It was bad enough that we were forced to pack up and leave our beautiful Mirror Lake Cottage room, but also, for once the weatherman was perfectly accurate. As I made my first trip to the Hudson’s trunk to start our loading process it was already raining. We went across the street for breakfast and the Driver’s Meeting and it was raining. At the Driver’s Meeting came some bad news. The original rally route for Day 3 called for us to be crossing Lake Champlain into Vermont on the Essex Ferry. Because of high winds and roughness on the big lake the rally officials had amended the route and eliminated the ferry passage. We all had been looking forward to that ferry ride.
At 196 miles, Day 3’s route was the longest of the three days. The start time had been moved up to 8:00AM plus car number. Oh, and by the way, did I mention that it was raining?
Prior to the 2nd of the day’s 4 Regularity Sections, we missed a turn. I stopped to flip around and noticed while I transitioned from “reverse” to “4” that the brake pedal sank closer to the floor than normal. I gave it a single pump and it was right back up where it belonged. I didn’t think much about it. We got back on route and found the green “Start Regularity” sign for that 2nd section. As I applied the brake to stop at the start sign, the pedal sank for a second time. By the time we finished the Regularity Section I was hearing noise from the rear brakes.
At the Essex Ferry turn off, our new route instructions called for us to turn off away from the ferry and onto an amended alternate route. Lynn and I however, pulled into the ferry parking lot to debate our options. I’m not an auto mechanic, but it made sense to me that we might be losing brake fluid. I got out into rain to retrieve my tools from the trunk. On a “step-down” era Hudson the master cylinder for the brake system is not beneath the hood. It is mounted to a frame rail beneath the driver’s feet. You pull back the carpet, find the circular access panel in the floor of the car, back out three screws, lift the plate and you’re there.
Now remember, I bought this car about a year ago. The car had been off living with Hudson guru, Doug Wildrick in Shelbyville, Indiana until a week before we left home for this rally. Lynn and I were just getting introduced to this car. Well, I quickly learned that there are holes in the floor beneath the driver’s feet. As I pulled back the carpet to look for the access panel, I found a sloppy saturated layer of carpet padding. I pulled back the sloppy padding and yes, there they were, a cluster of three pin-point holes and a fourth hole of moderate size. I pushed past the swamp and found the circular access panel. Quickly I removed the screws to expose the master cylinder, and using my trusty socket wrench, I had the lid off in seconds. Wow! The fluid was completely full! I didn’t know what to make of that. I closed the master cylinder, replaced the access panel and laid the soggy carpet back in place. I crossed my fingers and called Doug Wildrick. It’s Sunday. He’ll never answer, right? Ring….. Ring….. “Hello”. He answered!! I explained the situation to Doug. Doug suggested that we forego the final Regularity Sections that might place significant demands on the brakes, but he insisted that as long as the system was not losing hydraulic fluid I could get the car back on the road and find the most efficient path to the Hemmings Motor News headquarters in Bennington, Vermont where the rally was scheduled to end. I still wasn’t convinced. Heck, Noel Renner has been wrenching on Hudsons since Doug Wildrick was in diapers, and Noel was on this rally with us in the #21 car, his trusty 1954 Hudson Hornet convertible. I called Noel. The first thing that we learned was that Cynda, Noel’s wife and navigator, had taken one too many twisty turn with her head buried in the route instruction sheet. Noel’s Hornet was running like a champ but his navigator was not. The Renners too were throwing in the towel and heading for Bennington. I explained our brake situation to Noel, and like Doug, Noel told me to get back on the road and bring the car on down to Bennington. I took a deep breath, looked at Lynn, and wanted to cry. I was cold and wet, and in the blink of an eye, both of the mighty Hudson Hornets were out of the 2019 Great American Mountain Rally Revival.
Out of the rally, we got onto our Google Maps app and within 15 minutes we were headed south through the rainy Adirondack Park along I-87. The Hornet was running strong and it seemed so wrong to be done, but just north of Saratoga Springs we got off the interstate to head east toward Bennington. As soon as I touched the brakes I knew we had made the right decision. The brakes, if anything, were getting noisier.
The previous year we felt proud and jubilant when we arrived at the storied Hemmings Motor News headquarters in Bennington, Vermont. We had successfully finished our first attempt at a road rally. On this rainy Sunday however, I felt as if we were limping into town with our tails between our legs.
It was here at Hemmings that I pulled out my camera for the first time that day. I got pictures of the cars as they rolled in.
What follows is a log of the 2019 GAMRR entrants in car number order:
Car #1- 1971 Volvo 142GT- Mark(Driver) & Amy(Navigator) Axen
Car #2- 2017 Fiat 124 Spider- Luis(N) & Lisa(D) Colom
Car #3- 1952 Hudson Hornet Club Coupe- Greg(D) & Lynn(N) Davis
Car #4- 1928 Chrysler 72- David Berks(D) & Julian Coulter(N)
Car #5- 1959 Triumph TR-3- Jeff Givens(D) & Danny Taylor(N)
Car #6- 1968 Porsche 912- Peter Helmetag(D) & Karl Helmetag(N)
Car #7- 1974 Dodge Monaco- Matthew(D) & MaryAnn(N) Koops
Car #8- 1973 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC- Christopher Lipscomb(D) & Steve Sarles(N)
Car #9- 1966 Volvo 122s- David Wells(D) & Peter McGuire(N)
Car #10- 1978 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC- Ed Owen(D) & Thomas Owen(N)
Car #11- 2015 Toyota Highlander- Ed(D) & Ruth(N) Sain
Car #12- 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG- Sebastian von Langsdorff(D) & Harald von Langsdorff(N)
Car #13- 2012 Porsche 911- Matt Bullard(D) & Stephen Bullard(N)
Car #14- 1999 Chevrolet Corvette- Wayne Dix(D) & Bronwyn Dix(N)
Car #15- 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo- Aimee Cardwell(D) & David Geisinger(N)
Car #16- 1982 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce- Jeffery Hassenfeld(D) & Lee Boroson(N)
Car #17 was unable to appear for the rally
Car #18- 1987 Mercedes-Benz 560SL- Robert(D) &Cindy(N) Laughrea
Car #19- 1974 Triumph TR-6- Clarence Westberg(D) & Tim Winker(N)
Car #20- 1973 Ford Capri- Gord Olmstead(D) & Phil Hooper(N)
Car #21- 1954 Hudson Hornet Convertible- Noel(D) & Cynda(N) Renner
Car #22- 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente- Jeffery Wacker(D) & Julia Metcalf(N)
Car #23- 1978 Saab 99EMS- Mark Skinner(D) & Peter Downs(N)
Car #24- 1930 Chrysler 70 Roadster- David Smith(D) & Thomas Smith(N)
Car #25- 1964 Porsche SC- Jeffrey Vogel(D) & Michael Mutchka(N)
Car #26- 2002 Mazda Miata- Paul(D) & Debbie(N) Tabone
Car #27- 2002 Audi A4- Jim Theriault(D) & Chris Pye(N)
There were a total of 32 cars registered for this year’s GAMRR. Five of the cars however, were registered for recreational purposes only. An international group of car-loving friends who had all connected during the 2019 Peking to Paris Rally, were looking for a structured vintage automobile travel opportunity they could share without the bother of the timed Regularity Sections. So, cars 28-32 were not scored and did not appear for our final gathering at Hemmings.
The rally teams mingled, toured the impressive Hemmings Motor News car collection and enjoyed some lunch while rally officials scored the Day 3 Regularity Sections and tabulated the final rally rankings.
First, second and third place trophies were set out for the Original, Classic and Modern car classes.
In the end Gary Hamilton provided a rally summary. His report for the Original Car class was brief. We learned that none of the four Original cars finished the rally. The 1930 Chrysler lost its clutch at the close of Day 1. The 1928 Chrysler experienced worrisome engine noise late on Day 2. Our Hudson had brake challenges and while Noel & Cynda’s 1954 Hornet Convertible was running fine at the rally’s close, Cynda’s illness had kept them from completing the Day 3 Regularity Sections.
Within the Classic Car class it was Jeffery Wacker & Julia Metcalf in the 1964 Mercury Comet that finished 3rd with a penalty total of 243. Finishing second with a penalty total of 206 were Matthew and MaryAnn Koops in their 1974 Dodge Monaco. And winners of the very competitive Classic Car class were Gord Olmstead & Phil Hooper in the 1973 Ford Capri with 175 penalty points.
Within the Modern Car class, 3rd place finishers were Jeffrey Hassenfeld & Lee Boroson in the 1982 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce. They had just 195 penalty points. Jim Theriault & Chris Pye in the 2002 Audi A4 took home the second place trophies with 165 penalty points. Ed & Ruth Sain with their 2015 Toyota Highlander were not only first place finishers within the Modern Car class, but also were the overall 2019 Great American Mountain Rally Revival Champions with just 132 penalty points across the 3-days of the rally. Congratulations Ed & Ruth! Well done indeed! They took home two sets of trophies and their names will go on the official GAMRR Cup!
Lynn and I made our rounds to extend “Good-bye” wishes. We’ve cemented some genuine friendships across the two years of the GAMRR. As we were talking, someone looked out the window and shouted “Look….. a rainbow!”
Was it coincidence, the timing of this rainbow on what I personally had experienced as a dismal, disappointing day? There are some questions for which there simply is no answer.
Whatever the source, the rainbow served as a wake-up call for me. My wife and I had just spent three days traveling through the autumn colors and scenic beauty of New York’s Adirondack Park. We made new friends and deepened the relationships we initiated the year before. We and the Renners had the privilege and honor of trumpeting the Hudson story in corners where it is seldom heard. Indeed Lisa Colom, driver of the #2 Fiat Spider, is so captured by the Hudson magic that since returning home has joined the Hudson Essex Terraplane Club and intends to be with us in July of 2020 for the club’s International Meet in Burlington, Vermont! I had invited Lisa to drive our Hornet before dinner at the close of Day 2. Through the course of that short time in the driver’s seat, she has seemingly been bitten by the Hud-bug! That makes me smile.
We left Bennington and drove through the rain toward home as far as Binghamton, New York where we pulled in to spend the night. The following day we completed the journey. Oh, our brakes! Noel’s guidance was that we should get on the road and drive the Hornet home. And that’s exactly what we did. The brakes were noisy but functional. The vast majority of our travels were on interstate highways where the brakes are seldom called upon. The car is scheduled to return to Dr. Doug Wildrick in Shelbyville, Indiana before the snow flies here in Ohio.
I don’t know about Lynn, but I’m already looking forward to next year! The mighty Hornet will return for the 2020 Great American Mountain Rally Revival! One can never collect too many rainbows.
Dr. Davis is especially good with kids. And his staff? Helpful, compassionate, and caring. They take care of business for you. Thumbs up. 10 on a scale of 5.