(Author’s note; Recently on our sister site Hooniverse, chief blooger Jeff Glooker detailed an epic cross country trip to deliver an old sports car out to the East coast. While Jeff and his brother traveled in opulent luxury surrounded by such extravagances as seat cushions, windows and door handles, another road trip saga was playing out in an entirely different direction. Here then is part one of that “other” story…)
It all started with an email, “Hey Sparky, wanna race the Saab?”
Oh dear. I was afraid of this. Again.
This one question would set in motion a series of events that would not only nearly kill this author several times and entangle a large cast of misfit-characters, but create a swath of confusion that spanned three states and thousands of miles along the beautiful Pacific Northwest highway system.
The originator of the email was none other than our own resident crazy-man Mike, aka MDHarrell, who has repeatedly demonstrated (beyond any reasonable doubt) that “Clearly, he is the crazier one”.
This old car had served as the owner’s daily driver for numerous years before being replaced by a 1937 Plymouth sedan. It then languished in the “World’s Weirdest Driveway” for the rest of the decade growing a green coat of moss and of as part of a collection that included an MG Metro, a pair of KV Minis, a “Freeway” (whatever the hell that is) and a second nearly identical ‘68 Saab sporting the “Big-Block” German V4 power.
The ’67 however was destined for greatness. The owner slowly hatched a plan to dominate the regional 24 Hours of Lemons races with all of it’s smokey 2-stoke glory. It had been caged and prepped, and was 100% ready other than the small nagging detail that it didn’t actually run. Yet.
These are the kind of weird scenarios I just can’t seem to resist. Like Sirens on the cliffs of Sirenum Scopuli, watching Youtube videos of Saab 2-strokes late at night only fueled my desire to drive one of these beasts in person.
But I had told myself LAST year I would never do this again. And I meant it. I could still feel the 13 39 hour drive in my bones from last year’s Iron-Butt road trip marathon to the PNW and back. Many of you have probably heard tidbits of the story, but that tale needs to be told before this year’s adventure can be properly understood.
At the time, last year, it seemed easy enough – just hitch a 1-wheeled Calistoga wagon nick-named the Dysentrailer to the back of my mostly road-legal 24 hrs of Lemons race car and hit the road. In a few long hours I would be north at Oregon Raceway Park, helping drive Crazy-Mike’s Saab to a highly probable Index of Effluency win!
Meanwhile, a cast of semi-famous crap-can racers (Paul & Judy Kiel of Stickfigure/MRolla fame, Erik Torgeson from Free Range/Chumpcar, and Steve McDaniel – Madman Extraordinaire’) would command the ZomBee on to an incredible finish. And assuming they did not blow it up (I had a spare motor in the passenger’s seat just in case) I would just drive it home. Easy weekend! Right?
The Saab however was having none of that. Despite all Crazy-Mike-Harrell’s efforts, motor swaps and encyclopedia-esque knowledge base his car flat-out refused to run. Thus we ended up sharing the ZomBee between our two teams – and we STILL ended up 8th overall on day 1. The ZomBee actually got to cue up with the top 10 finishers on day two. We were as confused as everyone else. Finishing the race in a slow but steady 11th place overall secured us the IOE trophy, just not in the car we were expecting. Hauling the silly wagon up and back probably had nothing to do with it, but I got a surprise hug from chief perp Jay, whom I was previously convinced just wanted me to stop annoying him with this damn silly car.
The drive home however took a LOT longer than the drive up, and was drawn out over several days just prior to the 4th of July weekend. It included a wobbly rear axle hub on the car, plus several hours of back-tracking for an emergency pit stop at my buddy Leo Clark’s house in Eugene Oregon to swap out a burnt valve with one from the spare motor in the passenger’s seat, while the Lemons forums helped out online wherever they could.
The trip also featured every state trooper from Portland to the San Francisco Bay area tailing me, shaking their heads, talking on the radio and taking photos. Arriving home delirious at 3am almost a full week after the race, I REALLY wished I had thought to re-install the racing-seat-pad that I taken out over the previous winter.
THIS year, with flashbacks from the previous trip still fresh in my mind (shudder) I had not planned on attending the Northworst race at all, let alone bringing the ZomBee again. Even though Leo offered me a spot on his RX7 team, and Scott C. from Team Petty Cash had lured/offered/threatened me with yet another free spare MGB motor from the floor of his garage just for showing up.
NOPE! NOT. GONNA. DO. IT. Maybe next year… when the pain of my stupidity finally fades… I’m getting too old for this crap.
But then came the emails….
“Hey Pete, wanna drive the Saab?” Followed by “I got it running!”
ARRRRGG!!! The sirens began loudly singing their femme-fatale songs… and thus I began to drift towards the rock of Scylla. That night I had a premonition… a really bad feeling in the pit of my stomach I just could not shake, yet it beckoned…
(Continue with Extraordinarily Stupid Road Trip – Part 2)