Sarah Robinson knows all about adrenaline. She spent six years as the first female tire tester for Michelin North America, which meant going flat out — through snow, ice and baking heat — in everything from BMW M3s and Honda Odysseys to semi trailers. Now that she’s on the marketing side of the business for B.F. Goodrich (owned by Michelin), she gets her ya-yas out by racing her own '97 M3 in the National Auto Sport Association Time Trials, competing for lap times at up to 130 mph. That’s her below.
There is a bit of Sarah Robinson in all of us. Or at least some of us, according to the B.F. Goodrich Tires Adrenaline Index. “Our survey of 1,000 people in 25 cities shows that 41 percent of men, but also 36 percent of women, are self-proclaimed thrill seekers,” she said. “It’s about getting your pulse rate up, feeling that emotional high and lateral g-force. Getting your passion for performance in line with your passion for life.” In Miami, they spend $1,637 a year on extreme sports like car racing, off-roading, bungee jumping and various kinds of cycling (see below). The national average is $733.
The Chicago metro area tops the survey as housing the most adrenaline junkies, followed in descending order by New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Orlando. (See the chart below). An amazing 16 percent of Americans surveyed say they own an extra truck or car “solely for recreational purposes.” Actually, I’m not sure why I think it’s so amazing, since I have two of those for-fun cars (an old Dodge Dart and a Volvo 122S wagon). Driving them isn’t exactly an adrenaline-rich experience, though — they’re pretty slow.
Three in 10 (29 percent) of men say they love new risks, compared to 25 percent of women. Car clubs capture 19 percent of respondents, racing 18 percent, and four-wheeling 17 percent. I was just reading an off-roader magazine in a doctor’s waiting room, and that’s as close as I’m getting to that one.
Robinson says testing tires was “the greatest opportunity in my entire life. One day I’d be just loafing along measuring ride comfort, and the next I’d be doing max winter testing on a snowy rally road in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It was all cars in all conditions.” On weekends, when she’s not doing time trials, its SCCA Autocross or Rallycross. Or she’s in the pits at the American LeMans Series or GT3 Cup events, performing pre- and post-technical inspections.
If that sounds like your kind of fun, you’re an adrenaline junkie, too!
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