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September 11, 2008

2008 GTTSR: Going To The Sun Rally, Day Five: Wind & Rain.

Filed under: 08 GTTSR — chuck goolsbee @ 6:01 am

Another touch and go post here from the hotel in Bozeman. Yesterday’s JagCam footage from Missoula, down to Lost Pass, then over to Big Hole, Jackson, Virginia City & Ennis:

You will note it was VERY windy and the cam got wobbled around a lot. In fact it fell off a couple of times too. We eventually shut it down as we drove into the teeth of a big storm.

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September 10, 2008

2008 GTTSR: Going To The Sun Rally, Day Four: Whitefish, Libby, Missoula.

Filed under: 08 GTTSR — chuck goolsbee @ 4:45 am

Lots of photos today, as I had a ride in Philippe Reyns’ SS100! None to post yet however, as we had dinner with a friend in Missoula. Until I have some time to edit, post, and write…. here is the day’s “JagCam” footage with a little Rush thrown in:

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September 8, 2008

2008 GTTSR: Going To The Sun Rally, Day Three: The Glacier Park Loop.

Filed under: 08 GTTSR — chuck goolsbee @ 4:10 pm

Above is Gary Herzberg, your author, and our two E-types at the east gate of Glacier National Park.

Last night a rather large group of us committed to driving the Going To The Sun Road together in the morning. The plan was to meet in the hotel lobby at 08:00 and leave a group. Of course very few plans survive once the enemy is met so to speak. Some folks left early, and only 4 cars managed to leave right at eight. I imagine a bunch more left later. Of our group of four, one dropped out early, right after we gassed up, with a mechanical problem with promises to catch up later. That left us with just three cars: Mark & I in the 65E, Ron Rader in his E-type FHC, and a Renault Alpine(!) driven by Donald and Janice Polak.

Here is a map of our day’s driving:


View Larger Map

It was cold. Very cold! I drove since I knew that Mark would want to shoot photos and soak in the scenery, which is truly amazing. Did I mention it was cold? Brrrrr. The route stayed in the shade until we were well up on the GTTSR’s headwall. Its rays were tantalizingly close along most of the drive, but the warmth did not make it down to where we drove. Those who know me understand that I actually prefer cold weather to warm, and would gladly choose to spend my days at Ice Station Zebra or McMurdo over Miami Beach, but I have to admit wishing I’d blanked off the radiator this morning. Every time we stopped I put my gloves onto the bonnet louvers above the exhaust manifold to get some warmth for the next segment. No radio, no GPS, no AC, but I’ve got a glove warmer!


Above: The Jaguar’s Built-In Glovewarmer.
Photo by Mark Collien.

We left Whitefish and found our way east on US 2 to West Glacier and the entrance to the park.


Photo by Mark Collien.


Photo by Mark Collien.
Above: As we waited in the queue to pay our entrance fee there was an old Datsun 240z ahead of us.

Fee paid, we went on in, and drove through the cool shade for a long ways until finally we broke out into the sun as we ascended the rally’s eponymous road.


Photo by Mark Collien.

Not long afterwards, just after the road makes the hard turn after the tunnels going up the headwall, we ran into a construction delay. My guess is that this is the reason the official rally route did not go through the park this year. The Going To The Sun Road is undergoing a repaving project and the delays were fairly long. We really didn’t mind however as it gave us a chance to wander around and soak in the views. (Around 2:28 in the JagCam movie)


Photo by Mark Collien.

A little further on we came to a wide pull-out and encountered another Rally car, a Ferrari Daytona being driven by W. Malcom Barksdale and Donald Shaw. I pulled over and the others followed suit. Another round of chatting, picture taking, and wandering around ensued. A Park Service tour bus pulled up, one of their vintage White/Fords so I had to go over and admire it too.

They are national treasures, with deep history and a connection to the park. (2:56 to 3:04 in the JagCam movie)


Above: The Daytona pulls out.


Above: Our little group… right before it split up.


Photo by Mark Collien.


Above: Logan Pass is the low point between the peaks. The Going To The Sun Road hugs the headwall along the left side of the photo all the way up.
Photo by Mark Collien.

We stopped several more times on the way up. The other cars left us behind, eager to reach the pass. I preferred to linger on this road and see the sights. I know that some folks get acrophobia while driving this road I actually enjoy it. The slope looks vertical but in reality is far from it. There are only a few places along the road that have any big exposure and even those are mild compared to what I’ve experienced in my climbing days. On one of the stops we were treated to a large male Bighorn Sheep grazing on the heather. Cars streamed by along the road and never knew it was there. Gotta stop and look around folks!


Above: A roadside pause on the way up.
Photo by Mark Collien.

We finaly made it to the top of the road at Logan Pass (3:45 in the JagCam movie) and Mark went off to shoot photos while I just basked in the sun and chatted with folks in the parking lot. As I was standing there Gary Herzberg and his son arrived, having fixed their brake issue and made their promise to catch up to us. When Mark came back we decided to carry on with Gary & son down the other side and around via the loop to US 2. (4:30 in the JagCam movie.)


Above: Gary’s FHC finds us at the top of the pass. Note the White/Ford tour bus, and fresh snow on the peak behind us.


Above: Another view, of all four of our little group in the parking lot of the Logan Pass visitor’s center.


Above: Gary Herzberg & Mark Collien hanging out at high altitude.


Above: No satnav for me!
Photo by Mark Collien.


Above: A construction delay on the way down the east side of Logan Pass. (4:40 in the JagCam movie.)
Photo by Mark Collien.

Gary, his son Chris, and Mark & I sped off eastwards towards St. Marys Lake, another visual highlight of Glacier Park. We stopped at one overlook for quite a while. We shot photos as our cars drew a crowd. I did my usual “go ahead and have a seat” routine with people and had quite a few takers. (5:08-5:11 in the JagCam movie.)


Above: I’m standing in a spot to ruin everyone else’s photo, while I take a photo of photographers trying to shoot photographs. (say that 3 times fast!) This was right before the crowds arrived.


Above: A random guy sits in my car for his wife to take his picture while I try to capture the scene.

I sat on the rock parapet for a while soaking in the lines, shape and color of Gary’s early Series 1 fixed head coupe. What I had always assumed was black turned out to be Opalescent Dark Blue. What a great color! I figured this would be a great spot for a great shot for the XKEdata.com calendar, so I waited for a parting of the crowd and grabbed this shot:


Above: Beauty shot of the Herzberg FHC.

I hope Roger likes it for his yearly effort… we’ll see. From here we drove east and there was a particular vantage point that I wanted Mark to see, as it is an iconic Glacier Park photograph view… almost overdone to the point of being cliche. Somehow I managed to drive right by it though, so Mark, now you know what you missed! 😉

Instead we stopped along a side road near the Park’s east entrance and shot some other photos, including the shot in the banner at the top of this page. (5:46ish on the JagCam movie.) Here is one without the two ugly guys messing it up:

The change of geography and environment from wet/west to dry/east is just as dramatic here in the northern Rockies as it is in the Cascades in Washington. Amazing.

We zoomed off south along US 89, an amazing road in its own right. This area had been ravaged by a forest fire mere days before my father & I drove it on the 2006 GTTSR. It had recovered some, but the evidence of the fire was still all around. This year, since we had to return to Whitefish via US 2 we chose to take Montana Highway 49 which is marked on the map as ‘Closed in Winter’… those are usually fun roads. Indeed it was a fun road.

It was so much fun that I kept leaving Gary & Chris behind! So I pulled over, let them catch up, and motioned them to lead the way. (6:35 in the JagCam movie.) Now Mark could get good photos!


Photos by Mark Collien.

What a great drive. Amazing views, and lots of wonderfully twisty road.

After all that steering wheel tugging we were hungry. At a quick roadside meeting we decided to grab a lunch at the old Great Northern Railway Glacier Park Lodge. The lunch was just “OK”, but the facility was amazing. The columns and joists of the building are HUGE Douglas Fir trunks (I am way too familiar with that particular species of tree!) Very impressive. I wandered around a bit while we waited for our meal to arrive and soaked in the history of the place. An American landmark from the height of the rail era in the early- to mid-20th century. If you are in the area make a point to visit this structure. (6:57 to 7:20 in the JagCam movie. I sped that sequence up to make the time pass more swiftly, and the effect of the clouds going faster was really cool… however the YouTube conversion, or perhaps my render just filled this part with compression artifacts. Yuck. Oh well.)


Photo by Mark Collien.

After lunch we traded navigators. Mark rode in Gary’s car, and Christopher Herzberg rode with me. This allowed Mark to get some photos from a different perspective:


Photos by Mark Collien.

The views from US 2 were very nice, though not in the same league as the Going To The Sun Road through the Park. The difference was like viewing a baseball game from the left field bleachers as opposed to along the third base line above the dugout. Amazing what one valley over will do for perspective.

To be ready for the morning’s resumption of the main Rally we gassed up and traded our navigators back (9:41 to 9:49 in the JagCam movie.)

We arrived back at the Lodge, to find Don Kaitz’ Corvette still undergoing its parking lot mini-restoration:


Photo by Mark Collien.

I keep telling him that he’s gotta get himself one of these nice reliable Jaguars for rallying! 😉

We wandered up to the room and I spent a few hours it seemed either wrestling with my computer while editing the JagCam footage, or napping while long video imports and renders took place. Eventually we gave up and went into town for some pizza and beer. I ordered one of my famous “triple death” specials (Pepperoni, Jalapenos, & Garlic) which I ended up regretting later as some killer heartburn kept me up all night(!) Man those Jalapenos were HOT! This gave me the opportunity to get the JagCam movie finished and uploaded to YouTube though, so my pain is your pleasure. Enjoy:

Don’t try to figure out the lyrics to this music, unless you know Icelandic of course.

Tomorrow we drive the ‘Better than sex highway’! Stay tuned.

2008 GTTSR, Helena to Whitefish: Going To The (SUN!) Rally.

Filed under: 08 GTTSR — chuck goolsbee @ 5:58 am

Great day, as the sun came out! It was also a relatively short driving day. Here is the JagCam footage:

We left Helena at the back of the pack, as we had some issues getting the JagCam mounted and running properly on the back shelf of the interior. Mark did a fine job taping it into place, but I had laptop-related issues.


Photo by Mark Collien

Above: Chuck mutters bad words about his laptop while Gary Herzberg loads up his ’63 E-type FHC in the background.


Photo by Mark Collien

We kept the top up as scary clouds loomed to the northwest and a view of the weather radar showed rain and snow where we were heading. Leaving Helena on US 12 we basically retraced the route from last year’s last day, where I rode in Philipp’e XKSS and later Wayne Golumb drove the wheels off the 65E. No such driving today, as the roads were wet. Leaving US 12 and heading north on MT 141 (one of my favorite roads, ever) we encountered the two red E-types of Garth Norton on the side of the road with one of the Rally Mechanics tending to the Series 2. (You can see me talking to them about 1:24 into the JagCam movie). They lost an alternator bearing. The mechanic had re-belted the water pump to the front main pulley and they carried on under battery power alone.


Photos by Mark Collien

Above: Scenes along US 12 west of Helena.


Photos by Mark Collien

Above: Scenes along Montana Highway 141.

It rained on us, off and on as we continued to the Paws Up Ranch for a mid-morning coffee break. I had noted that the steering column had gained a pronounced wobble, while losing its usual groaning noises. When we arrived at Paws Up I inverted myself into the driver’s side foot well to asses the steering column situation (around 2:36 in the JagCam video.)


Photos by Mark Collien

Above: Scenes along Montana Highway 200. The Reyns’ SS100 and the Mattei Allard, complete with Mountain Man headgear.


Photos by Mark Collien

The u-joint looked good and the connections were tight, so I fired up my blackberry and asked a question of the E-type Cognoscenti on Jag-Lovers. They confirmed that it was the column bushings, so the car was safe to drive. The repair can wait until the car is down for winter maintenance.

Our exit from Paws Up was delayed by Kathy Nell, who needed some help with the XKSS. Philippe Reyns helped her block off the car’s radiator to help it run a little warmer in the cold mountain air. I got down on my side to help Philippe with the task, running some duct tape up the passenger side of the radiator.


Photos by Mark Collien

We dropped the top, as the weather appeared to be breaking for the better. We pulled out of Paws Up with Mark driving the 65E and I was ready to whip him mercilessly to drive like the wind as I wanted to photograph the rally cars ahead of us.


Photos by Chuck Goolsbee with Mark Collien’s camera.

The light was perfect from behind us… but my camera batteries were dead! So we pulled into a gas station where Montana 200 and 209 met. I ran in to grab some batteries and go… and some guy who was aimlessly wandering the store literally stepped right in front of me as I was reaching for the package of AA’s. Grrr. Then he managed to do the exact same thing when I turned to go to the register! THEN… he went to pay for his candy bar with a damn credit card! Finally armed with a functioning camera, we flew northbound.

Thankfully there was some RV traffic which slowed up the cars ahead of us and I was presented with the near-perfect setup for some trademark chuck shots:

Above: Passing the Reyns’ 1938 Jaguar SS100.

Above: Passing a 911, which I think is driven by Dennis Birkheimer

Above: Passing the Henry J, a special built for the La Carrera Panamerica.

The next stop was for lunch at the Flathead Lake Lodge, which was a wonderful place. We had a great chicken dish and salad, followed by cookies that defy description. Biggest chocolate chips ever. Mark wandered around and looked at their boats, while I chatted with Francoise Reyns and showed her photos of my kids. She’s met Nick but not Chris.


Photo by Mark Collien

I snapped this shot of the restroom queues for some odd reason:

I went out front to shoot cars, since the sun was out. Unfortunately the shady setting made for challenging photography…

Above: The Henry J, and it’s unique powerplant, a Hudson 302ci flathead six.

Other than the Henry J, the light wasn’t so good for shooting, for example, here is Eric Zausner’s Iso Griffo:

See what I mean. Great car, nice lines, bad lighting.

So I switched my digicam to movie mode and did this:

yeah… not exactly Spielberg. My camera has a crappy microphone.

From here the route was through the relatively populous (by Montana standards) Flathead Valley up to Whitefish and our base of operations for the next day and two nights, the Lodge at Whitefish Lake. This is a great place and I hope to come back some time… maybe get a little skiing in, or just get away for a weekend.

We arrived and checked in, and got a great room, right at the top of the stairs on the third floor. I went back downstairs and parked the car, and found one of the rally mechanics, Don Dean performing surgery on the half-shaft of a big-block Corvette.

That’s Nick Blackman’s leg holding it in place, though it wasn’t Nick’s Corvette being worked on… go figure.

Today’s Route on Google Maps (You may need to zoom out, as I can’t get the embed link to show me the whole route.):


View Larger Map

The great day finished in a great way, drinks, dinner, and music out in a tent by the lake. Rob Quist and Jim Salestrom serenaded us into the evening past a gorgeous sunset. I left my camera in the room, so no photos, sorry.

The very first thing I did was walk up to the bar and order beers in bottles, which I immediately walked out to the rally mechanics, still busy with various ailing cars in the parking lot. They were very happy to see me carrying refreshments. After it became too dark to work they finally joined us all in the big tent for dinner, and were greeted with applause by all.

Tomorrow we drive the Going To The Sun Road!

September 6, 2008

2008 GTTSR: Going To The (Rain) Rally.

Filed under: 08 GTTSR — chuck goolsbee @ 9:46 pm

I’ll be frank: The weather today just plain sucked. It rained, and rained some more, and then it rained. Did I mention the rain?

Thankfully, due to the wonders of information technology both Mark & I knew today was going to be like this, so we were prepared. Last night we battened down the hatches on the 65E as best we could: Rain-X on the glass, aftermarket weatherstripping applied to the top of the windshield, and preparing the interior for two ~6-foot guys folded into the cramped cockpit. Since the wide-angle adapter of the JagCam was full of water I relocated the cam to the interior of the car.

We dragged our butts out of bed in time for breakfast, but somehow managed to miss the drivers meeting while we were packing the car. Francoise Reyns provided me with the details we needed, and we went out and got the JagCam running and managed to leave at the back of the pack. Here is our route for the day… most of it proscribed by the Rally Route Book but some of it improvised later in the day:


View Larger Map

We left Bozeman and went north, passing a few rally cars. Then we came to a 6.3 mile long straightaway that begged for a high-speed run. I won’t admit in public how fast I drove, but watch the JagCam footage and note that I pretty much passed the entire rally of hard-driving sports cars. Have I ever mentioned how much I love this E-type, and Montana, as a combination? (Starts about 1:10 in the JagCam movie.)

The first car dispatched was an Iso Griffo being driven quite hard. What follows is a long string of Porsches, Jaguars, Ferraris, etc all being run by like they are standing still. from 1:00 through 1:30 in the video basically.

We then stop for gas, since I was burning it at a prodigious rate, and Mark noted that my fancy ITG air filter had broken.


Photo by Mark Collien

The element is glued to a plastic ring, which is held to the plenum by a metal ring. The glue has failed. Ironically I had some inkling that this would happen since several other folks who own this type of unit have notified me in advance. I re-glued it at lunch time and tie-wrapped it together to allow the glue to set. We’ll see how that works.

The next stop was lunch at the C. M. Russell Museum in Great Falls. I snarfed down my lunch, then went to work repairing my filter. I also grabbed a few photos:

(By the way, Mark has been shooting more photos than me… and they are awesome! Way better than my work. Have a look for yourself.)

After that I went back in to wash my hands and was met by somebody with some Jaguar problems. A misfire. I went to have a look and sure enough, the fuel filter bowl was filled with crap… water, rust, sediment, etc. I pulled it off the car, then while cleaning it out had a clumsy moment and cracked the glass bowl. D’oh!

With some silicone, and some duct tape, I made an attempt to repair the bowl.


Photo by Mark Collien

I actually think it would have worked, except I pinched the rubber gasket (which was very old and worn) when I reinstalled the filter it leaked pretty bad. The rally mechanic showed up and took over. He found a similar glass bowl at a NAPA nearby and the XK 150 was on the road again. I ordered a new OEM Jaguar glass bowl from a west coast supplier which I had shipped to the hotel in Whitefish. Hopefully it arrives in time.


Photo by Mark Collien.

We got back on the road ourselves. Since we were now very late we took the I-15 shortcut towards Helena. Once going that way we decided it would be too short, so we sought out a way to rejoin the rally route west of us on MT 200. It took us two tries, but we found our way and enjoyed it much more than the Interstate.

As you can see the weather broke as we approached Helena. The camera fell off about 10 miles outside town and stopped recording. You’ll also note that the camera was mounted inside for most of the day… sorry about that but given the weather I didn’t have much choice. We tried mounting it a few other places but this spot on the window was the only one that the mount stayed put. I also had problems with it swiveling on the mount for a while in the morning. I promise a better location for tomorrow, especially if the weather cooperates.

We checked into the hotel, took a short nap, and then enjoyed a nice live auction for charity hosted by the Govenor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer. He spoke to us about the state and its history, and did an amazing job as an auctioneer.

Let’s hope the sun comes out and the rain goes away tomorrow for the drive up to Whitefish.

September 5, 2008

GTTSR: Getting there, Day 2. Rain.

Filed under: 08 GTTSR — chuck goolsbee @ 10:39 pm

We awoke to a beautiful day in southeast Washington. The car ran well. The weather unfortunately did not. I drove from Walla Walla to Lewiston, Idaho. We stopped for gas and Mark took over driving. I really wanted him to experience driving the car on the wonderfully twisty and enjoyable US 12 through Idaho’s Lochsa Valley.


View Larger Map

At one point before we got to the Lochsa section I was composing an email on my phone when suddenly the car was in a full-on braking skid. I looked up and a guy in a pickup truck was making a left turn right in front of us. Mark found out how well the brakes worked, and how controllable the car was in a panic stop. For some odd reason I remained perfectly calm throughout the whole event. The guy aborted his turn and thankfully the vehicles never made impact. I went back to my email and Mark just kept on driving!

Mark enjoyed the run, and I actually fell asleep(!) I guess I’ve driven this road too many times. I did wake up though when the temp dropped. The sun vanished and the clouds came out. Mark had never removed his coat from this morning, but here I was in a light shirt and shorts… getting quite cold. I asked him to stop and put on my coat… and fell asleep again. I woke up sometime later getting rained upon. From 15 miles shy of Montana, pretty much all the way to Bozeman it rained. Heavy at first, but then lighter as we went east. Yuck. We finally gave up on the downside of Lolo Pass and put the top up. I took over driving. We grabbed a late lunch in Missoula (losing an hour going to Mountain Time always screws me up!) and hit the Autobahn for Bozeman. I managed to put it quite a bit of time at 90+ MPH. I even rolled past a Gallatin County Sheriff at 85. Have I ever mentioned how much I love Montana?

The JagCam got soaked. The wide-angle adapter is filled with water. I’ll have to get it some sunshine or dismantle it to address this. Oh well. It will ride inside the car tomorrow!

We arrived in Bozeman about 6:15 and checked into the rally (a bit late) and rolled into downtown Bozeman for dinner.

We’re back at the hotel now and the top is up and properly rain sealed, with Rain-X applied to the glass. Tomorrow we drive north to Great Falls for lunch, then south to Helena to stay the night.

I’ll upload today’s JagCam movie as soon as it is done.
Video is done, but getting horrific upload bandwidth here at the Hilton in Bozeman. >:-o

September 4, 2008

GTTSR: Getting there, Day 1. Broken Exhaust.

Filed under: 08 GTTSR — chuck goolsbee @ 6:24 pm

Above: Mark Collien soaks in the flatlands of central Washington.

Mark & I left Arlington around 8, made our way south to US 2, up and over the Cascades mountains via US 2 & Stevens Pass, then on to Moses Lake.

I routed our trip through Moses Lake WA to check out a datacenter facility (which was impressive), and as we left I broke my exhaust on a speed bump/pothole combo. Grrrr. We burned a couple of hours in the town of Moses Lake getting that fixed.

Above: The result of the impact. On the downside, it pulled the left exhaust out of the header. On the upside, it seems to have straightened out the crooked tail section of the system… go figure!

While I was huddled under the car mumbling about finding a muffler shop Mark whipped out his iPhone and read me off three shops I could try. We picked one**, called them and got directions. Within 20 minutes the Jaguar was up on a lift being taken care of.

A bit of adjusting, some re-rounding of pipe, and a new clamp later and presto!… we were back on the road.

Above: The refitted exhaust being tack welded to hold it a bit better than clamps alone.

Above: The bent clamp.

** My Pick of a shop was “Pioneer Muffler & Brake, Inc.” I had gone with my gut, and as it is frequently right. Here’s how my thought process worked and how it worked out for the better: The other two shops were franchises of big national outfits, such as Midas. I knew that if I pulled into a Midas, they’d treat me no different than any other customer. They certainly would not let me crawl around under the car and talk with the people working on it about how I wanted it done. They have corporate policies to adhere to. We pulled into Pioneer and there was a home-made race car out front, and mostly farm trucks being worked on – to me that is a good sign as farmers seek out craftsmen. I needed a craftsman, not a corporate employee. The shop was as clean or cleaner than MY workshop at home and the folks working on the customer’s vehicles were the owners, Joe and Denyse Ottmar. They moved a farm truck off the lift within a few minutes of our arrival, had me drive the Jag up onto it, all the while paying extra care (with two spotters) of the low clearance and small/narrow size of the car. Once up on the lift they were happy to have me under it with them and were friendly and approachable throughout. The whole process took a very short time and they charged me a VERY reasonable rate for their labor. Everyone was happy, most especially me.

If you are in Moses Lake and need any exhaust or brake work, you can not go wrong with Pioneer Muffler & Brake on 620 E. Wheeler Road (509) 765-6277.

By the time all this wrapped up it was mid-afternoon, so we grabbed a quick lunch at a Thai place, and hit the road. We readjusted our expectations and aimed for Walla Walla. A friend who is from Walla Walla gave me a few hints of dining there so we knew we could at least eat well. Instead of trying for Enterprise, Oregon, we’d just go to Walla Walla, eat, then stay the night there. John’s suggestion of the Creek Town Cafe was excellent. Mark & I enjoyed a fine meal and some excellent local wine. Tomorrow we drive US 12 to Missoula and then the Autobahn to Bozeman.

Here is the day’s “JagCam” footage.. enjoy!

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