Comfort found with other addicts

By Jeffrey Fazio
Special Sections Writer

We all have our addictions; at least I hope we all do. Please, tell me I'm not the only one.

Okay, I'll start. I'm addicted to the Toyota MR2. I\'ve been obsessed with them for well over a decade. Okay, okay, maybe it's closer to two decades. Currently I own three of them, but I swear I can stop anytime I want too.

Although I have been fixated on MR2s longer than President Bush has been fixated on Iraq, I somehow never managed to attend one of the MR2 Owners Club's (MR2OC) national meets. The list of excuses and reasons as to why I never made it to one of these huge events is very long, very detailed and very boring. Let's just leave it at that. I have never went to one -- at least until this year.

This past July, I made the pilgrimage to Kingston, Ontario, Canada, for my first big MR2 meet. It was a three-day event that included track time, a car show and a beautiful cruise through the mountains of Canada.

Even the trek up to Canada was filled with MR2 fun. My girlfriend and I, along with another "MR2 couple," left Reading early on the morning of Friday, July 23 for the 6 1/2-hour ride to Kingston. Just over three hours into the trip, my friend in the other MR2 made phone contact with a group of six other MR2 enthusiasts that were about 20 minutes ahead of us on Interstate 81. Coincidentally, that group was just 20 minutes behind a third group MR2s on the same interstate.

After a few rounds of cell-phone tag, a meeting spot was choreographed for all three groups to meet up prior to crossing the border into Canada. Our sortie of two MR2s instantly grew into a fleet of 13.

Our long weekend started out Friday night at Shannonville Motorsports Park, 45 minutes from Kingston. The organizers of the MR2 meet had rented out the Fabi Circuit at Shannonville for three hours so we could have some track time. The Fabi Circuit is a 2.23 km road course that features nine turns and a 1/4-mile front straight. This was a superb opportunity for us to safely enjoy the limits of our cars, which many of us did.

Saturday was a much more casual day. After a huge group car wash in the morning, we all headed out to Raxx's Bar & Grill for lunch and the MR2 car show. There were well over 100 people at this event and they brought more than 65 MR2s. Having that many more people than MR2s is a fair indication that there is plenty of codependency in the MR2 community.

After years of boring friends, family and co-workers with every detail of my MR2s, it was a pleasure to be around such a diverse group of people suffering from the same uncontrollable enthusi asm for the MR2. They understood me.

They all understood me in the same way that strangers at a Star Trek convention immediately understand each other. People who share the same addiction just have a way of recognizing and accepting each other.

The schedule for Saturday evening included a long cruise through some nice twisty mountain roads. As evidence that I do indeed have some control over my MR2 addiction, I opted to have dinner with my girlfriend on the coast of Lake Ontario instead of going on the cruise. As life would have it, our night was not destined to be without MR2s after all.

Downtown Kingston has many restaurants that offer outside seating directly across the street from Lake Ontario. Just as we chose the restaurant we were going to dine at, we heard a familiar buzz in the distance. As the buzz grew louder we smiled knowingly and turned to watch the parade of MR2s swarming through downtown Kingston like bees returning to the hive. It was an ironic moment since we were both part of and separate from the MR2 meet all at the same time.

Sunday morning, many of the MR2 owners gathered together for breakfast and to arrange the caravans for the trips home. Unfortunately, a good friend of mine and fellow MR2 enthusiast had broken down Saturday in Syracuse, N.Y., on his way to the Kingston meet so we left early to meet up with him to offer assistance. After helping him as best we could, we got back on the interstate to finally head home.

After all of that, I guess it is no surprise that we still managed to catch up to three other MR2s on I-81 for the rest of the ride home.