fire, and even the legendary Evel Knievel would go white in the face if he saw this monster towering before him in real life. Not to mention the g-forces that would build up, especially in the first of the twisting loops. The pulse would rise to unimagined heights even before the start button is pressed, and the trigger thumb would be wet with sweat long before you ignite the engine. Entry into the first loop would push your guts into the seat, while in the apex of the second you’d have trouble maintaining consciousness as the flames blaze high all around.


Credit: Eunike Mössinger
Credit: Eunike Mössinger

For fifty-five years, toy manufacturer Mattel has been literally turning young heads (and increasingly also grown-up ones). With fantasies of an automotive world that has about as much to do with our reality as Captain Picard at the helm of the USS Enterprise. There was a time when children were content to let their tiny cars race from the edge of the bed onto the bedroom floor in finger-wide Hot Wheels tracks. Today, battery-powered accelerators give the increasingly sophisticated 1:64 scale model cars a serious boost.

And you need that to make it over the finish line. Our imaginary drive transforms a pint-sized punk into a daring Vin Diesel and a shy computer programmer into a rowdy limelight hog. Unfortunately, the track set comes with only one car, which is clearly not enough. And once you discover that there’s also a Hot Wheels Massive Loop Mayhem and that you can build your own track with additional loops, it’s all over. See above.

Circuit des 24 Heures

Does “Circuit de la Sarthe” mean anything to you? If not, that’s the name of the racetrack in Le Mans, officially the Circuit des 24 Heures, a mix of public roads and permanent sections of track. The name is a reference to the nearby river Sarthe as well as the department of the same name. Though just saying “Le Mans” is enough – everyone will know what you mean: one of the most legendary circuits in the world, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The green flag for the 24-hour race is set to drop on June 10. On June 11 the checkered flag will determine the winner. Reason enough to go there for a lap ourselves. At least in our imagination.

Credit: Porsche
Credit: Porsche

First, the good news. We’ll be accelerating more than braking: In total, a pro makes only eleven braking maneuvers on the 13.629-kilometer track. But first, full throttle. Up to the Dunlop corner, we accelerate to almost 300 km/h, jump from fifth to second gear, push through the curve, accelerate again to the Chapelle corner, from where we can see the legendary Tertre Rouge right-hander. Now it’s time to squeeze everything we can out of the car as we enter the Hunaudières, or Mulsanne Straight in English. Originally, the public road known as Ligne Droite des Hunaudières was a six-kilometer-long straight that made top speeds of more than 400 km/h possible. But when FIA ruled in 1990 that no straight could be longer than two kilometers, the circuit was modified to include two chicanes. 

Credit: Porsche
Credit: Porsche
At the end of the straight, a battle with g-forces is in the cards as we brake from 316 km/h down to 87 km/h. This scenario is repeated as we approach the Indianapolis and Arnage corners – the slowest part of the circuit, where we maneuver the bends at 80 kilometers per hour. We’re almost at the end now. The last big test is the Ford chicane just before the start/finish straight, installed in 1968 to slow the cars down. Finally, the checkered flag. If you didn’t make a mistake, the whole thing took around 3:25 minutes.

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