2009 Classic Motorcar Rally: Final results & trip home.

Apologies for not posting this in a timely fashion. As usual my arrival home triggers a complete change in priorities and the wrap ups get postponed.

On the Sunday morning after the rally finished we gathered in the ballroom for the results and a nice brunch. To our eternal surprise Dad & I finished 4th in class, and 5th overall, which means that we actually improved over last year’s 6th place finish. This despite having blown an entire morning’s worth of checkpoints on Day 1! We accumulated 49 penalty points over the course of the rally, but only 11 of those were on-course, meaning that had we managed to stay on-course on Day 1 we’d likely finished in the top three cars. There is no way we could have won 1st place, as the Chockie-Slavich team in the little red Alfa managed to only accumulate THREE points the entire rally. The Beckers in the old Pontiac came in 2nd with 8 points, and the Olsens in the BMW CS came in 3rd with 18 points. The Swansons driving the BMW Z3 accumulated 22 points to win the Modern class and capture 4th overall.

We were awarded trophies for our performance, which in typical Doug Breithaupt style are model cars. Ours are BMW 503 roadsters, plus my car received a trophy for the best-finishing British car, which is a model of a Series 3 E-type.

Dad & I packed the car and headed up to Swartz Bay to catch a BC Ferry over to the mainland. We arrived within 20 minutes of a sailing to Tsawassen and were loaded aboard the big boat.

loaded on Deck 5

We left the car and found a comfy spot on one of the passenger decks. I occasionally wandered outside to fire off a few photos to capture the atmosphere of the ride for you:

Leaving Swartz Bay. Portland Island on the left, Vancouver Island on the right

I call this on the BOOM FERRY as it is obviously set aside for flammable & explosive loads they don't want on the big boats.

Exiting Active Pass, which is a narrow passage separating Mayne Island and Galiano Island, and looking north-east across the Georgia Strait to the Lower Mainland. You can just see Point Roberts (a geopolitical oddity) in the US at the right edge of the horizon.

A similar size BC ferry passed us going southbound through Active Pass, which was quite a sight. Two big ferries simultaneously crossing a very narrow, twisting channel:

After we made landfall at Tsawassen we drove north(a tad unintuitive) then east to get to the US border. The status sign on Highway 99 said the Peace Arch Crossing had a 90 minute wait, and the truck crossing queue was 60 minutes. I declined both and continued east to the next crossing just north of Lynden, WA. There the wait was measured in less than 5 cars. We zoomed through and headed home down I-5, arriving home mid-afternoon. We celebrated our excellent standing with a dinner at La Hacienda with the entire family.

2009 Classic Motorcar Rally, Day Two

I wandered out to the parking lot after breakfast while dad attended the “Driver’s Meeting” (really a Navigator’s Meeting) to shoot some photos for upcoming “Name that car” guessing contests. Here’s one for you now in fact:

you see these every day!

Yes, the Classic Motorcar Rally has a “modern” division where any post-1979 car can enter. This year we had three entrants, a BMW Z3, a Porsche 911, and the car above.

Duane Crandall warms up the old Aston.

Those of us “Drivers” with old machines were attending to them: checking oil, warming them up, looking for loose or fallen-off parts. Any owner of an vintage car can relate I’m sure. No parts seem to have fallen off the E-type yet, and while I suspect a few bolts may be loose, I haven’t found them yet. I did top off the car’s oil, as it was down about a quart. (Yes Paul, I only fill to the bottom of the hash marks!)
The car ready, I found Dad just as the meeting was finishing. After yesterday’s Off Course debacle I spent some time after my dad went to sleep with the route instructions and the detailed map of Vancouver Island we bought at a gas station to allow us to find out how to get to lunch without following the route (otherwise we never would have been able to run the second half of the day!) Rally route instructions are vague enough that a map is not really cheating… it does not show you road signs, or how intersections work, which is vital for correct navigation. I did however roughly trace the route and then make notes on the route instructions of where the likely traps were located. We felt far better prepared, and should we get off-course, we should be able to recover much faster.

The first segment was a long TSD’s and we felt like we did very well. It started with miles and miles of 18.7 M(30 km)/ph speeds on a very twisty, one-lane road with NO checkpoints. At least none that we could see. Low speed segments are very tough to do, as you tend to creep ahead, and making alterations and corrections is really hard. For me it was 30 minutes of driving in 1st gear at 3000 RPM, which even in a car as wonderful sounding as the Jag gets on your nerves. We had one bit of excitement midway through when I tapped on the horn as we rounded a blind curve (Dad was warned of the potential of motorcyclists on the road) and the horn stayed on. It took about three minutes of tapping the horn button to get it to turn off. All the while I had to maintain my pace, and drive this crazy one-lane insane road. At least the chance of collision with a biker or deer (which we saw plenty of today!) was reduced for that time. I guess I have to open up the steering column once again once I’m home. The second half of the segment was faster, and covered a lot of ground up the Saanich Peninsula of Vancouver Island. We feel like we were on-time for most, if not all the checkpoints, at least according to our calculations. The next segment was Monte Carlo near the airport with the start at a park, and the stand-off and finish at a school. You had to approach the stand-off from the west, and the finish from the east. The Rallymaster was not there due to some mix-up and the segment did not go off well. We ended up not having enough time to run it as intended (circumnavigating the airport) and gave up to go to the next TSD start. The people who did run the Monte successfully just “cheated” by going past the finish going west, U-turning, and then finishing east-bound. The Monte counted only for bonus points, and we were so far out of the running that a -2 wasn’t going to help us.

The Olsens of La Conner, WA waiting for their start time of the next segment in their BMW Coupe.

Dad, doing the same.

The next TSD was insane. Likely the hardest of the whole rally. Endless looping and lots of navigational choices NOT laid out in the route book. These have to be made on the fly, based on the road signs available, even those facing away from you, to determine which is the right road to follow. This segment just looped and looped, with only one checkpoint that we could find, which we passed at least twice:

approaching a checkpoint at 30km p/hr

passing it again

We felt very confident of our times. We’ll find out Sunday morning how well-placed that confidence was! From the end of this TSD we took a long transit stage to Sidney BC for lunch in a park. Along the way we filled the Jaguar with high-test gasoline:

94 Octane!

The Rallymaster's 308 at lunch

car guys talking about cars

More to come…

2009 Classic Motorcar Rally: Day One

Above: Team Mental Midget at the start!

We lost the Rally within a couple of hours of the start. We’ve racked up so much penalty points that we’re as mathematically eliminated from 1st place as the Chicago Cubs usually are away from the National League Pennant by the end of July.

We started calm and confident, and even made the first checkpoint at what we assumed was perfect time. We had all the complicated stuff down cold: Timing & Speed. Where we had to be and when. What we did was make a completely boneheaded error, missing a left turn at a stop sign (if you can believe that!) Somehow my dad lost his place in the route instructions and told me my next turn was an acute right at something called “Lovers Lane” (really!) at 8.6 miles into the second segment. Unfortunately he missed the “Left Turn at Stop” direction that was twoish miles before that one. We sailed through the stop and drove about 3 miles, looking for a right turn that wasn’t there. By the time we figured it out we were so far behind that we pretty much had blown that segment.

Of course then we suffered the curse of the off course: The Passive-Aggressive Citizen Traffic Watch. Some guy in a pickup truck was making sure that EVERYONE drove the 50 Km/Hr speed limit. He had two cars backed up behind him while he moseyed along at 45. Those two cars turned off onto side streets leaving just us stuck behind him. I was glued to his tail looking for a chance to pass with the hope that we could get to the start of the next segment before it was scheduled to start. No passing zone ever appeared. He stared at me in his rear view, and literally stopped several times on the road, while yelling at me… as if somehow his extremely bad behavior was somehow beneficial, while mine was somehow evil? I don’t understand people like this. I wasn’t speeding. I couldn’t with him leaving a slime trail as he did his slug impersonation along Lake Shawnigan Road. But he really wanted me to know that he was detremined to control my behavior!

We followed the route after finding our “Left at Stop Sign” (now right as we approached from the south) and made some time. Unfortunately the route looped and looped and we lost time trying to stay on it. Eventually we came to Highway 1 and realized that we were 12 miles from the end of the second segment and had now blown the start time for the third segment. We consulted Google Maps on my phone and figured out we were better off jumping on the Trans-Canada highway and heading north to Chemainus for lunch.

Dad was very upset with himself. He had clearly blown our chances for any sort of win, and likely any chance for a reasonable place in the standings. I wasn’t going to beat him up about it though. No need really. We zipped up to Chemanius, filled the car with gas, and found the lunch stop. It was at a place called Ennerdale Engineering. It was home of a Super 7 dealership, and a car repair shop. The owner has a Can-Am racing history.

Above: Dad inspects the Sevens

We were the first car to arrive much to the surprise of the rally master (we had called the sweep truck en-route and told them that we were proceeding directly to lunch, as no doubt they were worried about us.) The rest of the rally cars arrived soon after.

Above: the two Bentleys.

Above: Steve Norman getting his spare tire rack fixed.

We enjoyed a picnic lunch then I grabbed some shots of the cars collected at this place, many of which will show up as “Car Photo of the Day: Name that car!” shots soon. We then prepared ourselves for the afternoon’s segments. Determined not to repeat the morning’s performance we never missed a turn, though we were nearly rear-ended by a big Bentley TWICE (his clock is obviously off, as he was on our tail, rather than a minute behind, all afternoon!) as my brakes are WAY better, and my car much lighter than his!

We are fairly confident that we nailed the afternoon’s checkpoints and traps. The final segment was a ‘Monte Carlo’ meaning that the checkpoint was at the end… in fact it was at the hotel… and our order of departure was irrelevant.

Above: Car #1, and Aston-Martin follows us at one point.

Above: Cars 3 & 4 make a left in front of us on the Monte Carlo segment.

The Monte was easy and we nailed our time… only to have the #6 Bentley come flying in a few seconds later and nearly rear-end us …again!

Dana & Michelle Swanson arrive at the finish in their BMW Z3.

After all the cars made it back we ran to the liquor store and bought some scotch, along with some cider for me to bring home to Sue. We’re nursing our wounds with single malt right now as we prepare for dinner and seeing the day’s results. More news as it arrives!

UPDATE 11pm: If you take away our missed checkpoints we could be in 1st or 2nd place! When we were ON course today we scored: 0,1,1,0,1,0, plus a -2 bonus for nailing the Monte. Go figure.

Tomorrow will be better!

2008 Classic Motorcar Rally – Part Two.

Given the weather, perhaps we should be in THIS Jaguar!

Yes, it has been a couple of weeks since the end of the 2008 CMR, but I’m finally getting around to posting the rest of the story. When we last left our heros, they were about to leave Port Townsend on a TSD leg… I drove so there are no photos. We rallied out to Marrowstone Island, a place I had not been to since my friend Bill Dickson‘s wedding in 2001. (man… it seems like just yesterday!) We, of course, made a wrong turn right near the end of the segment, but finally ended up at the park where the segment finished. A short hike lead us to the featured car collection of this year’s Rally. Doug, the Rally Organizer always manages to find an interesting collection for us to visit and this year’s certainly fit the bill of “interesting”! This gentleman on Marrowstone Island has been acquiring cars for over 50 years and, from what I can figure… building his house around them. The “centerpiece” of the collection is a Bugatti… in his living room. From there an extended house/garage wraps around in a little labyrinth of automobilia. Some are real, some are replicas, all are interesting.

Here are some photos:

…and of course, the Bugatti in the living room!

He had several Jaguars, including one of each XK (120, 140, 150), a C-type (replica), an E-type, an XKSS (replica), and a (of course replica since there was only ever one real) XJ-13. Also found were several Alfas, an MG, a Frazer-Nash, a Lister, a (partially assembled/replica?) GT40, a (real) 300sl, an Allard, a couple of Porsches (356 & what appeared to be a 550 Spyder, likely a replica), a Lotus 7 (provenance unknown), and of course, the honest-to-god Bugatti (Type 39 I think?) in the living room.

I can’t identify a few of these cars and would appreciate any spotters among my readers to call out the ones I missed. The speed-holed Ferrari looking job had an ‘Abarth’ scorpion on the nose. No idea what it could be specifically… I bet Shaun, Paul, or Roger know. Clue me in. (Bob Moore on the Jag-Lovers E-type list spotted the Abarth before any of you. It is a 205 Vignale Berlinetta. Wow.)

From here we rallied back to the hotel and likely put our score even farther into the hole. Dad & I were just not on our game this time! Perhaps a night’s rest will help? We had a great dinner and enjoyed David & Adele Cohen of Vancouver BC share their tale of running the Peking to Paris Rally in an old Model A Ford. Astounding tale really. Besides costing phenomenal amounts of money, this is a rally that goes on for over a month. And traverses the entirety of Asia and Europe. Let me put it this way, I’ll never complain about US roads of cops ever again.

We also heard preliminary results: We’re firmly in 7th place out of 11 cars. Not as bad as we felt, but really only as good as last year… and back then we had no clue HOW to do it. We are REALLY off our game. 🙁

We awoke the next morning and rallied around in a light drizzle. We thought we were doing great, having rested well and ate a good breakfast.

Above: Crossing the Hood Canal Floating Bridge on a typical day of Pacific Northwet weather!

Above: Alan Chockie & Antoinette Slavich’s wonderful 1958 Alfa Romeo Guilietta.

Above: Lining up for the TSD start in Port Gamble.

Above: Duane Crandall & Bill Vilardi in Duane’s 1960 Aston-Martin DB4

We rallied over to Port Gamble in a Monte Carlo style segment. We’re pretty sure we nailed it, but under this format these “MC’s” are only worth bonus points and they are very easy to get right. The next TSD left Port Gamble and rallied through a fairly compact area at the north end of the Kitsap Peninsula. The route was doubling back on itself and VERY confusing navigation choices. I was driving and Dad became thoroughly confused about halfway through. We made a HUGE error and ended up back at the start! Our odometer now miles off, and our time completely blown, we consulted the route book for the location of the next segment’s start and found where that was with a map. We basically wrote off the whole segment! Following major roads we found the next start point, a Shell station on an Indian Reservation. Oddly enough, we arrived in correct car-order (we were car 5) which made it seem, to our competitors at least, that we were not as completely incompetent as we felt!

I went into the Shell station cum-cafe-cum-casino-cum-liquorstore and bought some Rain-X for the windscreen while Dad sat in the car and did Zen meditation, or Vulcan Mind Melds with his calculator, or something to try and get ourselves sorted out for the rest of the rally. Perhaps I should have just loaded up the Jag with cheap tax-free booze from the Reservation liquor store?

I got the magic juice on the window so I could see better and we set off on the next segment feeling bad, but at least willing to give it a go. We didn’t get completely lost we just made a wrong turn and ended up on the Hood Canal bridge… a four-mile mistake! Thankfully it was pretty much clear of traffic and managed to catch up and get to lunch feeling pretty good about our performance. Lunch was in a park with a boat launch on Hood Canal and a view of the floating bridge. This is where I saw the crab boat named “Jaguar” pictured above.

Above: Rallyists enjoying lunch.

Above: The 65E dwarfed by Mike & Howard Becker’s 1960 Pontiac Star Chief.

Dad scarfed down lunch and like so many other Navigators, climbed into the car to try and create a full set of calculations for the afternoon’s segments. I wandered around and took photographs, enjoying the views of the water, but missing seeing the mountains that ring the area. The clouds were low, thick, and grey.

Our time came and we drove off. FINALLY, we were doing it right. We made every turn correctly and were able to anticipate the traps and avoid them all. The last segment had us spinning around in slow circles through a residential area near Port Ludlow. Traps abounded but we never fell into any of them. How come we didn’t work like this earlier?? Oh well, such is TSD Rallying!

We finished up early and took a nap in the room… both of us completely worn out. Dinner was very nice, with Steve Norman sharing his “auto”biography, an annual tradition at this rally where a participant talks about the cars they have owned. Annie & Steve also showed photos from their recent winter rally in the Canadian arctic.

Prior to breakfast a Photographer from the local paper came and shot some photos of the cars. We assembled them on the side of the hotel:

Above: Phil Rome arrives in his 1969 Fiat 500.

Above: Nancy Dinh & Lauren Crandall pose next to their 1969 280sl.

Above: David & Goliath. The Fiat 500 parked next to Annie & Steve Norman’s 1964 Bentley S3 Continental.

After the photog was done everyone crowded around the pre-war Bentley and gave the right seat a try.

The gearshift is on the right side, unlike every other RHD car I’ve seen. Very odd. It is a 4.5 liter built in 1939. The car spent most of its life in the Southern Hemisphere, either Argentina (where it was raced actively during and after the war) and New Zealand.

We all gathered for the awards brunch on Sunday morning. To our eternal shock, we didn’t come in dead last. In fact we didn’t do that bad overall… 6th place, one better than last year’s performance. First place went to Duane Crandall & Bill Vilardi in that very nice Aston-Martin DB4. As tough and technical as this rally was, nobody came out without at least SOME penalty time, so we didn’t feel too bad but we do recognize that we need to get our act together for next year. We’ll have another go at this style of event in August for the Monte Shelton down in Oregon. We will do better there.

My dad had a plane to catch so we headed down to Winslow on Bainbridge Island. I could tell from the oncoming traffic as we crossed the island that a ferry had just landed… unfortunately traffic was such that as I pulled into the tollbooth JUST as the horn sounded and we missed it by just a few minutes. Oh well. We sat for another 40-some minutes for the next boat over to Seattle. At least we were loaded near the front.

Above: The iconic view of the Smith Tower in downtown Seattle as you arrive by ferry.

I drove dad up to my sister’s house to drop him off for a later ride to Sea-Tac, and met up with my brother-in-law and my nephew Ian. Ian got to drive the Jaguar:

Pretty cool huh?

2008 Classic Motorcar Rally.

The 2008 Annie & Steve Norman Classic Motorcar Rally is finished. I don’t know our final standing, but I can tell you it won’t be very good. Dad & I were way off our game and did not do very well. Perhaps I can blame it all on the weather! 😉 We’ll find out soon, but in the meantime here are some photos. I’ll add more soon, so check back.

Above: Dad buckles into the Navigator’s seat to start the Rally. The top is up since it is raining. 🙁

Above: The start under the archway of the Inn at Port Ludlow.

Above: Rallymaster Doug Breithaupt gives us a countdown for the start.

We roared off, only to find our odometer not working! We reset it and it started functioning, but this first leg was an odo calibration section… so we were screwed.

Above: Annie & Steve Norman’s 1964 Bentley S3 Continental.

Above: Susan & Ken Olsen’s 1973 BMW 3.0CS

Above: Adele & David Cohen’s 1939 Bentley 4.5 Liter.

Above: Dad working on route/time calculations.

Above: Michelle & Dana (inset) Swanson, in a 1991 Mistubishi Galant VR4. They do gravel rallys in this car.

At a rest stop the Navigators all get serious and try to do as much pre-calculation as possible. Meanwhile us drivers just stand around and look stupid… or in my case, take pictures. 😉

Above: Car 1, a 1958 Alfa Romeo Guilietta run by Alan Chockie & Antoinette Slavich.

Above: A lovely little blue Fiat 500. Phil Rome, the driver ended up swapping it for a Jaguar XJ6C halfway through the first day (he is local and lives in Port Townsend) as the little Fiat could not maintain speed up long hills.

The weather was just downright crappy. The forecast kept giving us a glimmer of hope, but it never really delivered. It just kept spitting rain, mist, showers, and sprinkles all day long. We finally got a sunbreak late in the day and actually dropped the top on the last segment, but it stayed up all the next day.

After lunch we visited a grade school in Port Townsend and all the kids came out to see the cars. I tilted the Jaguar’s bonnet up to give the kids a thrill.

Above: Mike & Howard Becker’s 1960 Pontiac Star Chief (another father/son team.)

Above: The interior of the BMW coupe.

Above: Duane Crandall has a look at the engine compartment of the 1969 280sl driven by his daughter Lauren. Of course once a bonnet goes up, the boys all gather to look.

Above: Red sports cars are always a hit.

After the school, we caravanned to Bergstrom Automotive in Port Townsend, a wonderful shop in an old Hudson Dealership one block off the waterfront. It is chock-full of automobilia! My dad bought a Road & Track magazine from 1960 with a road test of a 300sl roadster. They had zillions of old car mags, books, parts, signage, etc. A gearhead’s paradise! The prices seemed very reasonable too. I highly suggest a stop there if your in the area.

Above: Bergstrom Automotive.

Above: Waiting for our check-out time in Port Townsend.

2008 Classic Motorcar Rally, Getting There.

I’m in Port Ludlow, WA with my dad, once again running the Classic Motorcar Rally. We left Arlington this morning in the rain, and chose the southern route via the Edmonds/Kingston Ferry to get here. Rode the MV Spokane, arrived at the hotel, checked into the rally, attended the welcome meeting, and had a nice dinner. This hotel has the world’s worst Internet connection, so bear with me for the next few days.

Still trying to fix my weird electrical issues in the 65E. I “hot wired” the fan to the “Map Light” switch with a fused wire so at least now I can cool the car off if I need to. Mind you that is unlikely since it is freezing fricking cold and raining! My horn doesn’t work either and I ordered a relay from SNG. It arrived *literally* as we were leaving home. I went to replace it after we arrived at the hotel, only to find it is the wrong part. Grrrr.

Thumb twiddling…

bonnet cleaning

I can’t drive the car and I can’t really work on it either… so I might as well clean it. I had it pretty clean before, but the second day of the Classic Motorcar Rally in June was done on a miserable rainy day (I need to post photos from that at some point!) and the car got filthy. So I spent a rainy weekend a couple of weeks ago scrubbing wheel wells, cleaning wheels, and since I have the bonnet unshackled from the frame, scrubbed areas which are usually impossible to reach. Hard to see in the photos above due to the flash but they are sort of a before and after shot… I scrubbed the area that gets pelted by the debris from the front tires, with brushes and sponges… then rinsed it off with a swipe from the pressure washer.

rear wheel

I also flossed the wire wheels… always a pain in the ass.

Of course the weather has turned wonderful again… all I can do is wait while my steering rack get rebuilt.