Being kooked up in the house all winter sucks – seriously, there is nothing fun, exciting or even remotely thrilling about it. Day in and day out we stare outside waiting for the weather to break so that maybe, just maybe we can get our rides out of the garage and go for a quick spin. I think it’s due to all this cabin fever that I’ve been starting to get a lot of emails regarding the this years upcoming crop of road rallies.
All road rallies generally have two things in common: fast cars and people with A-type personalities. This means you need to have three things in check before you even get to the starting line: your car, your sense of adventure, and your wallet. If any one of these items languishes in any way, it will bite you in the ass almost instantly. You’ll need to be prepared for those around you to act like children and break just about every vehicular law known to man. You need to know when to pull back on the reigns and stay out of trouble and when it’s ok to turn it up a notch. Too many times have I seen guys go full bore, only to get stupid and thrown in jail.
Over the past 4 years I’ve logged more than 20,000 miles driving throughout the United States and Canada. I’ve broken down, ran out of fuel, been pulled over and have even been flashed once. Hell, it’s only within the last 6 months that I am legally allowed back into Canada – that’s another story though.
2010 is going to be another adventuresome year for us as we’ve got one event already cocked and loaded. The One Lap of America runs from April 30th – May 8th, 2010 and is the toughest 8 days of racing in the United States. We’re going to be spending 8 days running against some of the fastest street legal cars in the country, while competing on some of the best racetracks the United States has to offer. This is no TV game show… this is the real deal that encompasses driving nearly 24-hours a day with competitions taking place at every sanctioned stop along the route.
To give you an idea:
“Personal hygiene takes a holiday and friendships (sometimes marriages) are stretched to the limits as these competitors battle fatigue, weather, traffic and the demands of high-speed competition with both unknown amateurs and seasoned professional drivers like Parnelli Jones, Price Cobb, John Buffum, Elliot Forbes Robinson and Hurley Haywood.” – One Lap of America Website
Yeah… it’s that hairy.
Our adventure actually started this weekend when I was finally able to back my car out of the garage for the first time this season. Those of you who know me know exactly what I’ll be driving… for those of you who don’t, well… let me enlighten you. For the last seven years I’ve been fortunate enough to own my dream car, a 1968 Dodge Charger. I use this car for EVERYTHING. It’s been on 3 cross-country rallies, it’s my track day car, drag car, auto-x car and the car my Wife and I take into NYC for dinner in the summertime. I’ve got more memories in this thing than you can imagine and the best thing about it is that every year it keeps giving me more and more. I f*ckin’ love this thing and to me, it’s priceless.
I knew the Charger needed work, the problem was I didn’t know how much. We put the old boy on the lift at about 11 am on Saturday morning and proceeded to go from front to back, checking out every nut, bolt, bushing and seal. The diagnosis? Not bad, but not good either. You see when you take a car that’s 42 years old and try to make it do things it was never meant to do, things happen. Components wear out as the stress levels you’re subjecting the car to are 10-fold of what a normal everyday driver must endure.
The diagnosis is as follows: the suspension is done… shocks, bushings and ball joints all need to be replaced. Oil and Transmission pan gaskets are shot; valve cover gaskets need replacing, as does the rear end gasket. I’ll be putting new u-joints on as a matter of precaution along with new transmission and oil coolers and new front wheel bearings. Let see… what else. Oh yes, new tires, brake pads and fluids will be needed as well.
I know it sounds like a lot but in reality I consider this preventative maintenance. Remember that this car is 42 years old, weighs 4000 lbs. and run a 440 cu. inch big block with a carburetor on top so this is by no means a product of modern technology. It will however be running up against some the meanest, fastest and nastiest road cars in the U.S. which is why my baby needs to be in top form.
Keep your fingers crossed for us because I’ve got less than eight weeks to get MR. ANGRY ready.