Tips for the auto show and the road

One of my favorite annual events is happening right now in the city: The New York Auto Show. Going from April 14-23, it’s about the only time I can meet with a bunch of motor heads/road addicts/whatever you want to call us in a city that’s increasingly notorious for its difficult driving conditions and high cost of car ownership. Here are a few bits of advice for anyone going to their first NY Auto Show.

First, eat and drink before you get to the Javits Center. Food and drink is overpriced, as is the norm for places with security theaters and entry fees. You’ll also be waiting in a lot of lines if you want to get in some high-tier cars, so make sure you’re well-hydrated. Since I mentioned security, don’t bring any bags larger than a small purse.

As I mentioned before, there will inevitably be some long lines for the BMWs, Jaguars, Maseratis, etc. I vehemently hate waiting in even moderately long lines (but I’m fine with 2 hour long traffic jams, go figure), so I try to do something else for a little while and get on the line when it’s shorter. At the auto show, that ‘something else’ is going to the bottom floor and checking out the pickup trucks, Jeeps, and other off-roaders. You almost never have to wait at all since no one really needs an off-roader in the tristate area.

Another note about lines: if you’re in a car and there’s a long line, don’t take your sweet time. You don’t have to rush out, but do keep in mind that other people want to check out that sweet Jag you’re in, and (despite New Yorkers’ reputation) some of us will pay the favor forward.

Next piece of advice: go upstairs. There are booths selling collectors’ license plates, Americana, and other neat stuff. Inevitably, some of the prices will be jacked up, but that stuff is rare in transit-land. If you have enough time and money for a Route 66 roadtrip, 1) please contact me immediately as I’d like to join you and 2) ignore this bit of advice since you’ll probably find all of this stuff at a small store in New Mexico or somewhere.

Most of my other advice is specific to certain types of people. For example, the people I’m going with and I want to see a lot of the traditionally hot stuff – muscle cars and sports cars, so we’re likely to go before 5 PM on a weekday since it won’t be as crowded. So instead, I’ll finish this column by sharing some local driver types and driving customs:

  1. Mr. Badass – This type of driver, most common in Brooklyn on the Belt Parkway and BQE when traffic is dense, is useful in the sense that they keep other drivers alert by rapidly changing lanes while going 30+ mph above the common speed. Typically checks their blind spot after changing lanes, occasionally drives with their right arm behind the passenger’s seat.
  2. The Fun Guy – Usually found in a high-end sports car at night on interstates that lead to less populated places. Speed limits are speed minimums for this type, so they rarely leave the left lane. Typically very alert drivers who simply prefer to go fast, but are unable to do so in daytime urban traffic.
  3. The Imbecile – Mortal enemy of The Fun Guy. Typically drives the same speed as traffic in the rightmost lanes but still occupies the left lane. Will move to the right after The Fun Guy is on their tail for 3 miles, only to return to the left lane as soon as The Fun Guy passes them.
  4. The Out-Of-Towner – Anyone who honks their horn in a completely normal traffic jam. Typically very shy about driving in the big city. This shyness is exploited by local drivers, who are simultaneously more aggressive and more defensive.
  5. What’s a double white line? – A practice only almost exclusively done on Staten Island and Long Island, where HOV lanes exist, this is the practice of entering and exiting the HOV lane when not allowed to. Occasionally done┬áin the Lincoln or Holland Tunnels, threatening to bring cross-Hudson traffic to a halt by getting in a crash while changing lanes.
  6. No Ez-Pass – Apparently some people who regularly drive still don’t have Ez-Pass despite how common tolls are here. Still relatively harmless drivers, generally speaking, and they will soon be indistinguishable from those of us with Ez-Pass as the MTA transitions away from toll booths.
  7. The light never turned red – This phenomenon occurs when several consecutive rows of traffic fail to stop for a fresh red light. Most frequently occurs on wide one-way avenues in Manhattan. I assume the drivers involved in this phenomenon are unaware of the light, although everyone else at the intersection is left wondering if the city has devolved into anarchy.