What I love about Katie
I first heard the whirring sound of the 5 liter engine before I caught the white Mustang in my side view mirror. It was going all the way in the left lane and soon had caught up to me and we were neck and neck. It is this moment that I love most. I performed the obligatory cop check, which is much more than just checking the mirrors and looking out towards the horizon. You also have to look for unmarked cars. Every Ford Crown Victoria or Dodge Charger could potentially have a cop inside. Now it was time to show the punks in the Mustang that their car wasn't all that and being inside that car did not make them cool.
This is the moment that Katie comes alive. Her appearances are very deceptive. She looks agile, nifty and one that could squeeze through tight spaces. This is all true, but it also gives her a more delicate look. She doesn't look like a large growling beast and moves along gently without making much noise. Most believe that she is all looks and no real substance, nothing could be further from the truth.
I switched the transmission to manual and shifted down two gears as the engine roared in to a new life. That is one of the best things about Katie, she can be quiet and gentle and nifty during everyday driving but once you push the pedal to the metal, she transforms into a roaring beast and growls much louder than most. The most special part of Katie is her unique heart. It is different than all others, it is a rotary engine. A 'Wankel', named after her designer. Instead of pistons moving up and down, there are two rotors that move in a circular direction. These rotors are in essence rounded triangles sitting inside a circle thus creating three chambers for gasoline to be combusted in. There is no conversion of up and down motion of the pistons to a circular motion of the cam shaft. The motion is circular from the beginning in a rotary engine. What this really means is that there are only three moving parts and the engine can achieve very high RPMs without that much strain on it. The RX8 has the red line at 9,000 RPMs. Without the bulky cylinders, the engine size is also reduced, totaling a mere 1.3 liter displacement. The RX8 truly shows that size doesn't matter, delivering up to 238 horsepower from the baby sized engine.
Since the RX8 can achieve high RPMs, and most of the torque is at the higher end, it has to be driven a little differently. As I was in 6th gear cruising close to 70mph with the RPM at just 2,000, I could shift down to 4th and use the higher RPMs to get a sudden surge of power. I get pushed back in my seat and the engine sound rises many decibels and within a few seconds I get up to 90. I am able to match the speed of the faster moving Mustang with ease which signals to them that I want to play a bit. The Mustang also increases its speed but now traffic comes in to play. This reminds me of my days in high school where once I raced a Mustang in my old, family minivan, and weaving in and out of traffic, I was able to beat it across the finish line. Since that day I was known in school as "The Minivan Racer".
As a slower car ahead of me approaches closer and closer, I quickly move to the right lane, squeezing in a tight but safe enough gap. The Mustang does the same but amongst a barrage of horns and screeching brakes, there is just not enough room. This is the most dangerous thing about racing on the highway. Racers are not considerate to the other drivers and make sudden and sharp lane charges causing other drivers to panic. The first rule of changing lanes safely, even in high speeds is to signal for it. Make sure the gap is big enough. Move in slowly in to the lane, make sure the other drivers are aware that you are moving in to the lane. Even if the gap is not big enough, you can squeeze through safely if you maintain your speed. Most accidents are caused by drivers cutting off in front of others and then slamming on their brakes causing the drivers behind them to panic. If you feel that you will have to hit the brakes as soon as you change lanes, don't do it. Wait a little longer and another lane will open up soon enough.
Katie is very smooth when it comes to maneuvering at high speeds. Since her engine is small, the weight distribution is a perfect 50-50 on both the axles. She also has a very tight turning radius of just 17.4 ft. As we both approach the ramp, I am able to accelerate on the curve while the Mustang keeps on pressing the brakes to slow down. As I exit the curve, I am at full throttle and am able to pass away. All the horses under the Mustang's hood are not enough at that moment and it is a while before it can catch me again. By this time, I have slowed down, my exit is here. I take the on-ramp at speed and love the handling as Katie hugs the corner with such finesse. I hit the apex of the curve and then speed out. The light ahead turns red and the 16 inch disc brakes bring me to a swift but smooth halt. It is time to open the sunroof and soak in the sun. I can't help but have a smile on my face, there is just so much pleasure in driving this beauty. I respect the great thought that has been put in designing her and I love her soul and spirit. She has so much character. That is why she has a name. Katie.
Note: Racing on streets and highways are dangerous. It does not matter what vehicle you drive or how much experience you have. Reckless driving is a leading cause of death. Obey the speed limit.