Sunday, June 19, 2011

Great Race 2011 - Epilogue

Sunday, June 19th
So after a 30 hour drive from Vermont, I finally made it home. A few post race thoughts, ponderings, and pics. The rumor going around for next year's race is Dollywood to Hollywood - but that is about as firm as jello.

Here is a picture of the finish-line in Bennington, VT. Lots of people turned out to greet us and that always makes for a nice conclusion. Corky and Jim did an excellent job of making the 2011 event first-class. Thanks to everyone: Wes, Jeff, Tommy, and the list goes on and on....

Below, a couple of pictures of Howard and Doug Sharp's winning 1911 Velie. Boy, that's a BIG chicken!! They run oil in the radiator in lieu of water - this allows them to run higher temps and not worry about boiling out the fluid. Rumor has it that this car will now be retired - nice to go out on top, eh!?!?!

Here's our 2nd place plaque for Sportsman. Like I said before, since we finished 14th overall, we don't move up to Expert. Whew! It's humbling to see some of these teams in action - I'm happy to stay in Sportsman for awhile!

Here's a nice picture of the stress crack in my speedster's bodywork - that welded seam just split. I wonder if I can send the repair bill to the NY dept of Transportation????

Here's another good example of Southern Engineering: I had to zip-tie the alternator back to prevent the belt from squealing. What's funny about this is if you look at May's blog and the race in Grove, OK, you will see this same alternator zip-tied in a different direction. Ahhh, my engineering professor would be proud of me now.....

Here's a nice pic of the lunch stop in Chambersburg, PA. It's a beautiful city and lots of nice people!

The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. The Babe Ruth display was my personal favorite.

this is the one I wanted to take home from the Saratoga Automobile Museum in Saratoga Springs, NY. Very cool....

I saved the best for last. Here's Bud with the truck and trailer. Now one might ask, "If you're racing cross country, how does your truck and trailer get to the finish?" the answer: Bud. For the first time, Joe and I needed help and Bud was there. He was a combination crew-chief, man-Friday, party-planner, and logistics whiz. Plus he dealt with everything from looking for my lost wallet (which wasn't) to buying beer for rookies. Thanks Bud. We quite literally could not have done this race without you! Thanks.
(Editor's note: now that I think about it, I was a history major. So I never really had an engineering professor. But I did DATE an engineering major so I suppose that close enough....)

Great Race 2011 - Stage 7

Friday, June 17th
This is it! The last day - and everything counts!!!! I felt like I was in a cheesy Hollywood movie.... after a week of nice weather, it rained today. I mean it rained ALL day. And the problems started early - we got behind a school bus (school is still in session??!?!) and had a series of stop-and-go delays. Honestly, I lost count of the time we had to make up. Good thing Joe is on the ball. And then we ran into Vermont State Utility workers..... At an intersection that required us to make a 15 second stop (at a stop sign) and turn right, the VSU guys had a truck, chipper, and crane all crammed into the intersection to do a little tree/brush removal. I saw the #37 car go around the truck and so followed suit. Apparently that wasn't the right answer. A nice VSU workers threw his helmet to the ground and started making threatening gestures.... so I went around him. It was at this point that the crane swung his arm around, blocking the road ahead - and the truck backed up, blocking the road behind. We were boxed in; no place to go. After a few minutes (2? 3? 4?), the crane let us through - but we had no idea how many minutes to make up!!!

I figured the day was shot, so we might as well enjoy the drive up to Stratton Mountain Ski resort. I relaxed a bit, tried to keep the speedo close, and enjoyed myself. The run up the mountain was okay - no overheating problems. The tram ride was nice (boy, that's a LONG way to ski down the mountain!!!). And the drive into Hemming's was nice too. I had abandoned all hope at this point and resigned myself to a none-paying finish.... Oh well.

Turns out we did okay - not great; not bad; just okay

Leg 1: 2 sec late
Leg 2: 7 sec early
Leg 3: 3 sec early
Leg 4: 4 sec late
Leg 5: 5 sec early
Leg 6: 4 sec early
Leg 7: 6 sec early (Thanks again VSU!!!)

A score of 31 seconds adjusted to 24.18. Ho hum.

So we made our way from Hemmings head-quarters to downtown Bennington for the finish-line and finale. The winner and Grand Champion was the 1911 Velie driven by Howard and Doug Sharp (congrats guys!!!). This car deserves to win considering the insurmountable obstacles it has faced over the years (IE: they fixed a leaky radiator with cement - no, that's not a typo - I said cement!) and Howard has been chasing the dream since 1993 with this car so I couldn't be happier for them. Nice job guys!

Oh yeah, when they announced the Sportsman Class winners, turns out we came in 2nd place!! YGTBSM!!!! A podium finish after all!!!! I couldn't be happier. And the icing on the cake - we finished 14th overall out of 64 cars, so we stay in Sportman next year and don't move up to Expert!!! My goal is to never compete with the Jason's, Caldwell's, or Feeney's!! They're all REALLY good. :-)

Great Race 2011 - Stage 6

Thursday, June 16
After a quick breakfast we departed Binghamton, NY and made our way to Cooperstown for lunch. The weather was picture-perfect and the Baseball hall of fame was pretty cool. We ran into some trouble early in the day, so we weren't too sure about our results. In fact, Dante's phrase, "Abandon hope all ye who enter here" entered my mind once or twice. Poor leg scores are thrown out for stages 1-5, but you get what you get for stages 6 & 7. Turns out, the day wasn't all bad:

Leg 1: 14 sec early
Leg 2: 7 sec late
Leg 3: 1 sec early
Leg 4: 2 sec early
Leg 5: 2 sec late

Good enough for 3rd in class.....

We pulled into Saratoga Springs for dinner at the Saratoga Automobile Museum. They currently have a beautiful display of Italian cars; worth seeing! The only mechanical work was replacing a bolt on the alternator. The radiator is holding up just fine (Thanks again Doc and Gary!!!!). But man the roads are KILLING my car.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Great Race 2011 - Stage 5

Wednesday, June 15th
We took off from Hershey and made our way to Hazleton, PA for lunch. It was a beautiful morning - clear skies, cool weather, and no radiator leak!!!! :-) WARNING!! If you don't want to hear me gripe about East-Coast roads, skip this paragraph!!! East-Coast roads SUCK!!!! No. Wait. They REALLY suck. My poor little car was literally shaken apart today. Its not just PA or NY. Virginia, Maryland, it doesn't matter. The winter weather takes a toll and we paid the price today. The car shook so bad that my rear-view mirror came off, the (fake) radiator hood ornament came loose and had to be taken off, and the bolts holding down the right side of the hood all shook loose and came out. I had to zip-tie the hood down. Aaarrrggghhhhh! Its driving me crazy!

The next time someone asks you, "How long does it take to change in tire on a 1928 Ford Model A Speedster on the side of I-81?" Tell them, "about 7 minutes." Yep - we got a flat tire. The change went surprisingly smooth. Our over-night stop was Binghamton, NY. We did some light maintenance on the car since we had nothing broke. Just to recap, our maintenance effort to date: Replaced fuel pump, fixed squeaky alternator belt, leaky radiator, changed flat tire, and tightened loose bolts/hardware. Hopefully that's it.

Lastly, we got caught behind some horrible traffic and had to made up time. Unfortunately, we didn't made up enough and had a terrible Leg 3 score.

Today's performance was neither good nor horrible. It was just ho-hum:

Leg 1: 6 late
Leg 2: 8 late
Leg 3: 23 late
Leg 4: 2 early

We're 3rd in class. Tomorrow and Friday are the deal makers. No legs are thrown out, so you get what you score for the final two days. Plenty of teams have fallen the last two days and plenty of teams have risen to greatness based upon not screwing the pooch in the final stages. Say a prayer and wish us luck - we need it!

Great Race 2011 - Stage 4

Tuesday, June 14th - Day 4
Today's route departed Cumberland, MD and ended in Hershey, PA with a lunch stop in Chambersburg PA. I heard the Antique Automobile Club of America's museum in Hershey was AWESOME. I don't actually know because as we were coming into the over-night stop, my water temp shot through the roof. I pulled over and - yep - radiator problems. I filled it up with water and we limped into Hershey. An announcement was made and that's when I met Gary and Doc from Middletown Radiator. Bottomline: they saved us! We topped the radiator and drove to their shop. I started disassembly at 7:00 PM and by 9:00 PM I had a fixed radiator. Turns out the vibration from the crappy roads we've been on created a stress fracture in the bottom of the radiator. I can't thank Gary, Doc and the rest of the crew enough. If not for them I'd have the car in the trailer and be on my way home by now. Check them out at: 717.944.3823 - 148 (Rear) Geyer's Church Road, Middletown, PA 17057.

The rest of our day was okay:
Leg 1: 1 sec late
Leg 2: 9 sec early
Leg 3: 1 sec early
Leg 4: 12 sec early
Leg 5: 3 sec late

Good enough for second in class.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Great Race 2011 - Stage 3

Monday, June 13th
I'm grouchy tonight and not in the mood to blog.... We didn't have a good day. Scores are below, but the reality is we had a rough morning. Hey, at least it didn't rain today...
Here's a picture of our lunch stop:
Here is Jim and Mari in a very nice Ford speedster:

And here is the Hubbard family. I met then at our night stop in Maryland - thanks for making my evening so enjoyable. Great family!

Leg 1: 23 sec late

Leg 2: 39 sec early (YGTBSM!!!!)

Leg 3: 2 sec late

Leg 4: 1 sec late

Leg 5: 9 sec late

Total adjusted score 56.94 sec :-(

We're 3rd in class so far. Say a prayer - we need it!!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Great Race 2011 - Stage 2

Sunday, June 12th - Day 2

Today's course started in Ashville, NC and ended in Salem, VA with a stop in Galax, VA for lunch at the Old s Motorcar Museum. The route followed the Smokey Mountain Parkway for most of the day - lots of twists and turns; lots of hills; and lots of scenic beauty........and one wild turkey.... who we almost hit. Rain came later in the afternoon, but wasn't too bad. The car ran fine thanks to our Southern engineering (IE: zip-ties and duct-tape). All in all, it felt like a pretty good day. And then we got our scores:

Leg 1: 10 seconds late
Leg 2: 6 seconds early
Leg 3: 12 seconds late
Leg 4: 18 seconds late

Total score 35.88 seconds (raw = 46 seconds) uuuggggghhhhhh!! That's HORRIBLE! But apparently everyone else did poorly too because for the day we're 7th overall, 3rd in class. And for the rally to date (thru 2 stages) we're 5th overall and 2nd in class. Hmmm, go figure.

Great Race 2011 - Stage 1

Saturday, June 11: Day 1
Today was the official start of the 2011 Great Race. Today's course began in Chattanooga, TN at the Coker Tire World Headquarters and ended in Ashville, NC with stops in Athens, TN for lunch and Maggie Valley, NC for dinner. Today's route was the Tail of the Dragon which is considered one of the best driving roads in the US - very scenic! The only issue for the day, driving back from dinner to the hotel, the car died. Turns out the rain shorted out the fuel pump. I brought a spare fuel pump and after a little repair work in the parking lot (Thanks BUD!) we were back in action. Of course, we didn't finish until midnight - so that's the reason this post is a day late.

Here is a picture of the starting grid at Coker Tires. We started 25th, so we're way, way in the back!!

The official starting gate:
Here's a great story. These guys are high school buddies - the driver is 16 and the navigator 15. They're driving a 1920's era Ford A... AND they're dressed the part!
So we had no rain during the timed portion of the rally. But twenty seconds after we were off the clock - BOOM! It started raining cats-n-dogs. yes, we got wet. Very wet...
The rain gears works better if you put it on BEFORE you're wet.... So after the first day of competition, we were pleased:

Leg 1: 1 sec late

Leg 2: 2 sec late

Leg 3: 4 sec late

Leg 4: 5 sec late

A total raw score of 12 seconds; adjusted for age factor to 9.36 - we're 3rd in class and 3rd overall.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Great Race 2011 - Stage 0

Friday, June 10th: This morning was rally school - which is just a meeting for the drivers and navigators to learn about new rules, course instructions, and the day's events. At noon we took off for a "practice" rally. It was more like a one-day separate competitive rally sponsored by Hagerty insurance. First place in each division took home some cash and a trophy. We came in fourth in our class so no scratch for Dixie Racing today. :(

Sorry hon.

Just for the record, a "leg" is the period from check point to check point. And a "stage" is a day's events. So each Stage consists of multiple legs - and you get a score for each leg. Clear as mud? I thought so...

Here is our car getting tech inspected and stickers put on it.

Number 73 is reserved for only the best team. Okay, that's a lie. It was actually the previous owner's graduation year from high school.

Thanks to Honest Charlie's Speed Shop for getting us ready....

Here is Coker Tire's replica of the 1911 Indy 500 winning Marmon Wasp. Now THIS is a cool car! I'm not sure how they painted it, but it looks like a nicely maintained 100 year old car.

When your name is Coker and the company's named Coker too, you get to have a few perks... like having your own city. Corkyville. That reminds me, have you ever seen the SNL Cork Soaking skit? FUNNY!

Here's Joe (Naviguesser) and Bud (Crew Chief) hard at work on something very, very important!

Here's my view out the Sopwith Pup just before a time-of-day restart. See that sign up ahead on the right? We have to depart at exactly the right time and right speed....

So today's efforts were just okay. We had a few good leg scores, but weren't very competitive. The first place finisher (Jim Menneto) in our class had a whopping 6.48 second day! Wow, nice job Jim. Our scores:

Leg 1: 1 sec late
Leg 2: 5 sec late
Leg 3: 10 sec late
Leg 4: 13 sec late
Leg 5: 6 sec late

Total: 27.30 sec which put us 4th in class and 23 out of 59 cars overall.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Great Race 2011 - Prelude

Wednesday, 8 June: It has started! For those of you just tuning-in, Joe and I are racing a 1928 Ford Model A speedster cross-country this summer. The course is shown below, it goes from Chattanooga, TN to Bennington, VT and will last over a week. The car has no roof - so if it rains, more like - when it rains, we'll get wet. On the other hand, we get to directly commune with mother nature all week! The sights, the smells, cow manure.... yuck!

My plan was to leave home around 8 AM and drive for 12-13 hours or until tired. The best laid plans of mice and men.... I didn't get out of town until noon. So the revised plan was to drive 2/3 to 3/4 of the way, stop, rest, and have a leisurely drive into Chattanooga this morning. Sure enough, about midnight, I had enough and decided to stop... whoosh... darn... that was a really nice rest stop I just passed. Should I turn around? Naw, there will be another.... not so much.

Thursday, 9 June: Arrive at Coker Tire World Headquarters about 1:00 AM. I parked and jumped into the backseat of the truck for a few hours rest. The rest of the day was spent going through tech inspection, filling out paperwork, getting settled into the hotel room, and seeing old friends. Joe and Bud arrived mid-afternoon - the stage is set. Bud, a new character in the tales of Dixie Racing, is a mild-mannered Virginian who graciously agreed to help out with support crew duties (IE: drive the truck + trailer cross country).

A little bird told me today that there are some fifth graders out there tracking our exploits cross-country. Hang-on kids, it's going to be a wild ride!!!!
PS- To: HD + Bobo.... xoxo