We start the day with a drivers' meeting in the hotel parking
lot. We'll meet out at the "City Dump" for a flying mile race
being run by the Eureka locals. Martin also warns us about some
road conditions on the way to Belmont. We arrange with the other
Jag drivers, Jay Lamm and Elizabeth Gardiner to trade mounts for
a while at some point today.
Above: Gathering for the Drivers' meeting.
We leave town and get slightly lost looking for the location of
the race. We take the directions a bit too literally and actually
drive all the way to the dump. Eventually we find the right spot
though The weather looks pretty good. In fact it promises to be
the best day yet.
When we arrive at the designated spot, it is obvious because the
road is blocked off and there is a growing crowd of locals here
to watch the festivities. We amble up to hear the race rules and
sign in for the event. We will be given a standing 'drag race'
type start... there will be a radar gun posted at the .5 mile
mark and at the finish. Our speed will be measured and we'll be
allowed two runs.
We are lined up at the back of the pack. The only thing unusual
about this is that they want us to allow the cars to be used for
some impromptu modeling shots for a couple of local girls building
a modeling portfolio.
Right: Cars lining up for the flying mile.
Below: Watching the previous miler on the radar.
Above: An Olds at the start.
Below: The badass Buick blows off the line.
The weirdest part was the amateur models. It was funny to watch.
These girls were probably in high school and the photographer
was probably not too experienced either. They came up to the front
where I was shooting the cars and started posing. As Bill Cammarano's
1954 Dodge Meadowbrook pulled up to the line, everyone said "You
have to shoot that car, it is so colorful!" so the girl dutifully
walked up to it and the photog started shooting. They obviously
needed an Art Director as it was just a girl in front of a car.
I said "have her hold the flags"... The photog caught on, told
her to grab the flags from the starter and then directed the model
to do this or that with the flags. Then I said "you should probably
have those people get out of the background." It was as if the
photog was seeing what he was looking at for the first time...
he suddenly realized there were spectators right behind the model
. I photoshopped them out of the picture below. =) I thought my
Art Director days were long gone.
Below: Teen Models and Dusty Old Cars. Enjoy!
Former Art Director's note: Notice the shadow on the right-hand
models' face above. Oh Well.
Below: Avid race fan awaiting the run of the 54 Jaguar.
Our turn comes to run the mile. Dad is at the wheel and I'm along
for the ride. We pull up to the line and await the waving of the
The flag drops and ... the car s l o w l y accelerates.
This car is *not* the E-Type. =)
I'm watching the radar's display and taking the occasional picture.
The car eventually makes it to the half mile mark and we are going...
...71 Miles Per Hour! whoo hoo. =)
Unfortunately the 46 year old XK doesn't quite have the same punch
it displayed at the time of it's birth, where at Jabbeke, Belgium,
XK-120 Jaguar set the watermark for it's day of 132.6mph. This old geezer seems to just run out of breath at 4000 rpm.
We finish the mile at around 92 mph. Not bad for a car that is
older than me by 11 years. Besides Dad and I agree that 90 is
about as fast as you would *want* to drive this car. =) The combination
of Drum Brakes (No Offence Martin!) and wonky farm tractor steering
puts a mental limit on how fast you really want to go.
Left: Don't try this at home folks.
Instead of pulling around for another go at the mile we pull over
and exchange cars with the other folks in a Jaguar. But before
we get there let me tell you about the best part of the race.
I wasn't there to witness it firsthand, but here is what happened.
Ron Wren's 1954 Lincoln Capri died the previous day. But he was
determined to run the mile anyway. So Old Lucky #13 ran the mile
on the Flatbed. It even managed to beat the time of John Horton's
1952 Chrysler New Yorker! =)
We pull over and trade cars with Jay and Elizabeth. Dad really
wants to test drive another Jag, if only as a comparison to his
own. His 120 seems to be an excellent specimen. (I tell him it
must have been built before lunch.) It has been (gasp) quite reliable
and even shows (double gasp!) some quality workmanship. The doors
for instance fit perfectly and do not rattle. To anyone who has
owned or driven an old Jag this is something of a shock. Dad shows
them around his 120, and helps them get underway. Meanwhile I'm
in the Fixed Head Coupe surrendering my safety because there is
NO WAY I can wrap a seatbelt scaled for Elizabeth's petite frame
around my not-so-petite self. Dad drives the FHC and pronounces
it to be a better performer. The engine freely revvs up to 4000
and beyond. The engine is fitted with a C-Type head and is much
better equipped to breathe. The rest of the machine however is
more of what you would expect from a Jaguar. The doors rattle.
Things don't fit together too well. Etc. Two things I do notice
right away however, is that the fuel gauge works and that the
"Trafficator" indicator light works. =)
Above: Dad shows Jay & Elizabeth the Roadster.
Below: Leaving the closed road & Looking back.
Below: Shot across the louvered bow of the FHC.
We trade back for our trusty mount about 10 miles down the road.
Why? The scenery and surface is about to change for the worse...
Above: The rutted "Belmont Road" south from US 50 towards Belmont...
which is beyond the mountains left of the
road below. This whole valley has never seen pavement.
The road south to Belmont is unbelievable. This is a valley that
seems as large as the whole Puget Sound region where I live. From
The hills south of the Skagit River down to Olympia, and from
the Cascade Mountains to the Sound holds about 3 million people.
This seemed to be an equivalent space and my guess is that about
12 people live there at *most*. A HUGE valley with only about
5 roads in it. The scale was dizzying. There were only two cars
ahead of us on the route (since we left the race early) and I
was able to count the dust plumes from individual cars ahead and
behind for what seemed like 50 miles in both directions. The road
varied in quality from rutted disaster to smooth quality gravel.
While the valley appeared flat bottomed there were in reality
many folds and twists... in fact we had several surprise roller-coasteresque
drops and bumps along the way. At one point we crested a small
hill at relatively high speed to be confronted with *a three way
fork* in the road. Screeching to a halt, we debated which one
to take. Of course there was no such intersection shown on the
map! We deduced that the right hand fork was correct based on
the appearance of the road on the right side of the valley much
farther ahead and the casual appearance that this road looked
more well-worn and traveled. So right we go and down into a smallish
canyon and *shock* right into somebody's ranch amid some cottonwood
trees. We roll to a stop. Standing on the left side of the road
are two HUGE bulls. Dad is fishing about with the stick trying
to find reverse when a man walks out... Since we are obviously
lost, and this guy seems to have no fear of the bulls we slowly
drive past them and ask if this is the way to Belmont. He lets
us know that yes, if we continue on straight that we'll meet the
"main" road again and be headed towards Belmont. Had we gone straight
at the 3-way fork we would have stayed on the "main" road.
The ironic thing is the use of the term "main"...
The road continues - and we continue to take on dust and dirt
at an alarming rate. I swear there are several pounds of dust
in my shirt alone. I won't even begin to describe the crunchy
sensations in my mouth. Thankfully we encounter Jay & Elizabeth
stopped along the roadside and they share their water with us.
Another 70 miles or so go by and finally round a ridge and climb
west out of the valley and up to the semi-ghost town of Belmont.
Above Left: The Belmont Saloon.
Above Right: a lone smokestack with no building attached.
After Belmont we go up and over the last 12 miles of dirt road
to the mining town of Manhattan. We finally hit pavement again
in the Big Smoky Valley and head north on Nevada 376... familiar
territory now as this is the third time we've traversed it (once
on the Cannonball, and again on Thursday.) At the town of Carvers we stop for gas at a 76 station. While
Dad fills up I head inside to buy a drink and leave some fluid.
As it is very hot (at least for this wimpy northwesterner!) I
also grab an ice cream bar... to hard to pass that up! Dad sees
this and goes inside for one too... while I finish off mine then
wash the windscreen.
While I'm doing that another rally car pulls up and fills up too.
Then a local comes out and asks us where we were yesterday. I
answer that we were up around Elko. He says that the whole valley
turned up at the Twist Ranch to make lunch for us yesterday and
that we never showed up.
I say that we are supposed to be at the Twist for lunch today. He says that there obviously was some mistake since they cooked
up a 'Big Ol' Barbeque' for us yesterday - but we never showed up! The whole damn valley turned up and
made a huge party of it, but since we never showed they ate it
For a while I thought he was joking but eventually I figured he
was telling the truth. He said that we'd have to go all the way
to Austin (about 45 miles up the road) to grab a lunch and suggested
a place to do it.
Dad and I hit the road north and eventually came to the Twist
about 20 miles further... it turns out to be the place where we
traded drivers in the storm two nights before... when Dad couldn't
see the cows.) As we go by I see some rally cars there so we turn
around and pull in. They are serving us lunch, but the guy in
Carvers was right... we are a day late. Somehow the good folks
at the Twist Ranch managed to throw together a lunch for us at
the last minute from some leftovers. I have to say I ate one of
the best steaks I have ever tasted in my life. Maybe it was the
contrast from the 16 pounds of dust I consumed on the dirt road
this morning, but I have to say it was a damn fine steak! I had
some nice corn and beans too. I thanked the Cook and our fine
Host, Shelby (whose last name I can't recall, sorry!)
Above: An Impromptu, yet excellent lunch at the Twist Ranch.
I'm sure that the rally organizers and the Twist's staff managed
to soothe any hurt feelings surrounding the miscommunications.
If they can put on a lunch of this quality in these circumstances
I *really* want to make up for the error and see what they can
do when we show up on the right day!
We hit the road soon after we finish and blaze the trail towards
Austin with me at the wheel. The town is perched on a small 'flat'
spot on the side of a huge grade. Weird spot for a town. Soon
after Austin we leave US 50 and take a scenic route, Nevada 722
over two passes and through one big valley complete with gigantic
The second pass has some great curves and hairpins. After we regain
US 50 we head lower and lower and the scenery gets drier. Eventually
we are on a huge dry lake bed. Shimmering in the distance is the
town of Fallon, with it's Naval Air Station. Just as we get within
about a half mile of the town the Jag sputters to a stop. We've
run out of gas again! Several Rally cars pass us while we are
pouring or spare 2 gallons in. We crank it back up and roll into
town for a satisfying tankfull of surprisingly inexpensive fuel.
The rest of the route takes us toward Virginia City and then up
around the east shore of Lake Tahoe, then down the Kingsbury Grade
to Minden. But since we have to pick up Dad's tow vehicle in Carson
City we bypass that part and beeline for the state capital and
it's Ford dealership. I drop Dad off to recover the behemoth.
The wait is quite long as there has been a screwup and the truck
is locked behind a fence. Dad had requested it be left on the
lot so we could just pick it up, but of course it is not. In the
meantime I took a nice shot of the Jag in a window:
Dad finally gets his truck and we're off down US 395 to Minden.
I'm in the Jag alone, and he's in the Expedition.
We make it to Minden and immediately load the Jag onto it's trailer.
A shock awaits when we open the trunk...
Above: My baggage, complete with three acres of Nevada dust.
Below: An additional acre in my clothes. But hey, we're finished
and a shower awaits!
We shower, and head down for the final get together. The room
is half empty due to the attrition rate. We are served a great
dinner (Hey Andy, a mixed grill!) to top off the whole event.
We say good bye to everyone and head to bed.
Dad drives me to the airport in Reno, with the car in tow and
heads straight east back on US 50 towards Colorado. I fly back
Got to give a big thanks to:
Martin Swig and Dan Radowicz for hosting such a wild event.
My lovely wife Sue and my two boys for having the patience to
graciously allow me to go away on these crazy trips.
...and of course my father, Charles Goolsbee for inviting me to
come along. Thanks Dad!