Monday, June 20, 2011

Three Days After the Great Race: A Review of a 1966 Chevrolet Corvette From a Rally Driver's Perspective

As Dad and I found out rather quickly, the Corvette was definitly not the perfect car for the rally.  It struggled at slow speeds and it was wide and very awkward to park.  The car isn't exactly light on its feet (it has no power steering to boot) and when we had to make a few quick u-turns, they were never quite "quick" enough.  However, we did excel in some areas where other rally cars did not.  We never had any issue with power.  We could get up every hill thrown in our direction, speed changes were handled very quickly, and we always had enough power to get back in position whenever we made a wrong turn.  In conclusion, the Corvette was the perfect car for the trip to Chattanooga and back home from Bennington.  We had no problems cruising at 70-75 miles per hour on the highway, the car is comfortable and has plenty of luggage space (with the roof up).  If I were to do the Great Race again, I would not take the Corvette.  Even though it was the perfect car for a 2,500 mile American road trip, it was by no means the perfect car for the Great Race. 

During much of the rally, Dad and I would debate back and forth as to what would be the perfect rally car.  The Great Race had a variety of differnt classic cars that all seemed to work somewhat well.  We discussed many different options and could never come to a definite answer, so we started to ask some of the veterans of the Great Race.  According to them, what seemed to be the most sucessfull were Ford Model A's with flathead V8 engines.  There were a number of teams in attendance this year with Model A's and coupled with their low age factor and use of a seemingly bulletproof Ford V8, they seem to consistently win most rallies.

But for our simple and non-competitive (as of now) purposes, it wouldn't be the best option.  Since chances are that we're never going to win or be high up in the class rankings, we don't have to sacrifice comfort for age handicap and get a 1920-1940 model year car.  We'll never be competitive enough to need a support crew so we'll need a decent amount of luggage room.  We don't want a roof that leaks so we'd prefer a coupe.  The car would need a manual transmission and enough power and torque to get us up hill in a timely fashion, but also not too much as to make driving at 10-15mph for extended periods of time painful.  We want a car in decent condition, not a concours ready trailer queen, but a car enough miles on it to show that everything works.  The car must be reliable and easy for any mechanic to fix in a hotel parking lot if need be.  The car would be for future rallies, but not only for that purpose.  We decided on two viable cars that would suit our specific needs if we ever wanted a dedicate rally car to be used without a support crew that could also be driven regularly during good weather. 

1. A Porsche 912 Coupe (non-targa).  Dad wanted a Volkswagen Beetle but I manage to convince him that we need more power.  With the same engine as the fabled 356 and the body of the 911, the 912 combined the best of both worlds.  Sure, it wasn't as fast as a 911 from the same year, but it weighed a few hundred pounds less and could definitely out-handle a 911.

2. A early Ford Mustang Fastback with a V6.  Early six cylinder Mustangs are cheap when compared to their V8 powered siblings, and since the V8 in the Corvette was too much, I bet a Ford V8 would deliver similar results.  The trick would be finding one with a manual transmission.

However, before I start throwing all my money into a "new" car, we have one other viable option in currently in our garage:  my mother's 1967 MG B.

Yes, I know.  It's a British car, and most people believe is not reliable by definition.  However, our MG B is the best example of the model that I have ever seen (I'm not trying to brag, I don't think I've ever seen one in better condition).  It's only issue in my mind was its occasionally troublesome engine and gearbox, but since we had the engine and transmission rebuilt over the winter, it is now perfectly sorted out.  It's got all that the Corvette had in terms of luggage space, but it's got much less power (around 300 less horsepower), it's much lighter, and has a much smaller footprint.  That means that it travels a comfortably at 60 miles per hour as it does at 10 miles per hour, and can still fit two weeks works of two peoples luggage in the trunk and behind the seats.  The age factor is not great, however, I can live with that for now.

I drove the MG today (to deposit our winnings) and yesterday and it provides a vastly different driving experience from the Corvette.  Everything is much lighter on the car.  The clutch, the gearbox, the steering, the car itself, everything.  This makes it much easier to drive overall.  I drove on some roads near me that had big hills, and it did just fine there.  The car had no problem getting up the hills and easily accelerated while climbing as well.  I'm sure it will perform fine on the rally next year if I can take it. 

P.S. The Corvette died on us once more.  Dad and I were driving home from dinner and the engine just cut out on it.  Dad (who was driving) noticed that the lights on the instrument panel went out shortly before the car died.  It was running fine previously and would not even turn over after.  I suspect it's an electrical issue.  Thankfully, this happened three miles from our house and not on our way home on Saturday.  We called AAA and a rollback showed up to take us and the car back home.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

One Day After the Great Race: A Short Drive Back to Normal Life

Well, after over two thousand miles, Dad, the Corvette, and I are finally home.
We left Bennington around 9:00am and headed straight for home.  It was an easy drive which was done mostly on highways.  We made three quick stops, one stop for lunch, one stop for gas, and another stop at a BMW motorcycles dealership.

Dad has a BMW motorcycle that we both ride so we decided to stop and look around for a little bit.  It was a very nice dealership and they had a huge selection of bikes, and even more were in the back for service.  I talked to some of the bikers at the dealership and they said they passed three or four other rally cars while they were on the way to their dealership.

Dad drove for the majority of the trip home, which was different since I spent the last 1,750 miles in the drivers seat.  Dad asked me how it felt to be in the passenger seat, I said "relaxing".  I asked him the same question about the driver's seat and he had the same answer.  I think we both enjoyed driving down the highway at speed of over 50mph, listening to the radio, and letting the GPS tell us where to go.

While I was sitting in the passenger seat, I finally had some time to reflect on the events of the past week and analyze everything that went on.

I truly had a fantastic time at the Great Race.  Yes, some stages and portions were difficult, but all in all, I had a blast.  If I had the opportunity to do it next year, I'd love to.  Corky Coker said last night at dinner that the tentative route would be Dollywood to Hollywood for next year (but that is subject to change) and it will be held during the last week of June and will roll into the first week of July if it is a second week.  I made some great friends on the rally and I'd to see each and every one of them again in the future.  Driving across the country has always been a dream of mine, and what better way to do this than with the Great Race!

See you in 2012 (fingers crossed)!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Day Seven of the Great Race: The Grand Finale

The final day of the Great Race started for me at 5:45am, as late as I could possibly wake up.  Our starting position was 44, which meant that we were to leave at 6:44am at the latest for our speedometer calibration run.  It was raining when we got outside, but not so hard as to make driving difficult.  I simply put on a sweatshirt and the wipers and I was cocooned within the warm (and dry) interior of the car while I watched all of the cars sans tops drive down the road.

We started off the morning of rallying with a maze right off the bat.  Dad and I were able to get through part of it without a wrong turn and before we knew it, we were already way behind.  When we figured out where we were in terms of everybody else and finally got a chance to make up some time, we pulled out to pass a car and ran right into a checkpoint.  So, all we could do was suck up the bad leg, and keep on driving in the position that we were in.  We didn't make any wrong turns for quite some time and we ended up with some great scores for the middle chunk of legs.  We made on last wrong turn on the final leg and tried to make up as much time as we could, but it wasn't enough.

Dissapointed on how our last day of rallying went, we drove into Stratton for lunch.  We had lunch in an empty ski lodge at the base of the mountain.  I never get to see many in the middle of June so it was cool to be there.  I wish that there would have been a little bit of snow left over for me to snowboard on but of course there was not, so I just had to look longingly at the bare slopes.  Stratton looks like a stunning mountian and resort (the town reminds me a lot of Whistler) and I'd like to get back there sometime in the winter.

Anyways, after a leisurely lunch, we left for a scenic drive through Vermont, to the small, yet adorable, town of Bennington, VT.  Bennington is home to the headquarters of Hemmings Motor News so we stopped there for some hors d'oeuvres.  Hemmings has a great facility.  They've got a nice little museum full of green cars and they've even got their own gas station on site!  All of the employees of Hemmings were there to cheer all of the racers into the parking lot, it was truely a special experience.  The town of Bennington itself was packed with people looking at all the cars. 

Soon after we arrived, we filed back into our cars to head into downtown Bennington to cross the finish line and show off the cars for one last time.  I met Miss Vermont (She noticed our front license plate and said that she is acutally Canadian.  If you didn't already know, Ontario has a lot of good looking girls) and the Lieutenant Govenor of Vermont at the finish line and Dad and I got our medals from Wes Kliner (Assistant Director of the Great Race) and Corky Coker.  We literally had to force the car through the crowd.  One woman insisted upon getting a photo of our front license plate and ran along side the car with her Blackberry, trying to get the perfect shot.  I was tired and my clutch-leg was too sore for my liking so I laid on the horn pretty hard and after about 5 seconds she got out of my way.  She continued to walk along the right side of the car while apologizing profusely and I said "Mam', you can take all the pictures you want when I'm done parking.  The car will be here until five".  I didn't see her again after that.  The hardest part of Dad's days on the Great Race was always when we were out rallying, trying to keep on track of directions and speed changes.  The hardest part for me was always navigating through dozens of people with cameras while trying to park.  We got out of the car and Dad made a b-line for the closest pizzeria in town (he had been craving pizza all week long) and I looked around at all the little stands that the businesses in town had set up.  It was by far my favorite town of the rally.  We actually got a taste of the feel and personality of the town where I felt as if we did not for some othe the other towns.

After that we checked into our hotel and then went to our final banquet at a local country club.  The food was great and I enjoyed getting a chance to talk more with the other racers.  Towards the end of dinner, Corky talked for a while and thanked all the sponsors and voulenteers for the Great Race and gave out the awards.  To our surprise, we ended up getting 5th place for rookies, which included a nice plaque and a check!  He also played a quick video that the media crew put togeather of the race to show what it might look like on TV.  It was a fantastic video.  There wasn't much footage of the Corvette on the small video, but they took some video of our us and our car rather often so perhaps we'll show up on TV sometime in the future.  Dinner was over by about 9:30 and we quickly made it out the door and back to the hotel as soon as possible.  We didn't want to get caught up in any sort of traffic or other issues getting out since we only had one functioning pop up headlight.

Dad and I will wake up tomorrow and drive home.  We'll probably be back before dinner.  Whenever, I keep telling Dad that we're done, he keeps reminding me that we have to make it home.  So, I won't post my complete thoughts on my experience until we're done and sitting at home tomorrow night.  As for now, I'd like to thank all the people associated with the Great Race such a fantastic event.  It wouldn't of been nearly as much fun without all of you.  I hope you all had as much fun as I did.

Our Corvette and 1961 Corvette that joined the rally to replace a Hudson that had broken down during the first few days.  There were several instances where racers' cars broke down and they drove home to pick up replacements if they were close enough.

(Almost) All of the cars parked in the parking lot of Stratton Mountain in Vermont, it was a foggy day and you couldn't really see much of the mountain.

The Corvette parked on the streets of Bennington, VT after the official finish of the rally.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day Six of the Great Race: When The Going Gets Tough...

While driving through rural upstate New York, battered and beaten from the awful roads and sore from trying to manage driving a 45 year old muscle car with power nothing at 10 miles an hour, I suddenly thought of the video above.

Before I forget, Dad wanted me to post something that he thought that y'all (the southern accents that so many people have on the rally are infectious) might find amusing.  As we were about to leave Chambersburg yesterday, Dad started to freak out because he couldn't find our directions.  He looked frantically around the car and could not figure out what happened to them.  "Someone must have taken them as a souvenir!!!" he screamed as he got out of the car, ready to search the crowd for our missing directions.  As he emerged from the car, I noticed that the directions were still sitting on the seat, right where he left them.  I told him what he had done and he climbed back into the car.  This story gets funnier every time I think of it.  My navigator lost our directions, the one thing that is most important to us in the rally.  Not only did he lose them, but he lost them under his own rear end.  I, for one, am truly amazed that we made it this far along and haven't ended up somewhere in Mexico.  Kudos to you Fred, for keeping us on track when the Great Race throws us the most complicated directions they can possibly create.  And kudos to myself, for getting us back on track when you:

-Miss the first turn of the rally instructions for the day, resulting in us chasing another lost car and then having to pass 22 additional rally cars in order to get back into position.
-Miss the first several signs on our speedometer calibration run, resulting in a totally scrapped calibration run, and then miss the sign to get off the highway because you are looking for the first several signs.
-Tell me that we will be accelerating to 10 miles per hour for 36 minutes when you actually mean 36 seconds.
-Miss hitting the stopwatch by five or ten seconds on a timed portion because you are too busy looking at tractors on the side of the road to look for our next instruction.
-Try to unlock the door to hotel room 324 when our room is 325.
-Can't find the elevator to get to our hotel room in the first place.
-Refer to stop lights as stop signs, and vise versa.
-Say that our next direction will be to turn left, when our turn is actually to the right, and vise versa. 

In all honesty, you've done a good job seeing that this is our first rally, Dad.  Navigating is much harder than driving and I would be lost, confused, misguided, and awfully late if you weren't on track when I was confused.
Today was by far the hardest and most tiring day of the Great Race.  The first leg of the championship run really beat us up.  We had to stop for three minutes and wait for a train to finish crossing our road at the second direction into the first leg of the morning.  Even though we filed a time delay form, that set the tone for the day and it just dragged on and on.  The cars around us got out of order after the train incident but we started to pull things together after the second checkpoint and ended up with a score of 11 seconds late for that leg. 
Lunch today was in Cooperstown, NY, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  We got some extra time to walk around Coopersburg and look at the museum.  Even though I don't follow baseball, I was really impressed with the museum.  It was very up to date and also had some interesting stuff from the early days of baseball. 

The afternoon portion of the rally went ok.  Our times decreased a little bit, but the roads did not get much better at all.  We did have a maze in the afternoon, which I think Dad and I handled rather well.  We made a point not to get messed up by other cars and to stick to our gut instinct.  Sadly, we couldn't drop any of the times from today, but I think our worst times came from the previous five days anyways.

The real treat of the day came in the form of our dinner stop at the Saratoga Auto Museum in Saratoga Springs, NY.  There was an incredible Mercedes 300SL Gullwing parked on the lawn the lawn when I got in.  It was truely a work of art.  Inside the museum, they had an amazing display of old and new Italian cars with some old racing Ferraris (the centerpiece of which was a 1953 Ferrari 166MM Spider Scagletti, a quick google search returned that this car didn't sell back in 2009 at RM Auctions for $1,100,000.  The estimate was $1.4-1.8 million so I guess the seller figured he'd keep it).  The newest car was a 2010 Alfa Romeo 8C Spider, and there was an 1934 8C 2300 right next to it to boot.

Tomorrow will be the final day of the race.  It's hard to believe that it's already here, it seems like it's gone so fast.  I'll give it my all tomorrow as a driver and hope that somehow, we bump up a few positions from 43rd.

We passed this Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing on the way into the museum.  Truly an amazing piece of machinery and art.

A 1934 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300.  Apparently the current owner drives it on European rallies.

The main display room in the museum.  The 1953 Ferrari 166MM Scagletti Spider I mentioned above is in the foreground.

The Corvette parked on the lawn at the Saratoga Automobile Museum.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day Five of the Great Race: Penndot

As a citizen of Pennsylvania, I believe that it is my god given right to complain about the roads in our state.  Today, the Great Race witnessed Penndot's asphalt concoctions in all their glory when we drove straight up the middle of the state from Hershey to Binghampton, NY.

We had a rough morning to say the least.  Dad and I didn't do a good job on our speedometer calibration to start things off.  But, when we ran a few of the sections later on in the calibration dead-on, that helped boost my morale.  We were later in the pack today, we started in position 52, just a few spots away from the last car in the pack.

When we finally got to the rally portion of the day, at around 11am, things didn't go as planned right from the start.  The car directly in front of us, the 1955 Buick Station Wagon of Robert Coker, and J.R. Keylon had a faulty speedometer and proceeded to pass the Morgan which was in front of them.  That put the Morgan directly in front of us.  When I saw the Morgan driving rather slowly in front of me with no huge Buick separating us, I freaked out a little and sped up to catch the Buick, assuming that the Morgan was driving slow or about to break down.  However, the Morgan was actually driving on pace and it was the Buick who was incorrect, and we ended up 2:08 early on the first leg.  However, I got my bearings back on the second leg of the day and ended up 0:16 seconds late.  Luckily, each teams worst five legs are dropped and since that is by far our worst, we can forget about it in terms of official scoring. 

This is when Penndot started to make me crazy again.  Shortly after our second checkpoint, we ran into a Great Race staff member standing in the road, and informing us that the bridge in front of us was closed and that Penndot would not open it for the race so we had to stop our clocks for the morning and just head to lunch.  After taking wrong turn, we ended up driving on what is possibly the most pothole infested road in the state.  Everyone state we've been to on the Great Race has fantastic roads, with the exception of Pennsylvania.  I just don't understand how Penndot can't take the time to build roads right.

Anyways, we ate a quick lunch in Hazleton, PA after having to backtrack for a little while and stop to get gas.  By the time we showed up the first several cars in the pack had left and we were the last car in.  When we pulled in, a bunch of people in matching shirts on the sidelines let out a scream similar to that of a group of pre-teen girls seeing Justin Bieber for the first time in person.  They ran up to the car and explained that they were in the local Corvette club, and they were really happy to see us because they assumed we might have broken down since we were the last car in.  I also met a few people from Stroudsburg that knew a few of my friends from home.  Small world.

We left about thirty minutes later to make the long transit to the staring line and ran into even more road work.  The two legs we had in the afternoon went really well.  Dad and I were really on the ball and we didn't miss any turns.  We had times of 24 seconds late and 4 seconds early (our best time of the rally thus far).  We were both very relaxed in the car the and all aspects of the rallying seemed to come naturally.  I was happy that we were finally getting the hang of things.

Binghampton closed down a huge section of their Main street so they could put the rally cars on display along with some other local collector cars.  There was a huge turnout, dinner was great, and the weather was beautiful.  We couldn't have asked for a better night.  I hung around in the parking lot for a little bit to relax with some of the other Great Racers for a little while after to enjoy the weather.  I have to admit, the people on this rally are a fantastic group.  I can't say enough good things about them.  The camaraderie is truly amazing

Tomorrow we'll leave Binghamton, stop in Cooperstown for lunch at the Baseball Hall of Fame, and finally end in Saratoga Springs, NY.  Tomorrow is also the start of the Championship Run portion of the rally.  The directions will become much more technical and the checkpoints will become more frequent.  Apparently, the rally staff have built up a "maze" somewhere during the next two days of rallying.  This is where all the rally cars enter a subdivision of houses or a grid type city layout somewhere and are sent literally in all directions.  After a while, rally cars will end up at every intersections heading in all directions, apparently it is very confusing.  It should be interesting and I'm very much looking forward to the next two days.

The car parked at the Laurel Mall in Hazleton, PA

At our dinner stop in Binghampton, NY.  Some people gave us the sign in front of the car when we got into town.  We told them that we had nowhere to put it and they told us to hold it out the window until we parked, so we did.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Day Four of the Great Race: It's Lonely at the Front

For most of today, we were back in Pennsylvania.  Even though today was our worst day point wise, we were much better off than most.  It seemed like cars were dropping like flies.  In the end, we were just happy that we finished.

We started off the day in Cumberland, Maryland.  It was the first time the whole rally that I could honestly say I had butterflies in my stomach.  We led off, and for us rookies, that was particularly daunting.  For the first time, we didn't have anyone in front of us to help us keep on track with time.  For the whole rally, we had been running late at almost every checkpoint, and my goal for today was to drive a little faster here and there to hopefully compensate for my natural tendency to be late.  However, we did have someone behind us, Steven and Edward Tourje in a 1946 Ford Coupe.  They were 11th overall as of last night, so we knew if we could see them in our rear view mirror, we were running late.

I thought the morning went well.  Our first stage didn't feel that good, but I felt like I did reasonably well on our second and third leg.  At our various rest stops, we talked to the people driving behind us and we all felt comfortable about our position.  It was a little strange knowing that I was at the front of the pack.  However, we got our directions correct (most of the time) and ended up in the right place for lunch and dinner.  At lunch, we noticed that the Tourjes were nowhere to be found.  When the #3 car for the day, Mary and Michael Bitterman in a 1966 Dodge Charger showed up, I really started to wonder what was up.  Apparently they broke down on the last leg and the problem was bad enough that they had to call it quits for the whole rally.

That would leave us in a stressful position for the afternoon.  No one in front of us and the closest car would be at least 2 minutes behind us.  However, we tried our best to do things on our own and I felt somewhat confident going into the afternoon portion of the rally.

Dinner tonight was in Hershey, PA.  We got to see Joan and introduce her to some of the friends we've made on the rally.  I think she enjoyed getting a taste of what we've been doing for the past few days and she wants to do one in the future.  My girlfriend and college roommate also surprised me by showing up so it was cool to see them as well.

Here are some pictures from the day.  I've only got two for now.  Mom took some pictures at dinner so I'll upload those sometime tomorrow if I can.
All lined up for the start of the rally in Maryland this morning.

The cars at our lunch stop in Chambersburg, PA.

We'll leave Hershey tomorrow morning and head to Binghampton, NY.  Tomorrow will also be the last day of the regular rally.  After tomorrow, we will drop our 5 worst legs and then we'll have to take everything we get for the championship run.  Hopefully we'll have figured things out by that point and we'll get some ground back on the competition.  But, as always, I'll just be happy to finish in one piece.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Day Three of the Great Race: Playing Catch-up

Dad and I both felt confident going into today's portion of the rally.  I felt like I was really getting into the swing of things at the end of the day yesterday and I was ready to get back in the car.  We lined up for the start and jumped right into it.

We were running perfectly on pace until Dad missed the first turn and we had to turn around.  We went back to where we through we should be and we passed Gary and Jean-Ann Martin going the opposite direction, who were positioned behind us yet again in their 1938 Ford.  We knew we had ground to make up, we made the turn and started moving.  The first car we caught was the 1960 Morgan +4 of David and Edward Goldman.  We knew they were three cars back so we kept moving in order to catch up.  A few miles went past and we caught no one when we knew we should have been back in our place.  We kept going a little bit longer and once we were confident that both we and the Morgan we're lost.  We turned around to head back to the point where the directions last left us and hoped to see other cars, which we did.  We quickly pulled out our sheet listing the start order for the day and found that we had just been passed by the 58th car in line, the second to last car.

We were in trouble.

We had fallen 22 spots behind where we should have been, meaning we were at least 22 minutes late.  We had effectively dug our own grave for the rally, jumped in our casket, and nailed it shut.  We simply would not be able to re-cooperate from a score that low to get any position but last for the entire rally.  Our only solution was to try our very best to get as close as possible to where we were supposed to be.  I told Dad to only give me directions that included turns and stop signs, then I gunned it.  We started to absolutely fly by cars at an incredible rate.  I was expecting to hit a checkpoint sooner or later but we didn't.  Before we knew it, we were only 15 cars behind, then 10, then 5, then we were staring at the back of the Martin's Ford and I could finally relax a little.  We eventually reached an open stretch of 2 lane highway, the Martin's moved into the right lane and frantically waved me on to pass.  I put the pedal to the metal and we flew by them, knowing that our score would be back under one minute, which was extraordinary for where we had been earlier in the day.  I saw the approaching checkpoint, gunned it, and hope that we'd come in as close to even as possible.

We tried to even ourselves out for the next two legs and we came into lunch feeling optimistic.  Lunch was in Harrisonburg, VA.  It was a cute little college town.  There were a decent number of people there to look at the cars and I was happy to sit down, cool off, and get something to eat.  I somehow forgot to take a photo of the car at the lunch stop.  I'll be sure to take one at lunch tomorrow.

We were back out on the road before we knew it and I was feeling even better than I did in the morning.  We had three really good legs.  We got our scores and ended up coming in at 2:01 for five legs, which I think was alright.  All of our scores were under a minute, which is an improvement from yesterday.  We hit as new all time best of 5 seconds (we had 10 second taken away for a time delay due to a tractor blocking our way right before a checkpoint).  Our worst for the day was 45 seconds late on the first leg, which is much better than a potential 22 minutes.  We moved down a little in the standings to 41st and 5th rookie team overall.

Gassing up before we started the first morning stage of the rally.  I'd never seen so many classic cars at one gas station before.

The cars lined up for dinner in Chambersburg, MD.

Tomorrow we lead the rally into Chambersburg and Hershey.  Hopefully that doesn't mess us up too much having no one in front of us.  It should be a lot of fun, as it has been for the past three days.  I'm honestly loving every second of the rally, even when we're lost!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day Two of the Great Race: Blue Ridge Parkway and Some Autographs

Day Two of the Great Race:  In the video above, Jeremy Clarkson describes where I spent most of my morning driving.  Stop watching at 40 seconds through.  After that, he gets everything wrong.

We started the race out in Maggie Valley, NC and went straight for the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The car was a little finicky, I wasn't careful when I warmed it up and I accidentally flooded the engine and it died on us a few times in the morning before we started the timed portion of the rally.  Since all old cars have a little bit of an attitude and some soul, the car was a little "mad" at me for a few hours.  But after it saw that I was treating it nicely, it returned the favor.

The Blue Ridge Parkway was breathtaking and very difficult to drive as a rally stage.  With all the steep inclines and sharp curves, it was difficult winding our way back up the Appalachians.  However, the car did just fine and we tried our best to keep on pace.  The first stage of the morning was difficult but by the time we reached the second checkpoint, Dad and I were warmed up and ready to go.  We finally started to hit our times evenly and even at slow speeds, I was really enjoying the roads.  We didn't see much of the cars in front of or behind us so we figured we were doing ok.  I became impatient when Dad and I looked ahead in the directions and noticed a section of directions where we were off the clock and in transit to our lunch stop.  However, I kept my foot off the loud pedal and kept us going on pace for the rest of the stage before we saw our next checkpoint.  When I passed the checkpoint and heard the woman at the checkpoint yell "MARK!", (meaning that we could click off our watch since we were officially done with that stage), I decided to let the car stretch it's legs a little.

This is the start of where Jeremy Clarkson was wrong about the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Clearly he did not drive above 35 mph.  I did.

Before I realized what had happened, I found myself testing the limits of the car's tires in the corners and it's freshly restored engine on the straightaways.  Even though this car was built for highways, I was really enjoying it in the twisties.  Soon enough, I caught the car in front of me, #47 Larry Tribble and Larry Phillips' 1966 Ford Galaxie Convertible.  I slowed up and gave them some space, being sure not to pressure a fellow Great Racer.  However, he hit the gas and I took the bait and let a classic Ford vs Chevrolet battle of sorts begin.  I figured I'd have him in no time.  Sure, he had a monstrous 7 liter 427 whereas I only had a small block 327, but I figured that his barge of a car would simply crawl through the corners.  I couldn't do corners well either, but I assumed I was bound to have the faster top speed.  Larry kept throwing the car into the corners faster than I could keep up.  Sometimes I'd catch him but then he'd step on the loud pedal and he became quite difficult do keep up with.

We stopped for gas, since we were just about running on fumes and pulled into the Old Cranks Motorcar Museum for lunch.  Larry came up to me right after we got out of our cars and spent a few minutes talking about how much fun we had over the last 50 or so minutes.  It was truly a blast.

We had a huge thunderstorm to deal with on our first leg of rallying after lunch.  Dad and I started 15 seconds late due to traffic blocking our exit.  With all the winding roads, and the directions sending the cars in a circle to confuse everyone, we lost even more time.  The number #50 Chevrolet Bel Air seemed to be constantly in my rear view mirror indicating that I was probably running around a minute late.  I was determined to get it right the next stage, and despite some complex roads, a few very narrow bridges, and a dog almost running into our car, I felt very good about our last leg.  We ended up catching the Galaxie again but I felt confident in my driving so I did not slow up.

Soon enough, we found ourselves at our dinner location; the Salem Civic Center in Salem, VA and the place was packed! It was by far the biggest crowd yet.  We had a tough time working the car around all the spectators trying to take pictures of the car and talk to us.  Some would even run directly in front of the car to stop and take a picture.  Driving in that parking lot might have been more stressful than driving in the actually rally itself.  However, we got our spot just fine.  Two small kids immediately ran up to Dad just as he got out of the car.  One of them said "Since y'all are gonna be on TV, can I get y'alls autograph?".  Dad and I laughed and he obliged.  I turned around and there were three kids standing outside my door asking for my autograph as well!  I made some small chit-chat with the kids as I signed their autographs and a few others.  After dinner, signing more autographs, and talking to more people about the car, we headed back to the hotel for a good night's rest.

Here are some assorted pictures from the day.

The newly customized rally dashboard in the Corvette.

Our car and the E-type of Edward and Richard Overmeyer.

A Ford pickup and the Galaxie that we chased on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The car at our lunch stop in Galax, VA.

The car takes a break while we get dinner in Salem, VA.  There must have been over 200 people there to look at the car.  We had to fight our way through dozens of people taking pictures just to park the car.

The Jag and the Corvette together once more.  Dad wants to organize a 5am drag race reminiscent of the song "Dead Man's Curve" by Jan and Dean.  Hopefully with a less tragic ending though.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Day One of the Great Race: Not Half Bad for Newbies.

Today was the first day of formal competition at the great race and I can say that it went off without a hitch.

The day started off with breakfast at 7:00 and we were told to head over to Honest Charley Speed Shop at 8:00 to check on the car.  They only had a few more things to do to so we waited around while they got the car back in running order.  They put the bearings and spline back on and while they were at it, they noticed that our transmission was a little rough to shift (it always has been) so they fixed that too!  Dave, Pat and Pat's personal mechanic helped out a lot since Pat and Pat are our mentors for the race.  He has a seemingly endless knowledge of cars.  Pat and Pat described him as "the best mechanic alive" and I think I agree with them.  He certainly knows what he's doing.  Gregg Cunningham of Honest Charley Speed Shop also lent us his Timewise rallying speedometer so we owe him a big thanks as well.

Anyways, I drove the car off the lift and out of the garage straight into the starting lineup for the opening ceremonies (we were already 40 minutes late by that point).   My 30 foot test drive went fine, except that the speedometer was not working at all.  I pulled the car into position and we quickly found someone who had a similar speedometer who could troubleshoot our problem.  We figured we'd just disconnect and reconnect the cables to the battery to start.  I gave it another quick drive around the block and it thankfully it worked!

Now that our car was FINALLY in perfect mechanical working order.  I could focus on the festivities and social aspect of the Great Race.  The hour and a half or so before the start of the race was almost a quasi car show.  All the cars were lined up outside Coker Tire on a public street so the public could get a closer look at  the other cars.  The second I stepped out of the driver's seat, I was practically assaulted with questions and comments by multiple people about the car:

"Is that a '65 or '66?"
"Is this your car? Who is the navigator?"
"Is it original?"
"When did you buy it?"
"Does it have a 427?"
"Can I see the engine?"
"Do you have a support crew?"
"Is this your first rally?"
My personal favorites were: "Why is there a Canadian license plate on the front?" Or "Where are you from in Canada?" 

I was more than happy to answer all the questions and talk to anyone who asked about the car.  I love getting to talk about the car with people and it seems like nobody ever asks in Pennsylvania.  It took me almost another thirty minutes to move four feet away from the car to get a chance to see the other rally vehicles.  By the time Dad and I made it towards the first few cars, Gregg Cunningham came up to us with a cameraman and wanted a quick interview about the car.  There are a few cameramen here filming the entire race.  Coker Tire and Hemmings hope to make a few TV episodes about it we all had to sign our lives away yesterday to be on television.  The camera guys heard the story about the car and liked it so much that they asked for a personal interview.  We fought back through the crowd to get back to the car and I talked for a few minutes about the last few days and getting the car fixed (if you've read my previous posts, you'll have an idea of what I talked about).  Shortly thereafter, it was time to start the rally and we fired up the car.  We filed to the front of the line of cars and Corky Coker introduced us to the crowd and talked briefly about how the car broke down and some more info about us and the car.  He shook our hands, the green flag waved, and we were off!

Well, not really.  From there we went right into our speedometer calibration run.  In order to make sure that the cars' speedometers are set for the right speed, cars are directed onto the highway at 50 miles an hour and given a series of checkpoints to look for with corresponding times to make sure that an indicated 50mph would actually allow us to travel 50 miles in an hour and so on.  We noticed that our speedo was indicating that we were driving a little slower than we actually were (an indicated 45-46mph was roughly 50 miles an hour).  After we were done, we got some gas and filed into our starting line with all of the other great racers.  We were behind Bryan Dickson and Joe Correia in a 1928 Ford Model A Speedster and ahead of Gary and Jean-Ann Martin in a 1938 Ford Coupe.  In a rally, each team is given a specific time of day in minutes to start.  Our start time was 11:22, since were were the 27th car to leave and the first car was to leave at 10:55. It sounds complicated but all it takes is an accurate clock.  Gary and Jean-Ann gave us a few words of advice before we pulled away and then we were on our own until lunch.

Our morning leg went really well, we kept on track and didn't see much of Bryan and Joe or Gary or Jean-Ann, which meant that we were probably close to a minute in between the both of them.  We'd occasionally see them on a long stretch of road which was good because it told us that we were probably heading in the right direction.  We saw some beautiful East Tennessee countryside and stopped in Athens, TN for a quick lunch break and the city had closed off the streets so everyone could get a good look at the cars while we ate.  There was another decent sized crowd there to welcome us in.  We also got two little goodie bags from the town!  We were then off to the afternoon portion of the rally which was considerably longer and more challenging than the last portion.  We crossed over the Appalachian Mountains and our directions threw us a variety of speed changes which were quite tough to keep on top of with either going straight uphill or straight downhill.

Our dinner was at the Wheels Through Time museum, a huge museum which consisted of mostly motorcycles and some classic American cars.  We were handed our scores as we parked the car.  Our score was 1:21.34.  That's calculated from being 21 seconds late on the first leg, 11 seconds late on the second, 34 (ouch) seconds on the third, and 17 seconds fast on the final leg.  Then the score is multiplied by our car's age factor (which is 9.80).  As far as I can tell, that's not too bad for two guys who have never rallied before.  We're 3rd out of 8 for the rookies and 35 (I think) out of 59 for the entire rally.

Here are some pictures from today:
The car at our lunch stop in Athens, TN,

Jim Menneto and his navigator in their 1932 Ford Speedster, also known as the "Hemmings Speedster".  It rained a little on our way to dinner and on the way back to the hotel, but these guys were still moving just as fast as we were on the highway.

Overall, today was a blast.  I had a lot of fun.  I really enjoyed seeing the countrysides, and seeing the amount of interested that the Great Race got in Chattanooga, Athens, and Maggie Valley.  I think Dad and I are getting the hang of rallying and we'll have to see how tomorrow goes.

Friday, June 10, 2011

One Day Until the Great Race: Chattanooga

We finally made it to Chattanooga.  The car is still being worked on as I type this, but we've been promised that it'll be ready to go by tomorrow.

Our day started with waking up at 6am to get ready to meet Charlie and Tommy from the Great Race at Walker Chevrolet to pick up the car and head to Chattanooga at 7:00.  After getting the car on the trailer we made a b-line for Chattanooga so that the people there could get to work on the car as soon as possible.  We pulled in at around 11 (we lost an hour going from central to eastern time).

From the moment that we stepped out of the trailer, we were completely overwhelmed by all things Great Race.  I stepped out of the truck and almost walked right into the most beautiful Jaguar E-Type that I'd ever seen.  Truly love at first sight.  We then proceeded to meet our Great Race mentors (Pat and Pat Brothers), Corky Coker of Coker Tire fame, Jeff Stumb (Director of Cities/Entries for the Great Race, one of the guys who helped us get the car here in the first place, and fellow Great Racer), as well as numerous other people all while we pushed the Corvette into Honest Charley Speed Shop to finally fix the bearings and spline, and have the car inspected.  Jeff led us into Coker Tire where we finished our registration and caught the tail end of rally school.

Since we didn't have a car to participate with in the warm up rally, we rode shotgun with Tom and Faye Littrell in their 1952 Hudson Hornet so we could learn what we could from them.  Despite taking a wrong turn or two, Tom and Faye did a great job in helping us learn the ins and outs of rallying.  It is much easier to understand when you're actually in the car rallying.  We also got to see some beautiful parts of Tennessee off of the highway at the same time.

We got back from the warm up rally and went straight to dinner in Coker Tire's museum.  The museum was quite something.  It held a large number of vintage cars and pre-war motorcycles from Corky's personal collection.  Dinner was also held at the same time as a silent charity auction.  There were a few items auctioned off live, one of which was the custom Duckloe Brothers' chair with the Great Race logo which we donated.  All of the proceeds of the auction went to help a local non-profit organization that serves people with autism.  After that, we had a quick meeting to go over how tomorrow would work and then we were all dismissed to head back to the hotel to get a good night's rest.

Anyways, I'll stop boring you with all my writing and throw in some pictures.  I apologize for the poor quality of some of the photos.  I didn't have time to grab my camera when we went on the warm up rally so I took pictures with my cell phone.

A picture of the Corvette missing a wheel on a lift at Honest Charley Speed Shop.  The guys at the shop were great!

Unloading the Corvette when we arrived at Coker Tire.

That Jaguar E-Type along with a few other Great Race cars at today's lunch stop at Wendy's.  I think I spent about 5 minutes in the parking lot drooling over that car.

The Littrell's 1952 Hudson Hornet that we rode along in for today's warm up rally.  Everyone that we passed along the route seemed to love it.

Corky Coker helping to auction off the chair at dinner.  

I'm really looking forward to starting the rally tomorrow, I can't believe it's finally here.  I think Dad and I understand enough to get us going tomorrow and we'll definitely learn more as we go.  I am nervous but we'll do our best and I'll be happy just to finish.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Two Days Until the Great Race: It Could Be Worse, Plan B, and Salvation

Well, were stuck in Nashville for one more night.  We got a call around 1:45 Nashville time from the dealer.  I handed the phone off to my Dad and started to shut down my computer so we could get out the door and to the dealer as fast as possible.  However, the phone conversation didn't go exactly as I thought it would.  From our end, I was expecting to hear: "Yup...We'll be over right away...Thanks a lot".

However, that wasn't what I heard.  There were a lot of "OKs" and I didn't hear anything similar to the above.  Dad hung up the phone and looked at me and said "Well, it'll be ready Tuesday or Wednesday".  In order to change the bearings on the wheel, the mechanics needed to remove the spline (I think that's the name for the part, the thing that goes into the rear axle and attaches to the brake rotor, the name escapes my mind at the moment).  However, the spline had somehow fused itself (probably due to how hot it's been in Nashville over the past few days, and the heat that the unit has been creating due to it's extended use).  In order to get the spline off, they would need to cut it off and it would take another few days to get a replacement.  

I was dumbfounded and speechless.  It would have been comparable to being a 6 or 7 year old and watching Christmas presents vanish from under the tree on the 23rd of December.  I had been looking forward to the Great Race since January and now it wasn't going to be a part of it. I replied with several four-letter words but I was then thankful for our situation.  We could have simply ignored the sound yesterday and kept driving.  Who knows what could have happened?  The car and us could have been in much worse shape.  We were truly in the best situation of a worst case scenario.

Dad and I then started to discuss viable options pertaining to how we should continue:

A. We pick up a desirable rental car (something like a Corvette, Camaro, or Mustang) and run the rally in that, with the approval of the Great Race.  After several phone calls to various rental companies, nothing desirable seems to be available in the greater Nashville area.  Besides, new cars have no soul.

B. We pick up a less desirable rental car and just drive along from city to city with the rally.  We'd enjoy everything the rally has to offer but the competition itself.  Although it would be astronomically expensive, this is still an option.  Even though we'd still be along for the ride, we'd be watching the rally longingly from the sidelines.

C.  We wait for the Corvette to be finished Tuesday or Wednesday, head north as quickly and safely as possible to meet up with the rally.  By the time we'd leave the rally would be in Pennsylvania or New York and slowly making their way north.  We probably would not meet up with them until the second to last or final day of the rally, which would not be worth all that driving.  

D.  We'd rent a car and drive from Nashville to Chattanooga to do the first formal dinner tomorrow, go to the auction, and maybe the see the cars leave on Saturday morning.  Then, we'd hop on the first available flight for Allentown from Chattanooga, pick up the MG B and do half the rally.  We'd meet up with everyone in Hershey, PA (roughly two hours from our house) on Tuesday night.  Even though we'd miss the first half of the rally, we'd rather be there for half of it rather than miss the whole thing.

E.  Pick up the car from Walker Chevrolet and take it down to Chattanooga.  Wes Kliner and Jeff Stumb of the Great Race/Coker Tire fame called up to lend us a trailer, a mechanic, and their expertise to get us to run the rally from the start.

or the least desirable option:

F: Quit now and go home.  No.  We've looked forward to this too much and we're not gonna bail out now.

So, we decided to go with option E.  Tommy Hudson from the Great Race will pick us up at Walker Chevrolet at 7am tomorrow to put the Corvette on a trailer and take it down to Chattanooga so the guys over at Coker Tire can get to work on it right away.  They're confident that they can get the car fixed by 10am tomorrow morning for the start of the rally and I'm confident that they get it fixed too.  If we can't get it fixed in time, we'll physically push the car over the starting line so that we officially started the race.  If we can't get it fixed after that, we'll move to option D and meet up with everyone in Hershey on Tuesday night with the MG B and hope that our British car doesn't live up to its stereotype of unreliability and break down on us somewhere in between Hershey and Bennington.  It should do just fine seeing that we picked it up from an engine overhaul just a few days before we left home.

Personally, I can't thank these guys enough.  They literally came through to save the day.  If the dealer was open, they were planning on driving up tonight to pick us and the car up and bring us down to Chattanooga so they could start working on the car bright and early tomorrow morning.  Judging that we haven't even met these guys, it really speaks volumes about the content of their character and I'm truly thrilled to be participating in the Great Race with men and women like this.  Tomorrow should be an interesting and exciting day to say the least!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Three Days Until the Great Race: A Small Step Backwards

Well, I wish I could be writing this blog post from Chattanooga, but I'm not.

We set off from Nashville this morning and about thirty minutes into our drive the car started making a strange sound which was coming from the passenger side rear wheel.  I noticed the sound (I was driving at the time as well) and we pulled over to have a look at it.  We didn't see anything strange so we got back in the car and started off cautiously.  Everything was working just fine but we were still hearing said sound.  So, we pulled over into the parking lot of a baptist church and called AAA.  After waiting about 30 minutes, a rollback showed up and took us to a local Chevy dealer to figure out what was wrong.  The service manager said he was too busy to look at it now and that they'd try their best to get to it later.

After a short nap, we decided to make the most of our extra day in Nashville and check out Music Row, Union Station, Centennial Park, the area around Vanderbilt University and we went to dinner at a restaurant near by.  I didn't bring my camera with me so I didn't get any pictures.

Anyways, I got a call from the dealership later that is was simply an issue of loose bearings and that the car will be ready to go sometime tomorrow evening and we'll get to Chattanooga tomorrow night.  We're going to spend an additional night at my Aunt and Uncle's place and leave whenever the dealership gives us a call.  I'm happy that the car will be fine and I'm looking forward to finally starting the rally itself.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Four Days Until the Great Race: The War of Northern Aggression

We gave the car a break today and got a chance to explore nearby Franklin, TN which was the site of the Battle of Franklin in November of 1864 during the Civil War, or as the local like to call it; "The War of Northern Aggression".  We had a tour of the Carter House, which the center of the battlefield where the majority of the fighting took place.  The stories the tour guide told us were quite chilling.  We also had a tour of a home on an old plantation (the name of the plantation escapes me at the moment) that was used as a hospital during the battle.  There were still blood stains on the hardwood floors of some of the rooms.

This is a picture of one of the buildings at the Carter house that was there at the time of the battle.  As you can see, it was absolutely riddled with bullet holes.

Tomorrow, Dad and I will finish up the trip to Chattanooga.  We'll also make a stop in Lynchburg, TN to stop for a tour of another factory.  I'll leave you with this video which should give you a hint as to what factory we'll be touring.
For those of your who don't know, this is an Epic Meal Time video.  It is my absolute favorite online video series.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Five Days Until the Great Race: Bowling Green

Today Dad and I drove from Morehead, KY to Nashville, TN via Bowling Green, KY to visit the Corvette Museum and assembly plant.  It was quite an interesting experience.  We were both there about 10 years ago and since then the museum had undergone a major renovation and addition so it was cool to see everything again.

We left the hotel at about 9am (eastern time) to get to bowling green by 12:45pm (central time) for our factory tour.  We didn't factor in the time change so we got their an hour early and walked quickly through the museum and had lunch at the "Corvette Cafe" while we waited four our factory tour.

The factory tour was pretty cool.  I wish we had less people on our tour so it could be a little more personalized (we had probably 30 people and one tour guide) and extensive.  However, it was definitely worth the $7 admission.  Sadly, we weren't allowed to have cameras or cell phones with us on the tour so I got no pictures and since we all know that pictures are worth a thousand words, I'll try my best to summarize briefly what I saw and heard.  Mostly what we saw was the later stages of the build process of the car.  When we caught our first glimpses of the cars, they were rolling down the line as a painted body and chassis without the power-train.  They arrived in batches of five or six, all in the same color but various models.  The vast majority of the cars were base model and Grand Sport coupes and convertibles.  I saw a few Z06's and a single ZR1.  It was hard to tell what cars were which but I eventually figured it out (I generally judged by the type of spoiler on each car).  We moved with the line and got to see the workers piece together the entire interior.  All of the cars on the line were already spoken for (either by dealers or individual customers) so they all required individual trim items which arrived on the line with their specific cars.  I could not even fathom the logistics that went into getting the right parts to the right car at the right time at the right place, truly amazing.  The power-trains were then married to their specific cars bodies and you could finally definitely know what car was which (steel brakes versus carbon ceramic differentiated the base cars and Grand Sports from the high performance Z06's and ZR1's along with color and size of brake calipers, but customers will be able to choose their brake caliper color in for the 2012 cars).  The cars continued to roll down the line where they received their wheels, exhaust systems, fluids and were started for the first time.  We got to see the entire final inspection area, where the cars were first driven and tested.  Before we knew it, the tour was over.  But it provided a good glimpse into what goes into building a Corvette.  We didn't see much on the official tour but if you looked around at the right moments, you got to see a few other things (body pants being fitted, welding of the chassis, etc) that weren't specifically highlighted on the tour.

Anyways, here are some pictures from the day.
We passed this on our way to Bowling Green.  I was not expecting to see a dinosaur in the middle of Kentucky!

The Bowling Green assembly plant.

Our Corvette in the "Corvettes Only" parking at the museum.  The couple in the yellow coupe next to us were from South Dakota.  Almost every Corvette in the lot was from out of state and every Corvette was a C6 (2005-).  The oldest car that we saw all day other than ours was a C3 (1969-'82).

This sign was in the middle of the road adjacent to the museum.  Where is their sense of fun?!

This is the first room of the museum.  When you order a new Corvette, you can pick it up at the museum if you want to.  Buyers get a special tour of both the factory and museum and their cars are put on display here on their day of delivery.  The owners can then drive them straight off the museum floor and right home.  Buyers can also spend three days in Bowling Green following the entire build of their specific car along the assembly line, start it up for the first time, and drive it away straight from the factory if they like.  One car left as we were there and there were a few more in a back room awaiting a final wash and pre-delivery inspection. 

This Z06 carbon edition was inside the museum awaiting to be picked up by its new owners.  It was a real sinister looking car.  My favorite of those being delivered

The ZR1 that reset the lap record on the Nurburgring in Germany.

A shot of the main display room in the museum.  Most of the cars in the museum were owned by individuals and simply lent to the the museum for display.  All of the cars were in top notch condition and most of them had some interesting stories to go with them.

Our corvette outside the Bowling Green plant.

A 1953 Corvette (the first year of production for those of you who don't know).  Only 300 were made and they were all done in white with red interior.  The interior was almost identical to that of our '57.

The sad condition of my shirt by the time we got to Nashville.  A 60's corvette without air conditioning is a bad place to be in temperatures in the mid 90's.

We let the car (and ourselves) cool off in the shade when we finally stopped for the night.

Tomorrow we'll spend the day seeing the sights in Nashville with my uncle and take a rest from driving.  I've been looking forward to getting to see some of Nashville and I think the car has earned a day off.  We'll resume driving on Wednesday morning to head to Chattanooga. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Six Days Until the Great Race: ROAD TRIP!!!!!

This short clip from the classic film The Hangover summarizes our drive from Pennsylvania through Maryland and West Virginia to Kentucky.  Just replace "Vegas" with "Kentucky" and you can see how excited Dad was to finally get on the road.

Today was our first (and only) full day on the road.  Dad and I left just after 7am to head 606 miles southwest to Morehead, KY.  It was a easy drive and the car performed flawlessly.  It didn't miss a beat cruising for a few hours at 75 mph (speed limits in Kentucky and West Virginia are 70mph in most places) in 90 degree heat.

Here are some quick pictures to prove that we actually made it this far:

We both enjoyed today's drive.  Kentucky, West Virginia, and Maryland all have MUCH better roads than Pennsylvania so it made the drive pretty easy.  We had to stop for gas twice and calculated that were getting 15 miles to the gallon...which is probably good for 45 year old muscle car.

Tomorrow we'll head south to Bowling Green, KY to visit the Corvette Museum and Factory.  We went to Bowling Green as a family about 10 years ago however I don't remember much of it.  Both Dad and I have never had a factory tour either so we're excited to do that.  After that, we'll head down to Nashville to meet up with my aunt and uncle.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

One Week Until The Great Race: Why Men Leave Home.

One week until the Great Race.  Boy, time flies when you're having fun.  Or rather, time flies when you're at college.

Today is our last day at home before we hit the road.  Tomorrow we travel from Stroudsburg down and across Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  We'll stop near Lexington, KY to get ourselves a hotel for the night.  It'll be a lot of driving but I'm looking forward to it.  Dad will start off driving tomorrow and we'll switch off every so often.  I feel like I'm always driving the car when we're driving together so I'm glad to ride shotgun for a little while.

I let my self sleep in a little today since I know that I'll be up bright and early tomorrow.  I finally dragged myself out of bed at around 10 to run an easy ten (miles).  I packed a little then I had work from 2-6.  I spent the rest of today cleaning my room, finishing up packing the car, and scarfing down half a pizza.

Dad did a fantastic job of packing the car.  Who knew that a 60's muscle car could be so practical!  My bag turned out to be a little heavier than I expected so I utilized the space we had and crammed my sunglasses and camera into the glove box and I'll stow my computer and some maps behind one of the seats.  I fooled around with some of the stuff Dad packed and managed to score us a few extra cubic feet of space as well.  He's still has to throw his bag in too before we set off.  The carpet in the car is original which is why we've got towels everywhere. 

I can't believe that we leave tomorrow.  It seems like only yesterday that Dad and I sent in our deposit.  I know that the Great Race and it's surrounding road trip will absolutely fly by and I'll try to treasure every moment.  

I wanted to conclude today's blog post with a classic Corvette ad.  

The last sentence of this advertisement reads "Let it sit idle on a Saturday afternoon, and you do it an injustice".  Next Saturday, Dad and I will embark upon the automotive journey of a lifetime.  The Great Race will begin at 9:30am and we will do the antithesis of  letting it sit idle.  We will drive it for one thousand five hundred and seventy five miles from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Bennington, Vermont.  These cars need to be driven.  What good is a car if you cannot drive it?  As an art history major, I understand the concept of the automobile as art.  There are dozens of cars that can be classified as art, but a car is not a canvas.  Anyways, I'm thrilled to be driving this car on the Great Race.  I've been looking forward to tomorrow for the last six months and I'm psyched to get on the road.