My previous postings have been mostly lovely scenery and some explanation of challenges presented and met with our mechanical conveyance(s). It’s hard to ignore the big, big West around us (and the media guys do a great job capturing car shots – see their post from yesterday, including Car-to-Car shots). Maybe a bit more tech today.
It was already 89 degrees when we left beautiful uptown Elko, NV, bound for Evanston, WY. Why? Because why not. We feared another hot slog, but we were treated to a much different opportunity.
First, to reduce the adhesion of our backs to the vinyl seats, we stretched T-shirts over them. A quick but very significant improvement. We loaded our cooler with ice and the very finest beverages (sugar-free!). That little extra effort cost us our start time, though and we left 90 seconds late. I did some quick calculations and we ran 20% over speed, which buys back one second in every five – so we did that for 450 seconds. It was pretty close – on that one-hour leg we scored off just 6 seconds – and that was our worst one today!
The second leg was a stop & turn extravaganza (perhaps to balance John Classen’s route karma with yesterday’s long-haul truck run). Lots of 15 and 20 mph brief runs and stop signs.
We did a transit back on I-80, way better than doing freeway that as a timed leg. Ethan could actually look at the scenery rather than the speedo. We climbed up through Silver Zone Pass at 5940 ft, and another at 6967 ft. Those high hills really cut down the power of these old cars. Air pressure at 6000 ft is just 4/5 sea level, so it’s like having a reverse supercharger (supersucker?), pulling 4 psi right off the intake. Most of the cars made these grades though, and stopped for gas at Wendover, NV. In 1980, Sue and I camped there in our student tent, in the middle of an RV lot! Fond memories. We cruised down to the Bonneville Salt Flats, where the speed runs are held. Not now, though as rains have left it soft and even a VERY shallow lake in places. Still, pretty cool stop!
Coming down to Wendover, Bonneville Salt Flats Ahead
Sven at Bonneville Speedway on the Flats (Ethan at Wheel)
I-80 across the flats was astonishing. I took a windshield snap with Fat Farley’s help, every twenty minutes. Here they are.
20 minutes in – watch the mountains in the distance grow as time passes!
Eighty minutes – note mountains are closer!
One Hundred Minutes, and there is growth, both in weeds and the mountains apparent size as we approach, slowly.
The immensity is hard to comprehend. As Ethan began to melt mentally, we resorted to balancing ice cubes on his hat, letting them drip to brain-cool and keep him alert!
Improvisation is key to success! And that ice cooler was the best investment we made all trip (well, except maybe buying Sven the squealing Volvo)!
Sven was a true moose today. It gave me a chance to think of what we’ve done so far to keep him in shape: brake light wiring; coolant pipe leak repair; steering box adjustment to reduce wander; flat tire replacement (stem failure); blower motor bearing renewal and duct clearing (to get some flow in the footwells); windshield washer pump and nozzle repair; high-beams flash fuse replacement; interior light switch (OK ,not truly necessary for this duty, but we had the electrical tools out); and carburetor tuning and damper oil renewal. Note that we’re down to the less life-threatening details. Indeed, as I write this, today – no needed repairs at all! We sleep the sleep of the faithful!
We can’t say that for all the cars, though. After a second tight corners section, we swung past the Great Salt Lake and Salt Lake City (the Mormon Tabernacle is hardly visible anymore for all the tall commercial buildings). We then entered a beautiful canyon and pulled the big hill out of Salt Lake City, up through the Wasatch range, to Parley’s Summit Pass at over 7000 feet.
That grade is steep and long, and we passed multiple Race cars sputtering along at below 40 mph or pulled over with overheats and vapor lock. The Nissan Cherry couldn’t do it. The Mercury Cougar couldn’t do it. The Caddy Eldorado couldn’t do it. Sven did it.
Over the top was like another world: green rolling hills and farms, and probably twenty degrees cooler than in the basin before. We passed promontory, UT (where the golden spike was drive to join the transcontinental railroad, just a few decades before the oldest of the Great Race cars were built. We did some miles on a remnant of the old two-lane Lincoln Highway, beside the modern I-80, and under that first railroad, now partly a trail. We had the better view and less traffic!
Although we did have one moment of rally panic – a hay wagon pulled out right in front of us. We were closing on him quickly, but he did get up to speed – and then turned off. We just sneaked by without breaking speed. Whew! One of the unexpected twists of rallying.
Our evening stop in Evanston, Wyoming was relaxing.
We had a very good day, No breakdowns, no uncorrected errors, and accurate running, with a total score of just 15 seconds, including two legs at just 1 second. A really good day (Excellent days require at least one zero-second Ace)! Overall, we’re in about 60th place just now, so we’re not exactly in the money, given our challenges so far. On the other hand, we’re here and we’re running. The race is down to 105 cars from the original 120 entrants, so being here is not nothing! To Finish is to Win! jc