Non-Crash Course

BMW Ultimate Driving Experience

SUN 7/24

We've all heard the stories of the affluent county kid who receives the brand-spankin'-new luxury car on his sixteenth birthday. Join us now in our derision of that lucky bastard. The first car is an American rite of passage, and it should be special on all accounts. Not that a precision-crafted European sports car is not special; it's just not as special as a hand-me-down Camaro with tinted T-tops and a raggedy-ass pinstripe. That American beauty let a certain young hesher know that if he worked hard enough and saved his coin, he could maybe someday move up to a hand-me-down European sports car. But no matter -- as long as the tape deck worked (there was a mixtape featuring Metallica's Ride the Lightning on one side and Death Angel's The Ultra-Violence on the other) and the tank was at least a quarter full, that young man was living the American dream. And when he got his first ride in the Prometheus 4000 (or whatever), it was because he had earned it. And yes, the tape would travel to the new car.

So if you're currently banging around in your older sister's car, and you want a taste of the good life, check out the BMW Ultimate Driving Experience Student Driver Program at the Family Arena (2002 Arena Parkway, St. Charles; www.familyarena.com). Drivers ages fifteen to twenty are invited to sign up for this free hands-on workshop taught by professional racers -- and by "hands-on," they mean you get to drive the BMW Series 3 on a specially constructed course that simulates emergency situations. You'll be encouraged to crank power slides, stop short and swerve like a bootlegger. Class is in session from 8 a.m. to noon, and you need to call 888-344-4269 to register (space is limited; call now!). No word on whether you can bring your own driving tape. -- Paul Friswold

Keepin' It Street!

SAT 7/23

Somehow, kicking a few goals doesn't have quite the same urban cred as shooting a few hoops. Maybe the soccer-mom phenomenon is to blame, or maybe it's just not that easy to find a suitable field for a spur-of-the-moment pick-up game. Enter street soccer -- played on blacktop in walled courts, with just four players per team. Sound too good to be true? It's not, and you can witness the fury in St. Louis Mills' parking lot (5555 St. Louis Mills Boulevard, Hazelwood; 314-227-5555) when the Street Soccer Cup "4-on-4" Tournament Series kicks off at 8 a.m. Registration for players is already closed, but spectating is free. And with streetfighters as young as five representing, you know you'll be watching. Visit www.streetsoccercup.com for more information. -- Mark Fischer

Just Peachy

Looking for a way to sweeten up your summer biking routine? Hostelling International Gateway and Eckert's Farms have set up the Peach Pedal 2005 just for you. This Saturday and Sunday (July 23 and 24), get your bike to Eckert's in Belleville (951 South Green Mount Road, Belleville, Illinois) between 8:30 and 11 a.m., and set off on a 14-, 22- or 41-mile ride through the gorgeous (and mostly flat) Illinois countryside. End back at Eckert's and enjoy a free custard cone; plus, you can ride the tractor out to the orchards (we know you'll be tired by then) for juicy pick-your-own peaches. The cost of the ride is $8 for adults and $1 for kids, and helmets are required; fruit-picking costs extra. For more information visit www.moonlightramble.com or call 314-291-7860. -- Amy Helms

Why Wine?

Those who operate wineries really love wine, natch. But they also love other wine lovers, those who maybe have just the tiniest bit of interest in the grown-up grape juice and everyone in between. Take, for example, the folks at Crown Valley Winery (23589 State Route WW, Ste. Genevieve; www.crownvalleywinery.com). They lovingly open their arms to visitors by offering daily vineyard tours ($12), wagon rides ($4 to $7) and romps through the actual winery ($8) -- that's where the magic happens (call 866-207-9463 for reservations). But in at least one way, these Crown Valley vintners are perhaps a little bit different: They also care about those who love wine enough to not drink it. The winery supports these designated drivers with discounted gift-shop purchases, cheaper tours, and the much-coveted and collected "No Wine, I'm Fine" sticker. Yesssss! -- Alison Sieloff

 
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