US Road trip

Rox I caught your comment asking for updates on Sean’s thread. So I’m going to post up all the updates to this point. You’ll find the same thing on a few other forums, I haven’t got the energy or time to make too many forum specific comments.

I hope you enjoy reading them half as much as I’ve enjoyed experiencing them.

So here goes from the begining…

Just passed the point of no return… Dropped the car of at the docks on Monday. I’ve been worried about the battery dying on the way over and due to it’s location they’ll never find it to jump start it. I’d disconnected everything I could think of that draws power with the engine off and replaced the battery to boot. I’d been sitting in the shippers office for 40 minutes when I realised I’d left the GPS turned on, not a biggie but I pop outside to turn it off. Only to discover to my horror that I’ve left the bloody lights on as well!

Funny feeling handing over the key and walking away…


Here’s a picture of the rust bucket the precious will be residing on in a couple of days…


To be continued… (I hope )

Current schedule of motoring activities:

19th of Nov. Columbus AF base MS - AutoX
20th of Nov. Mo-Kan Drag strip MO - 1/4 mile runs
27th of Nov. California Speedway - AutoX
30th of Nov. Laguna Seca - Track day
1st of Dec. Laguna Seca - Track day

Current route map

I�m shattered�

The ship carrying the car finally got here on Monday the 14th, 5 days late and on the same day I flew into Jacksonville. Nothing happened on Tuesday and customs were talking 3 ro 4 days to clear the car, which would ruin the trip.

Wednesday morning the wheels started turning and Customs went the extra mile (Thanks Officer Cindy Nelson), they managed to get the agriculture dept and shippers to release the car early and by mid-day I had the car.


The battery was flat, perhaps something to do with the main lights being on� The drivers door doesn�t close properly someone probably put to much weight on it trying to get out. Got her jump started and threw all my gear in. I knew I wasn�t going to be able to do the Dragon so decided to make a bee line for Knoxville. Didn�t have time to muck around with the GPS route map so just took a cursory look at the map and headed off. This was mistake number one � having pulled in for gas 250 miles up the road I discovered to my horror I�d missed an interstate turn off 40 miles back aaaargh. The pace had already been brisk up to that point, but now I was pushing 110 -120 not something I generally do on the road. The radar detector really came into its own and saved my butt on at least half a dozen occasions. But it couldn�t last forever. Somewhere around Columbia, I got pulled over � he figured I must have been doing 120mph (good guess), but I think he was buffing and never actually clocked me. My next defense strategy kicked in at this point � a Kiwi driving license and Dutch number plates. After threatening to take me to jail, he admitted he couldn�t be bothered with the paper work, phew�

By this stage I�d phoned a mate in CA with an unusual request. Could he please register himself on the East Tennessee SCCA forum and post that I�d be late getting into Knoxville.

Eventually got to Knoxville without further incident. Threw my bags in my room and immediately went downstairs to met with the SCCA guys. That was mistake number two � I hadn�t eaten since the previous evening, that combined with half a dozen beers and not getting to bed till 2:30am left me in a right state this morning. Had a great evening, nice bunch of guys. They took me for a drive down some road they call the mini-dragon in Knoxville at 2 in the morning. I nearly threw up, but managed to keep a brave face on. :wow:

Got underway at around 10am and headed straight for the Dragon.


Wow, what a road. I got lucky the weather was perfect � although very chilly with the roof off! No mishaps and I had the video camera running for a while. If I ever get some free time on this trip I�ll upload a couple of clips.

At this stage I still haven�t had a bite to eat in a day and a half. Fortunately I ran across this little place.


Nothing like a couple of pounds of boiled peanuts to put a mans hunger pangs to rest

I continued on down the 129 till I got to Chattanooga, I then headed north on the interstate till Nashville where I turned south again on the Nachez trace skyway. What a great road, hardly any traffic at all. The first section is very flowing, one medium sweeper after another mile after mile. With 150 miles to go to Tupelo the sun had set and an unexpected hazard appeared � Deer. Gave me a hell of a surprise when my lights picked out three of them standing in the middle of the road. I stopped in time, but had to be very vigilant from that point on and saw plenty on the sides of the road, but fortunately no more close encounters.

One problem with traveling around is not knowing which part of town to stay in � I think I�ve picked the wrong part of Tupelo. I�m the Economy Inn 30 bucks a night. Within 2 minutes of parking up I was solicited by a couple of the ladies of the night! I chuckled to myself when I popped out for some food, a shop just down the road has hit on a rather interesting idea which wouldn�t have occurred to me. Traylors Janitorial services and Car detailing. Who woulda thought it!

So there you have it all up to date. Tomorrow I�ll be making my way to Birmingham to check out the Barber Museum, I then spin around and spend the night in Columbus, MS in preparation for the AutoX on Saturday.

Mileage so far - 1,150

Why can’t people park there f*cking car in their own car park.


Another busy day � way toooo much excitement for my liking. Nothing special driving wise. I needed to get to Birmingham Alabama to pick up a replacement K-Pro (programmable board for the ECU) and then drive over to Columbus, Mississippi to stay the night before doing the AutoX on Saturday. So I was expecting an uneventful day�

Along the way down in rural Alabama I spotted this sign�.


OK so I�m not in a rush, and it�s only 12 miles out of my way, plus it�s a world’s wonder and you don�t see to many of them these days.

Nice to get an old fashioned southern greeting…


Only myself and the owner were there. He was actually a bit of a character, once he figured I was from foreign parts, he literally spend 10 minutes telling me about beef. In particular about New Zealand and Australian beef, which is unique in that you’ll never get fat no matter how much of it you eat. He said it was because they only eat grass and don�t get cattle feed. Who woulda thought it!

Anyway on with the tour.

The wonder�


Seats could do with a lick of paint. But no doubt it�s hard work keeping up with hundreds of thousands of tourists every year…


Especially when you�re open all year.

Tourist bit out of my system I continued on to Birmingham, and came close to lobbing the Laptop and GPS receiver out the window on a number of occasions. Finally found the tuning shop � Motorvations. The owner Jim was a top guy. I mentioned ages ago the clutch had started to play up just before the car was shipped. On the way down it had started to play up and Jim and I bled the system and sorted out a new fitting to replace the old leaking one. Job done, I gave him the keys to take it round the block�

30 minutes later � and that is no exaggeration Jim is still missing and bad thoughts are starting to creep into my mind. One minute later Jim turns up, and confesses the only reason he did was because he figured I might be getting worried. Turns out he�s been down to his mates place who I think is one of the local big shots. He seems to own half the town, he has his own dyno and is an instructor as the Barber Motorsport park. So Jim had taken him out as a passenger and he�s so impressed he offers me a free place at a track day they�re organising on Saturday and Sunday.

Aaaaargghh, I have to be in Columbus for the AutoX so it ain�t going to happen. So instead they offer to dyno the car for free there and then. I jump in the car with Jim to drive down and half way there the gear stick stops working. I�m stuck in bloody 6th and there�s a bunch of traffic lights to deal with. We get through the first couple ok, but get caught on one. Ever try pulling away in top gear? My advice is don�t bother. I had to absolutely murder the clutch to get moving to the point clutch smoke as well as smell was everywhere.

Got to the dyno and of course I�m crapping my knickers and hoping it�s something simple. Turns out a nut has come of the gear linkage. Five minutes and the car is sorted. Onto the dyno and the first run shows 184hp (at the wheels) � clutch was slipping for the first part of the run (I wonder why). Jim�s not happy with the top end and plays around with the fueling. We do one more run and gain 5hp straight away. Jim�s starting to get excited but I�ve stayed way to long as it is and will have to go straight to Columbus, Mississippi and miss visiting the Barber Museum as it is.

So on the road again and I�m feeling a little worried with all the mechanical problems today. No sooner do I dismiss the thought when the engine starts misfiring badly, I�m 50 miles from Jims and every time I give it a bit of welly it starts misfiring. [censored], pull into the gas station and start thinking this could be the end. But at this point I notice that it seems to be the rev limiter that�s kicking in at 4,000rpm. Ding, ding, turns out it�s a problem with the new K-Pro. Removing it and reseating it solves the problem and I�m on my way again. But my confidence has taken a bit of a battering today. Hopefully it�s all been concentrated into one day and I won�t have anymore problems. Famous last words no doubt�.

Mileage: 1,468

p.s how about this for a business idea, combine a Janitorial service with car detailing. Remember you heard it here first


Short update today, its 12:30am and I�ve just got into the hotel. Today can best be summed up with two pictures�


And unforturnately�.


Firstly it was a great day and I once again found myself wishing I had more time. Turned up at Columbus Air force base and discovered I was an honoured guest. Unlike all the other competitors I got my very own Police escort to the AutoX area

One thing I haven�t mentioned enough of on this trip so far is the people � unfortunately the outside world gets a somewhat distorted view of America and Americans which does a real disservice to the people I�ve met along the way. I really didn�t know how I would be treated � but I can honestly say so far you couldn�t meet a better bunch of people. I�ve been welcomed with open arms wherever I�ve gone and that continued today. From the moment I turned up to the moment I left I was made to feel welcome.

Secondly let me dispel any notion that Yanks can�t drive for toffee. I was hugely impressed with the standard of driving I saw today. These guys would show a clean pair of heels to a lot of good drivers in the UK. The machinery on display was impressive from a no expense spared Corvette driven by Darryl McElrath (some of the US SCCA guys may know of him) to an old Triumph, with everything in-between. Many of the competitors were pilots from the AF base with usual array of �Top Gun� accessories i.e. 600hp Camero�s and the like.

Watching the first few guys run I was quite worried as to where I would end up. The course was very fast and very slippery (video will follow at some point). After the first three runs I was pleasantly surprised to find myself in 3rd overall and a long way in front of the next car on road tyres. I figured there was at least another two seconds to come, which was the gap between myself the afore mentioned Corvette. But for some idiot reason I decided it might be a good time to check the tyre pressures (the last time I had was when the car was loaded in Holland). I let some air out and the handling went totally away. Having started the day with three clean runs I spun on each of the remaining three. End of the day it was driver error, but a good driver always finds something else to blame

Time to come clean about the first photo. The plaque was presented to me for FTD, normally this is Fastest Time of the Day. But they decided for this particular day it would be presented to the Furthest Distance Travelled I refer you to my comments regarding the caliber of people I�ve met along the way.

After the day finished a couple of guys offer to escort me for 30 or so miles to get me on the right highway. But just as we leave the base the car conks out� But starts up again straight away. A mile down the road same again � crap, why is it every time something good happens it�s followed by something bad? This time I pull over and Darryl pulls over and offers to load the car onto his trailer � I again refer you to my previous comments on the people I�ve met so far. I decide to keep going since I�ve got to get at least 400 miles to stand a chance of making the Drag racing on Sunday. I push on and although it keeps cutting out every 10 or 15 minutes it�s easy enough to coast and restart the car. Eventually I pull in for petrol and this time it won�t restart � see picture two. At least I�m at a garage. It also turns out that the failure to start gives me a clue. Previously I had dismissed fuel being a problem because every time I pulled over I could hear the fuel pumps priming. But now there was nothing. A quick bit of detective work and I find the problem it�s the immobilizer blanking plug. A couple of split pins jammed in the plug and copious amounts of duct tape to hold in all in place and I�m back on the road.


America is a BIGGGGG place and after droning on for 6 hours or so it�s midnight and I have to call it a day about 20 miles short of my intended destination. So I�ve got around 200 miles to do tomorrow morning to make to the Drag Strip by 1pm.

Mileage: 1,960

hmmm it’s now 1:30am so long for the quick update

Woke up this morning to find overcast skies and a steady drizzle, not looking promising for running the � mile. The gods were apparently in the mood for having a laugh at my expense as well. Climbed into the car, shut the door and the rear view mirror fell off � ho ho ho.

Decided to try and avoid the interstate on the way up to the drag strip an excellent decision as it turned out. I like it when I find a sign like this�


What a road, mile after mile of switch backs and general twistiness. The further into the sticks I got the more it became apparent these folk don�t get out much. And when they do it�s the Hog Trough they head for.


In fact it was positively disturbing when I pulled in for gas and everyone was decked out in camouflaged hunting gear and I mean everyone, men, woman and children � I got the feeling if I hung around to long I�d become prey. [image][/image]

Spotted this sign in a field and had to get a shot � I wonder if this was intended for me!


The road kills are getting interesting as well, came across a couple of deer one had obviously been hit by a truck and had literally exploded, also spotted squashed Skunk, pulverized Possums, butchered Buzzards and one rendered Raccoon.

Got to hand it to the mayors of some of these small towns for thinking big. The folk living in Tightwad clearly have big ambitions for their little settlement. Why bother with �Tiny dot in the middle of nowhere limit�, when you know you�re going to big one day you may as well say City limits.


As I mentioned earlier the weather wasn�t looking good and it continued to drizzle as I made my way towards the Mo-Kan Drag Strip. I arrived to find it deserted and grabbed a quick picture.


But the owner Carl Blanton had given me his number and I gave him a call. 10 minutes later, Carl and part of the family turned up so I got to line the car up on the drag strip for the first time. Thanks Carl!


In a way I was quite glad the track wasn�t open. The start of the strip has some kind of sticky chemical applied to it. I had visions of launching the car and leaving most of the drive train behind on the ground! We had a good chat and Carl kindly gave me a Mo-Kan T-Shirt that I�ll wear with pride. All too soon it was time to get moving again, but Carl kindly allowed me to run the � mile. There was no timing gear and I was pretty careful getting of the line. But judging by Carl and the family�s reaction it should be able to run somewhere around 11 seconds, not bad for a plastic car on road tyres. I think it would have surprised a few people if the track had been open.

The big news of the day is nothing broke other than the mirror, so things are starting to look up!

Currently I�m in a town called Clinton about 80 miles south east of Kansas City. Got a long and boring day tomorrow on the interstate to Denver, Colorado. But it should be worth it, since the Rockies await the following day�

Mileage: 2,300

Since I�m in at a reasonable hour I�m off to sample the local drop. [image][/image]

If I’m still standing when I get back from the Pub I’ll have a go at sorting out a couple of video clips from the past few days.


and even more

Thanks for making the effort to post up, deffo appreciated and I’m looking forward to the future - no doubt there will be exploits eh… hopefullly never ending in tears tho’

BTW - call me slow but I don’t get the Janatorial and car detailing idea at all


The ‘wonders of the world’ post is a total classic nearly fell off my chair.


BTW - call me slow but I don’t get the Janatorial and car detailing idea at all

Rox I got to admit I’m still struggling with that one myself

Just sorting out an AutoX vid I shot at Columbus AF base…

Found a site to host one of my runs from Saturday. Considering the number of times I spun I think it’s right we show one of them. Contains profanity

Click here. The link will open a page - scroll down select free, then wait 20 seconds or so and the file will be available for download.

Should have been in third gear for the first slalom grrrrr Would have been a great run if I hadn’t of spun, double grrrrr

Ian - this thread is fantastic - very many thanks

What a fantastic trip! Thanks for sharing it.


Nice thread Ian - very different and interesting - keep posting need something to cheer us up , snow expected here this w.e.

Looks like an interesting trip so far.

See, us Yanks aren’t all bad…


just re-read this thread again… the boiled peanuts bit and the Natural Bridge bit are fan-ferkin-tastic… thanks for making me laugh… again.

Cool Man!!!

Great write up!!!

Today will be memorable for the unremarkable nature of it. As they say around these parts I got some serious saddle time in and I dare say my saddle is just as hard as the real McCoy. Covered 800 miles in dull tedium. I tried various tactics of attempting to remain relatively alert. An early favourite was cop baiting, with the radar detector beeping reassuringly I crept up on this guy.


It took the better part of 15 miles to catch him, the road was one long ribbon stretching away into eternity and he was a mere dot on the distant horizon to start with.

Job done I crept past him 2mph over the limit and half an hour later he�d been blown into the weeds.

No need for the Laptop GPS just follow the jet trails to Denver.


With a road like this it was time to amuse myself in other ways�


I can report that lifting off suddenly at 150mph+ with a strong cross wind demonstrates a rather interesting area of the cars handling I�d rather not explore again. With the gas gauge heading for refill at an alarming rate and petrol stations few and far between it was time to find another way of staying awake. This involved crapping myself for 50 miles with the gauge on refill and my speed dropping mile by mile in an effort to eek out the last few liters in the tank. Finally when all hope seemed lost a few trees appeared on the horizon. Previous experience had shown trees mean human habitation and sure enough a small settlement slowly resolved itself. 9.4 gallons and a six pack of Red Bull later we were on our way again - bit frightening saying we � I think I�m beginning to form a deep and meaningful relationship with the car, I find myself chatting away to her quite happily. Is this normal?

While flicking through the CD case I came across Billy Idol�s Greatest hits. , So with Billy blasting out �It�s a white wedding� and half a litre of Red Bull in my stomach, I trundled onwards.


I was tempted to stop at a local attraction boasting a live six legged Steer. But when you�ve seen a World Wonder (see previous post), everything else is inevitably a let down. I�m learning now everything in America is bigger, the people, the distances and in particular the trains. The camera couldn�t fit in the length of this bad boy it must have been a couple of miles long.


With dusk approaching there was still no sign of the Rockies and I was beginning to think they were part of some conspiracy theory and didn�t actually exist. But finally with the sun setting I spied something on the horizon.


If you look very carefully just to the right of the sun you can see the Rockies. Not very impressive I�ll admit. I had expected them to be bigger , but at this stage I was happy to take what I could get.

Finally with the sun on the horizon I grabbed this shot.


I�m typing this up at Cactus Jacks Saloon, in Evergreen about 30 miles west of Denver. There�s snow on the ground and the Rockies await me tomorrow�

Kind of surprised I managed to find anything at all to say about today.

Mileage: 3,098

Job done I crept past him 2mph over the limit and half an hour later he�d been blown into the weeds.


I can report that lifting off suddenly at 150mph+ with a strong cross wind demonstrates a rather interesting area of the cars handling I�d rather not explore again.


Magic Ian!

I always wanted to do a trip like your myself.
One day…