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!  

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