Archive for November, 2008

Picked up a new car

(So this post is a little late, about 7 months late.. I know.. been busy!)

So, given the distance to Chicago from Dayton, and the desire to run a few events in the south over the winter; I think it is a good idea to let Don run the Lola and I’ll get another car to run around Dayton and further south.

After some looking, and hoping that prices would drop off given end of season and the economy, I found a 1975 Hawke DL-12.  Some of you will know the car from the Midwest – it was heavily ran there since 1975 but a fair amount of folks who are still around (I’ll have the history and logbook posted soon).  Most recently, Erik Shep rebuilt the car in 2006, and Tod Powers purchased it and ran it for almost 2 years in the Northeast.  Well, Tod is a tall dude like me (even taller, actually) and switched to a Reynard setup for really tall dudes (whilst I fall into tall-dude and not really-tall-dude groupding).  So, short story short – I flew into NYC last weekend for work (which I do about every other week), and headed up to CT to check the car out.

The car is clean. Well rebuilt, well cared for, and well documented (original logbooks to 1975, original sales documentation, setup sheets, CAD drawings, etc etc). Sold!

Now I have to get it from Connecticut to SW Ohio.  Not exactly neighboring states.  And, since I don’t own a truck or trailer in Ohio, I can’t really just drive up and pick it up.  Helllllooooooo budget-rent-a-truck.

So, 5 days later I am sitting on a train from Grand Central Station heading to Norwalk, CT with my girlfriend, Elizabeth (who, at this moment, thinks we’re stopping at a hotel a few hours into the drive. maybe. or maybe she’ll drive some. or maybe it wont snow. or maybe she thinks I’ve printed directions. or maybe….).  After an hour train ride, we arrive at the train station (yeah, no shit, eh? train takes you to the train station) to get a cab.

Renting a truck

We take a cab to the Budget Rental Truck place, which is in a corner of a strip mall which has a pet store and a Chinese restaurant (keep that in mind for 14 seconds).  I ring the bell on the Budget door, no answer. I call them, no answer. I walk around. No one is home.  We entertain ourselves for the next 20 minutes making jokes about the Chinese place being next to the pet store. Come on – now that is comedy.

Did I mention it is 24 degrees (Fahrenheit, for those of you who found this site searching for Hawke, a British manufacturer) out, windy, and Friday at 4:47pm.    Afternoon timing like this dictates being in a dimly lit bar with questionable liquor being served from plastic bottles at cheap prices.  Did I mention its cold out?

Ah ha! Big blue truck comes careening around the corner into the strip-mall-Chinese-slaughter-house-parking-lot containing one dude-who-looks-like-he-works-at-budget.  Success! We’re good, a quick grab of the keys and we’re back on schedule! Or not.

To describe this guy, think of who is at the other end of the phone when you call technical support, or the yahoos at United Airlines – not to stereotype (but, honestly, they are a timesaver) but until last week this guy probably was living in a campus-like sitting outside of Mumbia and heating up talapia-curry in a corporate microwave.  He explained every little detail of the contract. Every. Little. Detail. Over and over again.  It took 42 minutes to actually take possession of the keys from him.  Think about it – that is almost it took you to read this far in my rambling blog. Go figure, karma.

The only thing that sticks out in my head is “Do you want the insurance?” and before I can reply he says “Let me explain” which takes 28 minutes.  I already decided – yes, for the $88 or whatever I want whatever you will give me to protect whatever I put inside this 26x8x7.5′ box of fun.

Home Depot

So, race cars do not just live inside 26 foot long rental trucks natively.  They’ll roll around. Or slide. And all the spare parts will fly everywhere.  That is bad.  So, I gotta tie this new car down.  But, rental trucks do not have tie-downs on the floor (just the walls).

So, the plan has always included going and getting tie-down D-rings and bolting them to the floor.  Since I was in Manhattan all week – I decided to goto the Home Depot in Manhattan (yes, a Home Depot inside the city – it is 3 or 4 floors underground and HUUUUUGE. Pretty neat).  Well, I get there and find D-rings – they are $12 each. What?! These should be $4. No way, Manhattites. Take your high price of land correspondent to your high priced D-rings… I’ll just get them in Suburbia Connecticut and save some money. And, the suburbia store will have a better selection.  At the time, saving $16 on D-rings when buying a racecar is a clear thought.

Well, after finding the Home Depot, which is on the wrong side of the street (well, everything is when you’re driving a 26′ moving truck in 5pm traffic an hour outside New York City) and parking this behemoth,  I enter the HD in search of the aisle containing my bargain of D-rings…..only to find the exact same selection as the Manhattan Home Depot. And, at $12 each.  This is the first, of many, outbursts of profanity followed by deep breaths.

So, I grab the D-rings. Did I mention there are ONLY THREE D-RINGS?  The Manhattan store had a bazillion (who needs that in the city? who even owns a car?).  So, I buy some “hitching posts” looking things – which hopefully are good at deception and don’t reflect their weak appearance.

Driving to Tod’s house

For those who skipped ahead of the last ramblance of text, Tod is who I am buying the car from.  Driving has gotten much more interesting in a 26′ truck at night. In 5pm traffic.    Did I mention that Tod lives on top of a hill.  This place takes about 7 miles of twisty 2-lane road to get to.  If you haven’t visualized this yet – think of trying to push a square of jello around a banister. Red jello. Over white carpet. With your crazy great aunt looking over you.  It is that much fun. Really.

Get to Tod’s.  Realize it is cold out. Real cold.  5 minutes out of the truck and I can’t feel my toes. Oh, wait, there is feeling again – oh, that is the shooting pain of frostbite setting in.  It is around 20f now.

We load the car. It is suprisingly easy with the help of a small valley in his yard that we put the truck into, so the car only has to roll up a 15 degree slope or so.  We load lots of spare parts.  And then a spare frame. And more parts.  Good thing its a huge truck – used up most of it.  Glad I didn’t skimp and get the 18 footer.

Elizabeth and I have some pizza, and find out that Tod went to college literally across the street where I now live in Dayton (University of Dayton).  And, that he got stabbed by an old lady with a pen while panty-raiding the dorm across the street from me (Sorry Tod, that’s too good not to mention).  Fantastic. So did I. But I was 27 when I did that and it was a felony.

Drive to Ohio

We get all loaded up and ready to head out – Tod gives us some final directions, which match up with the Budget provided GPS.  All sounds good to get out of this twisty-road mess in 3 or 4 miles and onto some highway.  Awesome.

We get 3 miles down, turn where directed and promptly see that the road now has an 11′ height restriction 5 miles ahead. We’re 13′ high.  Ah, damn.  It is dark out. Crazy dark. Like, middle of nowhere dark. But, in that mystical darkness, the eerie glow of Garmin technology shines like a North Star.

We tell the GPS to detour us.  The GPS is telling is to turn off 2.5 miles up.  Cool.  We take the recommended left turn, then go 150 feet, then take right.  Sounds simple – but no. doh! – the 2nd road is closed.  Closed as in barricaded (cause, in a rental truck ‘closed’ is relative).

Here is my thought process at the time:
Keep going, it’ll recalculate!
This looks dark.
Real dark.
Is this a road?

This is Elizabeth’s thought process at the time:
Oh shit.
What is he thinking?
Moron. Wrong turn.
See above x24928

While driving, the GPS thinks about it, and says to turn right a mile or so up.  It is very dark. Very very dark, and the headlights on this thing suck.  I turn right. About half way into the turn we realize it is a dirt road.  Gray or black dirt, but dirt.  Wonderful (see above Elizbeth thought process. Now we’re both on that line of thought).

There’s no backing up in the dark with this thing.  Who knows what ditch I’ll fall into. So we truck ahead (pun intended).  We are less than 10 miles from our starting point and already doing horrible. Yay.

It is about 10pm now.  The 8 miles to get away from Tod’s house to the highway take almost 45 minutes.  I believe we got sucked into a Langolier portal or something, as I don’t exactly know what happened during that time.  Maybe it is because it was 10pm on a Friday night and my mind is used to not remembering this time period.

We get on the interstate.  I’ve never felt so good to see that little 5-star sign honoring Eisenhower’s Interstate System.  I floor the truck and believe I said ‘giddiup’.  We hit 57mph.  58mph. Nope, back to 57.  What?!?!?!?   We did 65-67 on the way to Tod’s.  I think that with the load it cant go this fast. But, no, it sounds funny, too.

We drive 8 or 9 miles at 55.  The engine sounds like its revving high.  I goto turn on the dome lights to grab the manual or something. And, in the process of hitting buttons that I thought turned the dome light on earlier – the truck shifts into overdrive, propelling us to a newfound top speed of 70mph! Apparently, when we were trying to turn on the truck interior lights earlier, I hit the overdrive-off switch.  Whew! For a while I thought we were going to drive 670 miles at 55mph. That is so 1965.

We drive through the night, at least a few hours.  Then it starts to flurry (thats light snow for those who don’t follow weather north of the Mason-Dixon line).  Then, about when we’re into Pennslyvania, it starts to really really snow.  I later learn that the areas we drove through at 1-5am got 6″ of snow.  We stop for gas about 2am somewhere in PA, and the snow on the ground is about 2″.

We stop the sleep twice. Well, I stop to sleep – Elizabeth sleeps when she wants.  Which generally is until I fall alseep while piloting this beast and run off the road in the snow and it makes lots of noise.  She wakes up for that. Or, she wakes up when really bad country music came on the radio.

At about 4am, I realized how much snow there was as I was going up a hill on interstate in PA.  The rear wheels started spinning going up a hill at 50mph.  The back of the truck slid out of the lane as we were going up hill.

At this point, we pulled over and slept an hour or so.  If you ever want to make your chairopractor earn his pay – sleep in a moving truck for a few hours. Ow.

We kept truckin’ (I’ll be honest, I giggle everytime I type that) through dawn.  We go by Mansfield Ohio, which has the Mid-Ohio Raceway which I plan to be my first event, at about 9:30am.  Columbus about 11am. And home by noon.

So, after 16 hours of driving thru twisty roads, a dirt road, snow, traffic and no sleep – its time to throw the car in the garage for me and Elizabeth to go watch Michigan football….

I enlist a few friends to unload the car and we’re done!

Me unloading car

unloading car. ghetto ramps!

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