Y’know… After you’ve done it once – or a few times – this Great Race thing just gets in your blood (along with the leaking motor oil and coolant). I’m pretty much hooked and want to go every year! It’s the most fun you can have in the front seat, and I really like my Great Race family. In fact, it’s better than our real family reunions each year (maybe because Corky wasn’t mean when we were little, like certain siblings that shall remain nameless). Still having a Day Job, it can be difficult to get away, but usually there’s a way…
After running NO XQS, aka the Great White Whale (’61 Imperial convertible) three times – using the secret weapon of its comfort and reliability (ha!) to try and offset a total lack of handicap factor for such a ‘new’ car; AND after spending weeks under it last year, removing tar and gravel from its (‘sposed-to-be white) undersides from when last year’s GR found a hot, freshly tarred road and ran us in a maze three times over it for good measure; well, I decided I would retire old NO XQS to the show and shine circuit. In its place, I decided on a more true-to-the-spirit Great Racer! It’s a ’32 Buick straight-8, bought without body. So I designed a new speedster for that chassis and set to making it real.
Well, that’s often the hard part isn’t it? I, like many folk, suffer from a tendency toward feature creep in my projects. Your basic speedster body is just flat metal rolled and wrapped: always over the engine, usually around the seating area, and maybe into a tail of some kind out back. Somehow, I got a wee bit more involved this time. I can blame the first step down that slippery slope on Navigator Dave, who insisted on real doors and a top (or as I call it, a ‘wimp rag’). Now, once there’s moving parts in a thing, it starts to get noticeably complicated! Before you knew it, the design had fenders, and a fancy two-piece windshield to attach the rag, and a luggage hold, and an engine-turned dash, and… well – you probably get the idea. It’s a full-coachwork, hammered-steel, custom roadster, or will be eventually. And so, a 7-month project has stretched toward 2 years and it’s not done yet.
It is getting closer, though. Here are some images to prove it. First, the rendering of How It’s Gonna Be:
And here’s a couple of views as it stands right now, with the first of the body from about the same perspective (note: the body build is on one chassis, but there are pix of the finished real chassis below – note different wheels):
Yep. That engine has been breathed on a bit: four sidedrafts, but they’re of a design that dates back to 1904, so the Official Tech Committee agreed they’re Great Race legal and won’t cut into the handicap factor. And this set-up sounds REALLY good and pulls like a logging truck. A perfect rally ride if ever there was one.
SO… What to do? No Imperial (too clean). No Buick (too unready). And a (real) family wedding just got called on the next-to-last Great Race day, nowhere near the course. That means no Great Race for me this year. But I’ll be in St. Paul for the start, anyway – to see off this grand bunch of fellow addicts. Who will Guard #61 for me?
And, I promise besides, as Governator Schwarznegger famously paraphrased General Douglas MacArthur, “I’ll Be Back!”
See Ya, jc