Monday, August 31, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Here's the hotel we found in The Dalles. Clean, great rates, and the 1950's bathroom was absolutely unchanged from the day the place opened, right down to the clear fiberglass toilet set with embedded flowers!
Multnomah Falls outside of Portland.
The park ranger at Big Trees was sour when we asked where the Tour Thru Tree was- turns out it's on private property. As we walked away the people behind us asked him the same question.
Strangely, no mention of the Georgia Bigfoot in the freezer.
We stopped at the Olive Pit in Corning a couple of hours from home. I pulled around the back to find some shade and encountered Mike Harrell and his KV1 microcar, fresh from his 'Worst of Show' win at the inaugural Concours D'LeMons in Monterey! Ironically enough, he beat a Crosley Hotshot for the honors.
The KV1 was a French microcar belt-driven by a 125 cc 2 stroke moped motor - and that's the normal part. The abnormal part was that the drive was transmitted to the wheels via friction drive- a grinding stone that turned each wheel! I'm not sure I'd have believed this if I hadn't seen it... especially when i learned that this car was built in 1980! They were built to target a very specific market- a loophole allowed them to be driven without a license! 2000 were built over 12 years or so. Harrell has two.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I've been looking for a daily driver to replace the much-beloved '62 Valiant wagon I sold over a year ago after it was hit for the fifth time. I obsessively surfed Craigslist and last month I found a clean, two-owner, low mile 1962 Plymouth Savoy for sale in Newport, Washington, about an hour north of Spokane. I wasn't really looking for a full size four door, but the condition, slant six motor and three-on-the-tree were very intriguing. So was the owner- Mike, a Mopar nut who was selling off the last of a large car collection that had included a 413 max wedge car, a '62 Fury wagon (that was sold to Disney) and a Ferrari Dino. When I asked what the Savoy would need to make it to Sacramento he said, 'Nothing. I'd drive this across country right now.' That's what I wanted to hear.
The car was pretty much as described, although I think it has 161,000 miles (rather than the 61,000 Mike thought) based on pedal wear. Still, it's a clean (almost too clean for me to be comfortable) car with lots of life left. He'd had the head rebuilt to run unleaded gas a few years back, the brakes and tires had about 1000 miles on them, as did the clutch, radiator and all the hoses. The keys fit in the door locks, but the works are all gummed up- he'd never locked it.
Mike gave us a quick tour of the car’s quirks and I hopped in. It fired right up and we headed south. Only 1200 miles to home…
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
I'd wondered why Dale and Rob had kept such a low profile with their car building. Dale posts on the Crosley Yahoo group and is involved in club stuff, but hadn't mentioned anything about the car. Turns out that they wanted to avoid letting the Evil Tweety team know that they'd have extra competition this year.
Evil Tweety is the current J Production class record holder. The 1971 Honda Z600 has been battling it out with Gerald Davenport's Crosley for salt supremacy for a decade now. Boasting a very warmed-up motor, a computer-aided induction/timing system and a much 'cleaner' underside than a Crosley, Evil Tweety took the record back, and then broke the century mark a couple of years ago. The current record is just over 103 MPH. Team Liebherr didn't want Tweety to know that it was in their sights.
We called Dale from the salt and arranged to meet them at their pit. Pits were arranged parallel to the Long Track starting at about the two mile mark and going to just about the four mile mark. The Liebherrs had scored prime real estate at the three mile mark... just about optimum for watching the races.
The car is an almost stock-appearing 1947 sedan. Dale bought the car from Bob Carson twenty years ago and it sat in the desert until after the 2007 meet. Then they got to work. Rob handled the bodywork and paint (and drives the car). Production class rules do not allow modification of the body, and one of Dale and Rob's personal rules was that the car could not be modified in a way that could not be easily converted back to a correct restoration. I'm fairly sure they are the only team on the salt with that thought in mind. Even the stock wheelwells are intact- though sporting handmade 15 inch rims and racing rubber.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
We parked the truck, slathered ourselves with spf50 (don't forget to apply under the chin!) and hit the salt on foot. There were about 100 cars parked haphazardly around and some people had set up small sun shades. We could hear announcements being made over a loudspeaker. At first I thought we might be at the pits, but quickly realized that there were no car haulers and no work being done. We soon encountered the SCTA timing tower and the line of cars ready to get to work; we were at the starting line!
There were three tracks set up this year, Long (5 miles), Short (3 miles) and 'Special'. No one seemed to know why the Special track was so called except that it was special to even have a third track- usually there are only the two. In any case, it was also a short (3 mile) track, and was set off quite a ways from the other two tracks. We never actually saw any of the Special track runs since we kept pretty busy with the other two.
I'm not sure how I expected the trials to be run, but I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of BS. Cars lined up behind the starting points, waiting their turn on the track. The lines went pretty quickly. A car/cycle would come up to the starter who would check that the driver was buckled in and confirm the info for the run. production class vehicles had to start under their own power, while the altered classes generally had a push car to get them going. Once they took off the starter would watch to make sure they hadn't had a problem and start getting the next car or bike ready to go. Once the track was clear, the next trial was given the go. The SCTA grandstand would announce the speed at various marker points and if a record had been set.
Spectators were free to go anywhere they wanted, and there were hundreds of people milling around. Some were set up to watch every single takeoff, others were clearly rooting for certain people, and lots were just wandering around, taking it all in and snapping pictures. The teams seemed very relaxed and chatted with the bystanders. SCTA officials rolled around on tiny bikes, each and every one sporting the classic white on white drag strip look.