The “Drive Toward A Cure” California Adventure Rally, April 2017

When my rally brother Steve and I first started rallying together in the late 1990s, we both lived in New Jersey. Steve owned his ’66 Sunbeam Tiger, which was a great car for these events.

After several years of this, Steve took a job transfer to California, but we both wanted to continue participating in the New England 1000. This meant that Steve needed to fly east, and your scribe needed to provide the rally ride. Steve did come back to this area four times between 2005 and 2015. For those rallies, we initially drove my ’68 Mustang California Special. When that car went away, we switched to my ’67 Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Junior.

Throughout this time, I had always informed him that should a left-coast event become available, I’d return the favor and fly west. Besides, the thrill of driving that V8-powered British sports car of his was something I savored to repeat. During the winter of 2016-2017, we found an opportunity that seemed to hit all the right notes.

The rally was called “Drive Toward a Cure”. Scheduled to be held in April of 2017, it would be a 3-day event, starting in downtown Los Angeles, and overnighting in Paso Robles in central CA. Its mission: raise funds and awareness for Parkinson’s Disease. We would be driving in its inaugural run. We were in!

With a rally push-off date of Friday April 28, I flew out on Wednesday the 26th, to meet up with Steve on Thursday and attend to any last-minute details. It was great to see the Tiger again. We changed the oil and buttoned up a few loose ends. The biggest difference compared to last time was the installation of a hardtop, which meant no top-down driving.

Rally brothers ready for the next adventure

Friday morning arrived quickly enough. We were up at 4:30 a.m. (my body still on NY time), because we needed to depart his house at 5:15 a.m. to reach our destination, the Petersen Museum in L.A., at 7 a.m.

This New Yorker couldn’t believe the traffic on the highways of southern California at 6 a.m. on a weekday morning! Steve drove in without issue, and we parked at the Petersen to collect our registration papers, get coffee, and meet some of our fellow rallyists.

The Tiger gets its rally decals installed

There were approximately 20 cars with scheduled check-out times one minute apart. One of the unique features of this rally was that there were another 20 cars doing likewise, but starting in Danville, outside of San Francisco. They would head south as we headed north. We would not see those cars until our rendezvous at our host hotel.

The Petersen parking deck, Friday morning

 

The Tiger (with a Goat on the left) ready to depart

We left the parking deck of the Petersen, and drove directly into… downtown LA congestion. We were trying to get to the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), just a few blocks away, but gridlock maximized our time getting there.

Once on the PCH, we were moving along nicely. After a few miles, we turned right, and went straight uphill into the mountains. By this time, there was a lineup of 4 to 5 rally cars behind us, and one in front of us. The lead car was a Jensen Interceptor Coupe, with a Chrysler V8. Another hybrid, just like our Tiger.

The Jensen Interceptor of Bob Humphreys leads the way

The scenery of oceanfront beaches changed to deep canyons full of verdant foliage. The roads were winding, with sharp bends and hairpin switchbacks. For long stretches, there were no guardrails between you and the bottom of the canyon. It didn’t matter. The weather was perfect.

Porsche 356 on our tail(fin), with more rally cars behind it

Our first stop was the Mullin Museum in Oxnard. Peter Mullin’s private collection resides here, and it consists of exclusively French automobiles. The museum’s interior design is just as impressive as the cars. The only drawback to our visit was a one-hour limitation, which meant we may have seen about 25% of it.

The stunning interior of the Mullin Museum

 

The Bugatti which sat at the bottom of Lake Como for 50 years, now at the Mullin

Yes, we were “encouraged” to keep moving, but it’s important to point out that very much UNLIKE the NE1000, our driving stages were NOT timed. This California Adventure was not a TSD (time/speed/distance) type rally, and as such, it made for a more relaxed driving atmosphere behind the wheel.

A collection of rally cars at rest

Lunch was in the charming town of Solvang (it’s redundant to say “charming” about these California towns outside of the metropolitan areas), and we were back in the saddle to be on time for 7 p.m. dinner at the Allegretto Resort in Paso Robles.

We were very, very late for dinner.

With me behind the wheel, Steve saw it first. The temperature gauge, which we monitored constantly, suddenly shot up well past what had been its normal 200 F. I pulled into a bank parking lot; we opened the hood; and it was a trifecta: the sight of green fluid all over the engine compartment; the unmistakable odor of hot coolant; and a loud hiss as the steaming liquid and vapor tried to escape.

Steve checked the radiator hose clamps for tightness. He had just replaced the factory radiator with an aluminum model to try to stay one step ahead of the Tiger’s Achilles Heel: excess engine heat. Steve reported that all clamps looked good. Because things were so hot under there, we were prevented from further diagnosis.

Our savior on Friday night came in the form of Hagerty roadside assistance, which was part of the rally’s benefit package. Within an hour, a flatbed truck picked up the car, and we rode in the cab with “Junior”. He drove us the final hour to the hotel. We walked into dinner at 9 p.m., tired, hungry, and most upsettingly, unsure of what was ahead for the car.

Junior loads the Tiger, with special thanks to Hagerty

What transpired on Saturday morning will restore anyone’s faith in human nature. Or, as Steve himself put it, “yes, there is a rally God”. (The details are in the sidebar story below: “Paso Robles Good Guys Rescue Stranded Tiger”.)

While we missed Saturday morning’s driving events, we didn’t miss lunch! After our meal (including a visit from the mayor of Paso Robles, Steve Martin), we were on the road again for the afternoon’s drives. (Another distinguishing characteristic compared to the NE1000: Day 1 is “rallying”; Day 2 is “scenic cruising”.) We drove through the mountainous landscape dotted with vineyards, then out to Cambria, on the coast, before heading back to the Allegretto.

The Tiger on the central California coast

Dinner was at a different nearby winery, and was served family style. You really get to know your fellow rallyists when you must ask the Ferrari driver “could you please pass the potatoes?” The free-flowing wine helped.

Sunday morning started with a surprise visit from the local San Luis Obispo-based AACA club. Several American classics, definitely different from the rally cars, were in the parking lot for us to admire. Soon after, we were headed to brunch at our 3rd winery stop (Paso Robles must have 100 vineyards). After brunch, it was adieus, and we were on our way home.

AACA cars:

The trip to Steve’s house was mostly on I-5, a north-south highway in the middle of the state. The ambient temperature increase was noticeable compared to the delightfully moderate Paso Robles, and we were glad for the hardtop. Had we been convertibling, we would have roasted.

The Tiger got us home in plenty of time for a celebratory dinner with Steve and his wife. All hot-running issues were behind us. The car did about 700 miles, and except for the hose failure, proved that you can drive a 51-year-old car in these kinds of adventures. We don’t exactly know what’s next in our quest for another rally, but it’s sure to yield stories.

 

 

 

Daimler and Bentley visit a vineyard

 

SIDEBAR: “Paso Robles Good Guys Rescue Stranded Tiger”

After being towed to our hotel on Friday night, it was a non-stop conversation centered around “what do we do now?” While it was necessary to begin to consider options for Sunday (Tow the car home? Leave it in Paso Robles and rent a car? FLY back to L.A.??), we also knew that we had to spend Saturday morning giving our best shot to a repair attempt.
Before breakfast, Steve worked the Google machine and compiled a list of local repair shops. Most of them didn’t open until 8 a.m., so we breakfasted at 7:30, then quickly headed back to the room to work the phones. With both of us making calls, I struck pay dirt on my 3rd try. “Jorge” at Dave Foltz Automotive answered the phone. I must have sounded like a broken-hearted teenager: “Hi, listen, I’m from out of town, we’re driving an old car, it broke down, we’re stranded, WWWAAAAAHHHHHH!!!”
Alright, it wasn’t that bad. Even if I did sound desperate, Jorge was cool and calm. “Listen, I don’t know what it is, but bring it in, and we’ll look at it right away.” “OK, Jorge, but I need it FLAT-BEDDED. Can you do that?” “No, but call Dennis at 123-456-7890.” I called Dennis. “Sure, I got a flat-bed. I can be there in 10 minutes.” Was I dreaming?
By the time we walked downstairs and out to the portico, Dennis and his truck were waiting for us. Dave Foltz Automotive was 1.5 miles away. As we pulled into the lot, I spotted a NAPA store next store. I mean, five paces away.
I jumped out and Jorge greeted me. But every bay was full, and I was doubtful they’d get to it anytime soon. Jorge said, “we’re finishing one up in 10 minutes, then we’ll bring in the Tiger”. Sure enough, the Tiger was next into the shop, and tech Antonio went to work. I sat in the customer lounge, and tried to distract myself with a year-old People magazine.
Within another few minutes, Jorge was in front of me with a blown lower radiator hose in his hands. “Hey, where do you get parts for something like this?” I said I had no flippin’ idea. He said that he’d walk next door to see what NAPA had. Back to People.
FIVE minutes later, the NAPA parts dude shows up holding a new version of the exact hose. I was so beside myself that I wanted to hug Jorge. (But I refrained.) A few more minutes with People, and I heard a honk. Antonio was outside, beckoning me to join him for a test drive. Halleluiah! They did it!
Antonio, our hero for the day
Total time at Dave Foltz: about 90 minutes. Total charges, including California surcharge for handling cancer-causing chemicals (I made that up): $106 (I didn’t make that up). Antonio got his palm greased to the tune of $20. The Tiger was back at the Allegretto by about 11 a.m. Saturday morning.
The fine auto repair personnel at Dave Foltz Automotive of Paso Robles deserve nothing but our highest praise. At 9 p.m. the night before, even my best-case fantasy didn’t have the car fixed THIS quickly.
The rally Gods smiled. “We’ll take care of you this time….”

All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

The 2001 New England 1000 Rally

My excitement was barely containable. For the FOURTH consecutive year, I would be driving in Rich and Jean Taylor’s wonderful vintage car rally, along with about 50 like-minded car enthusiasts. My good friend and rally partner Steve would again be joining the troupe, with one significant difference: we would each be taking our own cars. Steve would be teamed up with his girlfriend (now wife) Carol in their Sunbeam Tiger, and I with my fiancé (now wife) Margaretanne would drive our recently-acquired ’72 MGB. Oh boy.

Packing the Tiger's trunk: spare parts, tools, and the all-important wash bucket
Packing the Tiger’s trunk: spare parts, tools, and the all-important wash bucket

 

Cover page of our route instructions; the rally at this time was still sponsored by M-B
Yogi provides all the driving philosophy you need

 

They can’t say they didn’t ask for it. As alluded to in an earlier post, after three straight years of hearing us rave about the rallies, the ladies wanted in. We departed from Steve’s home in Morristown NJ and caravanned to the rally starting point in Lake Placid NY. My B, purchased just a month prior, was relatively untested, and I’ll admit to some trepidation about its roadworthiness (Lucas electrics and all that). However, Steve’s British car (aside from its Yank lump) had been a bastion of reliability all these years, so I did my best to cast aside doubts.

 

En route, the two Brit roadsters sit at a NY Thruway rest area
En route, the two Brit roadsters sit at a NY Thruway rest area

Arriving at the Mirror Lake Inn on Sunday May 20, the field of rally vehicles did not disappoint; if anything, this year’s variety of cars got more interesting. The number of domestic vehicles was greater than previously seen, and included a ’64 Corvette Sting Ray, ’70 Ford Mustang, ’63 Dodge Dart, ’61 Chrysler 300G, and ’62 Ford Thunderbird (ALL convertibles).

Nice overview of the parking lot, prior to the rally's start
Nice overview of the parking lot, prior to the rally’s start

The European sports cars continued to dominate the field, and we became almost blasé at repeated sightings of Mercedes 300-SLs, Porsche 356s, Aston-Martins, Jaguar XKs, and Ferraris. The BMW 507 seen earlier returned; and of special note to me, our friend Dave Allison, who had previously entered an Alfa Giulietta spider, a Porsche 356, and a Lotus Elite, showed up with a 1971 Austin Mini. His conclusion? Of the four, the Mini was his favorite to drive!

 

Aston, Jag, BMW (would make a nice collection for my garage)
Aston, Jag, BMW (would make a nice collection for my garage)

And drive we did; as always, it’s almost exactly 1,000 miles over four days (that’s why it’s called the N.E. 1000), not including our mileage up and back. Fears about the MGB were totally unfounded; we suffered no ill effects from driving an almost-30-year-old car (not counting a very fiddly convertible top). For my wife, truth be told, getting up early and adhering to a rigidly-scheduled day was not her idea of a vacation, but she did admit that the concept and the camaraderie made it fun.

Typical queue waiting for our time out
Typical queue waiting for our time out

 

And this was the line behind us
And this was the line behind us

 

The future Mrs. Reina takes her tun behind the wheel of the B
The future Mrs. Reina takes her turn behind the wheel of the B

The return trip was uneventful. I kept the MG for the remainder of 2001, but with the BMW Isetta finally being show ready, I wanted to focus on only one collector car. Besides, the newish ’93 Mazda Miata in the garage offered plenty of sporty top-down driving whenever I wanted, so in the spring of 2002, I sold the B for exactly what I paid for it.

Shortly after the conclusion of the 2001 rally, Steve and Carol relocated to California. Due in large part to our geographical separation, it would be another four years before we again entered a vintage rally together, driving a yet-to-be-purchased vehicle. Stay tuned for that story.

Beautiful backdrop for classic car lineup
Beautiful backdrop for classic car lineup

 

Dave shows all of us what that Mini can do (he WON the competitive driving award this year)
Dave shows all of us what that Mini can do (he WON the competitive driving award this year)

 

Big Chrysler almost looks at home among the sports cars
Big Chrysler almost looks at home among the sports cars

 

Two M-B 300SL roadsters sit it out
Two M-B 300SL roadsters sit it out

 

The best of Britain: Jaguar E-Type and Aston Martin DB-6
The best of Britain: Jaguar E-Type and Aston Martin DB-6

 

Drizzle required top-up, no quick job in the MG
Drizzle required top-up, no quick job in the MG

 

Lotus Europa
Lotus Europa

 

Aston Martin DB-5
Aston Martin DB-5

 

Alfa Romeo GTV #1
Alfa Romeo GTV #09

 

Alfa Romeo GTV #2
Alfa Romeo GTV #39

 

BMW 507
BMW 507

 

Dave Allison's Austin Mini
Dave Allison’s Austin Mini

 

Jaguar XK-150
Jaguar XK-150

 

Ferrari 275GTB/4 NART spider
Ferrari 275GTB/4 NART spider

 

Porsche 356
Porsche 356

 

Hard to believe, but this Maserati Mistral just passed our MGB
Hard to believe, but this Maserati Mistral just passed our MGB

 

All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

The 2000 New England 2000 Rally

The view from the road
The view from the road

For the third consecutive year, my rally brother Steve and I entered the New England-based vintage car rally hosted by our friends Rich and Jean Taylor. While Steve’s Sunbeam Tiger was the steed of choice yet again, a few details were different. For one, Steve’s job had temporarily relocated him to Sweden, so participation required a flight across the big pond. (Care and feeding of the Tiger was left to me, which I recollect involved filling it with fuel.)

Second, in honor of Y2K, the rally was renamed The New England 2000, with a promise that the driving would encompass 2,000 kilometers (or about 1250 miles). Really not a large change from years past, until you factor in the drive we made from central Jersey to the rally and back. Our total round-trip mileage in the year 2000 was closer to 2,000.

Perhaps most interestingly to Steve and me, the breadth and variety of automotive entries exceeded what we had witnessed in ’98 and ’99. The official route book showed 65 vehicles registered! (Rich and Jean advertise that the field is capped at 50.) No doubt, not all them showed up, as the book must go to print several weeks before the event, and we’ve seen how peoples’ plans change. But the magnificence of the cars in attendance was akin to my favorite automotive picture book coming to life.

This volume allowed the Mercedes Benz 300SLs (10) to have their own class, as did the Porsche 356s (6). Cars that I saw in the metal for the first time included a Toyota 2000GT convertible and a BMW 507 (piloted by an all-female team). A pre-war supercharged Bentley, several Jaguar E-Types, a Shelby Mustang, and a to-die-for Ferrari 330 GTS were other favorites. Well-known drivers included Miles Collier of the Revs Institute and AutoWeek publisher Leon Mandel, who spoke at one of the week’s dinners. Sadly, he passed away just two years later.

The photos show more rainy days than we were forced to tolerate the previous two years, but hearing these classic cars run and watching them move in all kinds of conditions only served to reinforce why we were doing this. Speaking of photos, I’ll let them tell the rest of this story.

There are plenty more rally stories to come. Stay tuned.

 

The Tiger looks at home in front of one of the resorts on this year's rally
The Tiger looks at home in front of one of the resorts on this year’s rally

 

Ferrari 275 GTS
Ferrari 330 GTS

 

Austin Mini Cooper (this is the original one, folks)
Austin Mini Cooper (this is the original one, folks)

 

Porsche 356
Porsche 356

 

The best "rear end" in all of automotivedom
The best “rear end” in all of automotivedom

 

MG-TD held its own against pricier competitors
MG-TD held its own against pricier competitors…

 

 

... as did this Jensen-Healey
… as did this Jensen-Healey (note plate #63)

 

Ferrari Daytona
Ferrari Daytona

 

Take away the guy on the phone, and this photo could have been taken in 1966
Take away the guy on the phone, and this photo could have been taken in 1966

 

Morgan Plus 4, which we presume was flat-towed to the rally
Morgan Plus 4, which we presume was flat-towed to the rally

 

One of many M-B 300SLs
One of many M-B 300SLs

 

 

Toyota 2000GT and Jaguar E-Type - which do you prefer?
Toyota 2000GT and Jaguar E-Type – which do you prefer?

 

The Toyota 2000GT at one of the timed trials
The Toyota 2000GT at one of the timed trials

 

 

You had your pick of 300SLs this year
You had your pick of 300SLs again this year

 

As in previous years, most hotels provided car wash stations
As in previous years, most hotels provided car wash stations

 

This owner is not afraid to get the car dirty
The owner is not afraid to get the car dirty!

 

Aston Martin DB-4
Aston Martin DB-4

 

Ferrari owner reads ahead
Ferrari owner reads ahead (what, no blanket on the trunk lid?)

 

Bread van attempts to join queue for morning check-out
Bread van gets behind Tiger, attempts to join queue for morning check-out

 

Jaguar C-Type replica
Jaguar C-Type replica

 

1968 Shelby Mustang
1968 Shelby Mustang

 

BMW 507, being used as Albrecht von Goertz intended
BMW 507, being used as Albrecht von Goertz intended

 

This gorgeous Ferrari was trailered to the rally but not driven
This gorgeous Ferrari was trailered to the rally but not driven, possibly due to mechanical issues

 

The Tiger poses in front of RPM in Vergennes VT
The Tiger poses in front of RPM in Vergennes VT

 

RPM was a convenient place for the Goolsbee E-Type to need some mechanical attention
RPM was a convenient place for the Goolsbee family E-Type to need some mechanical attention

 

The week's driving on one page
The week’s driving on one page

 

All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

 

The 1999 New England 1000 Rally

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.)

A tradition begins: documenting the installation of the rally plate
A tradition begins: documenting the installation of the rally plate

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.

Deb Allison suns herself in the Allison Alfa
Deb Allison suns herself (and studies the nav book) in the Allison Alfa

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.

Several of the participating 300SLs are visible in the background
Several of the participating 300SLs are visible in the background

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.

 

A page from the rally book complete with navigator's notes
A page from the rally book complete with navigator’s notes

 

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.

A Ferrari V12 engine at the RPM shop
A Ferrari V12 engine at the RPM shop

 

This rare Alfa Romeo 1900 looked close to being completed
This rare Alfa Romeo 1900 looked close to being completed

 

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.

 

A Morgan Plus 4 followed by an MG-TD
A Morgan Plus 4 & MG-TD (followed by the soda truck, with driver asking for directions)

 

Jaguar XK-150 convertible
Jaguar XK-150 roadster

Alfa Giulietta Sprint Coupe
Alfa Giulietta Sprint Coupe

 

The Tiger at the end of the queue
The Tiger at the end of the queue

 

The Tiger looks at home in front of this New England lodge
The Tiger looks at home in front of this New England lodge

 

Lamborghini Miura
Lamborghini Miura

 

Ferrari 365 GTB/4, aka Daytona
Ferrari 365 GTB/4, aka Daytona

 

Lancia Fulvia Zagato rests between stages; drivers break too
Lancia Fulvia Zagato rests between stages; drivers break too

 

Jaguar E-Type Series 1 OTS
Jaguar E-Type Series 1 OTS

 

License plate reveals one way to get your Dino 246 GTS
License plate reveals one way to get your Dino 246 GTS

 

Stingray, MB 280SL, Volvo 142
Sting Ray, MB 280SL, Volvo 142

 

Morgan, Alfa, Volvo, Stingray, MG in front of us
Morgan, Alfa, Volvo, Sting Ray, MG in front of us

 

Parking lot valets debate which one to joy ride
Parking lot valets debate which one to joy ride

 

This photo sums up all that is joyous about classic car rallying
This photo sums up all that is wonderful about classic car rallying

 

All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

The 1998 New England 1000 Rally

Early in 1998, a glossy brochure arrived in the mail. It almost immediately made its way into the recycling bin. “Rich and Jean Taylor present the 1998 New England 1000”. Recognizing the name ‘Rich Taylor’ from his stint on the staff of my favorite mag, Car & Driver, I decided to read on.

“Each of our events is a five-day rally over paved roads, plus flat-out Special Stages. Each day covers about 250 miles over some of the most beautiful and least-traveled roads in America. Events are restricted to 50 cars, driven by you and a small group of like-minded vintage sport car enthusiasts. The New England 1000 is held the week before Memorial Day, and is open to pre-1974 sports, racing, or GT cars.”

I was somewhat familiar with the Mille Miglia road rally in Italy, but the concept of an “antique car rally” held on U.S. soil was new to me. While I was intrigued, there was one small issue: I didn’t own a rally-eligible car (the BMW Isetta restoration was not quite finished in 1998). However, my good friend Steve had recently obtained a nice 1966 Sunbeam Tiger. I showed him the brochure. There was little need for discussion. “Let’s do it!”

Calling the 800-number in the pamphlet, a male voice answered the phone: “Vintage Rallies”. “Hi, is this Rich Taylor?” “Yes it is, what can I do for you?” Holy cow, Rich answers his own phone. A credit card deposit was made, and we were in.

The Tiger was in quite good condition; it had been given a rather thorough restoration by its previous owner, so it needed little prep for rallying. We noted the mention that helmets were required if one wanted to participate in the off-road timed events, so helmets were dutifully obtained.

The genesis of the Helmet Twins
The genesis of the Helmet Twins

 

Most of our time in the months leading up to our May push-off was spent mentally picturing the other participating vehicles. We imagined everything from hopped-up MoPars to modded Mustangs to big-block Chevys, with the occasional MG and Triumph thrown in. We could not have been more off-base.

Departure day arrived. The Tiger’s trunk proved plenty adequate to handle our suitcases and helmets. Our destination on this beautiful Sunday in May was the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport Maine. It was going to take us about seven hours, with stops, to get there.

We arrived in Freeport around 5pm, with no roadside dramas to report, and as we drove around to the rear of the building, the sight was unforgettable: the hotel’s entire lawn had been taken over by an impromptu car show, featuring the week’s rally cars. MoPars? No way, Mr. Iacocca. Instead, there were Jaguars, Alfas, Benzes, Aston Martins, more Jaguars; and in the center of it all, like a Queen Bee, a gleaming white 4-door Bugatti.  We were going to spend the week in exclusive company.

 

1965 Aston Martin DB-5
1965 Aston Martin DB-5 & 1963 Aston Martin DB-4GT Lightweight

 

Ferrari Daytona surrounded by 3 Mercedes-Benz 300SLs
Ferrari Daytona surrounded by 3 Mercedes-Benz 300SLs

 

 

Our Tiger flanked by an E-Type and another Tiger
Our Tiger flanked by an E-Type and another Tiger

 

1963 Lotus Elite & 1958 Fiat-Abarth
1963 Lotus Elite & 1958 Fiat-Abarth

 

We parked in a sectioned-off area of the hotel lot dedicated to the rally cars, had dinner with fellow rallyists, and learned that the Sunday Car Show was a planned part of the festivities. Now we knew better for next time. After dinner: Famous Navigator’s School, wherein we were taught all the intricacies regarding synchronization of stop watches, driving etiquette amongst ordinary civilians, and the importance of placing your car’s front bumper across the finish line at the exact required moment, lest you earn unwanted points, one point for each second early OR late. Oh, the pressure.

 

A page from the route book; a working, accurate odometer is presumed
A page from the route book; a working, accurate odometer is presumed

Monday morning, we got up, had breakfast, and headed out to the Tiger with our route book. The parking lot was already abuzz with activity. Rally cars were staging themselves up to be flagged off at one-minute intervals beginning at 8:15AM. There were SIX timed stages that first day, plus two so-called transit stages (untimed). Steve was driving, and I was navigating. For the next stage, Steve graciously allowed me to drive, with him navigating. From that point onward, we had established a pattern that driver and navigator would alternate stages. It’s an agreement we’ve kept to this day.

 

Staging for checkout
Staging for checkout

Here’s a rally secret to share with you: navigating is SO much more difficult than driving. The navigator must be constantly be mindful of the printed directions, public landmarks, vehicle speed, and miles traversed, AND he must communicate driving directions to the driver in a clear manner. The driver? He needs to drive while heeding the navigator’s calls. Oh, and if the rally car in front of him turns right when his navigator tells him to go straight, then of course, he should go straight. Unless, of course, that’s incorrect…. (There is tremendous pressure to follow the rally car in front of you rather than refer to your navigation sheet.)

Tiger in queue, following Ferrari NART spyder and Ferrari 308
Tiger in queue, following Ferrari NART spyder and Ferrari 308

The concept of a TSD (Time, Speed, Distance) rally like this is to “zero out” each stage. A zero score is a perfect score; you’ve hit each finish line at the exact time you were due. As mentioned earlier, being early OR late is penalized, one point for each second you are off your mark. (The New England 1000 caps the maximum points you can earn per stage at 500.) It’s all in good fun, as we were learning.

 

A 1936 Auburn Speedster following an Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciale
A 1936 Auburn Speedster following an Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciale

 

The E-Type poses behind the Sprint Speciale
The E-Type poses behind the Sprint Speciale

 

A Ferrari 308 GT4 screams past while the Elite watches
A Ferrari 308 GT4 screams past while the Elite watches

 

 

But nothing was more amazing than the sight of other rally cars on the road with you. To be motoring with a Mercedes Benz 300 SL roadster in view out your windshield, and a Jaguar E-Type in your mirrors, is not something to be taken for granted. Vehicles you’ve drooled over for years, meticulously primped and pampered for show, were now screaming along at 6,000 rpm.

It is not an exaggeration to state that my participation in this rally forever changed the way I felt about the old car hobby. I would never feel the same passion again about static car displays. Once I was exposed to owners who were willing to take their prized machinery and drive them at speed, in rain or shine, then I knew I wanted to be part of that as frequently as possible.

 

An open Gullwing door frames the parking lot
An open Gullwing door frames the parking lot

 

A parking lot respite from driving
A respite from driving

 

"I think the oxygen sensor is telling the Hall switch to send the wrong signal to the ECU"
“I think the oxygen sensor is telling the ECU to send the wrong signal to the fuel injectors”

 

To me, there is no more beautiful automotive form than a Series I E-Type coupe
To me, there is no more beautiful automotive form than a Series I E-Type coupe

 

The yellow Dino glows in the sunset
The yellow Dino glows in the sunset

 

We had a chance to ride in a Stanley Steamer; this is part of the starting procedure
We had a chance to ride in a Stanley Steamer; this is part of the starting procedure

 

Monday flew by. So did the rest of the week. I saw that the days were quite full, what with early departures, driving, lunches, more driving, and dinners. There were few photographic opportunities during the rally stages, so I was glad to have taken the pictures I did on Sunday. Thursday’s banquet dinner was yet another highlight, with comical speeches, a charity auction, gag gifts, and a trophy for everyone, no matter what your score. You really felt like you were part of something.

If you want conclusive proof that we enjoyed ourselves, know that during Thursday’s festivities, my rally brother Steve wrote a deposit check for the 1999 New England 1000. We would be returning in the Tiger. That’s a story for another time.

We drove it tothe rally, ran the rally, and drove it home
We drove it to the rally, ran the rally, and drove it home, about 1,600 miles in 6 days

 

All photographs copyright © 2016 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.