In the Rearview Mirror: The power of moments

May 30, 2021

Hagerty Drivers Club Magazine
McKeel Hagerty


“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”
— Mother Teresa.

My driving bucket list got smaller by one item last year. I drove the 11-mile stretch of U.S. 129 in the Smoky Mountains known as the Tail of the Dragon. If you’re not familiar, the Tail is considered one of the world’s best touring roads, with good reason. The scenery is lovely, but the real attraction is the curves. Oh, man, the curves. There are 318 of them in all, some of them banked, every one of them a blast, none of them with guardrails. It’s a challenging road, to be sure, and definitely not for the faint of heart or the inattentive. If you drive it, you’ll never forget it, but be cautious— dragons are not to be trifled with. This one has claimed 56 souls since 1995.

I was particularly blessed on this drive. My ride was a Paris Blue 2020 McLaren 600LT Spider on loan from the company. (Yes, I’m a lucky guy, and our editor-in-chief Larry Webster has deep connections.)

There’s always a learning curve with any unfamiliar car, but I quickly got the hang of the Spider. It was easily one of the best handling, most intuitive machines I’ve had the pleasure to drive. In particular, the transmission anticipated my every move like some sort of magical device from Harry Potter. In total, Larry and I drove the Tail and its famed sections—the Slide, the Hump, the Esses, the Dips, and more— four times over two days. Each time, it was thrilling. Each time, the rest of the world slipped away. And each time, all that mattered was the patch of rain-slicked asphalt directly in front of my car’s nose.

It was, in a word, refreshing. We all need those kinds of moments, but 2020 didn’t make it easy. Between the pandemic, the election, the economy, and everything else, our collective focus was to simply help one another get through it all. The rest of life took a back seat. But now, finally, things seem to be improving—cross your fingers! I, for one, am hungry for more “moments” like my tangle with the Dragon’s tail. Moments are different from milestones, I figure. Milestones are pivotal, meaningful, hugely important life events like weddings,

children’s birthdays, or graduations. Moments are those times that you revisit over and over in your dreams. The ones that you tell stories about. The ones that become part of your life’s travelogue.

And for me, of course, many of those moments involve cars. Not long ago, for instance, for no particular reason other than it was a cool but sunny day, I hopped into Hagerty’s 1967 Pontiac GTO and meandered the orchard lanes of the pinkie-shaped peninsula where I live, reveling in the lake views to my left and right. No destination. No plans. No errands. No smartphone. No hurry. It was just me, the Goat, and the road.

For one precious hour, I felt completely present in the moment. Absorbed. Even grateful. Call me greedy, but I want more moments like it. You probably do, too. So, that is my wish for everyone in the driving months to come—more moments of pure driving bliss.

They’re out there, my friends. Let’s go find them. I’d love to hear about your driving plans for the summer.