Driving Road Slapfight: Can Lohnes Find A Better Driving Road Than The White Spar Section Of Highway 89 In Arizona?

Driving Road Slapfight: Can Lohnes Find A Better Driving Road Than The White Spar Section Of Highway 89 In Arizona?

Since the driving movie argument was one-sided, I’m claiming victory. Brian had plenty of time to come up with a challenger to Vanishing Point and Death Proof, and failed. Hallelujah, a victory…finally. It’s weak and unsubstantial, but it’s still a W compared to the fun we’ve had going back and forth over station wagons and dually trucks. So, for the next round of seeing if the boss is up for a bit of back-and-forth on the pages, let’s step up to something really good: the best driving road out there. A good road is the kind of asphalt ribbon that you want to retrace over and over again, where you wish you could afford to hire cops for just one day to block it off so you and your friends could go out and enjoy what Mother Nature and the local Department of Transportation teamed up to bring you. Some of us look to stretches of road like the stretch of Interstate 40 that heads west out of Albuquerque, New Mexico or Interstate 70 in Utah between Green River and Salina and wish to high heaven that you could be blessed with a Bugatti Veyron and a fuel tanker on standby at the proper points along the way. I can appreciate that thought, no doubt, but during my years in Arizona I got to appreciate the corners more.

Corner-carving in mountainous terrain isn’t new to me. I used to raise hell between Manitou Springs and Woodland Park in Colorado all the time. Whether it was in a borrowed Mitsubishi 3000GT, my 1987 Monte Carlo SS, or the Chevy van my instructor from the carpet-laying job I had, those corners were taken at speed with minimal worry. Then the Army felt the need to bounce me around the country, away from good curvy roads for years. But when I landed in Prescott, I got back into the groove quickly with the help of some gearheads I met at the school. Two main routes stood out above the others: Highway 89A from Prescott Valley to Cottonwood, which was dubbed “the Haunted run” because we would make a monthly pilgrimage out to Haunted Hamburger in Jerome for some good eats, and what you’ll see here, the “White Spar” run, which is a truly technical marvel of corners officially known as Highway 89, between the south end of Prescott and the small village of Wilhoit. The road is filled with switchbacks and hairpins, with some mild banking in a few larger sweepers and passing lanes as it runs towards the edge of the Mogollon Rim, the point in Arizona where the Colorado plateau drops off and you find yourself in the true desert scenery, cacti and all.

This is a 2012 run that was composed of a group of guys heading out early one morning while traffic was still light on White Spar, ready to carve up some corners and to have a bit of fun. If you’re looking for me, I’m in the Mustang and if you think we aren’t moving along at a good clip…you’re both right and wrong. You’re right, because we aren’t at high speeds. You’re wrong, because even low speeds on that road will cause you to clench like none other if your line isn’t perfect and the road isn’t dry and dust-free and yes, that drop on the other side of the road is as steep as it looks. (And for the worry-some who are watching this and are preparing their pitchforks and torches, we used lookouts to make sure that our filmed runs could be dramatic. It’s not ideal, I know, and I’m not advancing it as such. This just shows off what the stretch of road is about.)

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7 thoughts on “Driving Road Slapfight: Can Lohnes Find A Better Driving Road Than The White Spar Section Of Highway 89 In Arizona?

  1. Art Segal

    If you want to see the spars as the really are check out my video “Supercharged Lotus Elise 0 to 14-“ on u tube .A ride to remember and shows how it really is.

  2. Cliff Morgan

    This was a cool video. Did you guys ever go to Bagdad? I went once, just to see what it looked like. I was thinking that if you wanna drive the road with the worst twists & turns, try AZ Rt.191, waaay over in the eastern side of the state. Start at Clifton & Morenci (old late 1800’s mining towns) and then north until Springerville. When I first moved to Arizona in 1981, that road was officially AZ Rt 666, for good reason. I drove that road in a then new 1986 Honda Civic SI and said I will never drive it again. HA Arizona has a lot of cool roads that you can just drive & enjoy, even without the twists & turns.

  3. Homer

    The ride to the biker bar in Jerome is always a good one, but take Az88, Apache Trail, from Apache Junction to Tortilla Flats. Early morning around dawn, flat out. At times a public playground for manufacturer’s development vehicles. A few rental vehicles have used their liability clause up here. More than one busted side mirror left behind.

    1. Darren

      We just visited Jerome last summer (MI transplant to Tucson since ’09)… that’s a cool little town.

  4. Erik Andersson

    I’m sure there are many equally or more impressive than this, but since it’s close to me and I go out of my way to enjoy it several times per year, I’d offer-up the Nebo Loop in Payson Canyon, Utah.

    While looking for a video to bolster my claim, I found a really cool time-lapse video on YouTube, coincidentally posted just today. The time lapse really gives the Illusion of taking the canyon at speed and takes a very scenic winding path through varying climate zones and a variety of landscapes topping-out at almost 10,000’. Search “ Beautiful Canyon Timelapse! Drive Thru The Nebo Loop!” on YouTube, or better yet, hop in your beater and safely enjoy the ride!

  5. LanceH

    Arizona ,191 from Safford to Springervill ,a lot of weekends on that road when it was High 666.

  6. LanceH

    Arizona ,191 from Safford to Springervill ,a lot of weekends on that road when it was HighWay 666. you can thank me later.

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