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July 8, 2009

2009 Classic Motorcar Rally: Final results & trip home.

Filed under: 2009 CMR — chuck goolsbee @ 2:04 pm

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
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
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.
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.
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.

June 28, 2009

2009 Classic Motorcar Rally, Day Two

Filed under: 2009 CMR — chuck goolsbee @ 8:35 am

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!
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.
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.
The Olsens of La Conner, WA waiting for their start time of the next segment in their BMW Coupe.
Dad, doing the same.
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
approaching a checkpoint at 30km p/hr
passing it again
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!
94 Octane!
The Rallymaster's 308 at lunch
The Rallymaster's 308 at lunch
car guys talking about cars
car guys talking about cars

More to come…

June 26, 2009

2009 Classic Motorcar Rally: Day One

Filed under: 2009 CMR — chuck goolsbee @ 6:44 pm
Above: Team Mental Midget at the start!
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
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: the two Bentleys.
Above: Steve Norman getting his spare tire rack fixed.
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: 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.
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.
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!

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