Great Race post 4

June 14, 2011

Well, now we’re getting serious (or as they’d say aroun’ here: gittin’ seerus). I love the accents in this part of the world and it’s very contagious. We flubbed our first mark again this morning, but it didn’t matter, because it was on the untimed transient out of Chattanooga to the official start point. We just fit in a little extra sightseeing and got our nerves properly jangled for the real run. It must have worked as we placed 6th overall for the day! We scored 21 seconds total error, including our first Ace (a perfect leg). We hauled up the Great Smoky mountains to well over 4,000 feet (bear in mind, we started at under 700 feet in Chattanooga!). The haul up into the Nantahala National Forest included a 15+ mile steep grade! I expected some of the older, lower-powered cars to suffer and die, but only a couple were passed on the roadside along the way, and only two rode into the evening show late or on the sweeper.

We had an unavoidable delay of about 50 seconds at an intersection that we made up with our formula; and it worked, we got a –11, -9, -1, and 0 second errors today. The brakes survived the long ride back down – lots of engine braking helped.

We met Robert Soule of the IML (and AACA) in Chattanooga before leaving this morning. He came out to see us, prodded by Kerry Pinkerton. He arrived in his 1937 Imperial Limousine in formal black. Lovely! We talked it up a bit but as competitors, we have pretty tight time constraints. Thanks for coming out, Robert! The cars rolled out of Chattanooga around 9AM, and we went west on I-24, instead of East. Whoops! Where we were supposed to use the freeway time for calibrating our speedometer, running at 50 mph. Instead, we high-tailed it back east once we found the next exit on I-24 to reverse. We ran some of the marked distances at 55 and 60 mph, to test our catch-up algorithm (go 10% or 20% faster and save 10% or 20% of the time over a set distance). N fact, it didn’t work out too well, as it is intended to be “go 10 or 20% faster for a fixed number of seconds to recover one tenth or one fifth of the seconds at higher speed. It’s a subtle difference but seconds matter!

Anyway, we made it in time and made a good start (unlike yesterday). The gauges dropped out again fro most of the morning run, though. But we did OK.

We had our Lunch Stop in Athens, TN. Athens is a classically laid-out little town, with a courthouse square In the center, and a commercial core around that block. All those were closed to traffic for us and we had a fine lunch courtesy of the local C of C. Hot, hot, and hotter describes the day. The Duke thermometer was into 3 digits again. And my left arm, which seems involuntarily to go up on the window sill, is getting a little reddish. Fortunately, these Athenians thought of that and most of their commercial fronts include shady porches. Dave insisted that we put up the wimp-rag (convertible top) for the afternoon.

First Stop: Athens, TN

Back in the cars, pulling that long grade to elevation, but Ahhhh, the air is fresh and cool! I’m starting to trust the car, even when it’s not telling me any gauge data. We had that very gratifying big correction (50 second delay from intersection waiting) and it worked out well. We cruised down into Maggie Valley, NC for a picnic dinner and car show at the Wheels through Time motorcycle museum. Unfortunately, all that atmospheric energy let loose just before we arrived with a whomping thunderboomer and waterballer of a storm, so we were a bit wet and so were the picnic tables. But the rain let off long enough for a brief, good dinner and show there and we retired to the local Holiday Inn in Asheville, NC.

Before relaxing, we did a little maintenance: we only burned a 1/2 quart of oil, and we checked that the spare is, in fact, inflated (after seeing another team changing one on the road). I also re-set the wiper pivots , because the passenger (or navigator) side arm was whacking the sidepost of the windshield – very annoying. No wash-up tonight, the clean mountain rain did a pretty good job. Oh, we also shot some VERY nice image of the 1911 Velie that we ran behind through the rain – its open wheel throwing 15-foot rooster tails of North Carolina’s very best cloud juice as they drove on in full rain gear.

Not much else needed to do tonight. We should ever do so well again as we did today! We’ll stick the Ace awards on the car tomorrow morning! 7:30 AM from Galax, VA, running to Salem, VA.


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