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August 14, 2008

Monte Shelton Northwest Classic Rally: Results & Trip home.

Filed under: 08 Monte Shelton,Cars — chuck goolsbee @ 11:29 pm

Rally results were not available at dinner on Saturday night. Instead we were treated to a guest speaker, Bill Warner. Mr. Warner is an noted Automotive journalist and photographer, racer, and founder of the Amelia Island Concours. He treated us to stories about running the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Sea Memorial Dash back in the 1970s. It was quite enjoyable.

We also learned from the rallymaster that the problematic pre-lunch segment from that day was going to be “taken care of”… which was good news for us. Apparently our instinct that the timing was off (even before we got lost in the “free zone”) turned out to be right. The rallymaster had apparently made some timing errors in the TSD calculations and it was indeed a violation of the laws of physics to stay on-time on that segment. With that tantalizing tidbit in our minds we finished our wine and went off to bed.

The next morning I got up and moved the car closer to our room from the parking area in the field (I placed our car’s rose on the Mercedes 230sl being navigated by Lauren Fine, parked next to the 65E… I figured she’s appreciate it more than Dad!) and wandered off to breakfast and the awards ceremony.

There were 80 cars in the Rally (and another 5 in the Tour), and “medals” were awarded to the top 50. Places 1-though-10 received Gold; 11-25 received Silver, and 26-50 Bronze. Last year we earned a silver medal by finishing in 18th place. Our goal was to improve on that. In this year’s other technical TSD rally we managed to improve just one place from the year before. We hoped to do better than that for this year’s Monte Shelton, and we felt confident in our performance. We were in 11th place after the first day and would have been very happy maintaining that. Given our run yesterday though we didn’t have a lot of hope though. Of course the unknown factor to us was just how much everyone else screwed up, or did better as the case may be. The key to winning at any competition is not only doing well yourself, but also making fewer mistakes than the other competitors.

They read off the places in descending order so we kept expecting to hear our names in the “silver” category… but it never came. Then when they named the 9th place finisher they called us out. NINTH place! Out of 80 cars and only on our second time to this very tough rally! We were, and still remain, ecstatic about this result! We racked up 240 penalty points. The 1st place car had 82, second 138, third 145, fourth 158, fifth 162, sixth 168, seventh 223, and eighth 228. Had we not collected that off-course penalty we would have placed seventh. So Dad got us to seventh place, but I dropped us to ninth.

Unfortunately we had a long drive ahead of us and the prospect of the traditionally BAD northbound I-5 backup on Sunday afternoon, so we had to leave the breakfast and dash.

Dad was still packing while I was out playing Tetris with the E-type’s minimal boot. I had packed light, even leaving out a day’s shirt on the assumption that I’d get one from the rally this year. Of course, Murphy’s Law kicked in and we didn’t get shirts (I had to wash one of mine in the hotel sink and hang it up to dry!) but instead they gave us blankets. I always carry a blanket (from the 2006 GTTSR) so the last thing I need right now is two MORE blankets. Thankfully the GTTSR blanket has nylon webbing straps and buckles around it, so I just snapped it to the luggage rak to make room in the boot for our luggage plus two new blankets! (and no shirt! =P )

While I was handling that situation, Vidur Verma and his navigator Cecilio Rodriguez arrived to start packing up their 1938 BMW 327/28 which was parked next to the 65E. We spoke for a bit as I admired his car. They too were going back to the Seattle area and were thinking of alternative routes. I told him how we planned to go, and shot a few photos of his car.

Shocking what changes happen in 30 years of car design, isn’t it?

We chose this route, which avoids the trouble-prone sections of I-5 for weekend traffic:


View Larger Map

Additionally, is route brings us close to the Windy Ridge observation area on Mt. St. Helens… a truly amazing place. Dad has never seen the devastation area up close, so it was a worthwhile trip. Unfortunately we found two issues once we arrived: The mountain was completely shrouded in clouds, and the road to Windy Ridge was closed. Oh well, this route was still a far more enjoyable romp through western Washington than I-5!

We looped south and east around Mt. Hood, also shrouded in clouds:

Then down to Hood River, over the bridge there, then along Washington State Route 14 along the north shore of the Columbia River through the Gorge. This was familiar territory to me, as my son Christopher & I traveled it back in 2003 in the Jaguar on our first rally together, The Run To The Gorge. This section of road, along with the tunnels have been immortalized in a semi-famous YouTube video:

The fun starts around 2:30.

We did not have a video camera this time, but the route, road, and tunnels were just as fun as they were five years before. Just past them Dad’s phone rang and I had to slow down to quiet things for him to talk, eventually pulling off to allow him to carry on a conversation. Good thing too as there was a Washington State Patrol car waiting there:

We drove up and past Mt. St. Helens, enjoying every inch of that wonderfully twisty road. People rave about roads like Deal’s Gap, but I have to say I’ll take these roads out west over those anytime. Unlike there, I had over 100 miles of twisty two-lane, with lots of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gear driving, all while tugging the steering wheel this way and that with a smile plastered across my face… and we saw MAYBE three other cars. It was heavenly!

We dropped down the other side to Randall, then up through Eatonville (where a Local Cop gave us a “thumbs up” as we drove by… even though he had another car pulled over for a ticket!) then up to I-5 north of Puyallup. I dropped Dad off at my sisters house, and headed home to Arlington. The E-type is resting in the barn now, with a few minor bits of work to do before the 2008 GTTSR. I’ve placed our “Gold medal” next to last years’ Silver in my “trophy case”:

…and the Abarth Zagato steering wheel I bought at the auction is now on my office wall:

This rally was a ton of fun! I’d love to run it again next year. HUGE kudos and thanks to my AWESOME navigator, my father Charles Goolsbee. He is the one truly responsible for our excellent placement in the standings… he tells me where to go and how fast… I just press the loud pedal and turn when he tells me to.

4 Comments

  1. well done to you both … an entertaining read once again – thanks

    Jerome

    Comment by gondwana — August 15, 2008 @ 1:39 am

  2. Thanks Jerome. Stay tuned for Mark Collien and me on the GTTSR in a little less than a month. No competition, but an awful lot of driving!

    Comment by chuck goolsbee — August 15, 2008 @ 8:36 am

  3. doesn’t seem like nearly a year ago that you did that one…

    hope you can get the tail pipes straight by then! 😉

    Jerome

    Comment by gondwana — August 15, 2008 @ 10:09 pm

  4. Congratulations; excellent result, Chuck (and Goolsbee Sr). Next year I’ll be chasing you!

    Comment by Mad Dog — August 17, 2008 @ 11:53 pm

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