Tag Archives: racing

Of course there are fairies at the bottom of the garden….

Creeping ever closer to our deadline; we reached mid-March with the TR6  lurching ever forward in much the same way I imagine 1960’s advertising executives walked, following yet another boozy lunch.  Apparent progress but no real sense of the final destination in terms of time or location.

Meanwhile, in my corner of the world, rally back-up plans were being wrapped up.  doctorThe Egg returned from her doctor with a clean bill of health and re-balanced wheels.  We’d also begun the conversation about future improvements to consider – replacing the Fuchs wheels with something as interesting to look at, but lighter in weight and better in performance, and the reality of fifty-one-year-old metal bodywork.  She still looks great, but much like her owner, needs a more comprehensive ‘skincare’ routine these days.  For the Egg, I’m looking at moving ahead with at least a partial restoration come 2018.  For myself?  A similar plan seems more and more likely with each year that goes by!

Cousin Harry continued to insist that all would be well and yet seemed to be doing little else than directing the rest of us to complete various tasks…..a situation I realized was completely and utterly of my own making.  After all, until now his only job was to show up, look pretty and try not to fall asleep before we made it out of the stadium car park.  Everything else had been taken care of, with almost military precision, by yours truly; the family Rally Fairy. The wings are clearly optional, but the ability to sprinkle my fairy dust has become second nature over the past 5 Copperstate years.  I reminded him we still had Plan B waiting in the wings, should she be needed; but my suggestion we ship The Egg over to AZ, just in case, was rejected outright with no chance of renegotiation.

noSo, I opted for a slightly different tactic and made sure to send reminder emails and texts every couple of days until we reached last Friday, and the collective sigh of relief could happen. Boxes ticked, mechanical updates finished, paperwork completed and submitted; all signs are hopefully go.

Early on, during one of his super-enthusiastic phases about the TR6, we’d had a discussion about goggles, and how we probably needed matching pairs.  snorkelHowever, I require prescription lenses and the options he’d found seemed to have more in common with a swimming pool than automobile.  Instead, I decided to tread a somewhat different sartorial path, and can report with confidence that I’m going to look fabulous, even on the back of a tow-truck.  Cream coloured Davida Helmet, vintage style mirrored (prescription) sun-glasses, my fabulous driving gloves and scarf thanks to the team at Autodromo.  I may be missing the Egg this year, but I’ll be representing her in style!!

And so, with two days left before I fly to Phoenix, I’m happy to report I’m really looking forward to this year’s event.  I’ve made a couple of appropriate offerings to the rally gods in the hope they’ll smile kindly on dear cousin Harry’s endevour.  The Copperstate app has been updated (available for free download on either iPhone or Android), and we have another collection of spectacular cars and fantastic people to explore the back roads of Arizona, with.  There will be photos, hopefully a few blog posts and the guarantee of some really wonderful memories, again!

TCDPEOF EC001

 

The Hills are Alive….with the sound of screaming.

We may share similar sized ears, but there are some fundamental differences between dearest cousin H, and myself.  One, in particular, which has become extremely apparent in the past couple of weeks.

He’s smart, enthusiastic, and would probably agree with the ‘big picture’ description.  I certainly share those traits, but prefer to take a more detailed approach.  He’s macro (or is that macaroni) to my micro, ready to see the end result with only a cursory glance or two at the interim steps.  I, on the other hand, live in a world of schedules that will change in an instant, only too aware the phrase “they’re planning a re-cut” does not involve a hair stylist and prefer to have a minimum of three contingencies at any one time to ensure release dates are always met.  For Harry, it’s a much simpler three step process: Imagine it, assume it will happen and head straight to the mountains for a rendition of “The Sound of Music” (lederhosen optional).maria

All of which, dear reader, brings us to an email on February 17th.

In the office, juggling coffee with deadlines, when his name and a link to eBay shows up in my in-box.  One click later, and I’m presented with an apparently respectable 1970 Triumph TR6, currently for sale in Arizona.  Additionally, a few notes explaining H’s plan of purchase to drive on this year’s Copperstate, so I don’t have to ship The Egg.

The Egg…The Egg that applied for, and was accepted into the 2017 Copperstate.  That one.  Bulletproof reliability, perfect for the weather we’ll encounter this year, the whole reason I even considered vintage rallies in the first place?  Yes, still that one.

007 (3)So, I gently remind dear cuz there’s already an Orange  Jensen in AZ being diligently worked on, for him.  Initial plan of it making this year, now looking more realistic as the 2018 entrant, but nevertheless, acquiring another vehicle so I don’t have to ship the car I applied with?  Dubious logic, even for him.  However, I can’t help feeling I’m in a ‘stable door shut after horse bolted’ conversation as my additional comments about what’s actually involved to get any car rally-ready (least of all one that’s currently sight unseen, with only sunny photos and confidence in the description to go on) seem to be falling on deaf ears.

Stubbornness also seems to be a shared family trait.

Three days later, he’s now the proud owner of said TR6 and a recommended list of important things to take care of pre-Copperstate, arrive.  I remain skeptical as I realise his primary concerns are the possibility of new tyres and having the car polished.  Trying not to thwart this new-found enthusiasm, or to get in the way of his solo rendition of “My Favourite Things”, I recommend adding how to register the car (required), a mechanical inspection (required) & what will be required to follow through on his now plan of selling the car post-rally (recommended).

My skepticism increases.

The end of February appears on the horizon in the form of Monday 27th  as he resurfaces to confirm what I already know (the car has been purchased) and what I suspect (nothing much else seems to have occurred).  We discuss the inspection, which has remained noticeably absent in any updates or planning, and I’m reassured Harry can take care of it himself, as he’s rather “mechanical”.  The image of our sixth form production for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ flashes by, as I respond with, “No, you’re a hobbyist, there’s a distinct and not so subtle difference”.  Still at a loss as to mechanicalsHOW exactly he would manage to oversee the actual inspection from another continent, I decide to reiterate the importance of this document by forwarding again and insisting he opens it whilst we’re both on the phone.

Silence….more silence..a couple of ‘blimey’s’ followed by a ‘this is serious’ and finally I sense a glimmer of hope at the other end.  Momentary success notwithstanding, I silently decide to move ahead with my plans to have the annual check-up from the Egg Doctor, because she’s still looking like my safest bet.  Julie Andrews continues to yodel in the background, it’s really annoying.

Seven days later and a rather polite email from a very nice young man, who until recently owned a Triumph TR6, appears.  It’s hard not to notice the slightly plaintive tone in his opening lines, “This is my direct email. Please let me know how we should proceed with the car.”, and my only comfort is I’m clearly not the only one being ignored.  Fortunately, this seems to set off an alarm somewhere in the British Isles as we have a sudden flurry of activity from dear H, with instructions to send the car to a mechanic, confirmation tyres are needed and the recognition that insurance should be a primary concern.  Unable to hold back, I immediately join the fray and offer my own list of requirements regarding registration & insurance, as we’re now less than a month from kick-off and this is all beginning to fewacky racesel like the Wacky Races without comedic timing.  When checking separately with dearest cuz to confirm that the mechanic IS expecting the car, the inevitable reply comes through, and I gently remind him that trying to drop an unscheduled project into any shop without checking first, is a tad optimistic.

I call the Egg Doctor to confirm drop off for the upcoming weekend.

lederhosen

Would you like a side order of broken fan-belt with your lunch, sir?

Two weeks and counting to Copperstate 2017, and this year’s rally feels less like a well-oiled machine and more like a re-enactment of the Titanic.  To say the last few weeks have been interesting, would be a perfect example of English understatement; and to be fair, dear reader, will make little sense if I don’t turn the clock back to 2015.

Two years ago, this particular Copperstate lunch was supposed to be nothing more than very tasty and rather uneventful, somewhere in the backwaters of Northern Arizona.  I was enjoying varied conversation with fantastic gearheads, whilst my navigationally challenged cousin was being introduced to the joys of technology and the infamous Bring A Trailer website.

And then it happened…. before I could even reach over to pick up the milk for my coffee, said relative had reached into his pocket, found and dialed a phone number and announced triumphantly to some random person at the end of his phone, “well, I think we have a deal!”.  The entire table went quiet as we all turned to look at the deliverer of this pronouncement, and my heart missed a beat.Instead of the usually mild mannered face I’ve become used to seeing asleep in the passenger seat, I was presented with the classic symptoms of ‘Buy Now, Think Later’.  Slightly myopic grin, mixed with the unmistakable red mist in the eyes that only comes from that first-time adrenaline rush of successfully bidding, sight unseen, on something one REALLY doesn’t need.

crazy face

I frantically looked at the rest of our table, hoping I was wrong; but their combined expressions of abject horror confirmed my greatest fear.  A long, uncomfortable pause followed by closing and re-opening my eyes didn’t produce better results.  Nothing else for it, but be strong and look at the iPad to answer the question I did not want to ask. I gripped the table, glanced down, and there, staring defiantly back at me, in all its rumpled, orange glory, was the culprit.  One decidedly aging, non-running Jensen Interceptor Mark II.

Having finally snapped out of his dubious purchase love-bubble, H immediately sprang into action; explaining we must leave immediately, so he could complete the transaction.  Clearly this item was far more popular than I realized, if there was an actual possibility it would be snapped up by another equally optimistic individual before we could complete the rest of our day.  So, as our rally buddies headed for Jerome to experience my favorite section of road in the entire state, we drove through a collection of no-horse towns to find something that resembled a real bank, rather than just ATM’s in liquor stores.

By the time we returned to base that evening (having probably covered more miles that day than most would be enjoying all week), said transaction was complete and Harry had the entire plan mapped out…. ending in our return in 2016 & the great unveiling of his new acquisition (it even included balloons and a marching band).

The only upside I could see, was insisting we show up in period costume. 1971 will never be remembered as a high spot for men’s fashion, but the idea of seeing him in polyester slacks and stick-on mutton chop side burns, as I insisted we listen to the Greatest Hits of The Osmonds on 8-Track, was quietly appealing.

70s fashion

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, why are we now desperately trying to find a lifeboat before the iceberg reaches us?  After all, as Harry pointed out, he (translation we, or more likely, me) had a year to complete the task of Jensen resurrection & that date was reached 12 months ago.

Because, as everyone knows…you take the time expected for said project, double it, add the age of your first pet hamster at its sad demise and maybe, if you’re lucky….really lucky……

Fast forward to 2016 Copperstate and the Trusty Egg performed in all her bulletproof glory.  The subject of the Jensen a regular discussion over breakfast, lunch & dinner; with a combination of commiseration “aah, English electrics, what could possibly go right?”, confusion “wouldn’t it have been cheaper to buy one already finished?” or fascination “he lives in England and decided to buy a car in America, but not ship it home?”.  Harry added to the excitement by buying a gas barbecue in Phoenix and then taking it, boxed,on the entire rally, leading to the mistaken four-day assumption we had the final piece to complete the car, and it was only a matter of hours before Orangina would appear.

And so, moving swiftly along, we come to Copperstate 2017.  More than reasonable progress has been made with the Jensen, but my practical nature ensured the smart money was on my application going in with The Egg as car number one, and Orangina as the back-up.  Lady Luck decided to smile again, and confirmation arrived in early February that we’d made the cut once more.  As this event continues to grow in popularity, and receives unanimous praise whenever featured in articles, I consider our repeat inclusion to be a real compliment.  And so, Egg preparation began in earnest.

Opportunities to get out and drive included a fantastic run with the LA Porsche Club last month, that took us up to Ventura and back down to Malibu for an early morning boost, and ensured we easily crossed the threshold of ‘300 miles in 3 months’ requirement.  A comprehensive list of possible issues to be checked by the Egg Doctor was made before booking her in for the mechanical inspection, as well as the decision to switch out tyres this year to the Classic Porsche range from Pirelli (reviews are extremely favorable, and they look great!!)

All was good in my world.  Enough time to balance a hectic work schedule without additional stress, all signs pointing to go with the car. What could possibly go wrong?  Until an email arrived; containing one seemingly innocuous question….

Tune in next week for the next episode 😉

 

 

Tortoise and the Hare

Wednesday arrived, and with it the final leg of the 1000 miles of this year’s Copperstate.  We had almost made it out of the hotel car park before the mechanical cousin realized he’d left his cell phone happily charging in the breakfast room.  Fortunately I have excellent turning and reversing skills, so we returned, retrieved…and headed off again.

Through Sedona, only to be met with extremely bad traffic.  Living in LA, this is not an unusual experience; unfortunately we soon discovered the cause was not regular congestion, but an accident involving one of the Copperstate Highway Patrol.   All emergency services had come out to help one of their own, a reassuring but still worrying sight.  We later discovered what had happened – turning into a forecourt to check on another entrant, the Patrol officer was hit by a driver who decided to pull straight into traffic without stopping to look first.  There was no time to take any avoiding action, and serious injuries were sustained. A situation I’ll revisit later.

Our ultimate destination was Scottsdale, and the morning route took us out to and through Prescott, and with it more stunning scenery, charming old towns and happy waving people as we drove through.  The weather couldn’t have been better if we’d special ordered it.  Moderate temperatures meant the Egg’s “two windows down” air conditioner was all we needed, as we meandered along small single track roads with only other Copperstaters for company.  It was difficult to believe we’d already covered almost 800 miles in a 49 year old car, she was literally singing like Maria as we cornered every bend; and everything about the performance continued to improve the further we drove.  We kept pushing the distance between gas stops, for no other reason than she was running more and more efficiently; maintaining a speed of anything from 65 – 80 mph was simple, because that’s where the car wanted to be.  “She’ll be bulletproof”, the Egg Doctor  told me, and he was absolutely correct!

The last stretch of the morning took us up and down and through switchbacks coming into Bagdad.  As this section had been included last year, I was delighted to see it again, and just as happy to let my mechanical cousin drive, and enjoy watching him enjoy the experience.  He smiles a great deal anyway, but by the time we reached our lunch spot, I was sharing the car with a human equivalent of the Cheshire Cat.  Good times.

There are some great cars, and some really great drivers on this event. One of which was a professional Porsche racing instructor/racer; who very generously offered to let Harry ride shotgun for the afternoon in his exquisite Jaguar XK150 OTS.  The remainder of the route was easy enough for me to navigate and drive, so I reassured him that I’d be fine.  He left, I continued chatting with friends…but there was just something that didn’t feel quite right.  Sipping coffee, I replayed the late morning….switchbacks, happy cousin, pull into car park, get out of passenger seat…happy cousin locks car and we walk into restaurant…happy cousin has my car keys.  Happy cousin has gone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In less time than it takes to shout “get out of my way”; I left my seat, sprinted (much to my amazement, had absolutely no idea I could move that fast) and found the Jag literally about to disappear into the wild blue yonder.  One “oops” later from the family member, before they disappeared in a roar of engine, and normal service was resumed.

The final leg from Bagdad to Scottsdale was a great combination of open scenery that stretched for low desert miles in either direction, with occasional bursts of small towns.  At one point it was just me and the Egg, cruising happily along a route that was so quiet, I wondered if maybe I’d accidentally taken a wrong turning and stumbled into somewhere the world had forgotten about.  Time has a different meaning in this situation.  No radio, no need or desire to be glued to some electronic device, a watch that I inevitably forget to wind most mornings…all I could do was just enjoy the moment and the environment.  Through Wickenberg, every speed limit was fastidiously observed – as the local constabulary had politely alerted us that any decision not to do that would be dealt with appropriately.  The Copperstate isn’t a race, it’s a rally – but when you’re presented with perfect driving conditions, and long inviting roads, it’s easy to forget that there are limits we’re expected to maintain!

One final section before reaching the outskirts of Scottsdale included another change of scenery; driving through Peoria and the tall pines were back. A few miles that reminded me again of Europe, before coming back into the early afternoon heat and sunshine that everyone associates with AZ.  I pulled into the car park, and was quickly amused to discover that I’d beaten the XK150….which explained the stationary flash of red I’d spotted on the way out of Wickenberg!!  My tortoise to their hare, clearly benefitting from the classic F1 move of the when to fuel.  How often it all comes down to time spent (or not) in the pits 🙂

524296_10151635859193968_1057976741_n 17186_10151637117253968_153942734_n

 

The dictionary definition of awesome should simply be, “The Grand Canyon”.

Snowy conditions……my favourite!  That news greeted us over the coffee and croissants for Tuesday’s breakfast, and presented a few more options for all of us than initially expected.  Our route was to take us up to an elevation of at least 8000 feet, so the weather change shouldn’t be ignored.   A quiet review of road conditions with the mechanical cousin, based on the theory:

  • We had The Egg (German engineering)
  • All weather tyres (rain and snow no issue), and
  •  Two drivers born in England (bad weather is synonymous with our cultural identity)

Left us flipping a coin and deciding we’d chance our luck until it ran out, and take the original mapped route.

Heading through Flagstaff, we seemed to be driving for an awfully long time with nothing listed in the route book, showing up on our horizon.  With no visible landmarks, there seemed to be only one option – good old Google maps.  Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to offer the immediately expected result, so I decided that old school was the last resort.  We pulled into a garage forecourt, and I headed inside with the route book and was happy to discover that we had done nothing more than overshoot a turning about four miles earlier.

At this point, I should also mention that my mechanical cousin is many things….all good….but keen navigator is not one of them.  It’s not that he can’t navigate, he just occasionally forgets.  Not a serious problem, but certainly added a level of excitement throughout our entire trip.  By the time we retraced our steps and found the right track, we’d eaten up about an hour and better still, given the sun enough time to start drying out the road.

And what a road…..forty plus miles of gently undulating curves that took us up and over a mountain pass.  Tall pines and the occasional deer our only companions as we headed through some of the most desolately beautiful countryside of the entire rally.  Our plan paid off, as we made it all the way to the lunchtime stop, an airplane museum in Valle.  Now on the other side of a mountain, weather conditions had changed from cold and snowy to just as cold  wind, a not completely welcome change.  Lunch was a welcome break before heading off to our next exploration, the big ditch.

I’ve lived in Los Angeles for eighteen years, and am embarrassed to admit that I have not seen the Grand Canyon.  Many trips to Las Vegas, and yet there never seemed to be the time or inclination to add it to the itinerary.  Having seen so many photographs, there’s a sense of familiarity which may be the reason….but all of that changed on Tuesday afternoon as we paraded through the Grand Canyon National Park.

Stopping at the first recommended viewing point, I finally managed to see it with my own eyes, and the only word I could come up with seemed to be “wow”; which obviously falls short of any real description, but if you’ve seen what the locals affectionately call ‘The Big Ditch’, you will understand.  Photo opportunities were perfect as we reached our destination early enough in the afternoon for the combination of sun and shadow to play across this natural wonder.

Our cruise back to Sedona continued the slightly alpine theme, from the vegetation at least.  The last few miles coming back into the valley was breathtaking…..the  layers of red sandstone forming beautiful rocks that are so unusual it’s tempting to expect Tim Burton’s Martians to be hiding in crevices.  Or maybe I’ve been living in LA too long!!!

Story swapping back at base was a mixed affair.  Those who opted for the alternative route were either relieved or disappointed to find out what we experienced.  After all, being in a convertible when the top almost works is not really conducive to winter climates. For a few others, the realization that if The Egg could do it, so should they was a little more bittersweet.  Best news, no real casualties either way; which is all that everyone hopes for by the time cocktail hour arrives.

 

Snow Egg - she looks good at every angle!
Snow Egg – she looks good at every angle!
Yes...there really is snow in the desert!

Yes…there really is snow in the desert!

A very big ditch

A very big ditch

Happy family

Happy family

It’s an “Egg Carton”, dear….

T minus 23 hours before we reach Phoenix….the seven day weather forecast for parts of the state as I know we’re visiting promises perfect driving conditions…..not much else to share at this point, other than my favourite shot of the Egg this week:team3

 

A week of excitement, and we’d only reached Tuesday!

Monday morning, and off to the Egg Doctor.  His face as the engine sputtered and choked told me more than I needed to know…..Houston, we have a problem.  With enough understatement to qualify for English status, he stared accusingly at the offending sparkplug and reassured an update as soon as possible.  Meanwhile, somewhere in Northern California; my mechanical cousin remained blissfully unaware of the current state of our pre-rally preparation….a situation I did not relish having to change!

Monday turned to Tuesday, and my usual wake-up alarm was replaced with a call from the doctor.  Good news, the machinist had been available, and was already working on…something.  Not so good news, when your automotive GP is using terms that resemble a mechanical surgeon, things are looking down, way down.  He asked when the car was scheduled for collection, and I couldn’t help noticing the slightly longer than hoped for pause when I answered, “Thursday”.  Another reassurance of an update when he had one…and all I could do was head off to the office, and consider at least a Plan B, if not a Plan C.

By lunchtime, I’d worked out that if more time was needed to eggmend, we could resort to an alternative option – drive out to Palm Springs on Friday evening, find a Motel 6 and then head onto AZ early the next morning.  Not a completely awful plan; it just meant ensuring everything important (Maximus to Cat Camp) was sorted out a day ahead of schedule.  From there, my Plan C became a little more vague, as vintage cars do not grow on trees, and I really wasn’t sure how easy it would be to disguise my SpaceCar as a ’64 Porsche without anyone noticing.  Adding to the air of general concern was my cousin’s now imminent arrival at Burbank airport later in the afternoon.

Just as the clock struck 12:30, the Egg Doctor called.  His patient had not only left the operating table, she was completely cured and ready for pick-up!!  Once I arrived, he showed me a few offending articles – snapped o-rings, valves imitating a trumpet judging by the differences in their locations, rubber seals clearly past their prime – it was one big unhappy family of parts.  All of which made me realise, the one extremely bright light at the end of this particular tunnel was the situation occurring BEFORE I left CA, rather than AFTER arriving in AZ.  Doc then handed me the keys and kindly told me not to call again any time soon!  A request, I had every intention of keeping.

Into the driver’s seat, turn the key….and she sounds AH-MAY-ZING.  Doc had assured me the Egg was now bulletproof, and listening to her idling, I absolutely believe him.  The level of the engine lower, but the overall sound sweeter.  Pick-up noticeably improved, revs better…..it may be an oxymoron for something almost 50 years old, but she seemed to be a brand new car!

Mechanical cousin arrived on schedule, and I shared the excitement with him over an obligatory cup of tea.  The panic already replaced with a sense of real Copperstate Adventure, he seconded my enthusiasm that the situation was really nothing more than making both of us  feel a little more rally-ready!

T minus 3 and Counting!!!
Team Sutton, ready and able! team2

If it was that simple, I guess everyone would be doing it….

The phrase “heel & toe” has been floating around all afternoon, so I headed off to Youtube to seek out inspiration.  Fortunately I found it, in this great example………

Countdown begins….!

Friday Feb 3rd…..email arrived, confirming that I’d been accepted for the 2012 Copperstate 1000.  I am soooooo excited, in a couple of months, the Egg and 75 of her newest best friends will be tearing around the scenic roads of Arizona!

Immediate flurry of activity, as the car & mechanical inspection list were dropped over to TRE.  Delivered her with my own list of small concerns – passenger seatbelt less than auto-rewinding, constant hot air (eventually) coming into the cockpit which seems to be more than just heater operator error, gears a little sloppy – but hopefully no signs of anything we should have to worry about.

By following mid-week, first question from the garage…..do we replace the tyres or keep fingers crossed that enough tread on 6 year olds will suffice?  Quick conflab with my oracle for all things, and new tyres were decided upon.  Initial decision may have been easy, but the selection process immediately turned into something slightly more intimidating.  As the car already has ’71 Fuchs wheels on her, with 185/65-15 originality wasn’t a requirement and it seems likely from previous event year’s routes that we could be experiencing a variety of different driving conditions…plus I wanted her to feel at least a little racerish (current set are not the most exciting round a corner)!  TRE threw out the idea of full blown racing tires as a second set…but with a garage already full of stuff I’ll probably never use, I decided to use a more unscientific approach to my tyre investigations…

  • How appealing is the tread pattern?
  • What are the reviews like for handling?

Happy that the combination of both points would come up with a variety of options, I started by looking at tread patterns (because aesthetics count for plenty in my world, shallow as that may seem) & then looked at user feedback on a variety of sites.  Growing up watching Formula One with my mother dictated that Michelin, Dunlop & Bridgestone were automatically included in the selection process, but after a couple of hours I settled on something completely different; 195/60-15 Kumho Ecsta ASX (ASX for All-Season Xtreme).

By week two, the tyres were delivered, brake master cylinder & heater valve replaced, new passenger seatbelt ordered, bracket for the battery (used one from a later model 911) installed, fire extinguisher fastened, TRE Dave was organising my tool kit & I’d been trying to work out exactly how easy a Le Mans style start is going to be…….!

Hello world!

Last year I came across a great event called the Copperstate 1000 (http://www.mensartscouncil.com/cs/) …an excuse for 75 vintage cars to drive around various roads in Arizona, under the watchful jurisdiction of an organisation called the Men’s Arts Council.  It’s been running since 1990, and seems to attract a pretty sensational collection of cars.  Four days, 1000 miles…and some great photo opportunities.

As the very lucky owner of a 1964 Porsche 356C, that I affectionately call “The Egg”, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to give her something more inspiring than the usual LA driving we encounter.  Not quite confident (yet) to consider vintage car racing, and a little intimidated by some of the more “macho” events that seem to be on offer here; Copperstate seemed to be an interesting option.  If nothing else, I could apply and be politely turned down!

So late last year, I sent my application in and then started to run through the information available on their website to work out just what I was possibly letting myself in for.  Three things stood out immediately:

  • Mechanical inspection
  • Co-Driver
  • Navigation

Although I wasn’t a girl guide, and I’m not sure I’ve ever dated an ex-scout; these items made me realise that being at least somewhat prepared would be worth exploring.  The mechanical inspection was pretty overwhelming, and included lists of requirements that made me question every creak & groan I’ve come to love when driving the Egg.  Maybe that wasn’t just a little bit of old age and appreciation as she took the corner for me?  Was it possible that differentials were loose, or cables were unthreading?  Does she even have differentials or cables come to that?

Fortunately, the Egg has been lovingly looked after by the brilliant team at TRE Racing in Van Nuys.  We’re a little lower on the racing evolutionary scale than most clientele, but the Egg holds her own when she’s there, and seems to gain plenty of points for her beguiling rear end.  Quick call to Jeremy and Dave, who reassured me that my lack of diff knowledge and inability to select new tyres based on anything other than tread pattern, would not be insurmountable issues to overcome…all we’d need to do was run through the mechanical check list, and address anything that may come up.

I’ve come to look at the Egg in the same way as I’m sure friends and relatives look at their kids.  There are no issues, we just have challenges (this is my way of willing the problems to be cheaper; which I’m happy to report has been pretty successful so far)  Obviously its helped by the fact that despite her iconic shape, she’s a pretty simple little beastie overall… essentially a VW Bug with pretensions….and there’s nothing wrong with that!  I duly crossed my fingers that the trend would continue should we reach the mechanical check list stage and moved on to #2.

Co-driver…..this required some serious consideration.

  1. Need someone who can drive, obviously
  2. Not likely to reduce me to cringe position as passenger
  3. Tolerable for long periods of time, or just as easy to ignore
  4. A level of mechanical understanding that will make up for my distinct lack of same
  5. See point #4
  6. See point #4

I really didn’t that many options, & figured that I’d have to leave this question unanswered until the very last moment……and then a flash of genius occurred over a canapé last September.  Auntie Colleen’s surprise 80th birthday resulted in a number of family all coming together for the celebration.  The party included cousin Harry.  He’s my charmingly nerdy “older brother by another mother”, who just happens to have an impressive history of restoring, building, playing around with and owning old cars.  There was a minor aberration when he acquired a mid 90″s Subaru SVX….but we try to skirt around that whenever possible.  Clutching my hors d’œuvre I suddenly realised I was looking at the perfect victim….and proceeded to make my pitch.

Moment of thought, eyebrow raised, slight smile…I had him 🙂

Which of course brought me to point #3 – as we both share one very particular family trait. We are absolutely hopeless at giving or following directions.

You tell me left. I will nod in full agreement and understanding….and then turn right. Can’t help it, don’t take it personally….its just an inbuilt inability for the eyes, brain and direction to all work seemlessly together.

Clearly this will need some more planning…..