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Summit Up

Daily Staff Writer

Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the world’s only daily column driving in circles at DIA, hanging out the window shouting “Vroom, vroom, m-f-! You want some o’ this?”

We’ve found the bestest, newest, coolest underground sport/game in the world. And all because we had to go pick up a friend at the airport.

At one time or another, every one of us in Summit Up Land has had to drive down to Denver and the airport to pick somebody up, or we’ve had somebody come pick us up. (You people who always take Resort Express will never get to enjoy this fun.) If you’re like us, you seem to make this drive frequently.

And when you’re called upon as airport chauffeur, you have a few options: There’s the park-the-car, meet them at the gate (or as close as you can get in the age of paranoid security). But that parking’s too expensive for us, and probably anybody else on a Summit salary. There’s the meet-them-at-the-luggage-collection. This, though, usually requires two people for the pick-up – one person to run in, the other to drive laps around the “arrivals” loop (again, because you can’t park for more than a second thanks to paranoid security levels).

The last option, the one we usually end up with, is the solo, drive-laps-until-the-arrivee-shows-up-on-the-curb plan. This is the simplest one, but it can also backfire. You can end up driving lap after lap after lap waiting for this person to walk outside, not knowing whether their plane is on time, whether the airline lost their bag or whether they’re standing outside of the other concourse.

Thursday, we were not so lucky. Our target was not present on the first go-round. But any displeasure this might have induced was replaced with the realization that we were part of a grand, exciting new game. Yes, this was the best combination you can imagine of Monopoly and NASCAR: You drive in circles as fast as you can, trying to pass “GO” by collecting your passenger, without stopping anywhere for too long (since you don’t own the property, and that ends you up in jail).

We realized, pulling away from the terminal to make our first loop, that none of the five cars in front of us had picked up their intended passengers, either. As soon as we could pull up next to the first car, we looked over at the driver and it was on. Sure, he tried to bump and grind us, but we used his draft and slingshotted around him on the inside of turn three. He never saw it coming.

Until the third lap. He was all over us, as were the two SUVs trying to block us in. But we wouldn’t have any of it. In the second turn, we drove right across the grass, cutting the other cars off by the time we pulled up to the terminal again.

We had done five laps before all of us at the wheel realized we had driven past our pick-up people numerous times. They had been yelling and waving at us, but in all the excitement we just thought they were waving race flags. Who knew they were calling us to pit?

Anyway, the next time you have to go to DIA, you can take a stab at it. Just for your records, the East Track (or concourse, as the airport calls it for some reason) is almost exactly 3 miles long, with mixed speed limits of 35 mph and 45 mph. See if you can beat our split of 4:25.07.

***

It might be Friday, but we like to call this particular one “Night of the Return of the Hordes.” The ladies and gentlemen of Summit Up Land know exactly that of which we speak.

We’re out with our nitro-burning funny car challenging the airport shuttle drivers …


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