We set out today from Troy, NY to Traverse City, where the 2012 Great Race begins. It’s a brief jaunt of just 800 miles by the most direct route, and in convoy (Youth & Skill in the 66 VW, Old Age & Treachery in the Imperial).
The VW is not accustomed to high-speed freeway running, so we held our clock to 60-65 mph. The trouble is that on I-90 and associated freeways, the truck and SUV traffic runs about 80+. Our train of right-lane Willies doddered along, though, countering side-winds from the passing behemoths. No major mechanical issues. The VW continued to show starting recalcitrance. The Imp’s gauges did their occasional fadeout and return. Otherwise, all went well, though we saw on several occasions flocks of buzzards (vultures to the Westerners among you) riding thermals (we hope) in the 90F+ heat and humidity. Windows: too hot to roll ’em up, too loud to keep ’em down.
Our goal was to split the trip in half, stopping for the night in London, Ontario, but we made good time and pressed on to Saginaw, MI in just 12 hours total. We’d have stopped in Flint, but there were no visible hotels along the highway there! We met up with a few other GR racers at the same hotel here in Saginaw, though!
Oh, right, about those omens… I mentioned the buzzards circling, right? And those speeding trucks? Well, soon after we slipped into Canada, one of those (one of the passing trucks, not the buzzards) heaved a big sharp rock right into the windshield of our mighty Imperial. Big starburst crack. I hope this is covered by my Hagerty’s insurance! Then, as we passed through customs back into the USA, Ethan’s VW stalled and would not restart on the key (pushing works, but invokes severe paranoia and unfriendly reactions from the guards, when we all pile out of our cars to push at the checkpoint where it happened). Whoops.
Once we reached the hotel, the VW simply refused to acknowledge further ignition key commands. We measured voltages and checked connections – nothing seemed wrong. Ethan remembered that his grandfather used to bang on the starter when it misbehaved. With nothing else left to try, Ethan laid under and gave it a couple of thwacks. Having had its attention thus obtained, it started right up. On the key. Multiple times. Sometimes, the old ways are the best ways and it’s not useful to inquire deeper! We increased idle speed a bit, checked the voltage regulator and all is good for now. Off to sleep. Tomorrow (Thursday), we have just another 3 hours of so of morning commute to get to Traverse City and the beginning of the Great Race 2012 – despite Buzzards circling, Breaks in stone-slung glass, and Banging on cranky starters. HA! We don’t need no stinkin’ Omens!
Darn, I wish I had made it in time with the Buick, though…. jc