Back in one piece... And with a decent score, to boot...
We got up early and went to "rally school." John Classen, the Director of Competition for the Great Race organization, provides a very thorough review of all the rules of this type of precision, cross-country competitive rally. The object is to follow written directions as exactly as possible and to reach certain timing check points at precise times as calculated by the rally designer. These times assume that you can maintain exact speeds over many miles of undulating terrain, accelerate and brake consistently, and change speed instantaneously. Unfortunately, none of these assumptions are correct. So the real battle is to figure out how much error the driver has introduced and to correct for it. Scores are in seconds (late or early at a checkpoint) and are cumulative throughout the day.
After the Bobcats (Bob Mead and Bob King) attended rally school, we went and topped off the gas tank and came back to service the car, checking oil and coolant, etc. We had barely pulled back into the parking lot of the hotel, when what should my wondering eyes perceive but another 1932 Model PB Plymouth -- Winston's brother!!!
A father and son, Dick Wynn and Dick Wynn, Jr. own an original, unrestored car that they are starting to restore in hopes of someday doing the Great Race. They had seen a picture of Winston in the San Antonio paper and had driven down to meet the owner. We talked for over an hour, exchanging restoration tips, parts sources, etc. (Editor's note: The Wynns completed the Great Race in 2003.)
Our starting sequence for the Trophy Run was 96. That means that we were the 96th car in sequence leaving the hotel, and that we would ideally continue to be the 96th in sequence throughout the day. We left the hotel parking lot at 12:51 P.M. It was already in the mid-90's. We took the I-410 loop to where the I-10 branches off going west. For the next thirty minutes, we calibrated our speedometer using known reference points listed in our instruction sheet. Our speedometer seemed to be right on the money with a zero-second error in 24 minutes of calibration. We then stopped in Boerne, Texas, for lunch. When we pulled into the Wendy's parking lot, we spotted a 1947 Tatra T-87. This car belongs to Jeff and Susan Lane, of Nashville, who are members of the Honk, Rattle, and Roll chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America. Margo and Bob are also members of that club and knew the Lanes were participating in this year's race, but had never met them. The two Bob's had lunch with the Lanes and then proceeded to the first timed portion of the Trophy Run.
We had four timed portions back to back that lasted about four hours. To start the excitement, we had only gone a few miles into the first timed portion when a huge trailer hauling some earth moving equipment pulled out of a side road into our path. We were supposed to be maintaining 45. He was moving at about 25. We slowed to 22.5 miles per hour since there was no way around him. At this rate, we were losing 30 seconds of progress for every minute that passed. The Great Race regulations permit teams to request a time delay for situations like this. Safety is always paramount. This situation lasted three minutes, during which the car behind us ended up ahead of us before he spotted the mess up ahead. So much for the starting order.
Soon, we saw Jeff and Dick Stumb coming toward us! They turned left into the road that we were about to turn right into. But they were supposed to be several cars ahead of us. It turns out they had missed the right turn and had taken an unplanned excursion. By the end of our four-hour timed portion, we had three cars ahead of us, in sight, that should have been nowhere near us!
We returned to the hotel, stopping for gas on the way in, and Bob King got some well-earned air conditioned air and a cool drink. The big news was that with the correction we requested for our road equipment delay, we had a total score of 27 seconds for the day -- good enough to place first in the Tour Car Division. Bob Mead and Margo had a quiet dinner before the all hands meeting at 8:00 P.M.
The Navy Band is with us again! They performed several inspirational numbers. Then, the staff was introduced and the procedures for tomorrow's start were presented. The big news of the night was that the Great Race will go on next year! There was some concern that it might not because of the retirement of Tom McRae, its founder. Apparently, a group of former and current Great Racers will keep it going. We were told to stay tuned for more details. The meeting closed with a prayer for the safety of all the participants. We are now on our way to bed... More tomorrow...
The Bob-Cats capture first place in the Tour Car Division
on the trophy run!! 27 Seconds for the day!!
Jeff and Susan Lane, new acquaintances from Nashville, pose by their rare 1947 Tatra just prior to the start of the Trophy Run.
Bob King, beady-eyed navigator, as we celebrated the end of today's timed portion at a fast food outlet near the last checkpoint.
As the cars return to the hotel, they are greeted by officials who give them their day's score.
At tonight's group meeting, the Navy Band inspired us as they will inspire thousands, travelling across the nation with the Great Race
Support Team Report!!!
Thursday was sort of a day off! After registration and watching the technical inspection at Sunset Square, Margo made a trip to Target for those "forgotten" items and to stock up on liquids to take in the car and truck. Friday after taking pictures as the Bobcats and Winston left on the Trophy Run, Margo had a leisurely lunch with Brenda and Chris Stroud, wives of Charlie and Bill Stroud.
Then it was off to the washeteria! It's always nice to find one close by that's fairly clean and has a few working machines! That chore done, Margo raced back to the hotel, grabbed the video camera and found a good spot to watch for Winston. It ends up that Margo spends a lot of time watching for Winston!
Today during the heat of Friday rush hour, she was mighty relieved to see Winston coming toward her. Probably the emotion will be heard in her voice on the video tape!
At the meeting tonight we supporters got our special instructions too, including a complicated map of how to get to our parking area in downtown Houston. At least it will be Saturday and maybe not too busy!
Our support team is missing a member this year. Reluctantly we left Batty Dog, Margo's navigator, at home. With the expected heat, hotels that weren't pet-friendly, and her recent inner ear infection we decided to leave her home with the rest of the menagerie. But Margo has several books on tape to speed her along the way.
Maybe this report is not quite as exciting as the race report, but isn't it nice to know that Bob has clean clothes and plenty of fluids!