Day 1. May 8: Today we left the hotel in Newark to head west. And west it will be, sometimes southwest, sometimes northwest but this first leg will be west. The first day is always a shake-down particularly when most of these cars had been shipped from England. We saw many of our competitors on the side of the road, some more than once, but I can say this, we all made it in under our own power. Getting out of NJ wasn’t so grand, but we drove some beautiful country roads in Pennsylvania.
Now we had our own problems. As we started to get in line for the days start, we discovered our rally computer didn’t work. We had ten minutes but nothing we tried fixed it. It was obvious that we would run the day without it. You have to understand that we have diagrams to follow and distances given between them. Those distances are critical because they tell you when to carry out the maneuver-like a left or right turn-and here’s the thing. The distance between maneuvers might be .38 miles or .17 or 3.49. Our odometer doesn’t HAVE decimal places. So we had to wing it! That being said, we only missed one turn that was .35 from the previous turn. Lucky for us, as we turned around and second guess the turn, two of our rally cars came up behind us and confirmed our decision.
OK, next rain. Lots of it and somewhere before Gettysburg, Stewball’s left wiper quit- sort of. It cleared enough for Ed to see with his left eye! That is, what he could see with the rain and fog. I will say this, there was no chance of him getting bored or sleepy. My job was to guess at the turns, his was to guess at the road. It made for an interesting day but what a team. We got to our final check point a 1/2 hour early, which is permitted in this rally format.
Now in the rain, Ed proceeded to try a variety of fixes. None worked. So we called on our very competent, inventive crew of mechanics that is part of Endurorally. They are grand (I’m learning British). They found the problem with the computer. Fixed that and then created this new face for Stewball. Stewball’s wipers will work together now!
So we are up and running tomorrow. An early day, starts at 7:00 am.
P.S. Had a surprise visit from a former Great Race competitor, Lew Toulmin, a travel columnist who will write an article about this rally with Stewball, our novel and our adventure as a part of that.
From the road to Alaska,
Jan and Ed