This is my POSTING #9, not Potion #9, but we could have used some magic help today. Our brains were fuzzy as the miles are starting to take a toll on concentrating capacity (it just took me three tries to type out ‘capacity’ correctly!). We were a bit ragged today: no horrible errors, but just ragged.
Sorry about missing last night’s post – unless you caught it in the BLOGS section of the great race website (www.greatrace.com). We stayed in a holiday Inn and I swear they always use reject web servers that were thrown out of a demolished Motel 6, some years ago. I always have issues connecting when I stay at an H.I. In fairness, they do advertise that all their places are the same – so I shouldn’t be surprised that they all have the same problem.
Just a brief note tonight (and I hope I can get it out), because tomorrow is the final run into Bennington, VT; and we have an official start time of 6 AM. I really should sleep a bit – it might help the concentration thing, right?
Anyway, today started quite cool in Binghamton, with heavy dew on all the cars. Being on home turf, I still wore shorts; but lots of folks from warmer climes (and fully half the racers are deep Southerners) were in jackets and pants. Weather wimps, that’s all! We had to make a new flag standard for our windshield today as Yours Truly lowered the top without removing the flags last night. Whoops. NO XQS was first in the order, as the night’s stop in Saratoga is our home base!
Our brakes felt good as we rolled out, but quickly started to act up, a bit of left jerk again, though not so bad as before. It doesn’t help that we couldn’t get one adjustment cam to move, but I suspect there is still some undiscovered flaw. These ‘floating shoe’ dual-cylinder drum brakes are great when they work right, but tricky to adjust and the absolute devil to diagnose! We fret over it a bit, and in the process miss a speed change (m-u-s-t concentrate!), but we recover OK with some overspeed timing estimates. We decide to just back off to yesterday’s baby-the-brakes techniques and press on. Through the morning, the errant binder seemed to bed in and though still pulling left-ish, made no further jerky moves (leaving those solely to the driver and navigator).
We rolled through Otego, NY and Arnold Lake (well, the town, not the lake itself). Today’s course was a combo of everything: speed changes, rollercoasters, and tricky turns. We have a procedure for turns that calls for coming to a stop, marking the time halfway from the incoming speed, then immediately re-accelerating to the outgoing speed and marking the halfway-up time. That’s a time were effectively running at zero speed, so we need to run over-speed for a while to correct for that time loss. We usually go 10% over, for 10 times the effective stop time. Simple but effective. On the other hand, I don’t much like all this stop and start, especially when trying to baby the brakes, so if it’s possible to blow though a corner with just a blend of speeds (say, dropping from 35 to 30 as we roll through an open 45-degree right-hander), then I prefer to do that. Well, I got in a little deep on one of those today – a downhill left-hander that LOOKED easy – but when I got in, it tightened up more than I could see. Those new Coker radials made the difference, though. On the OEM bias plies, we’d have been picking weeds out of the grille work – and maybe our teeth, but I just brought the tail out into a smooth 4–wheel drift and powered through, straightening out once we cleared the intersection. Startled the bystanders a little, though…
We rolled on through Index, NY (who gets to pick these towns’ names?) and into Cooperstown, the baseball city for lunch. We found the obligatory hot dogs (but no peanuts or cracker jacks). That’s fine with me, but Dave trundled off to a café for some fare more befitting his internal delicacy.
After lunch, the mental fatigue really shows, even on the best days (admit it, you tend to fall asleep then, too). First off, we realized the instructions show no gas stations at the start point, but we’d already left town way behind with less than 1/2 tank, and that won’t make it through a full leg. We could run it and hope we make it or that we pass a station on the back roads (HA!). We saw a farmer out by his house and dipped into his drive to ask about a nearer station than back in Cooperstown as there was no time to double back there. He directed us (loudly) to a place about 6 miles ahead. Perhaps we was a bit deaf from years with the tractor? We had 15 minutes to our start time: you do the math – 6 miles out, fill it up, 6 miles back, all in 15 minutes. We made it with 2 minutes to spare. Whew!
Soon after we got going, Dave had a bout of right-left dyslexia and we suddenly faced a Road Closed sign! A quick whip around (yes, you can make bootleg turns in an Imperial, you just need a little more room). We were back on course after a few moments of reversal, hesitation, stops, and a touch of essential cursing and yelling. But – we were now behind the next car and so more than a minute off pace and no reference to re-start our position timing (see aforementioned cursing and yelling note). Well, we knew we were for sure in front of those guys, so it was pedal to the metal to catch them. It’s a 360-horse 413, so that took just moments and the little back road was clear when we blew right on by (at almost legal speed, – for a freeway). Once past them, though, we had no one else to key on (remember –we ran in first slot today). I just put more distance between us, hoping to get close. Sure enough a checkpoint popped up too soon, and we knew we were way off pace still – and there are no worst-score drops today or tomorrow. Rats. Big, ugly Rats!
The remaining legs were uneventful, at least in the sense that we didn’t make any more REALLY dumb moves. But like I said, we were just a bit ragged, in speed control, timing, and even communication. At one point, as we approached an intersection, some local kids on bikes tried to help by shouting out instructions and warning of a checkpoint ahead and who knows what all else. It only added to our confusion as we tried to time the corner properly. If fatigue bred paranoia, then we’d swear those kids were planted there as part of John Claussen’s evil plan!
Once off the clock, we rolled into the Saratoga Auto Museum for the evening’s festivities. This is indeed my home museum (our family is a Silver Arrow supporter). The current show is exotic Italian sports cars of all eras. I’d be pleased to have any of them but there’s one Maserati I especially have my eye on… My dear Sweet Sue, with Saving Son Ethan, were there along with a few of our local fellow car nuts to greet us. That softened the blow of seeing our times: 1 (OK), -12, 58, -30 and –13. Ouch. That dropped us from 19th to 29th overall and from 5th to 9th overall. I think our chances of a podium finish just vaporized. But, it sure was FUN!
A local photographer for ‘Saratoga Style’ magazine was there with a bevy of 6 fashion models, looking for backdrops for his photos. Of course, they had to load up in the Imperial, which easily seated them all and attracted a big bunch of gawkers, too.
We’ll post a picture here (on the great race blog version at www.greatrace.com) to save you from working too hard imagining the sight. This Imp really IS a Stylin’ Ride.
After 7 PM, we cruised over to PJ’s – the local ex A&W stand, now the best barbecue in NYS (yes, race fans, that’s how we spell it in NY). It was Biker Night, so we parted a sea of Hogs with our White Whale. And dropped afew new jaws. The Emcee there is DJ Johnny B. Goode. We were greeted by his wife, Tamara (wait for it… that’s Tamara B. Goode, and it’s pronounced Tuh- MAR-uh, as in ‘tomorrow, be good’). She gave us choice seats. She was thinking the whole race would be descending on her, but it was just we four.
Back to the hotel to write this note. I promised you some words on other folks running this race. I’ll first note that the ones who do all the layout, timing, and logistics are freaking magicians. MANY thanks. One is hometown pal Dale Kasson, who ran with us in 2006, but is working as a volunteer this year, just for the fun of being along! How cool is THAT? There’s no one here I don’t like and I’d gladly ride with any of them. I’ll leave out lots of very good folks, but time and space (and mental function) limits require no more: Car #1 is Menneto & Parizio. Jim Menneto is publisher of Hemmings Motor News and co-sponsor of the event. We’re almost neighbors anyway so we see each other often at Hemmings events. Always an upbeat sort, Jim is also the only one here with a darker tan than mine! John & Jake Auerbach are fellow New Yawkers, from Long Island, and John also ran with us in 2006 – nice guys and I hope to see them at Lime Rock next. They are running the 1950 Chrysler Panamerica racer: what a Concept! I must mention the Fredettes, father and son (with some-days participation from the rest of the family). Also met in 2006, Jeff and son are the kindest (and really good at this) – they helped us with the brake work and we often hang with them at playtime. Their Model A truck has a big American flag flying all the time, and a stuffed chicken on the front bumper (those two accessory facts are connected only by the truck). Another family affair is the Caldwells, Chad and Jennie, with daughter and son in tow. They’re one of the married couples who do this Great Race (how?!?!?). They run a big silver ’31 Auburn speedster. What a team! Super nice folks and my personal favorite accent among the whole bunch (and there are lots of accents here). Jeff Stumb in the red 1916 Hudson hillclimber is perhaps the real force behind this Great Race revival – if Corky Coker is the face, Jeff is the muscle and he is a mentor to all of us. Jarrett & Mitchell in the newest car this year (68 Mercedes) are novices who bagged two Aces on their first day. Not a one since, but their attitude is spectacular! Today, I introduced the Duckloes (father and son) in their ’66 Corvette to Ethan, who’s about the same age as the younger Duckloe. And of course, there’s Reader and Stone: grand champs in 2006, they are in many ways the soul of the event: good as gold and full of fun (while beating the pants off most of us – and thanks for the use of the jack, guys). There’s the Hausmanns in their VW bug (hopeless optimism award?), Stanley & Jenkins (another married couple, too) in the Arnolt-Bristol, rookies who are doing astonishingly well, given that they have only the old English speedo and track carburetors with no accel pumps (think on-off switches). I know I’ve left out a lot and I apologize, but this is getting long and the alarm is set for 5 AM…
Tomorrow we’re #22 in the order. We should be in Bennington and done running by 3:30. But first, that 5 AM alarm!….
J ‘hey, 5 AM is NOT even real in MY religion’ c