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November 14, 2009

Oh, I forgot to mention

Filed under: Cars,Writing — chuck goolsbee @ 12:11 pm

My review of the 450sl was published on The Truth About Cars earlier this week.

November 2, 2009

Another classic car review in-process…

Filed under: Cars,Writing — chuck goolsbee @ 8:52 pm
Chuck throws the Panzerwagen around a track.
Chuck throws the Panzerwagen around a track.

I’m writing another one of my reviews of a vintage car for TTAC. This time the 450sl. It’s been cooking for the past couple of weeks, with lots and lots of edits and do-overs. I usually write pretty effortlessly, but this one has been frustrating for some odd unknown reason.

I’d love some feedback, if you have any… so go have a read here and add your comments.

October 30, 2009

Cringe worthy word abuse

Filed under: rants,Weird Seen,Writing — chuck goolsbee @ 9:09 am

I’m not a grammar nazi. I don’t correct people in mid-sentence. I don’t flame people online who make language missteps. I can’t even profess to being mostly correct in my writing as lord knows I abuse it constantly with ellipses and parenthetical statements (as I’ll soon demonstrate … d’oh!) I’m sure all my English teachers would tell you I was nowhere near the top of their class when it came to grammar. Sometimes though I see things that make me cringe.

I have pre-built RSS searches that scour Craigslist’s “Free Stuff” section for things I use to make BioDiesel. One of those searches is the word “barrel”. When I was setting up my system I needed barrels and why pay for one when somebody is always giving it away somewhere? I no longer need barrels (in fact I should give a few away!) but occasionally people give away a barrel full of stuff (waste oil, veggie oil, methanol, Diesel, etc) that I can use, so I leave the search there in my preferred RSS reader, Safari.

I swear, at least once or twice a month, this one comes up…

It is not always this person Samantha giving it away. I’m sure she is not an idiot, and in fact could very well be a very nice person. Most people I’ve met named Samantha have been nice. I even dated a wonderful woman named Samantha when I was in college. But … THE WORD IS WHEELBARROW DAMMIT! Wheelbarrow. Look it up!

ah… there … I feel so much better now.

October 22, 2009

A Father & Son(s) Road Trip: Seattle to LA, and Back. (Part One.)

Filed under: Cars,father-son roadtrip,Writing — chuck goolsbee @ 7:50 pm

Note: The following is a re-write of my father-son road trip story for the JagMag.

How to carry the ideals and concepts into the future? This is the question heard often within the old car community, frequently in the guise of a pressing problem: declining club membership. “How do we get young people interested in old cars?” I wish I had a few bucks for every time I heard that question, as I’d be comfortably retired now with the full set of dream cars in my Garage Mahal.

The answer is simple: Engage the young directly.

Introduce them to cars the same way you were introduced to cars. Have them help you work on your car. Show them how things work. Make them a partner to your passion. Take them for a ride, or better yet… Let them drive! Lose the idea that the car is a precious and fragile object, and remember that it is really your passion for cars which is precious and fragile. The passion is what needs preservation and care far more than the car itself. Throw away the “Do not touch this car” sign. A car is a multi-thousand pound industrial object made of steel, glass, and rubber, and it can not be hurt by being lovingly touched, or fervently used as its designers intended. However, without someone to carry on the passion the car (and the club) will inevitably vanish. The car will follow the passion as it is ignited in the next generation(s). So stop treating your old car like it is made of dragonfly wings, and start sharing your passion for cars with somebody young.

Like many, I came by my love of all things automotive from my father, a dyed-in-the-wool sports car nut. My childhood was filled with Mustangs, MGs, car shows, and trips to Can-Am races. This didn’t instantly turn me into a car nut, but it planted a seed. Like all seeds the “car guy” bent lies dormant while more pressing items of life are attended to. Cars become a secondary concern in young adulthood as education courtship, family, and career come along. Automotive desires are restrained, but always remain just under the surface. Now in middle age, resources are available to explore this passion personally, and like my father did with me, share it with my two sons. They attend club functions with me, Sunday drives, wrenching in the barn, rallies and road trips.

Road trips are quintessential journeys of discovery and there is no better way to take a road trip than in an old car. Old cars break down social barriers and invite everyone to be your friend. Stop for gas and people naturally come talk to you. They ask about the car, tell you stories of the one they, or somebody they know owned and wish they’d never sold. Sometimes old cars just break down, but even then I’ve always found that help is closer at hand than you would imagine – other hobbyists will often come to your rescue or assistance. The road is a car’s natural habitat, not the concours field, and seeing an old car traveling the back roads of America is an inspiration to everyone that captures a glimpse of it going by. How best to discover and nurture the seed of passion for cars than taking my kids on a road trip in their grandfathers old E-type?

A road trip we’ve always wanted to take is a tour of the West Coast, and we chose this summer as the time for this trip. My oldest son is nineteen years old, and my youngest is fifteen. In a few years they’ll be gone so, for events like this the time is now. But how to deal with the mathematical reality of a two-seater and me, plus two kids? Division of course! Can’t make one kid from two. Can’t add another seat to the E-type. But the trip can be divided into two parts. We’d acquire a pair of one-way tickets between Seattle and LA, one kid would go southbound, the other return on the northbound route. Our plan begins to formulate, with specific things to see and do along the way, people we’d like to visit, and our very own Rules of the Road (Trip):
Road Trip Rule #1: No Interstates, unless unavoidable.
Road Trip Rule #2: No fast food.
Road Trip Rule #3: Route follows whims, weather, and no fixed schedule (except the flights!)
Road Trip Rule #4: Travel light, travel cheap.

Interstates are great for getting somewhere in a hurry, but they are dull ways to explore as you are insulated from the environment. While traveling the superslab you are surrounded b noisy trucks, fast food places clustered around every off-ramp, acres of concrete and asphalt. No thanks. We’ll find back roads and twisty highways. We’ll read historical markers and take meals at “mom & pop” places. If the view is nice, we’ll stop and soak it in. If we’re tired, we’ll stop for the night. Our days will not be dictated by a timetable, except for the flights that trade the boys’ places in Los Angeles. We’ll pack a tent and camp out if it suits us. We’ll visit friends along the way. We’ll carry tools and spares and be as self-sufficient and self-determined as possible.

All the while we’ll savor the experience of being together, with this amazing machine. Sir William’s Sixth Symphony serenading our ears. The wind in our faces. The whole west coast to see in an old Jaguar! Stay tuned for next month where you’ll read about the southbound journey in Part Two.

All of our stuff, plus spares, in the E-Type boot,
All of our stuff, plus spares, in the E-Type boot,
Toolbox and tent on the luggage rack. Ready for takeoff!
Toolbox and tent on the luggage rack. Ready for takeoff!

September 25, 2009

Monte Shelton Rally Magazine Article

Filed under: Cars,Writing — chuck goolsbee @ 3:43 pm

The following is a “publication-friendly” edit of my Monte Shelton write-up for the “Jag Mag” a monthly put out by the Seattle Jaguar Club. It is still in progress as I whittle it down from my usual verbose report. I started off with ~5000 words and hope to get it down to close to 1000. I’ll pick a few good photos to accompany it as well. Check back often.

My father and I have been TSD (Time, Speed, Distance) rallying now for over eleven years and you would think by now that we’d figure out how. The one thing we have learned is that when we’re on, we’re on. But… when we’re off, we’re REALLY off. For the past three summers we’ve attended two, highly competitive vintage TSD rallies together in the Pacific Northwest. Every June we join the Classic Motorcar Rally, and every August we’ve run down to Oregon to participate in the Monte Shelton Northwest Classic. Both events provide formidable challenges for the vintage rallyist, while being great fun for all.

We’ve settled into the roles of myself at the wheel as Driver (and under the bonnet as Mechanic); and my father, Charlie Goolsbee doing all the really hard work in the Navigator’s seat. We’ve done well, with constant improvement in our finish positions each year. Our best run at the Monte Shelton was last year; we finished 9th out of 80 cars. In our June effort at the Classic Motorcar Rally we blew the first morning, becoming lost on the second segment and spending the rest of the rally recovering. We feel very confident about the 2009 Monte Shelton. They’ve altered the format a bit, making it easier: there will only be ONE, non-hidden checkpoint per TSD segment.

The key to our success will be to STAY ON COURSE.

At the start in Portland. John & Olivia Morrow in their 1966 E-type FHC.
At the start in Portland. John & Olivia Morrow in their 1966 E-type FHC.

The 2009 Rally begins in at Monte Shelton Jaguar in downtown Portland with much fanfare, flag waving, pomp, and circumstance… but due to our low number (#13 of 50 cars) we miss most of it. Instead we’re following the course’s first transit segment out of Portland south towards Lake Oswego where we’ll be given TSD route instructions. Once armed with the route instructions Dad starts building our pace notes and I do what drivers do when waiting for a start… wander around, chat with other drivers, and try to relax until our start time.

The Navigator does all the hard work.
The Navigator does all the hard work.

Time arrives for our first TSD segment. After a bit of tricky navigation we settle onto a large 4-lane road going southbound and I ask my navigator how long we’ll be on it. He replies “It looks like we stay on it until the end of this segment.” Then we see rally cars with confused occupants going the other way – never a good sign. Soon after we realize why. Things we should have seen remain unseen and we start trying to figure out where we’ve gone wrong. Dad finds it: we missed a left turn, labeled as “straight as possible” in the route instructions, but we missed it as the main road was in a curve. I drive fast to make up time and near the end of the segment we pass the checkpoint, two minutes and four seconds late. We’ve already missed our start time for the next segment and Dad is giving me instructions rapid-fire as I drive at a hurried pace. About four miles into the second TSD we realize we’re lost… again! We backtrack to the very beginning of the segment and recognize that we went straight at the start rather than right. I drive right at, but not beyond what can be described as “reasonable and prudent” for three short TSD segments. Passing Rally Cars with numbers in the mid-20s at first, and eventually those closer to our own #13. Dad is beside himself and I’m just single-minded on getting us back to our proper position. We know we’re very far behind our time and I keep pushing ahead when I can. We pass a checkpoint, whose course workers are getting a good laugh at our pace, and manage to arrive at a rest stop between segments with a few minutes to spare before our scheduled departure. From here to lunch we stay on-course and on-time on one TSD and a long transit stage.

Sigh. When we’re off, we’re REALLY off.

Sealed with aftermarket weatherstripping.
Sealed with aftermarket weatherstripping.

The weather turns all Northwest on us as we ascend Santiam Pass after lunch. The top goes up and I seal it with my usual bright yellow duct tape. Without this “aftermarket weatherstripping” the top of the windscreen becomes the lip of a waterfall, which pours down upon the driver’s hands and the navigator’s calculations. We’d prefer this trip over the Cascades to be less eponymous of the range, keeping ourselves and our workspaces dry. We arrive in Sisters, Oregon bathed in sunshine and jammed with vintage sports cars drinking gasoline. While waiting in the queue I drop the top, and recalling the rainy weather forecast I retain the yellow duct tape by applying it to the nose of the car. If it rains I have a pre-sized weather-strip handy.

From Sisters we rally northward on back roads in the area between US 97 and the Cascades through ranches and farms. Two TSD segments bring us to Madras, and finally to our base of operations for the Rally, the Kah-Nee-Tah Resort. We feel pretty good about our performance as it seems Dad & I have gotten back on our game.

Remember the yellow tape from the Jaguar’s top stuck to the nose of the car? All night at dinner I had people asking me “What’s that yellow tape on your car for?” At first I answered truthfully, but as it involves a long explanation after the third time I just started making things up:
“It is holding the headlights on.”
“Oh, that is to increase visibility.”
“Without it the engine falls out.”
“I put it on to confuse people. It is Confusion Tape. It is working!”
I have to admit, this was enjoyable. It became something of a mental exercise to come up with good ones.

Hey what's that yellow tape on your car for? ... Why, CONFUSION of course! And it appears to be working.
Hey what's that yellow tape on your car for? ... Why, CONFUSION of course! And it appears to be working.

At dinner the day’s results are passed out and we’re in twenty-ninth place out of forty-five cars. We promise ourselves that we’ll do better tomorrow and wander off to bed.

When we’re off, we’re really off.

The next morning we take off for the first segment and about a mile down the highway perform a four-wheel drifting panic-stop and a hard reverse maneuver as we ALMOST miss a turn. Not a great start of Day Two, but we recover in time, and in fact finally fall into our groove. Other than a bit of confusion in the town of Culver, where I’m certain we missed a turn but somehow managed to recover nonetheless, our entire morning seems to go by very well. The afternoon consists of progressively more difficult TSD segments, twisting and turning all over the rolling hills and canyons of north-central Oregon. We stay in our Zen-like Rallying Groove with only a couple of minor errors. At the finish the Jaguar gets the traditional end-of-rally collective car wash, in a party atmosphere complete with a keg of local microbrew.

Charlie Goolsbee, serious Navigator.
Charlie Goolsbee, serious Navigator.

At dinner we hear a talk by racing legend Janet Guthrie, and afterwards hear the Rally results. We have moved up to 19th place (from 29th), collecting a “silver” medal for the effort. Not bad considering! The scoresheets are handed out and they tell a far more intriguing tale. On the 10 TSD’s today we collected the following penalty times: 0:01, 0:00, 0:11, 0:02, 0:02, 0:04, 0:02, 0:02, 0:19, 0:10. That comes to a grand total of 0:53 seconds off the entire day. Only one team did better than us, with 0:27, and they won the whole rally. Only three teams collected less than two minutes of time, and most accrued four minutes or more. If only we could have done as well yesterday! We’d be right in top tier.

Like I said, when we’re off we’re off, but when we’re on, we are really ON!

The Monte Shelton Northwest Classic Rally is a charity event hosted by the Alfa Romeo Club of Oregon. It generally takes place in early August and is open to any 1981 or older collector car. The rally starts in Portland and travels scenic back roads of the Pacific Northwest. This years’ event had seven Jaguars in attendance. The rally offers a “touring” class for those who wish to participate but not compete. For information and registration visit the Alfa Club’s website at

September 11, 2009


Filed under: Cars,rants,Thoughts,Writing — chuck goolsbee @ 4:25 pm

I’ve had a series of thoughts rolling around in my brain for a while, and a comment made by Robert Farago made them all gell and roll out all at once. I offered it to him as a sort of “rebuttal” to his statement and he published it today. You can read it here:

I normally “preview” things I write here on my blog, but this one came out so fast it never had a chance to show up here first, sorry.

May 21, 2009


Filed under: Cars,Review & Criticism,Writing — chuck goolsbee @ 8:40 am
A nice Summer drive in the North Cascades.
A nice Summer drive in the North Cascades.

My “review” of the E-type has been published over at The Truth About Cars this morning. Go over and have a look. It differs quite a bit from my original after the editorial process. I’m OK with that. As a more of my work is published it seems to happen more and more. Goodness knows I need a good editor! Mr. Farago has been fun to work with so far.

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