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.

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