Daily Archives: April 22nd, 2012

And now for something completely different!

Wednesday morning, start of our final day.   A more leisurely route, of just over 150 miles from Tucson back to Phoenix.  Unfortunately the cracked egg scenario meant that before we could head off in any direction, final tow-truck arrangements needed to be confirmed.  This discussion was being had in various other areas of the car park, as unfortunately even the best mechanical planning hadn’t been able to mitigate complete disaster across the merry band of entrants.  Commiserations abounded, but in a very light-hearted way.  After all, there isn’t much about the statement, “my car broke down on a vintage car rally” that really elicits more than a wide grin and details about exactly how fantastic the moments leading up to said break-down actually were.

My invisible award for “best prepared in the face of adversity” went to the unassuming gentleman whose big Healey faced early retirement.  Although the Copperstate planned effectively, and were able to provide a number of loaner Lexus (or is more than one Lexus considered Lexi?) this particular driver decided to grab a more reliable option from home.  Subsequently he completed the rest of the event in a fabulous burnt orange McLaren F1 Supercar….truly the modern epitome of sex on wheels!

By the time the Egg’s transport had been finalised, we were faced with two options…..follow the actual route, or just jump on the most direct option between Tucson and our next stop, the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving.  As a finale to the last three days of winding roads and sweeping curves, the organizers had come up with a very different experience….three hours of playing fast cars, at even faster speeds, under the watchful eye of Bob’s instructors.  Go-carting, auto-cross & lead and follow on the track were all on the agenda.  So, would you think me shallow if I admit that we just wanted to get there as quickly as possible??

It was odd, finding ourselves back in air-conditioned luxury again.  I drive the Egg regularly in Los Angeles, but inevitably it’s a rather pedantic affair – simply because of the limited options and freeway environment.  We’d been given the chance to push our driving and navigational abilities on this event in a variety of different ways, which had made the driving experience a more sentient one….….remembering to read the road, rather than just staring at the car in front and hoping they wouldn’t opt for text over turn signal.  Back in the Lexus, it was hard not to slip into an automotive coma simply because modern cars are mostly designed to have the driver disengage from their surroundings.  Despite that, as the temperature continued to climb towards triple digits, I was secretly relieved to be able to crank that AC just a little more!

Bob Bondurant is the epitome of US racing history.  His career started on two wheels racing Indian motorcycles and then moved across to race cars.  He took part in both Formula One and Le Mans, winning for Carroll Shelby & Ferarri.  Then to CanAm & the grueling off-road endurance of Baja 500.

From racing he switched to consulting….but not the fluffy suit & tie kind we have today.  Racing consultant on Frankenheimer’s epic, “Grand Prix”; which required him to teach James Garner how to drive an F1 car for the race scenes.

His racing career ended at 150mph, when a car crash and subsequent flip resulted in terrible injuries to his leg, arm and back.  Although the medical prognosis was dire, against all the doctors’ expectations he recovered fully and was able to walk.  Turning away from the race world, he decided instead to expand aspects of his work on “Grand Prix”, and opened the school in 1968.  Originally located in Orange County, it has called Phoenix home since the end of the 80’s.

And so we headed to the go-kart.  Let me re-phrase that; we headed to “50 mph, tyre skidding, helmets on, get out of my way” karting. No sooner was I on the track than I found my inner Senna coming out.  Looking ahead constantly, I was determined to keep the cart as far and as fast on the racing line; irrespective of the obstacle.  To be honest, I have no idea who or if anyone actually won each group…but it was just the right amount of adrenalin to make up for no triple espresso that morning!!!

As I’d promised to meet the tow truck at our hotel to ensure that the Egg arrived safely, we didn’t stay for the rest of the options….but the feedback was a combination of smiling expletives, and a level of fear associated with the track speeds required in the lead and follow for me to confirm that if you’re ever given the chance to try all or any; just do it!!

Once back at the hotel, I checked the Egg’s whereabouts and then called TRE with the good news bad news.  Good news, I had an incredible time.  Bad news, slight egg-splosion en route.  But nothing that can’t be resolved and it just means she’ll be even better for the next adventure!!