Dirt, Gravel, and a Detour: My Thrilling Snoqualmie ‘Taxi’ Ride

~Guest Post by Bob McCoy

The driver accelerated past 50 MPH as if he didn’t notice the road ahead had a right-angle turn and a dirt and gravel surface. The high-horsepower acceleration pressed me against the seat back, and the engine’s roar told me this wasn’t my kid’s Subaru.

Ten minutes earlier, when my driver pulled up, one look told me he wasn’t an Uber driver. Adam introduced himself, and his dust-covered Subaru was definitely not what you’d expect for a ride to the airport. But now, Adam and I were hurtling straight into a barricade at what seemed to be 55 to 60 miles per hour. It was supposed to be a short ride, barely over two miles, but Adam was apparently intent on getting off work early. I guess he figured an ambulance could finish the trip.

We were committed to the suicide crash when Adam seemingly changed his mind and planned to make the corner. Now, we were drifting sideways towards the barrier, Adam poised to take the collision on his side of the car. I felt the tires vibrate as they fought for grip on the loose surface, sending gravel flying as we slid. Just as I expected impact, Adam pulled a magical vector change, and we were suddenly heading down the road to the right without a scratch on the car.

As we continued our run, impossibly avoiding cones, walls, and barricades, I realized why “DirtFish” was such a fitting name for Adam’s company. We fish-tailed through a maze of obstacles, changing directions like a fish evading a shark’s jaws.

Bob’s Dad, Hugh McCoy, and his younger brother Phil approximately 1922

It was then that I remembered how I’d ended up here. Several Father’s Days ago, I’d won an essay contest from Living Snoqualmie, arguably the most accurate source of local news in our area. The prize? Thrill Ride certificates at Snoqualmie’s DirtFish Rally School.

On the day of our scheduled ride, my two friends and I arrived about an hour early to explore the first-class facility at the site of the long-departed Snoqualmie Weyerhaeuser mill. Kelly, the receptionist, greeted us warmly, efficiently checked us in, fitted us with helmets, and gave us a brief tour of the office area. We marveled at the rally cars, drivers’ coveralls, driving simulators, and the well-stocked store. Our success with the rally course simulators was, shall we say, less than stellar.

When Kelly informed us our drivers had arrived, we headed out to meet them. We climbed in, one to a car, noting the roll cage, strapped the rally cars to our backs, and the real fun began.

Frankly, I can’t recall anything as exhilarating as that ride since I practiced dog-fighting in Navy F-4 Phantoms in my misspent youth. I found myself laughing uncontrollably as Adam expertly worked the accelerator, brakes, hand brake, clutch, and gears to guide us through seemingly impossible situations. The car’s engine roared, a symphony of power that vibrated through my chest. With each turn, I marveled at how the low friction, braking, and power management let us make impossible turns, a stark contrast to the high G-forces that once crushed me against the seat in my flying days. It was magical the way Adam threw the car through its paces.

I wished the ride could have lasted 90 minutes, like when I gave demo rides in F-4s off the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal (CVA-59). Those were fun, too – a license to put the aircraft through all kinds of paces. Adam had the same attitude, showcasing what the driver/car combination could do on a slippery surface. It was a totally different realm and skill-set than maneuvering in 3D space, and I savored every second of this new experience.

For those interested in experiencing this thrill firsthand, DirtFish is holding its annual Summerfest Open House on Saturday, July 20th, 2024, from 11 am to 3 pm. Entrance is free, and Thrill Rides can be purchased on a first-come, first-serve basis. More information is available at https://drive.dirtfish.com/home/summerfest/.

A heartfelt thank you to Living Snoqualmie for the opportunity to win the Thrill Rides and to DirtFish for donating the rides and giving this old fighter pilot a new adventure to remember. See you at Summerfest!

Miss you, Dad!

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