Monday, December 9, 2013

'Live' Fang! Racing to a Win video

Link to this Vimeo video:
Link to 'private' screen and downloadable video:
Link to Youtube version of this video:

Vintage Cape Horn Rally by Gerard Brown

Video slideshow of Gerard Brown photographs from the 2013 Vintage Cape Horn Rally.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Life is but a dream

When Bill Shields casually mentioned a South American rally and followed through with entry forms we really did not know what was in store.  This is evidenced by our baggage… lawn chairs, table and cloth, candles (battery powered) and abundant attire for evenings. Also the navigator needed her makeup and five pairs of shoes, none suitable for Antarctic exploration.

Much time and effort later we found ourselves in a Buenos Aires basement loaded down with instructions. cautions, gadgets, tags, a briefcase full of strange charts, route books, score pads and a medical kit suitable for a small surgery. Saline drip?

OK. We are last to start, just follow somebody. When this proved to be an unsuitable strategy your navigator got to work, which was timely since before long we were first to start in the morning.

Day Two and our first real race course. We had never previously tried turning Fang at speed since he basically doesn't, but Chuck muscled him around with lots of screeching and tilting to a good result.

Our new strategy. Leave at our exact assigned minute in the morning, drive real fast to next check point, wait nearby and roll into position on time as required. Do not get lost, break or run out of fuel. Times on controlled sections, including race circuits and select sections of gravel, are where the game can be won or lost. On the race circuits only seconds are at stake, but arriving even one second late on the timed road courses earns an automatic one minute penalty.

The starting order varied. Much of the time we started first and never saw anyone except the timing officials and the newer Mercedes and Mustangs in the modern class. Chuck simply drove full out constantly. Fang endured, I shouted directions and Monkey hung on. Cars were sent out one minute apart so it was prudent not to start behind a slower car, especially on a single track.

Fang's suspension died half way through the rally. Henceforth Chuck spent most evenings on the ground in icy winds with stiff hands and hope in his heart. So many times it seemed like we were done, but the road was lined with helping hands and miracles. I should have know after forty years with Chuck that we would never give up.

Everyone welcomed the crazy racers from Washington state. All were gracious and encouraging. The atmosphere, even in adversity, freezing cold, endless wind. broken this and that, ruptures, punctures, leaks and spills was of one big holiday.

Great Job Fang!  See you in Seattle! 
Victory never tasted so good! 
By 62 Seconds!  

Friday, December 6, 2013

Home Sweep Home!

Home with the Hardware!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Team Bardahl also Wins!

Ushuaia Awards Ceremony:
Team Bardahl Wins, along with Pam and Chuck's overall win!
Team Bardahl Wins: Danny & Michael Day, Chuck & Pam Lyford, and Leslie Roy & Rand Elliot
And it was a nice drive through Argentina and Chile :)- Bonus, to Win Overall!  

Chuck and Pam. Thank you to Randy and Leslie, for the photo. 

"Goodbye Fang... Have a nice trip home in the container.. see you next year!" 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

We Won

Final days not lacking in drama. No, not at all. The 16 km gravel road between the borders of Argentina and Chile on our route is called "No Man's Land". Certainly no man maintains it. We pulled onto Rio Grande in disrepair with one hour to get to race track. An angel we had met in Buenos Aires, Carlos Menendezbehety, appeared with a full on suspension shop just around the corner.  A pack of wild mechanics patched us together, the angel led us to track with minutes to spare and we held our first position. Back into the shop from 5 to 11PM. After a delicious king crab feast we picked up Fang. These guys are the real deal, racers and artists. The shop was closed, the owner sat waiting in the dark. He would not allow us to pay him at all. We gave his sweet guard perro a steak instead. Now midnight Chuck and seemingly half Rio Grande needed fuel. Lines blocks long. At this point Fang evidenced a fit of wheezing and backfiring which had our worried driver outside at 4:30AM changing everything possible. Did I mention cold? Very.
This morning we reran the track in a Snowstorm! Slipping and sliding in an inch of snow with a clever go cart course inserted on the straight, we opted to just forget speed and stay on the track.
Now for a fun filled blizzard on 80 km of mixed deep mud, snow, hail, and cattle guards. Throw in a two minute flat out medal run and we are rallying for sure. 
When we got to the Tarmac, hours later, Carlos and his pretty wife Alicia, were waiting to cheer us on. Feeling cocky a bit too soon, the snow intensified, the fog rolled in and a scary mountain pass appeared.  
Not until the Clerk of the Course, Kim Bannister flagged us down with a bottle of champagne, did we relax. Just then Fang's fan belt let out a frozen howl.
What a ride.
WE and FANG hung on and won three weeks of racing by a minute... !

A well deserved, nap
Chuck notes:  Ran the track in snow.... Wow.... Engine backfiring ... Think a jet is partially clogged. wind so high, 40 K plus with snow and cold, could not even open hood.  Pressed on and gave up 20 seconds...Had enough left over and made the Last TC with seconds to spare...Huge mountain pass to climb in drifting snow and fog... So thick no photos of finish could be taken.  More like the movie the great race, times two!

Summer in Patagonia

Crossing the Straits


Bardahl, South America,  just contacted Charlie, at T-Zero to report Fang Won!
More as soon as communication connections allow.   

End of the Earth via Satellite

Rally Report on Day 19 - Punta Arenas to Rio Grande
Fred Fangio regrets that this evening in Rio Grande, he finds himself in a town that apparently has no internet connection, making it currently impossible to bring you the latest news and pictures from the Vintage Cape Horn rally. We will publish the latest story as soon as normal communications are resumed. Meanwhile the results pages have been updated via a satellite connection.

Leslie and Rand managed to get a small post through:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

View from our hotel room across the Magallanes Straits

Pier into which our ship crashed several years ago. Evil wind got it. Blowing and howling now as we pack up for the ferry crossing to Porvenir and three medal runs. Rio Grande, home of world famous giant brown trout tonight. Friends with a fishing lodge will meet us across the border.

Monday, December 2, 2013

What a Difference a Day Makes

Chuck woke me this morning, at 5:30, to tell me it was raining. Did I need to know just then?
Snow on the mountains.  Thanks to his good work, we had a much improved exit from the park. A fuel truck had appeared Sunday, with pricey fuel. We did not partake, thanks to foresight, and a large on-board fuel tank.
Certainly our visit to Torres Del Paine and Hotel Explora Patagonia has been the top stop of journey. Most of us ended our hikes and horse rides in the Piscina with champagne, beer and tall tales. We swam in the warm pool, then, after baking like lobsters in a steam room, jumped off the dock into a very icy lake.  Could you hear our screams? The sunny lake side hot tubs bubbled over, with happy racers.  Chuck opted for a well deserved massage.
I was surprised to see lady slippers and orchids thriving in this bleak landscape. We walked quite close to guanacos, grazing or posing on rocks, unconcerned by humans because they cannot be tamed.
The Explora dining room hangs over a waterfall and the cliff opposite, holds a giant condor nest with much activity. Do put this place on your map.
Back to the journey. First control, tiny Cafe Patagonia, could not contain our mob, ran out of soup, chairs, and probably patience. Clint shared his steak sandwich with us and the officials told us to just head to the race circuit.  Autodromo turned out to be a decent Tarmac track, with thoughtfully placed pot holes, gators and a dead stop chicane..even Monkey loved it.  Bill Shields' steering tie rods broke on the course, concluding with his race-car in a unique toes out position at the chicane. We did well.  Clint came one second faster on the three lap trial, possibly due to our added weight of that shared sandwich.  Sneaky devil. Great fun.
Now a fine hotel with a view of the cruise ship pier into which the Prince Albert crashed several years ago, with us aboard. Did I mention wind?  And more wind?  And cold?  The open car crews looked like a Blue Man Group reunion, upon arrival.
We take a 7am ferry in the morning, so I better get down to the bar now, for personal refueling.

Torres del Paine, A World Biosphere Reserve

By Gerard Brown
By Gerard Brown, Day 17, Torres del Paine
Some reverse shock mount psychology, keeps Fang running 'smoothly'.
photo by Gerard Brown, Day 16 Photos

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Domingo near Heaven, hangovers included

Undaunted by the residual effects of plentiful free Chilean wine, our group stormed out early Sunday morning fitted with walking sticks and riding gear for activities unrelated to cars.  Chuck, however, toils away under Fang as Clint Smith lurks about hoping for the worst. Clint and Trevor in nĂºmero 23,  a similar 38 coupe, are gaining on us and racing well. Clint suggested we switch cars after the event for a test ride.  Can't wait till he experiences Fang's very special steering.  Our park exit, rerouted by a landslide, will add an additional 100 plus km to our day tomorrow with no fuel stops. The entire rally could coast to a halt.  Last time we saw a station was in Argentina. Barren and beautiful.  Danny and Michael got a medal last night and Team Bardhal moved into first in team contest.

View from our room at Explora Patagonia Hotel
Gravel tracks take their toll. One hundred km on washboard, with no back shocks, blurred my vision of rallying. Only an all inclusive, dynamite hotel, could ease the pain. Warm pool, alternating with stunning dips in the icy lake, raucous dinner over the falls and a morning slot in the garage, improved our mood considerably.
Explora Patagonia Hotel

Chuck ready for another day under Fang