Well now, That’s More like it! This was a really full day!
With our little Swedish Substitute car (aka Sven the Skveelar), we are working out the bugs and refining our methods. We have had no time to work out the usual acceleration and stop times, so we’re using a method of continuous error offset, which should be independent of the actual rates up and down in speed. If, say we have a 15 second stop, and come in at 20 and out at 40 mph, and we’re 3 seconds behind (we think), then I’ll shoot for a 12 second stop, and figure the actual by having Ethan (driver) call out ‘Mark!’ as he passes through the half-speed points: 10 mph on the way down, and 20 on the way up. I start the stopwatch on the first call and count down to a go at 4 seconds less than the 12 I’ve targeted (one for each 10 mph outbound). When Ethan goes then and calls out his second mark, halfway up to 40 mph, I stop the watch. In theory, the time from half-speed to half-speed is the same as an instant stop time. If we guessed well on the target and deduction, the stopwatch will match (in this case at 12 seconds). If not, we carry the difference between target and actual to the next event and repeat the procedure. In this way, even not knowing the accel/decel times, we continually correct for any guesses we make that are imperfect. In theory, it should all work out! And indeed, no ace today, but we had a one-second leg and all the others were under 15 seconds error.
We began with a run out of San Rafael with a ceremonial send off there. Great fun as we filled Fifth Street as we’ll do in each town along the way for lunch or dinner stops. Ww were even visited by a local engineer named Ulf, who worked in the Volvo plant when our car was made! He signed the inside of our trunklid!
(Engineer Ulf: worked in Volvo factory where & when Sven was Built)
Then off the same overcrowded highway for a calibration run that was inevitably interrupted by bumper-to-bumper cars. In this case there were some collisions that made it worse (none of the Great Racers, but locals). Still, we got our setting right today. We arrived late at our start, but we knew it and accounted for it. Once on the timed legs, we had some fun twisty roads. We saw our first ‘Muggles’ (that’s what we call folks who pull up lawn chairs out in the country, to watch the parade of Great Race cars go by over a 2-hour period – a great, free show for them).
(“muggles” enjoy the passing show)
We crossed onto the historic Lincoln Highway at Vacaville, where we stopped for lunch. We discovered the engine was running a little warm because it was drooling coolant! We refilled the radiator with drinking water: no need for antifreeze this time of year!
We also spoke with Cheryl and Neil Patton, whose red Porsche 356 (cute!) had been in front of us, when it ought to have been after us today. It turned out our main clock had suffered a vibration fault that made it go almost exactly two minutes late! The mechanism had slipped out, so the minute hand couldn’t pass the hour hand! We started late after lunch because of that, but figured it out and ran fast to make it up. We got part of it back, but hit a checkpoint before cancelling it all, so we put in a time delay request for the error – I figured we still had about 1 minute 40 seconds still to go. That got us within 13 seconds on that leg!
We rolled through MILES of almond orchards today (and a few rice paddies, of all the crazy things in this nearly waterless area!). Billions of perfectly even and aligned trees in every flat spot among the golden brown hills of chaparral. Lovely country in its own way, though I think I’ll stay in the green East as home. Water is everything here – and the most notable built structures are all about the water: levees (we drove along one); aqueducts (or bare supports for those long gone); storage tanks, and irrigators. A little livestock here and there. We even passed a zebra! (OK, may have been a quagga – hard to tell apart at 45 mph).
(Fat Farley Enjoys Scenery – Eager for Cooler Hills Ahead)
It got warm today, too, with a strong sun all day. We made two notes for future reference: vinyl seats are hot and sticky. Also, we should fix the blower fan (our feet are toasty).
When we arrived at Sacramento, our venue was the old part of town, now preserved to show how historic California was in its first heyday. Really nice and fun zone – all restaurants and such now, but still the exteriors look like 1880. We noted the puddle under Sven’s front bumper and decided that needed attention before another rally day.
When we reached the hotel, we dumped our stuff in the room and then found an auto parts store. We worked in the parking lot under a lamppost, to find the leak: conveniently and invisibly located in a steel line right up under the exhaust manifolds! We bought epoxy and rubber hose and clamps. We drained the coolant (by now, just rusty water), dried and sanded the leaky pipe, and made a poultice of waterproof epoxy, wrapped a split length of rubber hose around all that and secured it with hose clamps. We’ll refill coolant in the morning. While out there, we also repaired a balky brake light – just a bad connection.
(Ethan fits clamps on epoxy-rubber hose poultice, working by Feel, right under the hot exhaust manifold)
Today was also about outfits. The Caldwells ALWAYS look sharp in their Prohibition-era duds -really sharp with their Big Auburn. Team Toyota surprised today though with some surprisingly louche outfits from 1966 – sort of Wild and Crazy Guys meets Hippies meets Lounge Lizard. Why NOT? For us, it was a moment of Swedish bonding. We taped pictures of Sven over the speedster logos on our team shirts (using the same red duct tape that forms our speedo mount), then we adopted new mock Swedish names, too, and wrote them on the duct tape on our shirts. Ethan became Stig Toöitt. I became Axel Brökkin.
(Infamous Mock Swedish Racers Axel Brökkin and Stig Toöitt)
We passed through Yolo County today. YOLO is often used as short for You Only Live Once. How appropriate! What are the odds that we would be on this race, especially after our speedster failed – how likely we would find a worthy replacement in one day – how cool to make through a first full day of Great Race rally with that car; father and son against all odds! OK, it’s put a significant dent in the Mastercard, but really: Priceless!
More Great Racing Tomorrow! All for now, jc (I mean, Axel Brökkin)