Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Andrew's MR2 vs Elise SC vs Alfa Romeo 4C

You know how every car guy has that one story he cherishes forever?

Well today was that day.


So I'm cruising down the 51 South as usual, when merging from a nearby onramp pops BOTH of my personal dream cars.

A black Alfa Romeo 4C, fresh off the dealer lot, and a black Lotus Elise Supercharged.

I'm a couple cars behind them, watching them flirt with each other as they weave through the crowd.

I turn off the A/C, downshift and gun it.

Which in a 230,000 mile MR2 doesn't produce much.

But they run into heavier traffic, so I make it up behind the Alfa.

It's wider than I thought it would be. The magazine photos and internet videos don't do this car justice.
I flip my headlights up and down.
They've noticed me now, the Elise driver gives me a wave out the window.

We trade places few times, giving little jabs of the throttle among each other.

Traffic clears aside, and all three of us short wheelbase mid-engine sportscars exit Camelback.

The light is green as a spring lawn, and all three cars are heard rev-matching a downshift.

Here's the race lineup:

Above: 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C
2487 lbs. 237hp. 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds

Above: 2008 Lotus Elise SC
2041 lbs. 218hp. 0-60mph in 4.3 seconds.

Above: 1993 Toyota MR2 (NA)
2650 lbs. Like 130hp or so. 0-60mph in some time today.

To give you an idea of how small these three cars are, a new Mustang weighs 3526-3705 pounds dry. A new Camaro? Up to 4300lbs.

The Lotus is less than HALF a Camaro. And now its brake lights flash red in front of me as we approach the double S corners at full speed.

Lotus is in front, then me, then the brand new Alfa.

The first left, Lotus and I gas through 100% committed, Alfa isn't sure what to do.

Alfa falls back a bit, he's a mess.

Tight right hand ahead, Lotus knows what he's doing. I match his line from outside left, gas through the turn, kissing the apex, powering out. It's a perfect dance between us.

During those two turns, I was in all my glory. The sounds of their engines mixed with mine, all stretched to the limit, tires chirping, gears winding, pipes blasting.

Alfa gets schooled by me and Lotus, but now the road has straightened out and it becomes crystal clear how far technology has come since 1993.

The Lotus disappears ahead, and the Alfa slingshots by my right side like I'm parked in place.

God, the sound it made. Like a blender of giant hornets and lasers during a hurricane.

The road weaves right then left slightly, and brings us to the 16th street and Camelback intersection.

Lotus and Alfa are grouped together again in the left lane, looking docile at the stoplight.

I ease in behind them with a huge smile on my face.

Alfa driver gives me a thumbs up in his rear view mirror. I return it.

Light turns green, and we all go our separate ways.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Andrew Disappoints a Crowd.

Lonely Saturday night, I have nothing to do.

Figure I'll go to Scottsdale Pavilions car show, because that's where I'm in my element.

So I roll in a bit after 7pm, in my crusty black MR2.

I enter through the back, to avoid the busy rows, where all the popular cars are.

And there I see it.

In the shadows, unnoticed.

A real Noble M400.

Now, most people don't know what a Noble M400 is, so I've provided a picture.

This is exactly what it looked like.

This is a rare gem. For the price of a Corvette, the Noble annihilates everything. It puts Lamborghinis, Porsches, and Ferraris to shame regularly. The body is British, the engine is American, twin turbocharged 6 cylinder.

It weighs 2300lbs. To give you an idea of how stupid light that is, a Mini Cooper weighs 2,895.

I park the MR2 beside the Noble. They are about the same size, but the Noble has 4 times the power, and infinitely faster at 3.2 seconds to 60mph.

I'm admiring the Noble's curvature, its design meticulously planned with one single purpose- perfect performance.

I hear a voice behind me.

"Soo, what is it?"

I turn around, it's an older gentleman, with his two young sons.

I tell them what the car is, and smile proudly.

"A what?"

So I explain what kind of engine it has, where it's from and why. How for $60,000, you can either buy a Corvette like everyone else, or get this Noble and be king of the world.

His sons are in love with it, and ask to take pictures with it. I say sure, just be careful.

Now a couple in their 20s nudges closer. She's looking through the window, in awe of the sparse, racy interior.

Her boyfriend asks me this and that about the Noble. So I answer him too.

Suddenly there's a crowd around me.

They think I own this car.

I look at my shoes, I'm dressed nicely, after meeting a client. I seem to know everything about a car no one's seen before. Clearly I must be the owner.

The Noble and I are completely encircled now. People are taking pictures, filming me explaining who manufactures the M400's body, and how you can buy one.

I'm given about a dozen handshakes. The crowd keeps getting larger, with whispers of "Who is this guy?"  "Wait isn't he from that one show you like?"  "I don't think so?"  "He looks familiar."  "I wonder what he does!"

For 22 minutes, Andrew Centrella was a Somebody.

Not once did I say the Noble was mine.
They all just assumed it was.

So after a mom thanked me for letting her kids pose for a picture with the Noble, I shook some more hands, and said it was time for me to go.

I took out my keys.

The crowd perked up.

They were going to hear the Noble come to life!

Oh, what thunderous music would bless them now!

I wave to them, they step back...

and I unlock the MR2.

"W...what." I hear a man say.

"Oh you gotta be shittin me..." another groans.


The people disperse, I smile and drive away, dripping bits of oil in the process.

Friday, January 16, 2015

I did something absolutely stupid crazy. But I'm glad.


So I'm sitting outside Pizza Heaven, near 7th st and Colter, eating a slice in my car and listening to the Suns game.

It's a small parking lot, filled up with 10 cars.

I'm parked at the far corner, facing the sidewalk. There are rows of apartment buildings across the street, which is six lanes wide.

Rush hour is over. The remaining traffic is infrequent and sleepy.

Al McCoy bows out for a commercial break, so I turn it down, deciding to people watch for a moment.

Perfect timing.

I'm facing the street, so I have a clear, almost panoramic view.

Across it is a slender girl walking in a hurry along the sidewalk.
She's wearing jeans and a hoodie, her arms wrapped tightly around herself. Something seems off. Anxiety. Fear.

"Fuckin BITCH what the fuck you doin?! I'm talkin to YOU! FUCKIN IDIOT!"

The voice echoes. A raspy 20-something male's. It's an ugly voice.

Shortly after the hollering appears its source.

This guy is loud and mean. Skinned head. Black sweatshirt, baggy jeans.


She's got about 40 feet ahead of him. He's not running after her, but he wants to.

Between each awful, abusive scream at her, he looks around, hoping no one's noticing.

But we all are. It was almost surreal. Who yells like that in public?

A person appears in a window of the apartment building, and says something down to him from the top floor.

Skinhead stops, looking up at the person and screams obscenities at them instead.

Good. It buys her another 20 feet.

I quietly step out of the MR2, being sure to grab the last slice of pepperoni and a napkin.

I'm not certain what I'm doing, yet. I'll watch and see. Might have to call the cops or something.


He's continuing after her now.

I'm discreetly walking on the opposite end of the street, keeping pace with him from a distance.

A couple on bicycles ride up to me. I share a nod with one of them as they pass, and keep following Skinhead.


This guy is bad news. I don't know the whole story, but no one deserves that kind of evil abuse screamed at them.

I have to stop him. But I'm no superhero.

And this pizza is really good.

We've passed at least a dozen other people. Men, mostly. They all saw and definitely heard Skinhead. But no one's doing anything. No one's saying anything. They all want to, but no one is. The girl is completely alone with an absolute psycho jerk after her in plain sight.

I've hurried my pace. Now I'm even with Skinhead. The girl is ahead of him, but he's closed some of the gap.

He notices me with a quick glance. Then stops and stares.

So I do too. I stop and stare at him, eating my pizza.


I watch him, chewing my pizza. It has just the right amount of crispiness, and the mozzarella is respectable.


Swallowing my bite, I pause.

"A crazy guy," I say. Loud enough so he can hear, but matter-of-factly.

I smile and take another bite of my pizza at him.


I made my eyes as wide as I could make them. I stretched my smile so wide it hurt.

Dropping my slice to the ground. Arms at my sides.

And froze, just like that. In the dark.

She's far away now, but my eyes stay glued to him. Swollen and piercing.

He's completely weirded out. Big time. Changing from aggression to confusion, to fear, now back to confusion.


I still haven't blinked. My cheeks are starting to burn, holding that grin.

"GO AWAY! LEAVE ME ALONE!" he swipes the air in front of him.

I open my mouth now. As big as I can, keeping my eyes wide open, directly at him. I thought of Zoltar and became him.

Skinhead steps into the street, a car dashes in front of him. He steps back.

Skinhead's breathing hard now, unsure of what to do. His gaze flicks to the side, then back at me.

The girl is gone. He's lost her. Now there's some fucking weirdo staring at him with pizza sauce and a creepy smile on his face.

On the inside I'm freaking out. What the hell am I doing? Is this actually working? She got away, at least.


My smile goes away. I tilt my head at him and frown. That did it.

He hurries into the Starbucks behind him. Looking over his shoulder at me a couple times.

The door closes behind him.

I light a cigarette and enjoy the breeze.

He'll find her eventually. But not tonight. She got away for now. I'm happy about that. I turn south, returning to Pizza Heaven where the MR2 waits.