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August 14, 2007

Monte Shelton Northwest Classic Rally, Day Two.

Filed under: 07 Monte Shelton,Car Photo Of The Day,Cars,Weird Seen — chuck goolsbee @ 9:58 pm
Final TSD segment start
Final TSD segment start

If you look at a map of North America or spin your globe to the right from your usual locations of focus and observe our west coast you will note that there is a VAST expanse of water right next to it that literally covers the majority of this big blue planet of ours. In fact I’d wager that it is responsible for the perception of it being blue. We call it, in what can only be ironically amusing to meteorologists, surfers, and the rugged humans who make their living on it, the Pacific Ocean. It is ANYTHING but pacific in its nature. It is a violent, thrashing, deep and cold thing that harbors and takes life in equal measure. While it may be warm and inviting in the middle, it can be cold, distant, and stand-offish around the extreme perimeter. Try dipping your toe into it here in the Pacific Northwest and you will lose all feeling in that toe pretty damn quick. Immerse your self in it and it will kill you even quicker. As malevolent as it seems to be, it also bestows upon this region a generous gift of mild weather… it moderates the natural heat of the continental land mass with cool moist air, which flows in a continuous stream over our region and keeps it within an ideal Goldilocks status… not too cold, not too hot. Now it may be too wet for some, but if you check the relative humidity of say anywhere east of the Mississippi River and that of the pacific Northwest, you will note that we’re quite comfy over here… we just get our sunshine in smaller doses – that is between the clouds. We call them “sun breaks” here. October through May you can bank on a steady drizzle and moderate temps. May through July is on-again, off-again rain and sunshine. July through September is usually a continuous parade of picture postcard blue skies and temps/humidity equivalent to what most HVAC Engineers consider “ideal” for human habitation. An occasional low pressure system moves through to remind us what rain is like, but overall summers here are pleasant beyond description. No sweltering heat, no high humidity… just cool breezes and sunshine. EXCEPT the area right next to the ocean. Right at that edge lies an area subject to fog that will chill you to the bone. The stuff that comes in at night and makes Adrienne Barbeau tell ghost stories on the local radio station.

Sometime in the night that chilling fog rolled in off the Pacific and back out again. I had left the screen door on the deck of our room open and my father was awakened by the chill in the night. Thankfully no ghostly lepers were on the deck with rusty hooks, but he did get quite cold… and my car was covered in dew come morning.

To me it was like a free car wash! I have a chamois-covered sponge just for occasions like this. 😉

Breakfast is excellent, and dad stays for the “Driver’s meeting” and collecting the route instructions in our turn while I’m out sponging down the car and getting it ready for the day. Being car#51 means we have a bit of a wait to start, and most of the field is gone before Dad emerges with route in hand. While I wait for him I shoot some photos, the most amusing of which is a large party of men pushing a tiny little Alfa Romeo:

It seems that car #56 had a newly built 2-liter engine with 10:1 compression, but the old starter just wasn’t up to the task of turning this tight, taut machine over on this cold morning. Driver puts the Navigator in the driver’s seat and tells her to get ready to bump-start it. He can’t budge it alone and a crowd gathers to assist. Crowd can’t quite get the momentum required, so the crowd grows even larger. In the end there are EIGHT GROWN MEN shoving this tiny, lightweight car across the grass with herculean effort! They round the building without having this car so much as sputter, much less start. The Navigator admits to me later (at dinner) that she’s left the parking brake on. 😉

The Alfa started, eventually.

It was kind of enjoyable to wait out on the grass covered Otter Crest cliff as it emptied of cars.

Eventually it was so empty that I moved the 65E out to a nicer location in an attempt to get a nice image… maybe for the 2008 XKEData.com Calendar (Hi Roger!) Unfortunately the light wasn’t perfect, and that damn chain link fence was always in the way.

While I was circling the car, looking for the best angle Dad arrived and climbed into the Navigator’s seat and commenced his calculations. I just stood back and took pictures and let him do what he needed to do.

He eventually gives me the signal that it is time to go. We fire up the 4.2 XK and roll up the hill to US 101. We have a Transit stage up 101 to a TSD which starts somewhere north of Depoe Bay. It is cool and crisp. 101 along the cliffs is in shadows and we’ve got the heater blowing. At some point I’m roaring north at around 60 MPH when the route instructions fly up and blow right out of the car! Dad, who was deep in calculation (the navigation was minimal… drive 20-some miles north on 101!) and comes unglued. I manage to hang a pair of fast U-turns, keeping an eye on the letter-sized sheets of paper as they are flung around in the slipstream of several cars. I actually pull of a “Raising Arizona” -style grab out the driver’s side door. (Courtesy of YouTube, you can check that pop-culture reference right here… The key moment comes at 6:41, but go ahead and watch the whole clip for context… a classic.) Dad is as flustered as Holly Hunter in that clip, but I manage to stay as calm as Nicholas Cage. The parallels are uncanny. =)

Route instructions retrieved, we manage to get to get to the staging area for the first TSD with a mere minute to spare. The #53 car, the MGB GT is sitting there and the Driver expresses shock at our tardy arrival. We briefly tell the story of the route sheet ejection and retrieval, and then start our TSD run. This stage is another long, long moderate-to-low speed run. Based on our obvious odo/speedo drift from yesterday Dad calculates a reduction of .10 miles every X miles. I really don’t know exactly what he calculated, he just had me add a tenth every few minutes to the running tally. Looking now at our scores it seems to have worked. More on that later. One VERY interesting bit about this stage… at the dinner last night the Rallymaster let us know that he removed a 10 minute wait at the start of this (one of the reasons we barely made it) because we were ‘competing with another event’ along the route that day… namely a PARADE DOWN THE MAIN STREET OF A LITTLE TOWN (Sieletz OR) PARTWAY THROUGH! Five cars came after us, and I know they all made it, but I’m sure it was close, as the cops were out with lights flashing and the streets were lined with people as we came through. Wow. I follow Dad’s directions and we complete the segment and begin the transit to the next. It is quite convoluted and we almost get lost a couple of times. At one point it is obviuous other rally cars are going straight and dad has me zero my odo at a stop and go left. I’m quite confused, but I’m just the driver so I follow his instructions. It turns out that it was a called out break between segments with a gas stop straight ahead. We had half of a tank so he had me just jump to the next transit. Skipping the gas stop put us into the middle of the pack, so we ran quite a bit of this transit in a big pack of rally cars. We had a wonderful run with some Alfas and a big Healey, until on a particularly rough stretch of road my ammeter again starts it’s overcharging dance. I pull over at a wide spot to attend to the obviously shaken loose alternator wire and the Healey who had been following us pulls over and expresses disappointment that we pulled over… we ruined his fun!

w00t!
w00t!

I grabbed a Leatherman tool to put a bit of crimp in the spade connector in the hopes that it will stick to the alternator a bit better. (It does.) Drop the bonnet and roar off to an empty road. We catch up to the pack shortly before we arrive at the staging area for the next TSD. It is a dusty gravel area next to US 20 and is a scene of mass-confusion. The rally staff have the ‘O.C.’ sign out (could be off-course, could be ON?) and they hand us a “congratulations, you are on-course” slip of paper as we arrive. My brain tells me that something is afoot, but I don’t know yet.

mass confusion at US 20 staging area!
mass confusion at US 20 staging area!

The hard running of the transit burned off a lot of our gasoline so we zoom off to the nearest town up US 20 (Philomath) to top up. We find a Chevron station and feed the big cat, and high tail it back to the staging area. We’re in time to see the first few cars leave for the TSD. Dad goes off to confer with other navigators about dumb drivers or something and I sit and watch the rally cars on-course (or are they?) as they come and go. I see people falling into traps all around me… and am curious enough to start reading the directions my dad has left on the clipboard in the passenger seat. I don’t have a map, but I’m pretty sure I see the trap the rallymaster has laid. I recognize where we are, where the cars are emerging from the road we just came down, and why some are making a HARD left just as they come into view. I also recognize the town where we just filled up with gas (route instructions always call out speed change signs on highways). I feel well-armed for the coming segment, which has obviously been designed to be the rocks upon many a rallyists ship will break. Sometimes being at the back of the pack (parade anyone?) can be a huge risk, but here it may pay off for us. In the middle of me doing all this work a police car and later a fire truck roar through our midst with lights and sirens going… I think little of it. However a few minutes later and a few minutes apart rally cars come into the staging areas from on-course and report one of our own… crashed. The Morgan (seen above) Plus 4 comes in shouting that we have to stop the TSD. The murmur goes through the crowd that the Lancia Aurelia GT is upside-down in the ditch about a quarter mile away. This casts a pall over the group and eventually the course staff quietly go around to everyone and inform us that the TSD segment has been cancelled and we are to head off to lunch… directions pick up at instruction #6 on the rally route sheet. We head off toward lunch… and promptly get lost just past Philomath. Perhaps my earlier confidence was completely unwarranted! We eventually wander into Corvallis and a park there for lunch. Delicious burgers.

The next transit has a blatant OC error that traps us (two damn 60 second penalties … on TRANSITS!!! GRRRRRR!!!!) I recognize it but too late to take action. Oh well.

We arrive at the next staging area, at a community center. I park the car in the shade, and watch cars leave one by one. I decide to capture them in movie form so you can enjoy the sounds:

The Bentley

An Alfa

A Porsche 356

Another 356

An Alfa Spider

Of course, what road music would be without a 12 cylinder Ferrari?

I grabbed a few still photos as well.

This was yet another long, low-speed TSD through the coast range mountains along a Forest Service road. Looking at the scores it is obvious we had finally nailed down our drift, as we actually got better scores as the segment went along. The penalty times at the checkpoints got lower and lower as the segment progressed. Too bad we must have miscalculated somewhere since they were all between 17 and 3 seconds off. Oh well, given the situation I think my dad did an awesome job.

A short transit lead us to the coast, and a staging area at a city park parking lot near a bridge and beach. (seen in the masthead photo at the top of this page)

Above: The Barofskys prepare for the next TSD segment in their Morgan.

Above: The Navigator gets a welcome respite on the beach.

That last picture above was taken just outside the car, looking south along the beach. The Oregon Coast is a terrific place.

Our turn arrives and we head out. The segment starts right at a traffic light on US 101. This leads to a conundrum. Do you zero the odo and just HOPE the light goes green at your appointed time? Or do you leave early and creep along the shoulder, right in the middle of a town and then try and hit your first mark (a speed change sign on the big bridge) at your appointed time? We opted for the latter after watching the light through a few cycles. Thankfully there wasn’t a checkpoint right after the turn, or we’d have been dinged by almost a full minute. I’m sure a lot of motorists though to themselves “Oh look, one of those famously unreliable Jaguars on the side of the road!” as I crept along the sidewalk. Rally rules say you can’t come to a full stop (except by traffic control actions such as a stop sign or traffic light, or where specifically directed by the rally route sheet) so I crept slowly along the bridge until we hit that sign and I knew I could open it up. We ran this TSD, a very short segment with minimal directions and only one checkpoint. The rally master was standing at the roadside holding up a “Free Zone” sign after the checkpoint. It is a wonder nobody ran him over! 😉

Two transits took us back to the hotel.

1 Comment

  1. how were the people that crashed then Chuck? car?

    Jerome

    Comment by gondwana — August 16, 2007 @ 4:55 pm

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