This is usually the time of year when I come out of blog-hibernation. Girding my writing loins for the inevitably too few posts I’ll manage, thanks to Copperstate euphoria. Lists are made, mechanic contacted, excitement barely contained, plans finalized etc. etc. However, 2018 promises to be a year of change, thanks to unexpected family circumstances…….
Last year’s vehicular shenanigans resulted in the decision my navigationally challenged cousin would take over all organizational activities for 2018’s entry (optimism is my middle name, clearly). After all, as the Jensen was on track to be finished well in advance, it seemed the most sensible plan. Application time arrived, so I dutifully forwarded the information his way, with a few of those heart-y things to make the handover less formal. Time ticked ever onward, and as the end of 2017 became imminent, I chucked a couple of emails his way to confirm he had all information needed.
The response was muted, to say the least. Actually, the response was non-existent, but England is eight hours ahead of us, and they do like to celebrate Christmas and New Year in a far more exuberant fashion; so I assumed he was recovering from an overdose of Christmas pudding or stuck in a badly fitting, ugly Xmas sweater – rendering it impossible for any keyboard reply action.
I waited until the early days of 2018 and ventured once more with a simple question about the actual state of Orangina (not as pretty as Oregon, lacking in beaches), and less than 24 hours later, an email appeared. Short & sweet, rather like cousin dearest, he laid out a few minor concerns about the car actually reaching it’s first being finished line, and then immediately launched into the real issue.
“We’re expecting 12 lambs this April”.
Suddenly the picture of lederhosen he’d sent last year, and I immediately shared with all of you, made perfect sense. It wasn’t so much of a cultural exchange or appreciation moment, I’d been given the early warning signs of his somewhat existential midlife crisis.
Harry has become a shepherd.
Now, he’s not completely alone in this kind of left field decision – after all, you can have your shoes repaired by Daniel Day Lewis when he’s not winning Oscars, or possibly find out Bruce Dickinson is the pilot for your next package holiday…but I had never pegged dear cuz to have such an alternative streak.
Once I’d wrapped my head around the image of him in a flat cap, whistling off key to a dog called Shep; rather than squeezed into skinny jeans, trying to grow an Oasis ‘do’ to capture his inner child whilst embracing Kale on everything I realized that no Copperstate this year equaled the opportunity to find as many alternative events as possible!
There really is no downside, dear reader. The back end of 2017 included an excellent adventure known as Targa California, followed by the totally insane SoCal TT. Best news of all, I was joined by a REAL navigator. My dear friend Kelly, is both a huge car enthusiast and can tell her left from right…it’s an extraordinary experience. If we found ourselves slightly confused by the directions, it was clearly author error as inevitably we’d be surrounded by a number of other entrants also trying to work out if its not too late to try navigation by constellation.
So, to whet your blog reading appetite, we will be Driving While Awesome in February, exploring the Central Coast of Cali with a bunch of excellent reprobates in April and hopefully back on the list for both Targa and SoCal TT later this year…..stayed tuned!
If ever I needed proof he’s the yin to my yang, Ringo to my George or Abbot to my Costello, it arrived this morning.
In response to my kindly forwarding of the latest participant update from Copperstate HQ, and my inclusion (warning) that the Blog was firing on at least as many, and possibly more cylinders than the Triumph, I received an email confirming he was already on US soil…
Yes, currently untwisting by the pool. Car being delivered at 4pm by Matt’s Dad whom I understand to have been polishing it all morning.
“The buttes are alive with sound of lambs wool bonnets”
See, oh worrisome one, it all turns out beautifully
Our morning started fresh but overcast, as late spring clouds rolled slowly across the sky. Waiting for The Egg to warm fully before heading off, we were greeted with a sight that exemplifies the eccentric charm of Copperstate. The throaty snarl of a 1951 Cunningham C2 racecar (and 2015 Pebble Beach
winner), whose provenance includes Le Mans and Mulsanne, accompanied by the rainbow coloured sombrero and perfectly tuned maracas, modeled as a perfect driving ensemble by one of my favourite co-drivers. Other car rallies may offer more exclusive settings (Mille Miglia) or limited attendance (Race to the Sun), but none of them can beat the wonderful camaraderie and gentle eccentricity Copperstate inspires!
Today’s journey would take us south again, finishing outside the city of Tucson. The route included a stretch of road I implore anyone reading this, to consider. Fifty plus miles of sweeping bends and glorious vistas known as Lake Mary Road. The combination of tall ponderosa pines, and wind etched sandstone with dramatic cloudscapes as a backdrop, made me half expect to see Heathcliffe’s swarthy cousin ride across on our horizon. It may be April, but the colours and temperature could be mistaken for an early Autumn day.
Cars this year are, as ever, a fabulous selection of familiar and unusual. Everyone a winner, but we had the chance to watch, see, chase and be chased by some real stunners on this section. One of our younger applicants this year is an electric blue 1973 Lancia Stratos, which the owner affectionately describes as ‘barking mad’. Briefly spotted in the rear view mirror, Harry desperately tried to find, point and shoot his camera before the blue peril disappeared out of sight around the next bend.
Top of the list for me, this year, a 1968 Iso Rivolta, painted fly yellow. Gorgeous to look at in the car park, but seeing this perfect shock of colour winding along the road, interspersed against the red sandstone rocks and lush green base of a long dry lake, was breath taking. History for the marquee is almost as interesting as the vehicle’s look. Renzo Rivolta was known for building fridges before WWII and expanded (or maybe that should be shrunk) into the iconic Isetta bubble car. Wanting to add a Grand Tourer to the portfolio, he smartly took the best aspects of various international components – American muscle in the Chevy small and big block engines, timeless elegance of Italian design by Giorgetto Giugiaro and French suspension from De Dion. This model’s provenance is particularly noteworthy as it was owned by a Dutch real estate mogul who was not only kidnapped, but negotiated his own $4M ransom payment!
Our route continued through a selection of little towns, including the affectionately named Strawberry, famous for being home to the oldest standing schoolhouse in Arizona.
Lunch stop by the Roosevelt Lake, and a chance to compare adoration for the morning run before heading on to our afternoon. The roads continued to offer a glorious combination of twisties, sweeping bends and gorgeous vistas across lush high desert. Recommended gas stop in Mammoth, which unlike its California cousin is small and has no sign of any skiing in the vicinity. The afternoon is usually my time to navigate ( as it’s the only way I’ve found to stop dear cousin from taking an afternoon nap) so we were actually running ahead of schedule and able to take a quick detour to check out Biosphere Two before reaching Monday night’s rest stop. Unfortunately our timing was not good enough to manage a tour, but the information centre provided enough fascinating detail to ensure we’ll be back!
I’m not the world’s worst blogger, but after seeing how long it’s been since my last post, I may deserve the title of “World’s Second Worst Blogger”
It’s not that I don’t enjoy this pastime, the complete opposite is actually true….I just feel obligated to have something exciting to report to my three regular readers (Auntie Colleen, the Cat and some very nice person in the Los Feliz area) to warrant their ongoing support.
Fortunately they are in luck (although with said cat staring at the computer as I type, there is additional pressure to make this entry both interesting and typo free (extremely difficult when feline’s head seems to be constantly moving in time to the Stereophonics track playing in the background), as the automotive updates are considerable.
In no particular order –
Copperstate 2015. We’re in!! Again!! Woohoo, I AM Penelope Pitstop!!! Navigationally challenged cousin has already booked his flight from England and I’m considering purchasing socks with L & R stitched into them to help with this year’s map reading. Or, glue the map book to my arm in a slightly McGuyver fashion whilst he recounts stories of all the really interesting things he can see out of the window that are totally irrelevant to our journey. Better still, it’s 25th anniversary for the event, so an extra driving day has been added. What more could a girl ask for?!
Talking of anniversaries – The Egg and I hit a pretty impressive milestone in the past few months, as we’re both 50. I know this to be true as I treated her to a certificate of authenticity last year, and I had a big party this past January. Happy to report that other than minor modifications for each of us (she’s been painted a couple of times since new, I now consider the hair salon a necessity rather than an option), we’re both essentially factory originals. Can’t help feeling the gap will start to widen in her favour over the next few years, but c’est la vie!
Following Copperstate 2014, I planned to start fixing some of the more cosmetic issues (after all, we are – sorry, SHE IS 50). Fortunately our Egg Doctor decided to check her in case any other problems may have appeared following the 1000 miles we added to the engine. After a thorough examination he subsequently made an executive decision to replace the kingpins, due to concern there was just a little too much play as we took the corners. Knowing enough to appreciate the importance of a round hole versus an oval where this particular car part is concerned, I was only too happy to support the plan. Once I had the keys back, I was completely overjoyed….because, I love The Egg; and have forced my closer friends to suffer the song I wrote to celebrate this particular fact.
It’s a simple song, consisting of that one line repeated over and over, at the top of my voice with no discernible note in tune and clearly I should not be giving up my day job anytime soon. On the drive back from Torrence, I not only sang this catchy little number, but had added enough choruses to justify a 12″ extended remix with possibly a second version from Mark Ronson chucked in for good measure…the difference was INCREDIBLE.
Faster, more responsive, no slight wandering irrespective of speed or road surface, she now glides round the corners better than I could ever have imagined. It’s as if I have my own Outlaw – a brand new car in a vintage body. The Egg Doctor assured me she was now bullet proof, and with every additional mile I’ve added since; he’s been proven 110% correct. The only thing stopping me from considering more road trips is finding people to join me, as this car is unstoppable!!!
Additional highlights of the past few months also included a couple of fantastic driving events by the most exciting addition to the automotive magazine world; Petrolicious. If you are not familiar, please check them out at http://www.petrolicious.com – as the variety of articles, information and fabulous car photos are superb. Better still, they not only like to write about driving, they’re happy to organize it for the rest of us! I’ll expand on both events in future posts, but in the meantime – please give them some support.
Maximus Felines is now sitting asleep next to me, so I’m tentatively hopeful he considers my return to the digital age worthwhile. Auntie Colleen is currently asleep in England (& ” you know how much I hate those computer things, so don’t forget to post me a copy”), so thanks in advance my dear Los Feliz reader and I hope this made you smile.
February 2014, and we’ve been accepted to take part in the Copperstate 1000, again. My navigationally challenged mechanical cousin will be resurrecting his role of co-driver, and I’m optimistic my Christmas gift of “Map Reading for Dummies” was both appreciated and studied. Third year in a row and the event feels like a favourite leather jacket; becoming more comfortable as time passes.
There were a number of high points from last year; but the best aspect was being locked in a small metal container with a family member. Although we’ve known each other my entire life, I left England in the mid 90’s; so our time together has been limited. Without question, my initial excitement was replaced with a nervous tinge of “What have I done?” as his arrival date loomed. Biology only gets you so far, and can’t guarantee you’ll actually like each other. I still thought of him as my slightly eccentric teenage touchstone of grown-upness; but our reality was going to be two relative (pardon the pun) strangers singing “getting to know you” under possibly stressful circumstances.
Fortunately, what we both discovered, much to our amusement; was just how similar we are. I score more points on the style and navigation scale; but the eerily familiar twisted sense of humour and occasional sentence finishing couldn’t be ignored. Being able to fill in the blanks of our respective lives over the past twenty years since I moved from England ended up being an absolute gift; and allowed us both to be extremely honest about the good and bad experiences that inevitably come with growing up.
And then of course, there’s….the ears!
Please don’t laugh but, I have ridiculous ears. They are far too small to be effective as a permanent hair hook, and seriously limited my piercing options in the 80’s due to the size of the lobes. Apparently they were supposed to continue growing, but clearly mine never received the memo. I realise on an important list of things to change, I maybe score a 2.5/100, but nevertheless – they’ve been a source of embarrassment and teasing at numerous times. The only marginally good news on my auditory horizon, I have one on each side; better news – he ended up with the same model! Clearly there was a bulk purchasing deal somewhere in the 18 months between the two of us being born, as our lugs could be identical twins.
Anyway, I digress. Back-ish to the original topic…..
I’d planned to try Autocross with the Egg after Copperstate 2012. An idea that never came to fruition, but still remains on the bucket list. Post 2103, my mind switched to the concept of endless road trips. Discovering how easy the car could deal with 1000 miles meant CA is really nothing more than a combination of Google maps and willing participants.
The high spot of this plan came last summer, when I persuaded a friend to come with me for a quick backroads trip to Santa Barbara. Inspired by the route book we have for each event, I spent a couple of day meandering my marker along different roads on Google, paying particular attention to the windier and smaller options. By the time I’d finished, my spiders web was a thing of beauty, matched only by my excitement to show off this newfound prowess of “Routemaster”. Or would that be Route mistress?
We headed out early, as the journey was to include Santa Paula, Ojai and Lake Casitas. Turning off the 118 towards Moorpark, I couldn’t help but notice how impressed my passenger seemed to be as he reviewed my detailed and very specific directions. Smiling, I confirmed two rights and a left would have us heading towards the 118 and fabulous switchbacks of Grimes Canyon in no time!
Except….the second right was a cul-de-sac, and clearly taking us nowhere. At this point, I had to also admit I’d forgotten to grab the back-up Thomas Guide, last seen sitting on the dining room table (such a rookie mistake). It’s a behemoth map book, about the size of War & Peace, and covers all routes available in LA (to my English friends, it’s our equivalent of London’s A-Z, but on way on more steroids than even Lance Armstrong could imagine taking, evah!). Realistically you’ll only use 10 -15 pages regularly, but it’s always useful to have the other 300 plus available in case you are lost somewhere in the inner or outer limits of Los Angeles.
There was only one option, a quick duelling of technology – Iphone versus Android. I’m still not really sure who won, but it was certainly interesting listening to Suri and her Samsung cousin giving directions in stereo. Minor hiccup soon overcome, and we headed in the correct direction towards our final destination. Snagging the Grimes Canyon section for my own driving pleasure, once we were back to more pastoral vistas I handed the keys over, and settled into the navigator’s chair.
There’s nothing quite like watching the Egg waving her magic on another unsuspecting victim. Sure enough; it was only a matter of revs before the irresistible combination of smooth gear shift and perfect handling as we headed around Lake Castaic, produced that slightly idiotic grin I’ve seen only too often on my own face. By the time we reached Ojai, he was completely smitten and I felt almost unkind when I suggested “Maybe, I could drive for a bit?”
So…as I start preparations for 2014, I’m confident that it’s going to be another great adventure!!
(Editors note: Suri = Tom’s Cruise’s daughter. Siri = Apple Voice Recognition. Apologies to Mr. C for any confusion that may have ensued)