~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

28 Years In The Fast Lane You Cannot See

I was the fourth person to watch this clock count down for the last two years or so of their career. I've handed it off to a worthy No. 5

As noted in the previous entry, for me retirement from my position at the VW Arizona Proving Grounds arrived this past Friday and not a moment too soon. When I was younger I was into road bicycling for a while and once did a 100 mile bike ride called a "century" in 5 hours and 42 minutes. You cannot imagine how much the last 5 miles of that ride hurt.

A career with a multi-national automobile company is much like a 100 mile bike ride. It all seemed like a good idea when I started. After the pain is forgotten it will be seen once again as a good idea. I'm not going to go into a lot of stuff right now about my career, maybe later as there were plenty of good things that happened and even some minor stuff involving motorcycles.

The title of the post in in reference to the fact that where I worked for 28 years secrecy was and is a big deal. There isn't even a sign out front of the site that tells you what the place is about and if you drive up to the guard shack and ask they will not tell you. It's not hard to guess, of course, especially if you're a local or a car nut. You can even find it and many others like it on Google Earth. An automotive proving grounds is not Area 51 but it's as close to being the car world's equivalent as you can get. Years ago (pre 9/11) I once had a vendor tell me our security was tighter than the security at a nuclear plant he on which he also called.

Below, my career in summation: My colleagues presented me with a model of one my my thermocamera test set ups with and with the model the car signed by everyone in the department. Thank you, "Dr. Tom," you're the best.

Oh yes, and along the way it wasn't all just murderously hot sun, stultifying meetings, and tedious reports. I had to work with and drive some very boring cars but also got to work with and drive some very cool cars:
Bentley Continental Flying Spur: 560 hp never gets boring.
The 1001 horsepower Bugatti Veyron: It is everything it is said to be and much more.
It seemed like 28 years took forever and now at the end it seems like it all went by so quickly.  I think tomorrow I'll hop on the little Yamaha and go for a ride. It's a Monday. Amazing!


Canajun said...

Congratulations on your retirement!

I'm envious of your year-round riding as I wait here in the frozen north for the snow to melt and the temperatures to rise so I can get out again and enjoy my two summer passions.

FLHX_Dave said...

Time flys when you are having fun. I always suspected you were some sorta black ops motor-head of sorts.

I have spent many night wondering what hell you did about the time you started talking about retirement. (Yes Doug, I do have a life, but always time to think about stuff) I knew it engineering of sorts, but didn't know what.

We all have an interesting story to tell don't we. It's a new beginning, a new chapter, and probably the best chapter in the book of Doug that is being written.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Doug!

Lucky said...

Doug - I want to wish you much congratulations on your retirement. Well deserved indeed!

By the way, if you actually got a chance to drive the Veyron, it couldn't have been all that bad.

Of course, I don't know how your job really was, but from my fluorescent lit 8 by 8 cubicle, it sounds mighty interesting.

Best regards,

Anonymous said...

Congrats on arriving at the start of your next adventure!...
Love the blog, please keep it up.

Mr. Motorcycle said...

Congrats on the retirement. I agree, it sure seems like a ways off for me till I retire, but I know looking back on things, how fast things seem to have come and gone, such as kids getting older, me getting older, etc. Someday, I too will be in you shoes, and wonder where the hell all the time went. Enjoy it. you have earned it. These should hopefully be some of the best years of your life. If you lived well, not only do you get to enjoy your retirement, but you get to look back on all of the wonderful memories you've created on your journey through life.

Jac Brown said...


Congrats you lucky dog. You made it.

Although the meetings, the politics, and some of the people can drive you nuts, you have to admit that our business has some pretty cool perks. Just the idea that after some boring meeting, you may get up and drive a car, maybe even drive it fast, is way better than many folks live with.

By the way, I can't believe that I edited out all those little VW symbols on that picture I posted of you.

Doug Klassen said...

Thanks for the comments, guys. It's all a bit weird to think of myself as a retired guy but Wednesday night the little woman and I caught the Early Bird dinner special at the local Denny's Restaurant, got home in time to watch "Wheel of Fortune" on the tube, take an Ex-Lax and turn in by 8:30. That's what retired people do I guess.

Lucky, I got to drive the Veyron several times. Not fast but I got to drive it and hold the gas pedal to the floor just a little bit which is all you need with 1001 HP on tap. One of the highlights of my career.

Jac, you edited out the VW logos? You're a good trooper and a company guy through and through! Sorry, that last part was cruel. Next time you're in Phoenix we should have a "V.D." reunion or something.



DK said...

I Just found your blog and really enjoy it and can also relate, having also recently retired from engineering (teaching ME and running the motorsports program at a univ in NC). As jobs go, I probably had one of the best, but I was ready for retirement....no more work politics and boring meetings, more time for riding and the "early bird special". Congratulations. Keep on writing.

Unknown said...

Retirement? Good! More time to Blog. :-)

If you are like me, you will soon wonder how you ever had time to go to work.

MC Cafe

B.B. said...

Congratulations on your retirement!

Jac Brown said...


peaking of V.D, do you remember the old t-shirts we had? "V.D. Catch it in Phoenix"

These days, no one would get it on any level. I was always amaxed that Don Buser actually put it on for a short while. Now there was a good sport.

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