The 5 Best Race Tracks in the U.S.

This country grew from coast to coast with the power of engines and wheels. Motorsport is the highest expression of automotive design. What better reason for a road trip than to tour the finest racetracks in the nation? No grand tour would be complete without visiting these shrines to car racing:

Daytona International Speedway

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Image via Flickr by Thanks for over 2 million views!!

Daytona features something for everyone. The course includes various configurations including a 2.5 mile oval, a 2.95 mile super-bike course, a 3.56-mile road course, and a quarter mile flat track. The 180 acre infield holds Lake Lloyd, which hosts powerboat racing events. It has even hosted high school and college football games, along with the Daytona 500 of course. If that’s not enough entertainment, don’t forget the Florida beaches and one of the country’s wildest Spring Breaks. (more…)

Parallel Park the Right Way Every Time

Parallel parking is the hardest part of most driving tests, especially when a single fallen cone is all it takes to fail the whole thing. Even most adult drivers avoid parallel parking when they can, or at least avoid parking between two cars when they could just drive forward into a spot instead. But even though parallel parking is hard and involves judging distances when you’re on the wrong side of the car, there are some tricks and tips people use to get in a spot without bumping the curb or the other cars. So, if you’re still practicing or if you find yourself needing a refresher course, remember these straightforward instructions that can put you next to the curb without putting a wheel up on it.

1. Find a Good Spot

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Image via Flickr by Bossi

The more space you have, the more mistakes you can make without (more…)

Make Des Moines a Destination This Fall

There is nothing like the fall season. The crisp air and autumn activities make it a great time to get outside and enjoy local events with friends and family. In the Des Moines area, there are many activities and festivals throughout the season where you can go to enjoy food, entertainment, and fun. Here are some of the reasons you should make Des Moines a destination this fall.

Des Moines Oktoberfest

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Image via Flickr by Schill

An Oktoberfest celebration is one of the best ways to celebrate fall, and the one in Des Moines does it right. On Oct. 22-23 you can join in the fun at 101 4th (more…)

How to Skip Gears Without Destroying Your Engine

Some manual transmission drivers will tell you never to skip a gear, you can learn to do it safely. Many drivers find slowing down is easier when skipping a few gears. Entering highways at high speeds is also sometimes simpler when you can skip a few of those middle spots. Learning how to do it safely should be your top priority before taking your car out to try this technique.

Why Skip Gears?

When car brakes were less advanced and reliable, you would downshift one gear at a time to help your car slow down. Today, you can rely on your brakes to slow down your car, leaving you free to skip down a few gears when you’re ready to slow or stop the car. Because you’re slowing down with the brakes, your brake lights will indicate to drivers behind you that your car is losing speed. Skipping gears while downshifting can add safety to your driving.

When Is Gear Skipping Safe?

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Image via Flickr by 2Tales

If you’re in a high gear, like fourth, and you want to slow down using the brakes, the transmission will be fine. Slowing down to 25 mph in fourth gear isn’t a problem. (more…)

Maybe Don’t Hang Your Fuzzy Dice There

Car accessories come in all shapes and sizes. You can get practical accessories like all-weather floor mats or a cargo net, or you can get accessories that are just for fun like Car Lashes, fuzzy dice, or air fresheners. While hanging something on your rearview mirror is an obvious and easy way to decorate your car, it might not be the best idea from a practical point of view.

The Blind Spot Issue

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Image via Flickr by eflon

Vehicle blind spots are the angles that your mirrors don’t cover. Your eyes can see about 210 degrees around you (although you can only focus on the 55 degrees right in front), the rearview mirror shows you what’s behind the rear window, and the side mirrors offer a few more degrees in the back corners. However, even if you angle your side mirrors well you still have a blind (more…)

Restore Your Cracked Steering Wheel

Sun damage and exposure to other elements can damage your steering wheel, causing cracks to form. Not only are the cracks in your steering wheel unsightly, but the cracks can age your car. Here are some strategies you could use to restore your cracked steering wheel and preserve the life of your car.

Determine the Steering Wheel Material

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Image via Flickr by Mandie S

First, you need to figure out just what kind of material your steering wheel is made out of. Fortunately, most steering wheels are made of a plastic exterior that is fairly easy to repair. However, some steering wheels are made of metal or other materials that can be more difficult to repair. Before you make any decision on how to repair your steering wheel, make sure you understand what materials you’ll need to fix. (more…)

4 of the Best Sleeper Cars to Surprise Your Neighbors

Sleeper cars are inconspicuous beasts that fly under the radar because of their exterior subtleties. For you Iowans who like accessing a powerful automobile without getting flagged by the Des Moines Police Department, these cars deliver. Sadly, the first two featured end their run in 2017, so if you want to experience their power, you better dart to the dealership.

Honda Accord V6

This is the practical car to transport the family to the downtown farmers’ market on weekdays and do mad sprints on the roadway Saturday morning. Pumping out a startling 278 horsepower, this machine blasts from 0-60 in less than six seconds. With 252 pound-feet of torque and a highway mileage rating of 33 miles per gallon, you’ll sprint off the starting line and save gas on the curves of the open road. Weave through the timid cars along the highway while sporting 17-inch alloy wheels, with the open moonroof above you and the dual exhaust taunting those left behind. (more…)

Make Your Des Moines Summer Great

With all the excitement leading up to summer, sometimes we forget to actually make summer plans. Don’t let your summer creep by without adding something adventurous into the mix. Take part in an interesting event or visit a cool festival. Thankfully, Des Moines is a happening city with a lot to offer.

Downtown Des Moines Farmers’ Market: Every Saturday in Summer

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Image via Flickr by Phil Roeder

Spend a Saturday morning shopping at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers’ Market to add some local flavor to your dishes. The market opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 12 p.m., and you’ll want to get there early so you can visit all nine city blocks in the historic court district that showcase the goods from almost 300 vendors. Colorful produce, Iowa-raised meats, and locally produced wine, as well as ready-to-eat options are just a few of the tasty offerings. Live music and entertainment are different each week, so check the website and get excited for your weekly market experience.

Moonlight Classic Night Bike Ride: July 15

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Image via Flickr by Herkie

Looking for something a little different but a lot of fun? Join Des Moines for the Moonlight Classic Night Bike Ride and cruise the downtown streets on your illuminated ride. Creative cycle decorations, costumes, helmet decor, and team getup all win prizes. The event supports Orchard Place, a Iowan nonprofit that provides mental health services to children in need. Children are always a worthy cause, so strap some glow sticks to your bicycle and enjoy some fresh air with life music and refreshments to cap off this feel-good event.

Beaverdale Bluegrass Festival: July 22

Mix up your musical entertainment with a night of bluegrass at Tower Park. Starting at 5 p.m., this concert is free of charge and keeps the music going until 10 p.m. The talented musicians will surely wow you, and the high-energy music might even get you to join in on the dancing. Taking advantage of the park setting, there is no seating provided, so bring your own blankets or chairs to mark your comfy spot on the beautiful green grass. No need to pack a picnic though; there will be several local food trucks servicing the event.

Ingersoll LIVE 2017: Aug. 26

With the theme of “Get Your Glow On,” the celebration in the Ingersoll and Grand district will be a bigger party than ever before. The family friendly street festival features newly added races in the morning and other events from 4 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. Kids will especially love the inflatables, rides, and activities setup for their enjoyment. It’s quite a thrill to get an outdoor festival experience on some of the busiest streets in Des Moines. Come downtown with the whole family, and stroll between the street performers, craft tables, and food vendors to get a taste of the best Des Moines has to offer. Okay Iowans, the summer is here and there are plenty of events in Des Moines to make sure your season is truly fun-filled. Grab a friend, hop in the car, and get ready to make some midwestern summer memories.

Don’t Use Your Winter Tires Year-Round

Mother Nature continually puts your car’s tires to the test, so keeping a dedicated winter set gives you an added measure of defense against rain, ice, sleet, and snow. If you live among the elements, in an even moderately harsh environment, it is worth the extra cost to maintain a second full set of winter tires. But you may be tempted to stretch your tire budget by riding on your cold weather tires all year long. Although it may seem like a money-saving move, relying on your winter tires for year-round service will ultimately cost you more than switching tires between seasons. And tires formulated for winter conditions may not perform as well when they are put to the test in warm weather. Before you travel the wrong road, consider these good reasons for leaving your winter tires (more…)

The 5 Longest-Lasting Cars

You have plenty to worry about without stressing over your vehicle. You need something that lasts forever like diamonds or fruitcake. So what should you drive? Here are the top five longest-lasting cars we’ve found.

Honda Accord

Image via Flickr by RL GNZLZ

Image via Flickr by RL GNZLZ

It’s not flashy or sexy, but the Honda Accord won’t stop. It’s been named to the Car and Driver 10 Best list a record 30 times. Honda has sold over 12 million Accords since its debut in 1976. Success brings innovation. Honda engineers continue to improve the bullet-proof powertrains for their bread-and-butter mobile. They know which car writes their checks. The Accord’s little brother the Civic is also a reliable choice, but it’s more likely to be modified and driven hard.

Toyota Camry

The Camry is another sober Japanese choice that will never let you down. How do you compete with the Honda Accord? Build a solid sedan that’s just as reliable. Toyota did a lot with this platform too, so you have choices. If you want more luxury, choose one of the Lexus ES or RX models, which share the Camry’s roots. The Avalon is essentially a stretched Camry and the Solara is a sleek coupe version. Regardless, you’ll get a steady ride well known for going 300,000 or more miles.

Ford Expedition

Image via Flickr by DVS1mn

Image via Flickr by DVS1mn

Jalopnik published a list of vehicles most likely to reach 200,000 miles. The top seven were all full-size SUVs. The Expedition topped the list, making up 5.7% of the members of the 200k club on the road today. Why? Many of them are work trucks owned by companies that drive them all day but respect them and perform regular maintenance. Do you drive it hard if it’s the boss’s rig? No. Do you make sure the fluids get changed on time? Of course. So if you’re looking for a reliable gear and people hauler, look for one previously owned by a responsible company.

Old Police Cars

Also near the top of Jalopnik’s 200k list were the Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Impala. Both are extensively featured in police fleets. The cops don’t have time for a breakdown in the middle of a high-speed chase. Neither do you. Like the SUVs above, the police take good care of their vehicles, too. The venerable Ford Crown Victoria also deserves a nod here. Along with dependability, you might also get a spotlight next to your side mirror.

20th-Century Volvos

Famously called “boxy but good” by Dudley Moore in Crazy People, Volvo built its reputation from the sixties to the nineties for safety and durability. A good Swedish car must never leave you stranded in the snow and can survive an impact with a moose. Most famous for longevity is Irv Gordon’s 1966 P1800, which holds the world record with over 3 million miles. Gordon credits his mileage to timely maintenance and gentle driving. So you want your car to last a long time? The right machine is only half of the equation. Taking good care of your vehicle and driving sensibly is the other half.