It bears repeating: the 1998 New England 1000 event, my first participation in classic car rallying, forever changed the way I would look at the old car hobby. We were back for 1999. (I had mentioned that rally brother Steve handed over a deposit check for the following year’s rally during the final dinner of the 1998 event. This was done in exchange for the promise that we would be given Plate #01, and we were.)
Steve’s Tiger was in such great shape that there was little to do to it during the wait for the next rally to start. There was a distinct change in our automotive-themed discussions, though: any talk about purchasing collector-type cars was immediately challenged with the question: “can it be driven in the rally?” Talk about a paradigm shift.
The host hotel this year was the Sagamore Resort, located on Lake George NY. Now, before you Yankees get your windjammers in a knot, I know darn well that “New York” is not “New England”. Hey, it’s not my event to plan. But the Sagamore proved to be a wonderful starting and ending location, and, most of the driving was in fact done in various “authentic” New England States.
The 1999 rally was much like the 1998 rally, but on different roads. We saw several of the same couples, and our camaraderie grew, as we now had common experiences. One couple in particular, Dave and Deb Allison from North Carolina, became good friends. They had attended the ’98 rally driving a Lotus Elise. This year, they were back with a gorgeous Alfa Giulietta spider.
Not only were the roads different, most of the participating cars were as well. Word must have gotten out to one of the Mercedes clubs (at this point, Mercedes Benz USA was the official sponsor of the rally), as there were no fewer than NINE 300SL Gullwing coupes and roadsters registered.
We were also getting used to the navigation directions. “Top of the notch”, “Axle breaker”, “Easy to miss” and “Moose alert” entered the vocabulary after the rally too.
The year 1999 would mark the first time (and far from the last) that we would visit the RPM (Restoration & Performance Motorcars) shop in Vergennes VT. Ably run by Peter Markowski, his son Stephen, and a talented crew, RPM specializes in restoring high-end European sports cars, but will perform the most basic maintenance jobs also. The gearhead in me got a kick out of seeing Ferrari 12-cylinder engines in various states of disassembly.
All too soon, it was over. The Tiger again proved to be a dependable rally champ. A new addiction had taken hold. We learned that next year’s rally, in honor of Y2K, would be 2,000 kilometers. We and the Tiger would be back.
All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.