Dave and John's Cross-Continent Road Rally, June 2011, Part 1

Imperial Home Page -> Imperials by Year -> 1961 -> Great Race 2011

Part 1, Background and Days 1 and 2

Part 2, Days 3 and 4 Part 3, Days 5 and 6
Part 4, Days 7 and 8 Part 5, Days 9 and 10

A link to John's BLOG

No Excuses!

Our team motto (above) and logo (below)

The following is taken from a blog (of sorts) about Dave & John’s Adventure in an East Coast Road Rallying as the IMPERIAL EXPEDITIONARY FARCE. Team #61 in the 2011 Great Race, starring a 1961 Imperial Crown Convertible, with a supporting cast of many other vintage cars, in an endurance contest of precision driving and personal exhaustion:


Those who know me know my preference for the 1961 Imperial as the epitome of automotive sculpture.It’s also a really well-engineered car.I started to collect them in 1999 or so.You may have seen the site I started to log the acquisition and restoration of a 4-door hardtop called Subtle XS, or you may have come to this page from there.With a family, business, and a real life to lead, that project came into hiatus a few years back, but not until I had amassed (good word here!) FIVE 1961 Imperials. One was a rare convertible in fair condition and needing a pretty thorough restoration, but I set it aside until the original 4-door got done.Then, my friend Dave Ullman and I decided to enter the Great Race ...............

Day 1, June 8, 2011:

We're OFF! Great Race Posting #1


Dave Ullman and I have hit the road for Great Race 2011! After he flew in Tuesday night, he and our super home-base support crew (my son Ethan), got the new wheels and tires mounted and the special digital speedometer into its dash mount (no original parts were damaged in the making of this removable mount!). We're allowed radial tires this year; so I bought a set of wide whites (yes, they're 235/75 R15's – for those following that thread, but they still look a little small-ish). I was going to pull the steel wheels from a parts car, but didn't have time, so with the OK from the Race Tech Committee, we bought a set of chrome wires and mounted those! It's a nice look! Different, but nice.

I had to put in half a day Wednesday; but then when I got home there was little left to do as Dave and Ethan Had it pretty much all together. I threw in a few extra hand tools, packed my undies and despite protests from all others present and rumblings from the threatening sky above; hopped in with Dave, top down and we set off at about 5:45, 66306 on the odo. Task #1: get from our place in Melrose, NY to Chattanooga, Tennessee (928 miles) by Thursday night. Our plan is 5 hours tonight, 10 tomorrow.

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The View of I-81 Southbound

And Rally School

It's hot, near 100F, and humid, a perfect environment for summer thunder boomers (that's the storms not the postWW2 babies). Within minutes of leaving, it's clear we are chasing a thunderstorm: roads are wet, but it looks like we've timed it right, the sky is dry. In downtown Troy, just as I pass my workplace, the big, pre-downpour waterballs start to come – so we pull over and reluctantly put up the top. In retrospect, not a bad idea, as we are running on the interstates to make time and the top offers an illusion of separation from the monster Class 8 road trains. Lots of thumbs up and such. It's the ones that run beside you to gawk and drift ever closer that as a bit nerve-wracking…. The new tires improve steering stability at the expense of ride quality. Expansion strips sound like gunshots! I think we may need to run lower than the 30 psi we have in there.

We roll at a steady 60-70 mph, down the NY State Thruway, around THE City on I-297, to I-78 into PA. We make only one stop, to refill (12+ MPG!) and refill (omlettes and salad at a handy diner: diners are truly a Great American Invention). We hit a Comfort Inn near Harrisburg, PA by midnight and roll in for the night. No car issues, but a little miss on the left bank at idle. Probably a slightly fouled plug – shoulda changed those!

More tomorrow!


Day 2, June 9, 2011:

Great Race Post #2

For those of you who have forgotten (or not recently checked the story of our 2006 race on the club website (http://www.imperialclub.org/Yr/1961/JohnCoreyNoExcuses/Page01.htm); our car "NO XQS" is a 1961 Imperial Crown convertible, in Alaska White with Red leather and a black Stayfast top. It was bare-metal restored in 2006, so reliability is our secret weapon in the Great Race. We proved that again today, running over 600 high-speed miles, mostly down I-81 (with about a million tractor trailers). We have a John 'Duke' Wayne thermometer in the car that we picked up out west during the 2006 race and he told us it was up to 102F today. Humidity was only about 2 or 3 points lower! We ran with the top up for shade, but the backlite down and side glass trimmed for maximum flow-through, to blow away the sweat. OF course that works ONLY when moving at high speed, and as we started the day in Pennsylvania (where road construction is the official State Pastime); some poachy periods were spent inching along between the trucks in one-lane repair zones.

No matter! We are Great Racers, after all. Out of PA, quickly across MD & the turkey neck of WV, into the Old Dominion (my home state, long ago). Down the long Shenandoah valley by the great spine of Virginia, the Blue Ridge – past some of my long-ago teenage haunts (Luray caverns, Newmarket), all the way to Blacksburg (sisterly alma mater) and Roanoke (wifely alma mater), and finally to Bristol and across into Tennessee (of the whole 900+ miles, about 500 here in VA).

Before our brains were parboiled, Dave and I geeked out by working through some interesting product design and business deal challenges. Interstate travel is so mind-numbing otherwise!

We met one little downpour, but we met it three times! It was one of those brief, waterbucket summer dumpers; and we blasted through it (almost blind from the truck spray and slow wipers). Our planned gas stop appeared from the mist and we pulled off into a looney multi-directional (uncontrolled) little intersection that really flustered me, still dazed from the waterblindness. WE gassed up and shot back out, but in my confusion, I picked the northbound ramp (hey, it WAS a confusing intersection!). Fortunately, the next-up exit was just 3 miles, so the time delay was minimal. The drying delay was significant, though, as the storm had not moved so we got two more passes through the downpour!

The good news is the sun was off the boil, with its descent and our ascent into the hillier country. The Duke claimed it had dropped into the high 80's and likely so. We rolled into Chattanooga and found the hotel, its lot already full of other Great Racers, around midnight: an 18-hour, 600+ mile run today. Whew! And not a single mechanical issue… well, except for the rattly exhaust (must be slightly displaced from changing the manifold gaskets). Also the 12 V instruments (gas, oil, and temp) dropped out once or twice (there's a sneaky and arbitrary bad connection behind there somewhere), so we had to track the odometer for gas range. Of course, they were fine again by the time arrived. Our cloth top is also stretched from the hours of intense buffeting by the passing trucks. But nothing that could or would interfere with Great Race activity! Look out, you others!

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Leg Start "Day 2"

And Chattanooga Start

As Dave noted, the real rally back to Vermont should be easy: we have a whole week to do it; whereas we just did the whole distance in a day and a half, and backwards - like Ginger Rogers in heels!

Met up with Pat & Pat Brothers in the hotel lobby. They're running the auction for autism tomorrow, we threw in a case of Bully Hill 'Love my Goat' red wine from NY state – seems fitting for a race mostly run by old goats like us, eh?

More tomorrow!


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