Third day “Forging Ahead”.

Third day “Forging Ahead”.

Today was a pretty good day for us, a great improvement at least.

We started out by grabbing today’s directions from our hotel. This was a nice change not having to figure out how to get to another hotel in order to get our route for today’s race course. After grabbing our directions we piled in and made way towards the start line.

DSCN0975Soon enough we were off to begin another day, hopefully a little better than the day before. This time around we got into a system so that everyone was involved, we definitely became more efficient. Obviously there were the drivers and navigators, but the other two would be either looking out for landmarks for directions, or tapping the driver’s should left or right to signal which way they should go. This was very helpful, because the navigator can focus more on the directions as well as alerting the driver to what is ahead, i.e. going downhill, uphill, veering left or right. This is a huge benefit because the driver is doing their best to balance between looking at the road or the speedometer, which usually makes neither one quite as good as it should be. The driver could focus more on the speedo, and if they started to veer too much to either side of us, whoever was sitting behind him, would tap his shoulder on whatever side he needed to go towards.

DSCN0998Lunch today was a little different than what we had experienced. Today we had lunch at East Stroudsburg University, in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. We were very tight on the clock, because of a decent sized transfer time between points. Instead of being in the middle of town, with a big town welcome and such we had lunch at the college. The food was fine and their dining area was much larger than what we had at McPherson. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t have that community feeling of previous towns. After scarfing down lunch we headed out. Anyone notice how often I mention food? That’s very important to 4 guys stuck in a car all day. not only are the stops welcome spots to stretch out, we get pretty hungry!

DSCN1001Today was fairly smooth, aside from a missed turn & speed change.  The missed turn happened on our third leg in which we were off by about two minutes, and were trying to figure out exactly where we should be. Eventually we just started following the Jaguar that was supposed to be behind us. It was a complete accident that they were ahead and just driving to try and find their place. Unfortunately for them we were behind so they were in the same boat. Eventually we just said to heck with it! We drove up to the Bentley that was supposed to be a minute in front of us timed it nearly a minute in front putting us , in theory if they are doing everything right, in the right place.

Luckily not long after we got everything situated we got our mark. From there everything was a clean slate. Unfortunately we were so happy about our mark and writing down the time we passed, and such, that we did not notice the sign that immediately followed it, in which we were supposed to have a speed change. That actually became our worst time for the day.

DSCN1032The highlight of today though was when we were off the clock and drove through Valley Forge National Park, where the Continental Army stayed from 1777-1778. The land looked completely untouched. Along the roads around the park were all sorts of commemorative statues, cannons, shacks that looked like they were from the 18th century, as well as all sorts of historical stuff to see. Of course the best part was the caravan of vintage cars driving through. I would love to come back at some point and walk around to see the entire area.

After our scenic drive we continued to the Valley Forge Casino Resort, where we are currently staying for the night. I had never been to a Casino and it is a different experience, for sure.

Today was pretty good, score wise. Three of our four sections were pretty good. Our best score was three seconds early, which was the leg that we were most lost at. Our worst score was 0:51 seconds late, which was due to that one missed because of its placement immediately after the mark. It shows that we are getting really close, just a little more honing.

Tomorrow onward to Portsmouth, Virginia.

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The second day of dancing; with a few stumbled steps

The second day of dancing; with a few stumbled steps

Today marked the second day of the competition, which started out somewhat rough.

Soon after we left the hotel our car started backfiring, stuttering, and not accelerating. All of which was not the way we wanted to start the day. All of which seemed to be when we were either changing speeds or going over 55mph. We limped to the hotel where we could pick up our directions and devised a game plan on what to do.

When we go to the hotel it was decided that Jake & Tony would replace the points & condenser while Austin & I went to receive our course instructions for the day at WP_20140622_004our scheduled time half an hour before we were to leave. Soon after, Jake & Tony finished up on the Fairlane and we headed off, with not much improvement. After navigating to near the start line, we pulled off and were going to replace the spark plugs, but had misplaced the needed socket. After finding the proper tools and eventually replacing these, which didn’t look too bad, we were back on the road and heading to the starting point. Unfortunately we were still chugging, but the situation had improved slightly. We pulled off into parking lot where everyone else was gathering, not but 100 yards from the start and decided to rapidly replace the coil. Luckily we had all of these parts lying in the trunk for situations like these.

After that we jumped in the car and started up, and she was running like a champ again. Unfortunately we were at half a tank and four minutes till we had to start. The gauge had been finicky yesterday, so we were not sure how much gas we really had and were praying that it would last until the first transition period to fill up. However, time was up and we were off.

DSCN0823Navigation went fairly well for most of the time; we did miss one turn and had to double back. We recovered time by thoroughly testing out the Fairlane at high speeds, passing not one, but two racers to get back into our spot. This technique is called hacking, in which you gauge where you are supposed to be by looking at who is supposed to be in front of and behind you. This worked out fine, because a Cadillac was close on our tail for the longest time, so we merely jumped in front of them.

WP_20140622_010From there till lunch we had some smooth sailing. The scenery was extremely beautiful and heavily wooded. Too bad for Tony, he couldn’t appreciate much of it, as he had to look at the speedometer and the road the whole time. Eventually we weaved our way to Benngington, Vermont where we had lunch. Luckily our gas held up. I am always impressed at how the town gets involved. We had lunch inside the fire department’s building and occupying the nearby parking lot with all the racers. Droves of people were there to cheer us on and see what was happening, matched with dedicated volunteers at each town to help out as well.

DSCN0884After eating lunch we followed the directions, which led us by Hemmings Motor News Headquarters, in Bennington, as well as the full service gas station next door. There was a museum that was available to go through, but many of the racers, including ourselves, wanted to get close to the start line, and not risk leaving late.

From that starting point to the end of the race we had fairly smooth sailing again, except one more missed turn. This one however we made up a little more gradually. We enjoyed our long cruises that involved fewer starts and stops and more of just turns and straightaways. It was a time where we could relax a little and enjoy. Eventually we made it to Poughkeepsie, New York after an unusual turn of being on a local interstate, while still on the clock.

DSCN0906We made it through Poughkeepsie and to the parking area, next to the Hudson River, where we met up with Brian Martin, again, and another of the students from the college, Matt Lynch. As soon as we got out of the car we were swarmed by three groups of people. Two were Great Race related, merely wanting to talk and film, asking us how things were so far. The other was filming a car culture documentary for National DSCN0926Geographic and wanted to ask us about the school, our passion for cars, and The Great Race. After all of which Brian took us out to dinner to discuss our scores. We had slightly disappointing scores for the day, but oh well there is always tomorrow. We linked it to reading some wrong signs, because there were other racers, whom had almost identical times in those legs as well. The others were thought to be due to the missed turns.

We traveled through Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and finally ending up in New York. All of which were beautiful in their own regards. Our road trip continues, and hopefully we have found the last kinks in our system.

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First day in the saddle, & a little saddle sore

First day in the saddle, & a little saddle sore

DSCN0649Today was our first real day of racing. We started out by leaving the hotel at 8:15 and heading to the beach for our ceremonial kickoff. In actuality we would begin about an hour after our liturgical opening and have our real start on the side of a road with no one to cheer us on but ourselves and the other teams eagerly waiting their scheduled departure.

 

DSCN0656At the beach the cars were all ushered in and parked in their respective areas of departure around the time that they were to be let off. Our entourage had some time to talk to folks coming to check out our car, as well as see the other cars, since they were all together and in a very scenic location. Soon enough we all had to pile in and head to the banner. The Announcer for the entire race, “Motormouth” gave us a wonderful introduction, about ourselves and the college. From there we were off to find our true start.

DSCN0674The plan was for Jake & Austin to start us off navigating and driving. We began fairly strong and made it decently up to lunch. Our main concern was that we were creeping up on the car that was supposed to be exactly one minute ahead of us at all times. At one point we were stopped side by side at a stop sign. This had us extremely worried.

 

WP_20140621_002Eventually we made it to our lunch break in Rochester, New Hampshire. This was a provided lunch, so all we had to do was walk up get our hamburger, sides, drink, & enjoy. We were able to discuss with the 1940 coupe driver that we creeped up, whom were also concerned. When talking to another group we found out that we had been calculating something wrong, making all of our stops a little faster, which explained why we were creeping up on the coupe. Luckily we got that sorted out. Overall the lunch stop was great because it was neat to see all of the cars lining the streets, and the town coming out to see us, making a small impromptu car show.

Soon enough we got back in the saddle and continued. Jake & Austin still had the helm, to use the new methods, so that we might have something to compare later. Unfortunately a large setback occurred when we skipped a turn and has to wait around 45 seconds to get back on the road, due to oncoming traffic. That and we were getting passed by other vehicles, which was kind of confusing as well. Eventually with a few other things happening we just had to ignore everybody & persevere. We found out that Jake has some pretty good reaction time, because he was able to give us quite a ride when seeing a street that we had to suddenly turn on when we were going around 40mph, (really Brian I swear we are being good).

DSCN0738After a checkpoint and some fairly relaxed cruising around we were feeling pretty good. Eventually doing a loop and getting to our final checkpoint. There was an obvious sigh of relief when we were finally off the clock and waiting to get back, which was still over half an hour away. After our time on the highway we made it into Lowell, Massachusetts. I thought it was a nifty town As soon as we entered there were all sorts of old brick industrial buildings, some run down, and some not so much. After following directions, and the other racers, we made it into the heart of downtown and parked so we could have dinner.

DSCN0792We also received our times for the day. Funny enough we had two really good legs on the race course, one being 5 seconds off and another being a mere 1 second off. What was most surprising about these, was that they occurred at the times when we were most off time, or so we thought. So now we have to rethink our strategy.

What was also really neat was that not only were all the race cars parked out, but some of the locals cars were out as well, and the area was packed with people. Everybody’s cars had to be parked till 8, after which everybody took off to go to their hotels.

Now we are at our hotel room and getting ready to figure out a strategy, game plan, what worked and didn’t for tomorrow.

On a parting note I have received some questions about the reference of Eliza and her being our “Fair Lady”. In later 1956 the musical “My Fair Lady” came out on Broadway. Some of you may have seen the 1964 version starring Audrey Hepburn & Rex Harrison. Anyways, the main character of the musical is named Eliza, and since our 1957 Ford is a Fairlane we figured she was our “Fair Lady”.

We had some of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Hopefully we can have more good than anything tomorrow.

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Trials & Tribulations of the Trophy Run

Trials & Tribulations of the Trophy Run

Today we received our first taste of what is to come over the next week.

DSCN0458We started out our day bright and early by meeting at our “Fairlady” , 6:45 a.m. sharp to be at breakfast by 7:00 a.m. We had selected a local restaurant last night, Amore Breakfast, because a woman was passing out the menus with a 20% off coupon for Great Racers, (remember poor college students). We all piled in and enjoyed our breakfast, the highlight for Jake & Tony being their corn beef hash, which was homemade. I didn’t have that, but according to them if you are in town, stop by Breakfast Amore for some of it. After our friendly breakfast we saw the woman who had given us the flyer, Leanne. She was very happy to see us and wanted a photo out back with us and Eliza, so of course we did. Free publicity!

DSCN0466After fueling ourselves we attended the mornings meet up to get our instructions for the day and to attend a couple of conferences before we headed off on the trophy run. After some quick calculating through lunch we headed on to the speedometer calibration run, because there is one each day. The meeting proved useful because we used a formula to find out exactly how much to calibrate our factor by. We turned out to be 26 clicks off. At first we thought that was a heck of a lot, but a fellow racer said that the first time they calibrated they needed a little over 100 clicks. Whew! What a way to make a first time racer nervous!!!

DSCN0505We snaked our way to the starting line, which was just a road full of cars on either side waiting for their assigned time. Finally our time came up, 3:00p.m. , though we all knew this was merely a practice run, we were all a little nervous. Our team started off with a strong start. For a good chunk of the run Jake & Austin were at the helm. It was evident that we all needed to adjust to how we needed to operate when we are in the race, because there was chit chat, confusing directions, & and a little backseat driving occurring. It was kind of amusing when there was chiming in and a little stressing out. I merely sat in the back taking notes and pictures.

A few notes along our route were beautiful scenery, seeing all of these neat cars driving DSCN0525along these back roads, & the street names. Within the first five minutes of driving we passed “Hourglass Lane”, how ironic right? Other notable ones were “None Such Road”, “Not a Road Private Lane”, “Poor Farm Lane”, & “Swampman John”; Small tidbits of humor to relieve the stress. It was also interesting to see some of the tribulations that our fellow racers encountered. We had some racers just blow by us, meaning they took a wrong turn at some point and desperately needed to catch up. We saw that someone had lost their hubcap and was looking for it in the woods. We were also behind someone who blew past where you were supposed to turn. We never saw them pass us, so we are unsure of what happened to them.

DSCN0520Nearly ¾ of the way through our team had the opportunity to switch out allowing Tony & I to take the reins. We had some issues filling up our tank, because our payment methods were not working. When they finally did work & we finished filling up and we realized that we had a little more than five minutes to get to our new starting point. Luckily we made it with 50 seconds till we had to go. Not a moment too soon. We saw the 1940 Ford Coupe that was supposed to be a minute before us leave as we pulled up.

We definitely had our share of bumps as well. At one point we were stuck behind traffic and needed to catch-up on time. Unfortunately we had to turn before we could finish it up, so we had a little guessing to try and get what we believed to be on time. Eventually, we made it to the end. We were happy to be done, though we know that we need to prepare and come up with a game plan for tomorrow. The funny part of the course was that we ended back to outskirts of Ogunquit, where we started our calibration run a few hours ago. It sure did not feel like that though, but welcome no less.

While we were heading back to the hotel to go to the Hagerty cocktail party, Tony saw an abandoned house, which was agreed upon to be a good fixer upper. We parked Eliza in front for a impromptu photo shoot. After her pinup shots we headed off to the party.

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WP_20140620_009It was a quick three minute walk from our hotel, to the event which was nice. There were plenty of Hors d’oeuvres to be had, but the most peculiar thing was something I called a “mashtini”. It was two scoops of mashed potatoes served in a plastic martini glass, with an assortment of toppings available. It was good…but odd. After talking to the other racers for a while we headed back to rest up for tomorrow.

 

 

 

Tomorrow begins the first real day of the race, and the first day of our great journey.

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Lobsters, Ice-cream, & Tires

Lobsters, Ice-cream, & Tires

Today was the day of speedometer calibration, which started at 8:00 a.m. , & and then tech inspection at 4:45 p.m. In between then we were free to do whatever we wanted to, for the most part, within reason.

We started the day out by heading to the one of the local hotels to get our directions for our speedometer calibration. The speedometer calibration consisted of being on a highway, (which was pretty much a straight line), at a constant speed. We were to stay at 50mph for the duration and time ourselves at landmarks, to see how far off we were time-wise. From there, we could adjust the speedometer as close as we could however many clicks we would decide, depending how drastically off we were, which in our case was not too bad.

DSCN0403After that we headed to breakfast and then shopping for supplies for the next few days. The highlight of the day was probably seeing another student from the college, Austin Ehret. Austin lives in the neighboring town of York, so he met up with us at our hotel and we all headed to lunch. Our idea for the day was to find a Lobster Shack. By that we meant an actual shack that pretty much only served lobster, and maybe a few other things. Be careful what you wish for, because that is exactly what we got. We found a little placeDSCN0408 called Beach Plum Lobster Farm. This was literally a little shack tucked behind a building, next to a pond & the woods. The two folks working there, Dave & Tina, were very nice and got us exactly what we had envisioned. When we walked in the first thing Dave said to us is, “I’ve got Lobsters & Clams”. Literally all they had was a tank full of lobsters and a pile of clams. A lobster for each of us and we shared a pile of clams. The place didn’t even have drinks inside; you had to buy them from the vending machine outside.

Once our meal arrived, we all dug in. It was pretty entertaining to everyone else, because Austin Hiebert & I had never had lobster before, let alone having to try and break it open with hand tools. Needless to say we had a tough time and had lobster juice everywhere. After that we had to pick up a patched tire for the rental car and then onward to some ice-cream, myself having one called “lobster tracks”. Live like the locals right? After that we went back to the hotel to allow Austin Ehret (not to be confused with navigator Austin Hiebert) to go back home.DSCN0418

DSCN0444We still had some time before the tech inspection so we decided to go do another speedo calibration run, because we were still a little off. After we were satisfied with our results, we headed to our tech inspection. Essentially the tech inspection is merely pre-registration & checking to see if everything works properly including all of our safety features. This is also where we needed to take off last year’s Great Race Sticker and slap on the new one. We decided to get some poster board and were able to take the old stickers off and transfer them to the poster board.  Our Fair Lady passed with flying colors, and looks real sharp with her new racing sticker and hub caps.

For most of the trip we are now on our own, because our chaperone, Brian Martin had other obligations to attend to. Thanks Brian! We will try and not get into too much trouble. We are all incredibly excited for tomorrow, because we get a taste of what it is to come. Tomorrow is the Hagerty Trophy Run, which will not affect the results of the race, but helps people get in the mindset and some extra practice.

Tune in next time same Bat-Time, Same Bat Channel. Go Bulldogs!

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Assembling the Team

Today we assembled the team.

Yesterday, Austin, Brian, & I flew into Boston and cruised on up to Ogunquit,Maine, the starting DSCN0330point of The Great Race. Today we got Jake, Tony, and Eliza (the 57 Fairlane). She was dropped off about a mile from our hotel by Passport Transport. We have to give a great thank you to Passport Transport for getting her here promptly and safely. After getting Eliza, we took her on the road and to the wash. Funny enough we saw two other oldies next to us. A 1950s GMC and a 47/48 Cadillac, all that was going through my head was the song “Car Wash”. Since she was all shined up we took her by the sea and had our team reunion photo.

DSCN0375We are looking forward to tomorrow for our measured mile speedo calibration, & tech inspection

Here is our list of the crew for this year.

Tony diValentin

Senior – As returning driver for McPherson College, I look forward to driving down the eastern coast to my home state of Florida while simultaneously defending our X-Cup title. I’m currently working at a private collection in Jupiter, FL that consists mainly of vintage race cars that are driven on a regular basis, but welcome the break in order to participate in what has quickly become the highlight of my summer!

Jake O’Gorman

Junior – I originally hail from Southern Ontario, Canada and plan to represent the college and my country while touring down the East Coast in our classey 57′ Fairlane! I am currently interning with RM Auctions working on researching historic cars, marketing them and running auctions during the school year. I’ll keep my eyes on the speedo and a (tame) foot on the gas; I can’t wait to get started!

Austin Hiebert

Sophomore – Proudly representing the state of Kansas, the home state of myself as well as the college, I will be sharing the spot of navigator on this year’s race. I hail from a Kansas farm and am honored to be able to take a break from the daily work load and be a part of representing the college, our program, and seeing the East coast for the first time!

Justin Smeltzer

Sophmore– I am from the far other side of the country,Southern California. I just finished my first year at McPherson College and am excited to be involved in the Great Race. I am being a navigator for this outing and am hoping to not get us too lost. Honestly I am just excited to go on a 2100 mile road trip in the 57. How many people can say they’ve done that? If you like the stuff you’ll see on this blog you can follow me on mine at cainks.wordpress.com