Day 3 of the GAMRR broke with a continuation of our “every other day” weather pattern. Following the rain, drizzle and clouds of the Day 2, we were greeted with dry skies and snappy, crisp temperatures in the mid-30’s.
At the Day 3 driver’s meeting the previous day’s results were posted. After our day of mishaps and confusion we ended up with a Day 2 total of 7:07 in penalty time. Our total penalty after two days was 9:16. No, we weren’t the worst, but we were firmly entrenched within the rally's bottom third. Lynn and I were crying the blues when Lisa Colom, driver of the 2 car 2017 Fiat 124 Spider, spoke up and said, “Ya, but you guys are driving the coolest car here!” She talked about how our Hudson was the first car that caught her eye as she and her husband pulled into the Salem Golf Club on Day 1 of the rally. She said she instantly fell in love with the Hudson. Her warmth and sincere affinity for our car touched my heart. We had helped create a new Hud-nut!
Jim Gately fires up the '37 Cadillac in anticipation of the start of Day 3 of the GAMRR. The exhaust plume dominated the cold autumn sky.
Jeff Givens and the other convertible drivers decided to drop the tops for the dry start of Day 3 in spite of temperatures in the mid-30's.
The Hudson rolled out of the Commodore’s Inn parking lot at precisely 8:03am heading south on VT Rt. 100. Roughly 25 miles into the journey we turned off to the east on Moretown Mountain Rd. and quickly passed through a trio of covered bridges near Moretown, Vermont.
Our first timed Regularity Section for Day 3 was our most precise of the entire rally. We were off perfect time by a scant 5 seconds. The second timed Regularity Section brought us a 24 second penalty. Day 3 was off to a pretty good start for a couple of rookies.
October in New England proved to be a beautiful place for a road rally.
We soon turned back toward the west on Lincoln Gap Rd where the third Regularity Section commenced. It was here in the fabled Lincoln Gap where some of the most hair-raising tales were generated from the original 1953-1957 rallies. Weather during the 1953 inaugural run of the GAMR was rather mild for late November. It was only here in the Lincoln Gap where drivers encountered snow and had to strap on the tire chains. We found the road was very narrow with an abrupt ascent. Using my lower gears I felt I was able to keep the Commodore rolling along at our prescribed average speeds of either 20 or 25mph. It was when we came to the other side of the slope, and an equally aggressive descent, that I got worried. Gravity plays nasty tricks on an object as massive as a 1948 Hudson. Keeping the car restricted to that 25mph without over-heating those 70 year old drum brakes was a challenge. By the time we met Steve McKelvie, the assigned rally official at the bottom of the mountain we were smelling hot brake pads and I was standing on the peddle with all of my strength. Even at that we coasted past Steve’s station by about 40 feet. Steve declared that he was “so relieved” to see us. He had been a skeptic that the mighty Hudson would be up to the Lincoln Gap challenges. But we made it! Our penalty was 47 seconds over a rather long run. We felt pretty good about that.
At Ripton we found the famed Ripton General Store (photo courtesy of my friend Danny Taylor) and turned west on VT Rt 125. Heading south on VT Rt 100 and US Rt 4 we came within a couple of miles of crossing our Day 2 route. It was here that we turned off on a narrow, unlabeled, gravel State Forest Service road. The 6 car, a 1968 Porsche 912 turned in right behind us. Our mountain ascent went smoothly once again and the Hudson pulled the slope without any issues. During our descent however, it became clear that Peter and Carl, the Helmetag brothers behind us, were gaining on us. As a rookie, it made me doubt my pace and I picked up the speed a bit to maintain a uniform distance between us and the Porsche. In the end, I should have trusted my own instincts. This was one of the few times that we were too fast on a Regularity Section. We received 1:57 in penalty time.
Soon after that final Regularity Section we turned south on US Rt 7, heading south toward the rally’s terminal destination, Bennington, Vermont. It was a relaxing romp of 30+ miles on level smooth roads. It provided time for participants to reflect on the rally experience. I talked with Lynn about the Hudson’s primary rally limitations. A good rally car needs an odometer that is both precise and “zeroable”. A good rally car would have a speedometer with a steady and accurate needle, or digital readout. The Hudson has neither.
And yes, the Hudson’s old drum brakes and 3-speed manual transmission are not ideally suited for such events. But such are the challenges and pleasures of showing up for the event with one of just two old “original” cars. If we rally again with a vintage car we will need to determine how we respond to those challenges.
Rolling into Bennington, Vermont our target was the headquarters and Sunoco gas station for Hemmings Motor News.
As a service to his car buddies, Ernest Hemmings began putting together a small list of old cars and car parts available for sale back from his Quincy, Illinois home back in 1954. That initial effort grew into what became a monthly publication that today is the bible for serious automotive hobbyist around the globe. They have been headquartered in Bennington, Vermont since the late 1960s. Hemmings has been a great supporter of all things automotive across the years and they welcomed our rally team in at the close of Day 3 for our final rally wrap-up ceremony.
The 13 rally cars lined across the Hemmings parking lot as they arrived.
The 1 car, Mark & Dane Axen's 2009 VW Tiguan
The 2 car, Lisa & Luis Colom's 2017 Fiat 124 Spider
The 3 car, our 1948 Hudson Commodore
The 4 car, the 1937 Cadillac of driver Jim Gately (right) with navigator Fred Gallagher
The 5 car, the 1959 Triumph TR-3 of driver Jeff Givens (right) with navigator Danny Taylor
The 6 car, the 1968 Porsche 912 of Peter & Carl Helmetag
The 7 car, a 1974 Dodge Monaco of Mathew & MaryAnn Koops
The 8 car, a 1973 Mercedes Benz 450SLC of driver Christopher Lipscomb & navigator Hans-Christoph Haenlein
The 9 car, a 1966 Volvo 1225 of driver David Wells and navigator Peter McGuire
The 10 car, a 1986 Mercedes Benz 190E of driver Ed Owen and navigator Thomas Owen
The 11 car, a 2015 Toyota Highlander of Driver Ed Sain, and navigator Douglas Sain
The 12 car, a 2015 Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG of Harold von Langsdorff, and his driver son Sebastain von Langsdorff
The 13 car, a 2017 Mazda MX-5 of driver Lawrence Woodcome and navigator Bob Williams
Ed Owen, driver of the 10 car 1986 Mercedes Benz 190E talked to me about how impressed he was that the Hudson rolled right along with the 70mph traffic along US RT 7. Conversation turned to the Hudson engine and I raised the hood.
Immediately Ed noticed that I had fuel dripping from the fitting between the carburetor and the glass fuel filter bowl. It was dripping down onto the exhaust manifold. NOT a good situation and a genuine fire hazard.
Mathew Koops, driver of the 7 car 1974 Dodge Monaco police cruiser, came to my rescue. Mathew makes a living restoring automobiles and came equipped with a more exhaustive tool kit than I had. He had a roll of Teflon tape that I was able to use on the gas line threaded fitting into the side of the carburetor to eliminate the fuel leak.
After lunch the rally-masters shared the final rally results and handed out the event trophies. There were to be 1st, 2nd and 3rd place trophies for both the driver and navigator within each of the Original, Classic and Modern categories.
Rally organizers Gary Hamilton (left) and Steve McKelvie
3rd place in the "Modern" category went to Sebastian & Harold von Langsdorff and their Mercedes Benz GLA. There was some speculation that 16 year old Sebastian just could be the youngest driver to win an award in an SCCA sanctioned Road Rally event.
2nd place in the "Modern" category went to Lisa & Luis Colom and their Fiat Spider
And winners of the "Modern" category were Ed & Douglas Sain with their Toyota Highlander
3rd place in the "Classic" category went to Jeff Givens and Danny Taylor with Jeff's Triumph TR-3
2nd place in the "Classic" category went to Mathew & MaryAnn Koops with their Dodge Monaco Police Cruiser
And winners of the "Classic" category were David Wells & Peter McGuire with their Volvo 1225
Because there were only two cars in the "Original" category there was no 3rd place finisher. As I reported on Day 1 of the rally, Lynn and I were destined to finish 2nd in the "Original' category with our Hudson, and we did!
Not only did Jim Gately and navigator Fred Gallagher win the "Original" class, they had the lowest and winning score for the entire rally with Jim's 1937 Cadillac. They each received individual cups and Jim also received the Champion's cup which was adorned with the names of the teams who won each of the original 1953-1957 GAMR events. Their penalty total for the entire 3 day event was a scant 38 seconds! Simply stunning!
In just three days this group of 26 strangers had become good friends. Hands were shaken, backs were slapped, photographs were taken, and congratulations were exchanged. Everyone was thrilled with their overall experience and the extremely varied roads selected by the rally-masters. There was discussion concerning whether there would be a 2019 running of the GAMRR.
Lynn and I pulled the Hudson around front to the Hemmings Sunoco station and fueled up in advance of our departure. At the close of our ceremony we got back on the road, pointing the nose of the Hudson toward Ohio. By sunset on Sunday we were rolling into Rochester, New York where we spent the night. The following morning, the rain clouds returned, keeping our weather pattern alive. But we set out for home and rolled into Maineville at about 4:45pm on Monday the 15th. Following the electrical repairs in Erie, PA and my quick taping of the carburetor fitting at Bennington, VT, the Hudson behaved like a champ all the way home. In total we had put EXACTLY 2300 miles on the car's odometer. It really had been an adventure.
The trophy winning Commodore resting in the garage at home following our noble effort. Adventures are fun, but there's no place like home!
Since arriving home we’ve been informed that there IS a plan for a 2019 running of the GAMRR. I’m hoping that maybe I’ve lit a rally fire within some of you! If you’re interested, set aside October 25-27, 2019 on your calendar. GAMRR 2019! Be there or be square!
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