By: Tyler McQuarrie
My day job is to drive the GoPro/Falken Tire/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Camaro in the Formula Drift Pro Championship. It’s an 800 hp tire-burning machine, and it’s pretty awesome. While it can also be pretty stressful to throw a car sideways into a corner at 100 mph, after 11 years of this, I still get butterflies before heading down the track. I also can’t believe Falken keeps giving me all these AZENIS RT615K tires to burn down!
Not all of my driving is at high speed. In fact, some of the driving that I do away from the track can be more stressful than drifting. Back home, I have the Babyfarm – which includes me; my wife, Nicole; my daughters, Hailey (12) and Maclaren (6); my son, Miller (5); and our dog, Burns (18 in dog years). Not only do I shuttle them around town when I’m not at the track, but we take a lot of road trips together. If we have a destination on the West Coast, we take the car!
Having logged thousands of miles together (and lived to tell about it), I’ve learned that nothing can improve your road trip experience more than being prepared. I may not be able to teach you how to drift at 100 mph, but I’ve learned a few things about traveling with an SUV full of kids that might help you out the next time you head for the open road.
1. Being prepared starts in your driveway. Check your tire pressure, including the spare. If it has been a while, get an alignment and have the brakes inspected. Top off your windshield washer fluid and fill up the car with gas before loading up the kids. Trust me, nothing will ruin your trip more than being stranded for a reason that could have been easily avoided.
2. Assign a good navigator. My wife, Nicole, does a great job keeping us pointed in the right direction and planning our stops. She also keeps the kids entertained with games and food, leaving me to just drive, drive, drive.
3. Have a plan. When planning your trip, consider a few things: your range on a full tank of fuel and the range of your children’s bladders. Make bathroom and fuel stops accordingly. Know your route and stock up on items you might need on the way. Plan for stops that will allow your kids and the dog to get out and take a break.
4. Avoid peak travel times. Leave late at night or very early in the morning. In addition to dodging traffic, you’re virtually guaranteed that the kids will be sleeping and, therefore, quiet!
5. Document the fun. My GoPro comes in handy for reminding everyone about the good family times we’re enjoying along the way. Threatening to post a kid’s pouty face on Facebook can also be an effective deterrent!
6. Don’t forget the extra juice. Avoid countless “are we there yet” whines with items that will keep your kids occupied – iPads, movies, music, books and magazines. An often overlooked item is a spare battery source, which can be really important if there are already cell phones and navigation systems being charged in your vehicle’s power outlet.
7. Ditch the sticky stuff. Snacks and drinks will go a long way towards keeping the noise behind you to a dull roar. But don’t pack items that will lead to sticky fingers, and invariably a sticky interior.
When he isn’t shepherding the Babyfarm around, Tyler McQuarrie burns down Falken AZENIS RT615K tires competing in the Formula Drift Pro Championship. He is also a highly accomplished road racer and an instructor at the Simraceway Performance Driving Center at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram (@tylermcquarrie, and just for fun, #babyfarm).