Confessions of a Fast Woman

Lesley Hazleton describes how she was seduced by the power of internal combustion engines and recounts how she pursued that fascination. She begins by describing her first drive at more than double the legal speed, in a Porsche 911. Her love of driving at speed leads her to philosophize about the attraction. Her thoughts will interest anyone who has experienced the thrill of driving at extremely high speeds, possibly without understanding why it was such a thrill. Hazleton provides numerous personal and vivid accounts of driving experiences so that the more timid and law-abiding can experience some of the same sensations vicariously. The accounts describe driving vehicles as diverse as a Lamborghini Countach, a Deux Chevaux, a car designed so that it would tend to slide out of control, and an electric car.

Once she had discovered her love of speed, Hazleton searched for more ways to experience it. She describes taking a training course for race drivers in an open-wheeled Formula Ford and learning how to throw the car into a controlled slide, leading to a discussion of the dangers of race driving and the skills involved. Hazleton concludes that the very risk associated with fast cars lends them some of their glamour and appeal.

Hazleton then describes how she tried to experience more of the world of cars by becoming a mechanic’s apprentice. In the process, she also learned about the social status associated with cars. For all of their skill, which Hazleton compares to that of doctors, mechanics are thought of as lower-class. This is so even though people attach social status to expensive cars. At the end of her essay, Hazleton describes how she came to terms with the conflict between her love of cars and her concern about the environment. She writes about some developments in alternately fueled vehicles, electric cars in particular.