"A Nice Morning Drive": The Road & Track Story that Inspired a Rush Song [w/Video]
If you are not well versed in the automotive world, you might think the Rush song “Red Barchetta” is about an appetizer at an Italian restaurant. In realty, it is a song inspired by one of the great short stories in automotive fiction, and is a triumphant call to action for those who prefer purist vehicles to the safe-yet-bland vehicles of the current car market.
The Rush song is set in the future, where “Motor Laws” restrict many types of vehicles, including the “Red Barchetta.” The uncle of the narrator has kept this car hidden and takes it out every Sunday, breaking the law, but partaking in something that brings him joy.
The song was inspired by the short story “A Nice Morning Drive,” written by Richard Foster for the November 1973 issue of Road and Track. In this story, there are future vehicles called Modern Safety Vehicles, and despite their name, had unintended consequences, according to the narrator:
"Despite the extent of the safety program, it was essentially a good idea. But unforeseen complications had arisen. People became accustomed to cars which went undamaged in 10-mph collisions. They gave even less thought than before to the possibility of being injured in a crash. As a result, they tended to worry less about clearances and rights-of-way."
Drivers became more aggressive, so when the main character, Buzz, took out his 15-year old MG (the story was set in 1982, boy people had lofty hopes for the 80s), he had the beauty of the open road, yet the challenge of aggressive drivers of the future:
"It hadn't taken long for the less responsible element among drivers to discover that their new MSVs could inflict great damage on an older car and go unscathed themselves. As a result some drivers would go looking for the older cars in secluded areas, bounce them off the road or into a bridge abutment, and then speed off undamaged, relieved of whatever frustrations cause this kind of behavior."
In this tale, Buzz encounters two MSVs that were working together to try and inflict damage on other vehicles. The story goes on to tell of Buzz’s skill in evading the two MSVs, and to see how it turns out, you should read the whole story at this MG blog.
“A Nice Morning Drive” is a cautionary tale about safety regulations and the human condition. Safety technology does not always make for safer drivers. In fact, the dependance on blind spot monitoring and other tech may result in even more distracted drivers, as they are sure the airbags, crumple zones, and plethora of warning systems will bail them out. We hope that we’re better than that, but in what we have seen from drivers already, what do you expect from the highways and byways of the future?
So the next time you go for a weekend drive, crank up the Rush, and think of lyrics like "Drive like the wind, straining the limits of machine and man." As you defy mediocrity and malaise at the wheel of what is hopefully a classic sportscar!