This day finally came - the final driving day in the Endurance Rally Association's 2022 Lima to Cape Horn Rally. With cars in good shape, our Bodacious Racing teammates cheerfully climbed into the 1936 Ford Cabriolet and the 1972 Porsche to drive the final kilometers to the end of the road - literally and figuratively!
Chris was feeling so much better today, having slept a good 12 hours. His cold symptoms are definitely exacerbated by the physical and mental exhaustion all of the drivers are dealing with. Knowing this is the last day - finally - of this extremely wearing and difficult rally, revitalized everyone. There were broad smiles on everyone's faces as they headed south on the rally route.
In general, it was a relaxing day. Having made it this far, the cars performed well. Jeff and Chris decided early on they couldn't catch the car in front of them in the overall post-war rankings, and the car behind them couldn't catch them, so they had nothing to lose taking the roads nice and easy. Tim and Jim were pretty confident in their position in the pre-war rankings, so just enjoyed driving the Ford and heading to the end of the road.
It was a cold drive, that far south, with snow flurries in the mountain passes - the late spring snow of the southern hemisphere foretelling the coming winter awaiting them up home in the northern hemisphere.
At the end, where the road south terminates, with Ushuaia spread out in front of them, each car drove through the finish arch, pleased to have arrived at this storied southernmost city. We'll have to wait for the official rally photographer's photo of Jeff and Chris in the Porsche, but Jeff was on hand to catch Tim and Jim as they drove the Ford for their official finish.
Once through the finish arch, and after congratulating each other and their many friends among the other competitors, they hopped back into their cars to deliver them to the customs house for shipping, with both cars headed to the U.K. They plan to sell the Ford, having enjoyed the car for the past several years. The Porsche will go to Tuthill's for some body work, general maintenance and some new tires. Jeff will be in Sweden with that car in March for a winter challenge conducted by Tuthill Porsche.
At the awards dinner tonight, there was celebration all around. Tim and Jim had a podium win: third overall in the pre-war category! Knowing how many pre-war cars had to drop out of the rally due to serious operative issues, the very fact that they persevered to the finish is a testament to good driving technique, careful navigation, and Tim and Jim's ability to work well together. They have complementary skills, and will be a formidable pair in whatever car they drive in the future.
Jeff and Chris in the Porsche drove one of a handful of cars who made every single time control check of this challenging rally. That consistency is valued in the rally world. It means you were able to interpret and follow directions, drive precisely and well, and your car was well-prepared for a difficult rally route. While the Porsche placed 4th overall in the post-war category, they placed 1st in their class - kudos! With so many rallies driven together, Jeff and Chris just keep getting better and better!
Chris and Jeff called it a night once the awards dinner and ceremony were over. The ceremony included the traditional film documenting the past 30 rally days and the 7,000 miles driven. Tim and Jim stayed to party on, celebrating their big win. With the sun still above the horizon at 11 PM, who could blame them?
As Peggy, Tim's wife, said in an earlier text:
"Their ENDURANCE through everything... student protests, terrible roads, really serious car problems, bad stomach issues, and a cold that they passed around to each other, shows the strength, both mental and physical, that they have, to be able to make it to the end. Congratulations to these four wonderful guys who accomplished this huge achievement!"
Jim, Tim, Chris and Jeff can now add this rally adventure to their catalog of racing and rally achievements. For this group of men who have clocked years of competitive sailing among them, it is only fitting they finally sailed the Straits of Magellan together - on a ferry - with their vintage cars.
What's next on the agenda? The Bodacious Racing team will fly to Buenos Aires Monday afternoon. After touring this fascinating city, they will part ways Tuesday night, when Jeff and Chris plan to catch a flight back to the States. Tim and Jim will spend another night in Buenos Aires, then head towards home Wednesday. Everyone will have even more cause to celebrate Thanksgiving this year!
The next rally in the planning stages for the Bodacious Racing team: The Flying Scotsman in mid-April!
Day 29: Punta Arenas, Chile to Rio Grande, Argentina
Day 29 found our Bodacious Racing team crossing the Straits of Magellan, burning up tires, and fighting the rally cold germs. But it's the penultimate day of the rally - everything is surmountable!
Tim helped us out tonight by sending a good rally story from Day 28:
"Yesterday we had two or three regularities in Chile, working our way towards the Straits of Magellan. We finished one regularity on a gravel road and came out on a nice paved two-lane road that was quite curvy. We drove along the waterfront, and up and down hills. Gypsy Rose was cruising along enjoying the curves, going about 60 mph. As we were coming up one hill all of a sudden I saw the rear end of a Bentley in the lane in front of me. At first, I thought he was broken down in the road and stopped. The next microsecond, I realized he was coming towards me backwards! He was on the crest of the hill right in front of me, going backwards, as I was coming up the hill at 60 mph. I don't think Jim screamed out in sheer terror, but I did, as I swerved as best I could. Gypsy Rose is a good car, but 90-year-old steering and suspension is not really meant for doing a fast maneuver at 60 mph.
The other weird thing was the navigator of the Bentley was standing outside the door on the running board. I think my right front fender missed him by inches. I could not believe what they were doing! I thought maybe they were stuck in reverse, and they were trying to get the car to stop. After we gathered our wits, we struggled to figure out what the hell was going on. At the next time control I walked up to Raj and Tim, the co-drivers of the Bentley, and asked, 'What were you guys doing back there?' 'Oh,' Raj replied, 'Tim's hat blew off and we were looking for it.' I said 'Do you guys know how close we all came to dying?' I know the navigator on the running board realized it because his eyes were as wide as saucers, but the driver said, 'I couldn't see where I was going driving backwards, so I didn't have a clue what was going on!' "
Today the rally started with a time trial on a local track. Jeff and Chris in the Porsche were going really fast driving around the track, but all of a sudden the finish loomed. Jeff slammed on the brakes - and literally smoked the tires! He skidded into the stop, burning the tire treads. They pent the rest of the day driving with flat spots on the tires - quite evident in the jolting, bumpy ride.
Tim and Jim also had an adventure on that time trial. From Tim's text:
"We started down a 400-meter section of gravel at speed towards an acute left turn onto the asphalt of the track. Half-way to the turn, as I caught 3rd gear, a pickup truck came onto the gravel coming towards us. He saw us and stopped. Right in the middle of the acute left turn! Obviously we had to brake to a stop and make him move. The Ford doesn't stop very fast, so it was a bit hairy. The only consolation to losing so much time was as I got by him I dumped the clutch at high throttle and sprayed him with gravel."
Before boarding the ferry across the Straits of Magellan, the rally had two regularities, and both cars did fine on them - even if they are seriously tired of driving this rally. Chris spent the day feeling sick from his worsening cold. Jeff said Chris was really looking forward to the hotel, climbing into bed, and sleeping the cold away.
The wind blew a consistent 40 mph as they rode the ferry, chilling everyone to the bone. Tim and Jim headed to the car deck to replace the Bimini top on the Ford with the regular top; they were afraid the more open top would catch the wind and blow off.
The customs crossing went smoothly, and back in Argentina the guys are really looking forward to the last day of the rally. With Chris being sent off to his room with Tim and Jim's cold medicine, Jeff was assisted by the Ford's drivers in changing out the front tires.
Jeff, Chris, Tim and Jim are looking forward to traveling the final rally kilometers to Ushuaia tomorrow. They will then join the ranks of those who have traveled to the end of the Americas!
Deep on the South American continent, our Bodacious Racing team continues to keep their cars in good repair as they enjoy the high winds, the cool temperatures, and the amazing sights on Day 28 of the Lima to Cape Horn Endurance Rally.
Despite a direct-route distance of less than 300 km, the rally route took a more circuitous path, squeezing in regularities and challenging the vintage cars with a continuation of gravel roads and potholes everywhere!
The Porsche managed the first regularity with another perfect score. But the second regularity was a bomb, and Jeff and Chris agreed to review their speed/time/distance table tonight to find out where they went wrong. They enjoyed the drive however: the crystalline bays, majestic grasslands, and passing cattle herds.
Meanwhile, two teams of their closest competitors were struggling to cope with car issues, caused by driving the cars so hard for so many days in such damaging conditions. At this point in such a long rally, the mantra is "Don't blow up the car!" Taking risks to go fast and to be on time is part of the strategy of any endurance rally, but moderation is often required to keep a car in service. As the time on the road dwindles, it's everyone's hope that the cars still in the rally can finish the rally!
To that point, at least two cars that had earlier had major problems were able to rejoin the rally tonight - they will be able to board the ferry on Day 29 for the last two driving days on the other side of the Strait of Magellan.
Punta Arenas is the largest southernmost city in Chile and the Americas, serving as a gateway to Antarctica. Located on the northern coast of the Strait of Magellan, the city of around 125,000 is known for its spectacular views of the Patagonian peninsulas and islands, as well as its fierce winds - up to 80 mph. Tim and Jim arrived before sunset, having trailed a herd of cows for several kilometers - was it the same herd passed by Jeff and Chris earlier in the day?
At dinner the team compared notes on those regularity tables, and Chris and Jeff decided theirs needs a complete reworking - something for once they return home. They heard about some of the other rally drivers hard at work with the sweeps help, trying to ensure their cars will make it through the next two days. Nursing various aches and pains from the long days in the car, Jeff, Chris, Tim and Jim headed to bed after dinner, thinking through the logistics of shipping the cars home upon their arrival in Ushuaia on Sunday.
Tomorrow will be action-packed. First, they will have time trials on a track in Punta Arenas; then two regularities; then boarding the ferry across the Strait; then crossing the border back into Argentina. Don't blow up the cars!
Day 27: Calafate, Argentina to Puerto Natales, Chile
Day 27 of the Lima to Cape Horn Rally found our Bodacious Racing team back on the road, again crossing into Chile, and enjoying some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.
Jeff and Chris report the morning was difficult for them in the Porsche. On the first regularity, they missed a turn, and had to backtrack, costing them a 20-second penalty, and breaking the third-place tie they've been in for a while, as they bump to fourth. With three days remaining, anything can still happen - and probably will!
Things looked up for the pair as the day progressed, with a simple departure from Argentina and a smooth entry into Chile. On the next regularity, Jeff and Chris brought the Porsche in with perfect timing - success!
Tim filled us in on his second rest day in Calafate, trying to get on top of his cold. He says he took 4 hot showers, slept on and off all day, and his view of the glacier was limited to seeing ice cubes in the bar! He also says when they went out they ran into the same dog from the night before that Jim treated to his restaurant leftovers - and without a snack in his hands, the dog gave Jim the cold shoulder. Tim also theorizes each dog has his own begging station at his assigned restaurant - we can see what Tim thought about while dozing between showers!
Tim also let us in on the trick Chris has successfully used at rally dinner after rally dinner. Many of the dinners have featured salmon or other fish as the main course, but Chris is not a seafood fan under any circumstances. So he has been saying that he's allergic to whatever fish is being served - and he gets served a steak instead. Way to game the system, Chris!
Soon after crossing back into Chile, the drivers found themselves in Torres del Paines national park, following the End of the World Route, a tourist route in sub-polar Chile and Argentina. With winds blowing a consistent 40 to 60 mph, the high-profile 1936 Ford Cabriolet struggled to get away from Tim's grasp on the steering wheel. It took them 4 hours to make their way through the Park, but with the mountains topped by snow, lakes at every turn, and the namesake rock formations glistening in the sun, it was pure pleasure despite the challenging drive.
On the third regularity of the day, Tim and Jim had a bus come up just as they were preparing to start. As they debated whether to start early or wait for the bus to go by, Tim says they got discombobulated with their time/speed/distance tables. So they decided to wing it! "And we only came in 8 seconds late. Sometimes we do better when we are winging it!" Tim reports.
Tim also commented on the roads - he says they go from asphalt to gravel and back again for no reason he can figure out, and there are potholes everywhere. Dodging the potholes in a large car like the Ford keeps him on his toes, but Tim and Jim are up to the task, and the car is holding up well to the hard hits.
Another car had to withdraw after breaking its front suspension while driving these difficult roads. Tim estimates 30 to 35 percent of the cars that began the rally have dropped out due to damage incurred; he reiterated the belief, voiced by many of the more experienced rally drivers, that this rally is more difficult than the Peking to Paris Rally.
With just 3 days remaining in the rally, the team is looking forward to continuing south tomorrow, to the Straits of Magellan. More beauty ahead!
A second rest day, well spent - but the Bodacious Racing team fights their growing impatience to finish this thing!!
Jim's cold was better on Day 26 in Calafate, but Tim's was worse. Their decision to rest at the hotel on Wednesday morning was a good one. They waved goodbye to Chris and Jeff after breakfast, as Car #30 headed out to Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. It was about a 50 km drive along a gravel road - not unlike a rally day, but much shorter! Chris took a video out of the window to share the beauty of the glaciers in the distance.
They were surrounded by such beauty! Blue-white light reflecting off the icy masses, distant kayakers braving the gelid lake, and steep hiking trails to various vantage points along the way. Chris and Jeff were blown away from the visit. The hiking felt great after spending so much time sitting in the car. The glacier was fascinating, but a real highlight was seeing an Andean Condor in flight. Jeff took an amazing video of it to share.
Once back at the hotel in the afternoon, Chris and Jeff were feeling a few aches and pains from all their hiking! Tim and Jim were going to head up the glacier park with the sweeps, taking advantage of Owen and Mikey volunteering to drive one of the mechanics' trucks. We're not sure if they did any hiking - but at least they could enjoy the beauty from the roadside viewing station.
Jim sent in some photos he took on Monday, of driving into El Calafate. He says the yellow flowers along the road continued for miles as they drove closer to the town. As they head out of town tomorrow, will there be more flowers? Time will tell...
Tomorrow the rally resumes, taking our team and their rally friends onward towards Cape Horn. The evening of this second rest day found all the rally drivers eager to get on with it, the final days of this rally. There's another border crossing into Chile - ideally an efficient one - with about 400 km to cover. Four more days to go in their quest to drive Lima to Cape Horn!
The Bodacious Racing team spent day 25 of the Lima to Cape Horn Rally working on car maintenance, enjoying some rest time, and recovering from last night's sweeps party!
Everyone agreed that the party last night was sorely needed. It was the perfect opportunity to refocus on the good parts of this, and every, rally: the ability to travel and see sites in a fascinating part of the world in a way very difficult to accomplish on a regular tourist visit; the challenge of driving and navigating in complicated and difficult conditions in fabulous vintage cars, and the camaraderie of shared experiences and frustrations; the accomplishment of goals despite the roadblocks (some literal!) placed in front of them. By throwing a party to thank the sweeps for their incredible contributions in keeping as many cars running as possible in this often overwhelmingly difficult rally, everyone revisited the reasons they wanted to accomplish the rally in the first place.
Jeff and Chris, and Tim to a little lesser degree, used the party as a great opportunity to blow off some steam. Drinks were in order all around, and by the time the party was shut down and they headed to dinner, they were feeling only love for their rally companions. Jim's way to blow off steam was to head to his hotel room and sleep! His cold is much better, but there's no reason not to use this time off from driving to really recuperate.
Today was for car maintenance - and a little hangover recovery. Jeff and Chris jacked up the Porsche, pulled the wheels, and checked for loose nuts, bolts and screws. Everything was in remarkably good shape after the challenging drives of the last week. Jeff has nothing but praise for the suspension in the Porsche. Tuthill Porsche really did an excellent job in building the car, and despite the broken pavement and difficult switch-backed mountain roads, the car has held up really well. The Ford, as Tim suspected, had plenty of nuts and bolts that needed tightening, but overall is in great shape. After some hours spent in coveralls and under the cars, they were pleased with their work - and they are confident the cars will face the remaining four days of driving in good shape.
Chris reports he learned the best use for the bidet in his hotel bathroom was to clean the Porsche's air filters - amazing repurposing of that fixture!
Steaks were in order for our team for dinner, and the restaurant they found started serving at 7:30 PM - a full hour earlier than they've been eating lately! Dinner was excellent, and Jim packed up some leftovers for a snack later. On exiting the restaurant, one of the local dogs - an Argentinian cousin of Jim's dog, Buck, perhaps? - spied Jim's leftover bag. Intuiting that Jim would be an easy mark, he focused in, wagging his tail, and convinced Jim and Tim he would be willing to follow them back to their hotel. They decided such focus needed to be rewarded, and dumped the steak leftovers, which were quickly scarfed down. Good work doing a local dog a good deed!
Day 26 will also be spent in Calafate, with an opportunity for the drivers to drive the 70 km to see the Patagonian glaciers. With Tim joining Jim in battling a cold, the Ford's drivers plan to stay in town and work on recuperation - and a little more car maintenance. Chris and Jeff will head out in the Porsche to check out the glaciers; we're hoping for some good pictures.
Speaking of good pictures, Jim sent some in today documenting the backyard gas sales enjoyed by the "Rally Renegades," as he's dubbed the group of prewar car drivers who designed their own route on Day 23. Now that's a real experience - one unlikely to be repeated soon!
Now in the last week of the rally, our Bodacious Racing team hit the road early on day 24, driving their way to the city that is the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park. They get to stay in one place for a record three nights! Car maintenance, a drive to the glaciers, and getting some rest are on the menu.
It was an early wake-up once again on the Lima to Cape Horn Rally, with nearly 800 km to cover for the day. The drive was spectacular, through the pampas lands. Winds were consistently blowing around 40 mph across and along the winding road, adding an additional challenge to the drive. Cars became even dirtier than they had been; the Porsche looks like it has added the color brown to its blue/orange paint design!
Chris says they saw ostrich-like birds - the greater rhea - out in the grasslands they drove through, along with more beautiful lakes and long roads. The Porsche is performing really well, but all the guys agree this rally has been much harder than any rally they have done before, including Peking to Paris.
There was one regularity on the route today, held on a very rough, steep gravel road. Tim and Jim figured there was no way they, in the Ford, could maintain the 50 kph that was their required speed on the road. But they did the best that they could - and as Tim said: "Guess what? We came in only one second slow. Go figure!"
Tim also reported in on the prewar car group's decision to go their own way on Day 23. He says they all stuck together in a group, a long and lonely drive, but it was a much better route. While a good 80 km of the route they traveled was on a severely washboarded gravel road, not knowing exactly where they were, but heading in the right general direction, they avoided the road that Jeff and Chris had said was the worst road of the rally. He also tells us that several more cars have been damaged, and have dropped out of the rally. One car was left behind in Chile - no news what will happen there! Even some of the rental cars that damaged-car drivers had hired to continue driving with the rally have had problems - lots of popped tires. It's tough finding replacement tires in the small towns they have been in.
Another story comes from Tim and Jim as they neared the border last night. The prewar cars all wanted to top off their gas tanks before crossing, but there was no gas station in the closest town. However, they learned of a lady who sold gas out of her backyard! She had a huge tank, and numerous 5 liter bottles. She would fill the bottles and sell those to the drivers, who would then pour the gas into their tanks! Funny, but efficient. Even though she sold gas out of her backyard, she had a machine to run credit cars - good for our drivers!
The evening of Day 24 was punctuated by a tradition of rallies: the sweeps (mechanics) party. This time they set up right on the street, turning car #44 into the "Bentley Bar." This seemed appropriate, since this car has had more than its share of work done by the loyal sweeps! Chris sent some video to share the flavor of the bash; a friendly dog enjoyed attention from all of the drivers; and eventually the local police shut them down - just in time to head next door to a restaurant for dinner. The sweeps party is always a celebration by rally drivers making it most of the way through a rally, thanks to the talents of the rally mechanics, but for this Lima to Cape Horn event, the celebration was definitely needed to put a positive spin on the many losses of cars throughout. Endurance is truly the name of the game, and more cars would have been forced out of the rally if not for the sweeps.
Tim and Jim, Chris and Jeff all admit to being a little homesick; petting the happy Golden Retriever at the party really brought out just how much everyone is missing their dogs at home!
Both the Porsche and the Ford will get some tender loving care tomorrow. Jeff and Chris plan to wash the car, blow out filters, check fluid levels, and tighten nuts and bolts. The Ford will get that treatment as well; Tim says that Gypsy Rose is doing extremely well, running cool, not burning oil and handling the rough roads very well. "Jim and I are tasting the end, and we know the car will make it to Cape Horn, our original goal."
Day 23: Puerto Chacabuco, Chile to Los Antiguos, Argentina
Our Bodacious Team drivers split up intentionally today, with the hope that they would be able to spend some time together in the evening!
Tim and Jim, in car #5, the 1936 Ford Cabriolet, finally arrived at last night's hotel right before midnight, having spent a frustrating day with the other prewar cars. Those drivers quickly grabbed a bite to eat, then headed to bed, vowing to meet up in the morning to plan an alternate route to Day 23's hotel that would be safer for the older cars.
Another beautiful day greeted the rally drivers, refreshed from their rest. This part of Patagonia, whether Chile or Argentina, offers endlessly spectacular scenery, sure to impress even the most frustrated of the driving teams - and some are very frustrated indeed! The number of prewar cars that have been forced to drop out of this rally due to irreparable damage is unprecedented. Day 22 was the final straw for many; the prewar car group met this morning to plan an alternative to the rally route, planning to travel on major, well-paved roads. Word of the condition of this particular stretch of the rally route had reached the drivers a few days earlier. Expected potholes, crumbling roadways, and chunks of debris promised a challenging drive to the rally vehicles, but posed a real danger to the prewar cars.
The prewar group worked out a new route, the navigators consulting with each other and local maps to determine a safer way for them and their cars to reach Day 23's destination in Argentina. Then, all the rally drivers were off!
The rally route followers were definitely challenged by the road conditions, but with cars only (!!!) 50 to 70 years old, they managed quite well. The scenery was unbelievably spectacular - each turn of the road brought a view of more beautiful snow-capped mountains, floating whipped-cream clouds in a cerulean sky, and enormous glistening lakes. But missing chunks of road, rough gravel, and crumbling shoulders on the edge of steep cliffs kept focus on steering and navigation. Jeff and Chris truly enjoyed the challenges, and guided car #30, the 1972 Porsche 911, seemingly effortlessly through the difficult route.
There was one regularity for the rally route followers. Everything was going well for the Porsche, until they were cut off by a herd of goats milling on the road! Honking their horn didn't really help, but they eventually were able to drive through the group with no collisions. They needed to adjust their speed through the rest of the route to make up for the road block, though.
Tim and Jim in the Ford had an uneventful drive, enjoying the scenery without the road condition challenges. The border crossing back into Argentina was completed easily by all the cars, each in less than 5 minutes. The border building was modern and clean, and the border guards were well-prepared for the rally cars' passage.
Chris and Jeff handed over their passports to the border agent. He looked at Chris's passport, and at him, then folded it and said "Here, Christopher." But for Jeff, who looks quite different in his retirement life than he did when his passport photo was taken, he paused - then laughed, miming longer hair, a beard, and a much thinner face. "Jeffrey?" he asked. "Yes, yes, it's me," Jeff laughed in response, and Chris, too, was overcome with laughter. And off they went, back to Argentina!
The town of Los Antiguos is quite small, with no gas station, so that will be the first item on our team's list after the early morning start. Chris, Jeff and Tim headed to a local brewpub for the rally dinner. Jim, who is fighting a cold, decided his time would be better spent catching up on some sleep, so he waved them off. The Bodacious Racing team will meet up in the morning with the rest of the group for breakfast, and another long day of rally driving.
Day 22: Esquel, Argentina to Puerto Chacabuco, Chile
A really long day - particularly for the Ford; good roads and good tunes; an excruciatingly slow border crossing. Today our Bodacious Racing team found itself separated by speed and bureaucracy.
It was an early wake-up for the team this morning, rising at 5 AM, meeting at 5:30 to grab breakfast, and heading to cars for their 700 km day. Again, there was beautiful scenery, but the last time for the day that Jeff and Chris in the Porsche, car #30, would see Tim and Jim in the Ford, car #5, was early in the day at a fuel stop. As the route continued through the Argentinian mountains to the Chilean border crossing, the Porsche group of rally cars, along with a big Mercedes, pulled ahead of the rest of the rally.
The road seemed custom made for Chris and Jeff's Porsche. They drove on good tarmac around turns and at the edge of mountain roads, and then about 100 km on a smooth gravel road, getting the car up to 110 mph, listening to their music on their headsets, and enjoying the quickly passing scenery. But the pleasant morning came to an abrupt end as they were one of the first cars at the border control.
The border crossing agents had limited technology at their disposal. They were not expecting 30 vintage cars, driven by international drivers of many different nationalities, to cross at their post. They had to take down each driver's passport information manually, then email it to the head office to run passport checks on everyone. It took Jeff and Chris 4 hours to clear the passport control, and they were just the second car allowed to cross the border! Rally cars were strung out along the road, those parked were peering through the windows to see what was taking so long, and patience was at a premium. There was a lot of standing around and waiting.
But once across the border, the drive to the hotel was only another 100 km or so. Soon after arriving at the hotel, Jeff and Chris heard from Jim and Tim that they had just arrived at the border crossing! So they ate dinner alone, with no more than half the rally drivers having arrived at the hotel. They headed to bed, hoping that by then Tim and Jim were only about an hour behind - but they won't find out until tomorrow!
The rally spends just this one night in Chile before heading down the road to cross back over into Argentina. Let's hope the ERA alerts those border agents about the rally activity heading their way!
The end of the third week of rallying in South America, more cars suffer fatal injuries, but the sights are unbelievably beautiful!
Day 21 offered a leisurely wake-up for our Bodacious Racing team. After a day of car repair and maintenance, relaxing in the resort town of Bariloche, and packing up freshly cleaned clothes, starting their rallying day after 9 AM was an easy task. It was a beautiful day!
Tim shares some details: "Today was an absolutely gorgeous drive through several valleys and about 100 km on a dirt road through a national park, around two large lakes surrounded by very tall snow-capped mountains."
However, the Lima to Cape Horn rally continues to take a toll on cars and people. Rally participants got word that one of the drivers who had stayed behind due to complications from the stomach bug that raged through the competitors ended up heading home. He and his wife decided he would be better off receiving treatment there. Best wishes to him. One of the cars lost a clutch, and they have no spare parts to repair it - or a nearby place to get it repaired. Another car developed a large hole in the engine, and can't retain enough oil to keep going. So they have decided they are finished. Both of these teams are looking to hire cars to continue driving with the rally - not competing, but following along on the route and enjoying the camaraderie of the rally, if not the actual regularities and time trials. Jeff jokes, "at this point, the rental car class is nearly larger than any vintage car class!" Everyone is motivated to stay with the group and reach Cape Horn on Day 30.
Lunch was at a lovely mountain park, where a barbeque of lamb was on the menu, and drivers in good spirits enjoyed good food, local wine and beers, and good conversation. This is the area traveled by the Old Patagonia Express, the southernmost railway in the world. They enjoyed looking at the authentic narrow-gauge trains, still in operation - thanks to a dedicated group of local volunteers.
The pictures Tim and Chris sent of their drive today are spectacular, but they insist they do not do the land's beauty justice. They are now in south central Patagonia, land of glaciers and national parks. Tomorrow they cross into Chile. This part of Patagonia borders both Chile and Argentina, so they'll be crossing back and forth between countries as they make their way down to Cape Horn.
On all rallies, a driver precedes the rally competitors by two days, following the rally route and relaying back any information about problems along the way. These are usually minor issues, but tonight Tim reports a larger concern: We just got word that the 48-hour car says that the roads in Chile have severely deteriorated since last reconnoitered. Speed will have to be drastically reduced over the next two days, each approximately 600 kms. Looks like two more extremely long days with finishes after dark for the old cars. We'll have to be very careful not to break the car, and hope there will be no more unusual issues like we have had earlier.
May that be true, and may everyone be safe driving into Chile!
A lovely resort to relax in, good weather for working on cars, and a hospitable tire shop...
Our Bodacious Racing team was up bright and early, despite not having to hop into their cars for an early start. Jeff and Chris were eager to go out in search of new tires for the Porsche, and Tim and Jim had a list of items they wanted to address in the Ford. So after breakfast, they went to their cars, and began their lay day chores.
Tim and Jim spent about 6 hours tightening bolts, adding grease where needed, topping off other fluid levels, cleaning windows and mirrors, and reorganizing gear that had shifted in past days. They were able to don their coveralls and get into the engine bay and under the car, enjoying the classic Ford and making sure everything is in great order for the next several driving days. "All part of keeping Gypsy Rose happy!" says Tim.
Jeff and Chris set off to a tire shop near the resort, only to find it already crowded with customers who had booked appointments. A quick perusal of the stock told them they didn't have much in the Porsche's tire size anyway, so they decided to head to the next shop on their list - clear across town. There were plenty of customers already at that one, too, but they had tires in the right size, and the staff was willing to squeeze them in. They found a clerk who spoke good English, so that made it much easier. Paying American cash saved them money from a credit card with peso conversion, so they were glad they had packed some cash! International rally experience has taught them how handy it can be to have US cash with them.
Without an appointment, it was a long wait. They walked to a nearby café for some coffee and some internet use, then were able to find an auto parts store where they found a battery charger. While the battery in the Porsche has been fairly stable since the morning Tim and Jim needed to tow them to bump-start the car, they figured having a battery starter was extra insurance. With the rally heading into the Patagonian glacier country with temperatures sure to dip at night, it seems like a great idea. They also picked up some more window cleaner; every rally morning begins with a thorough windshield clean, so that was a useful purchase, too.
Back at the tire shop, the tires were nearly installed, so it was just a short wait until Jeff and Chris were able to climb into the Porsche and navigate their way back to the hotel. They report the car drove well, but they won't really know how the new tires perform until they are on the more typical dirt and gravel roads of the rally. They spent some time recalibrating the Brantz timer for the new tires, cleaning the windshield and mirrors, and ensuring the car was in good shape for the upcoming drive. Most importantly, Jeff says, "Baby has new shoes!"
The guys grabbed lunch at the hotel, where they enjoyed some top notch offerings. They headed to their rooms for the afternoon, doing some laundry, napping, and catching up on email and some reading. Having adapted to the 8:30 PM dinner time, they regrouped with rally friends for dinner, enjoying well-prepared Argentinian steaks and Patagonian lamb, and some good local wine. They'll meet up again at 7:30 AM for breakfast, last-minute car prep, and to take their places to start another rally day through Patagonia!
A really beautiful day, a challenging drive, and turning around in order to speed in the right direction!
Jeff summed up the day: "A really great day driving. The scenery was awesome." Chris took a lot of pictures to show us that fabulous scenery!
The morning began in the dry oil country of Neuquen, but soon they found themselves driving once again through mountain passes - but what mountain passes! Sparkling blue lakes, snow-capped peaks, sand beaches - they had clearly entered the region of Patagonia.
Before lunch, Jeff and Chris took an even longer drive than was asked of them. They missed a key turn, and found themselves heading off in the wrong direction. While there were hints - not seeing other rally cars, the directions in the tulip book having little relation to what they were seeing - they ended up going 60 miles before they conceded defeat, and turned around. By that point, Chris had determined where they had gone wrong and directed Jeff to drive, drive, drive!! The tarmac was good, no one else was around, and Jeff was able to learn what the car could do - he drove the Porsche 911 up to 120 mph. They pulled up at the regularity start just as Owen was pulling the start sign - the last to arrive! But they made it - and they accomplished the regularity on good schedule, despite the pounding hearts left over from their mad dash to arrive on time.
Tim reports more specifics of his and Jim's day in the 1936 Ford - and of the rally route. Their entry into Patagonia was through Laguna Blanca National Park. They saw some magnificent scenery - mountain slopes, sparkling lakes and many fast moving streams.
The first regularity of the day (the one Jeff and Chris nearly missed) went smoothly for Tim and Jim. They stopped for lunch at a restaurant that offered really good hamburgers and fries - much appreciated!
The second regularity offered challenges to both sets of the Bodacious Racing team drivers. It was an uphill climb on a dirt and gravel road, switchbacks taking them steadily up a mountain, to end at a ski resort. Tim reports: "Normally the navigator gets specific details on speed limits, times, etc., but for some reason Jim wasn't given that today. So - flying, (or driving), by the seat of our pants, Jim estimated what we should be doing. At one point, Jim told me I was 12 seconds too slow, and then about a minute later he said I was about 12 seconds too fast! Hmmmm... anyway, someone must have been watching over us because when we finished we were only 30 seconds off, which isn't great, but it could have been way worse!"
In the Porsche, Chris and Jeff had a similar experience on that regularity. The Porsche tires are really deteriorating, so climbing uphill, on gravel and dirt switchbacks had Jeff using his race driving techniques to correct the car fishtailing in the turns. Chris first told Jeff he needed to drive 50 kph, but then said, "now slow to 30." Jeff slowed, but as Chris reviewed his directions, he realized he was wrong. "Go faster! I calculated that wrong - go at least 50 kph!" Jeff did what he was told, and ended up arriving 4 seconds early. When checking with the other top Porsche finishers, Jeff learned that they, too, finished 4 seconds early. So he thinks maybe the rally staff may have miscalculated! We'll see!
Chris and Jeff's top priority in Bariloche is sourcing new tires. They've located a few tire shops and plan to visit them first thing tomorrow morning until they're successful. They now plan to buy four new tires, and keep their current spares as spares.
The hotel that the rally is booked into for two nights, is an old-school resort, built in 1938. Jeff said it reminded him of the Yellowstone Inn; Tim says it looks like a giant Swiss Chalet. It has some wonderful conference rooms, and the dining room is a great space. The rooms carry on the vintage resort feel. Of course, being in Argentina, dinner isn't served until the traditional late hour of 8:30 PM. That's pretty late for our team, especially as difficult as the driving has been, but they are adapting!
The lay day on November 10 will be another car repair and refresh day - with maybe a little sightseeing if time allows. Let's hope some napping fits in the schedule as well!
A long, rather boring drive today--but the cars ran well!
Today was more a transit day than a competition day, and the Bodacious Racing team took their places at the start early Tuesday morning. And it was a long one - the drivers covered nearly 700 kilometers. There wasn't much directional challenge as the 1936 Ford Cabriolet and the 1972 Porsche 911, along with the rest of the rally vehicles, continued south on major roads, continuing the multi-day drive the length of the large country of Argentina.
Chris and Jeff have figured out how to connect their phones to their headsets, so iTunes kept them company as they cruised down the Argentinian highway. At a rest stop they decided to switch positions. Jeff always says "Chriis is a good driver, but I'm a terrible navigator!" But with the long stretches on one road, he figured "even I can't mess it up!" So Chris was able to enjoy being behind the wheel of the Porsche as they ate up the miles to Neuquen.
The landscape reminded them of eastern Wyoming; fairly bleak high plateaus, oil derricks and lots of tan and brown grasses and brush. Chris sent a single picture of the drive today, saying "This is all we saw all day."
Tim added a little color to their adventure with the Ford yesterday. While the first shop they went to declined to work on the Ford, he tells us the second garage they went to was recommended by their translator. The minute they pulled in, Alejandro and Paulo came out of their shop, thrilled by the opportunity to work on this classic vintage car.
Tim said "those two guys were like a NASCAR pit crew!" They had the seats out, the floor pan pulled and the clutch out before Chris and Tim knew what was happening. Alejandro said the metal of the clutch pressure plate was too soft, but he had a fabricator friend who lived a short distance away who might be able to help. So they ran over to his place, and had him make up a new plate. When they returned they were able to install the new plate, get the clutch reassembled, then put the entire car back together.
Tim had a lot of fun working with these guys, and really enjoyed that they blared music the entire time they were in the garage, with a special emphasis on Creedence Clearwater Revival and Dire Straits. Today, Chris said he forgot how much he loved Dire Straits, and their music joined the usual country and western tunes he and Jeff listened to today in the Porsche.
When they had finished putting the car together yesterday, Alejandro's wife brought them some beer from her bodega next to the shop. When Tim and Chris asked what they owed Alejandro for their work, he said $200 - for five hours of work! So they gave them $600, and thanked them profusely for getting the Ford back on the road again. Alejandro and Paulo waved goodbye, and told our drivers that if they had any other problems with the car to just give them a call, and they would come help. Good to know, and let's hope they don't need to follow up on that!
By Tim's calculations, as of today they have driven 4250 miles. And they still have 10 more days of driving to go! Wednesday they think they have a mostly uphill drive, so we'll see how well the cars fare. Thursday is a rest day, so there will be time to work out any kinks that show themselves tomorrow.
November 7th, 2022
Day 17: Mendoza to San Rafael
A different pairing of drivers/navigators, all in the interest of both cars staying in the rally.
Day 17 began early as our Bodacious Racing team headed to the hotel lobby to meet their translator and arrange a flat-bed truck to take car #5, the 1936 Ford Cabriolet, to a local auto shop. The clutch had become disabled, but they were operating on the thought - and the hope - that it was due to a part that could be repaired. The team had decided last night to reorganize their roles in order to ensure the two most skilled in repairing cars stayed with the Ford. So Tim and Chris loaded up to head with the Ford to the garage, embarking on what Jim dubbed "Chris and Tim's Excrement Adventure." Jim partnered with Jeff in car #30, the Porsche 911, to continue his navigator's role in a different vehicle.
As Jeff and Jim headed with the Porsche to the day's starting line, Tim and Chris went to the first garage on the hotel concierge's list. Unfortunately, that garage had no interest or desire to work on the Ford, so off they went to the next garage on the list, flat-bed truck driver, translator, and Tim and Chris.
That garage was more than welcoming, the mechanics excited to have the chance to work on the vintage Ford. With Tim and Chris guiding the way, they and their translator were able to explain what they thought the problem was. The mechanics got to work, with help from Chris and Tim, removing the seats, pulling the transmission, exposing the clutch. Even the shop dog seemed interested in helping! The clutch issue was what they had thought - a loose part that had rendered the clutch nonfunctional. Within five hours, the car had been dismantled, repaired and reassembled. What a great experience! Chris said they were excellent mechanics, and the translator was great. Soon they were on the highway, driving the direct route to San Rafael.
Meanwhile, Jeff and Jim in the Porsche were learning how to work together. There were a few wrong turns, but errors were quickly corrected, and overall it was a fun day. On a long straight dirt road, Jeff was able to really open up the Porsche's engine, satisfying his goal of getting Jim to clutch the dashboard with white knuckles! The only bad point of the day was when another competitor backed their car into the Porsche. This is the second ding on the poor car, so repair work will be in store when the Porsche heads back to England. But rally cars don't have the sightlines or the maneuverability of your average road car; accidents can easily happen.
Less than 2 hours after Jeff and Jim pulled into the hotel having completed the full rally route for the day, they were pleased to see Chris and Tim arrive. They completed a complete reworking of the Ford's clutch, a 160-mile drive, and rejoined the rally in time for dinner. It was a good day!
Obviously, the Ford will take a ratings hit for missing a day of the rally, but being able to pick up again tomorrow is the best-case scenario for this situation. Knowing how many pre-war cars have suffered worse in this rally, the Ford is way better off than most.
All - both drivers and cars - seem to be feeling healthy now, so we are crossing our fingers that will continue. Tomorrow is the longest day of the rally, with the route taking them more than 700 km. It's an early start, and will be a late finish, but the team is in good shape to have another successful day!
Lunch in a vineyard, car attrition... and a damaged clutch threatening the Ford's future - day 16 held joy, but ended in dismay - but there's a hopeful plan.
The Bodacious Racing team left the hotel bright and early - no time change in Argentina! - Heading out on a nice comfortable drive through the countryside between cities. Mendoza is slightly northwest of the city of San Luis, so the rally took our drivers through the hills and valleys around San Luis to the rich wine and olive tree-lushness of the province of Mendoza. It is in this region, in the foothills of the Andes, that Argentina's famed Malbec wines are grown, fermented and bottled.
Midway through the Lima to Cape Horn Rally, and car attrition is obvious. The rally has been particularly hard on pre-war cars, with many having withdrawn from the rally temporarily or permanently. At least three teams of drivers have given up on their damaged rally cars, and hired rental cars to follow the rally along. Even if they can't compete in time trials or regularities, they can continue to enjoy the adventure and camaraderie of their fellow drivers. The rally has also been difficult on many of the drivers, with the stomach sickness experienced by our team an example of ailments sweeping through the rally competitors. Some have been laid up, unable to continue for a day or more, but with hopes of rejoining the rally along the way. Jeff estimates that out of 37 cars beginning this rally, fewer than half of those have made each day's time checks. The others have missed checking in due to car problems or driver illness.
The 1936 Ford Cabriolet, our car #5, is the latest victim of the rally. After a lovely lunch stop at a vineyard, enjoying a satisfying lunch and a glass of wine, seated at picturesque tables among the grape vines, Tim and Jim started up the Ford to tackle the remaining kilometers to the night's hotel finish. It didn't take long for the Ford to protest. Something had gone wrong with the clutch, and it was impossible to shift gears. Tim managed to bring the car limping into the garage hotel, late, but safely. An investigation by all four team members, along with rally mechanic Owen, zeroed in on the clutch pressure plate.
Unfortunately, reaching the clutch mechanism in this car is not an easy endeavor. A clutch problem in the 2018 TransAmerica sidelined the Ford for a full day, during which Tim and Chris were able to successfully accomplish the repair. So they know the seats need to be removed, the drive train disconnected, and the transmission lifted out. The plan is for Tim and Chris to stay with the Ford in Mendoza, and with the help of a translator secured by the hotel's concierge, they will find an auto repair garage to tackle the clutch repair. The supposition is there is a lever on the clutch pressure plate that has come loose, and needs to have a pin replaced or repaired. But they won't know for sure what the problem is until they actually dismantle the car to get eyes and hands on the clutch mechanism itself. Once a repair is accomplished, they intend to drive on to the rally's Monday night location, and rejoin the rally on Tuesday.
With Tim and Chris staying behind in Mendoza for the day, Jim will partner up with Jeff in the 1972 Porsche 911, car #30. Jim doesn't really know how to use the Brantz timer Chris uses in this car, but he's willing to learn! Since they have never driven together before, Jeff and Jim will have to work on communication to be successful. Jeff's hoping there's some track time on the schedule for the day, so he can revert to his track days and scare Jim with his race driver moves!
Part of the difficulty of these rallies is in keeping up with car repairs to allow each driver and navigator to continue another day. This repair presents a very serious challenge to the future of the Ford in the rally. Tomorrow will tell if the clutch problem is repairable, or if car #5 will join the list of withdrawn cars.
Another beautiful drive, unsettled stomachs, and condors soaring on the thermals overhead.
Blissfully, Day 15 of the Lima to Cape Horn Rally was a relatively short one! The drive took our Bodacious Racing team up a mountainside again, and then, of course, down again. A regularity started the day, and a second regularity was to occur at the end of the day; our drivers did quite well in the first, but the second never happened. It was curtailed by an unexpected problem: a team of skateboarders had closed the road. It seems that the road the rally had planned to ascend, was one the skateboarders were preparing to descend! While the rally organizers were somewhat surprised by this disruption of plans, they accommodated the skateboarders, and directed the rally drivers to forget the regularity and continue on their way to the finish at the hotel.
Jeff felt so sick coming into last night's hotel that he and Chris decided to forego their usual gas station stop after checking in. That meant this morning they knew they were low on gas. But they didn't know how low; these vintage cars don't have gas gauges that provide that much information. When they stopped at the service station that was their first time-check of the day, they put 84 liters of gas in their 90 liter tank! That is running a little too close to empty for comfort!
After consulting with his doctor in the States last night, Jeff began taking the antibiotic in his emergency medical kit, and after a good night's sleep, felt way better this morning. Breakfast was limited to toast, and he ate carefully all day, hoping to continue improving. By the end of the day, he was feeling pretty good, but now Tim is down with a stomach ailment. The rally doctor prescribed antibiotics for him to take as well, so let's hope tomorrow finds Tim improving as Jeff did. And that leaves Chris as the last team holdout on falling ill to a stomach bug; let's hope he manages to fend it off completely! Challenging schedules, fatigue, and often questionable food and water are all culprits, no doubt. All the drivers have vowed to be more cautious with food and drink as they continue on the rally.
Our #5 Ford had an episode of overheating again today, an issue that has plagued it throughout the rally. Jim and Tim figured out what the issue was this time (all related to not enough shielding from the engine heat), and soon had the car back up and running well.
The Porsche is wearing out its tires, so Chris and Jeff are keeping a close eye on them. The outside treads are getting shallower and shallower; they hope to source some new tires in the town where they will spend their next lay day four days from now. If they can't obtain new tires, they'll resort to switching to the two spares and just rotate the two best of the current four. Either way, they'll power through.
The famed Andean condors were quite visible in today's drive, floating on the thermals above the roads as they drove the 400 km between rally stops. They were especially evident as they climbed the Sierras Grandes, casting shadows on the road and the drivers. While they didn't see any of the really large ones (they can have wingspans of 10 feet!), the ones they saw were still impressive.
The rally is officially half-way over, but there are many kilometers still to drive to the finish in Ushuaia, at the bottom of the South American continent. No doubt - there are many more adventures in store along the way.
November 4th, 2022
Day 14: Catamarca to Villa Carlos Paz
Another long day, an unsettled stomach, and need for sleep... but the cars are great!
5 AM was a very early wake-up call once again for our Bodacious Racing team. There is no doubt the stress is on "endurance" in this 30-day Endurance Rally Association event taking the drivers the length of South America. Not only are cars feeling the pain, but the drivers are becoming increasingly fatigued. The halfway point is reached after Day 15, but the longest day on the road has yet to be accomplished.
Friday started out early and the first challenge came immediately: a regularity that was an extremely difficult hill climb. With gears groaning, engines humming and drivers pushing their cars ever upwards, our team managed to work their way through switchbacks, steep dips and hairpin turns. Unfortunately, all the gymnastics of the road tested Chris's timing skills as navigator, and, with Jeff cutting corners instead of driving wide, they ended up bringing the 1972 Porsche 911 to the finish 6 seconds early - thus achieving a 6-second penalty. Oh well - at least they arrived safely, with the car in good condition. Since they have been coordinating timing and driving well throughout these first 14 days, they are still in good shape in the rankings.
Meanwhile, in the 1936 Ford Cabriolet, Tim and Jim are finding that enduring through their car's various issues is paying off in the rankings. They managed their regularities yesterday with a 1-second penalty in one, and with a spot-on finish in the other! This is extremely hard to do, and a testament to how well Tim and Jim are able to work together. That - and the fact that some of the other pre-war cars are struggling to even stay in the rally - is helping to build their advantage in the rankings!
Tim tells us that as they were climbing the hill in the first regularity, they saw a red sports car coming down the road right at them - so they had to slow to work their way around each other! Not a common obstacle on a regularity in this part of the world.
These early wake-up calls are taking their toll. Jeff went to bed totally exhausted, and woke up feeling not much better. He struggled with an upset stomach all day; not sure if something he ate didn't agree with him, or if he's just not getting enough rest. Tim reported, however, that he slept a full 8 hours - something he never does at home. That bears witness to how worn out the drivers are after a full day driving, navigating and doing routine car maintenance. And that doesn't take into account doing their laundry in the hotel room sink, hiking to and from their cars with their bags, and staying on top of planning for the next day's drive. Endurance, indeed!
After arriving at the hotel tonight, everyone headed to their rooms to take a before-dinner nap, and Jim and Jeff did their laundry. The team has yet to have the good Argentinian beef they have heard so much about. In fact, the joke is they could use the steaks to patch holes in the tires or to fill in some of the potholes! Dinner tonight was terrific, and they even had chocolate mousse for dessert; that will help with some of the fatigue.
Jeff and Jim found that when they returned to their rooms, the atmosphere is so arid that the clean laundry they had hung before going down to dinner was already dry! That almost makes up for the cracked lips and dry skin they've all been dealing with in the low humidity.
The drive today took them through some beautiful country, with roads of differing quality and, once again, many animals to avoid - horses and donkeys, cattle and sheep, and, of course, stray dogs. As they neared their stop for the night, they entered into Andean condor territory, and while they saw various birds of prey circling, no one captured a picture - yet - of the condor, the largest flying bird in the world.
Day 15 promises to be a shorter day, with a later start. Let's hope the drivers and the cars have some good rest, and feel refreshed as they head out once again, still in central Argentina, to San Luis.
Our Bodacious Racing team had set their alarms for 5 AM - early, even by rally standards! They had planned to meet at 5:30 for breakfast, but the hotel restaurant wasn't quite ready for them. They decided to forego a wait, and headed out to walk the blocks to the garage where the cars were stored overnight.
Having been checked out and tuned up on their lay day, both car #5 and car #30 were in fine shape for the day's drive. It was a good thing, too - as they spent nearly 12 hours on the road.
First off was a time trial on a race track, always a fun time, and a sure eye-opener on little sleep. Both cars performed well, and they soon set off on a drive through the hills, mountains, and valleys of northwestern Argentina. Jeff described the morning as a "nice drive through a Grand Canyon-type thing.' Maybe not site-specific, but we get the picture - and it sounds great!
They were able to stop for a break after 4 hours or so of driving, and enjoyed a bite to eat and some relaxation in the sunshine.
With the tone set for the day, the drive continued from there. Lots of kilometers clocked; a regularity driven; fabulous scenery and challenging roads; and - best of all, no car issues. That was a good thing - getting to the hotel around 7 PM, they barely had energy to park the cars, prepare route books for the next day's drive, and head to bed. Oh, yes, and enjoy a beer or two!
Argentina is a very long country, stretching nearly 2,500 miles from the subtropical north to the subantarctic south, and the rally is traveling that entire length. Catamarca sits in a valley near the largest copper gold mine in the world and also boasts agricultural riches, including beef cattle, sheep, and goats. An interesting area of the country for sure, but one they'll leave behind as they next head to Villa Carlos Paz. This will be another long drive - nearly 500 km if driven straight. But as we all know, the beauty of seeing a country on an endurance road rally is that the way to your next stop is never a straight one; you are bound to wind up and down roads you would never attempt if traveling on your own!
November 2nd, 2022
Day 12: Lay day in Salta, Argentina
Sleeping in, a leisurely breakfast, shopping, and some car maintenance - all the hallmarks of a rally lay day!
The Bodacious Racing team enjoyed dinner together their first night in Salta, eating at a typically late Argentinian hour. They next met up at breakfast, on this day off from driving, each having had a great night's sleep after this first challenging section of the rally.
The cars were in a warehouse about a half-mile from the hotel, which provided a perfect opportunity for a stroll through town. Jeff found a shop to buy a replacement watch, since his had malfunctioned at the beginning of the rally. Then he and Chris spent some time on car maintenance - blowing out the air filters, checking the brake pads, tightening nuts and bolts. The Porsche's brakes have been a source of annoyance. The brake pads are race pads, designed for a driver to come down hard on the brakes on a race track straightaway - not for driving through mountains, on gravel roads, and the crazy stop and go traffic of Bolivian towns. As a result, the brake pads have built up a lot of crud during the first section of the rally, and are emitting a terrible squeal every time Jeff puts on the brakes. However, after checking the pads out and comparing them to new pads, they decided they weren't bad enough to replace. They don't really show signs of wear and are functioning well - they just aren't the right kind of brake pad for this rally. So they will continue with the current brake pads, and just put up with the squeals!
Jim and Tim spent about four hours doing their maintenance on the Ford, tightening bolts and greasing things. Jim found and removed a screw in one of the tires that was causing a slow leak, and plugged the resulting hole. The electrical relay wires seem to be well-secured, and they addressed the heat issue with additional shields.
Tim reports that "the car likes the lower altitudes," and in general is performing well. Jeff commented that the gas they've been able to buy in Argentina, along with the lower altitude, has made a huge difference in car performance overall. Definitely a mood-booster after the challenges of Peru and Bolivia!
The guys also spent some time sending in photos they have taken over the past few days, so there's some catch up. Tim related his and Jim's experience during the 12-hour drive to Salta. "We had a regularity along a beautiful curvy gravel road on the shore of a large lake. Jim did an absolutely fantastic job of calculating his speed distance time table and kept us on track so we got a zero second penalty at the first timing point, and only a one second penalty at the second timing point. We were quite pleased with ourselves!"
Tim also tells us that the last two hours of Day 11's drive to Salta were "on an absolutely gorgeous road through a forest. This was one of the narrowest, twistiest road I have ever been on. And it just went on and on and on and on. A lot of fun, but not meant for a gigantic car like Gypsy Rose." So a beautiful drive, but still challenging!
Day 13 will have our team meeting for breakfast at 5:30 in the morning, and then starting at around 7 AM. It will be another long day for the cars and drivers, as they head south to Catamarca.
Everyone woke up this morning, heading to breakfast and then their cars, knowing they were facing another border crossing - how would it go?
The rally's last morning in Bolivia was another freezing one! Fortunately, the Porsche battery cooperated today, allowing Jeff and Chris to start up the car and begin working through the tulip book, which directed them to the border crossing. Tim and Jim were glad to not have to tow them in a bump start again!
By 10:30 AM or so they had arrived at the Bolivia/Argentina border. Processing all the drivers, of differing nationalities, carrying a variety of passports, and driving so many vintage cars - had to be quite a challenge for the immigration folks. In about an hour, the drivers had their passports stamped, and were on their way into the third country of the rally - Argentina!
A sure sign that they were in a new country was that there was an organized lunch stop! They have been challenged in finding food midday in both Peru and Bolivia; everyone had packed Kind bars and packages of nuts, and sometimes were able to buy snack foods at service stations. But the ERA had arranged a lunch break at a truck stop a short ways from the border crossing. Jeff immediately ordered an omelet, and it was HUGE! He had just decided he could eat no more when Tim and Jim arrived; Tim promptly finished off Jeff's omelet! We just hope he also ordered something for himself. They were marveling that the truck stop took credit cards; they've been paying cash for everything up until now.
The Ford had familiar issues pop up today with the electrical system. Everything went dead. The electrical relay was completely fried. They are thinking it's because it is too close to the floor of the car. It gets very hot down there (there is very little insulation in the older cars, and those engines get hot). The thought is - that the relay is overheating, and then shorting out. Tim and Jim installed a new relay, and secured it higher in the car. This successfully repaired the electronics for the rest of the day; a more complete investigation and repair will occupy the Ford drivers tomorrow on the lay day.
The afternoon drive to Salta involved a regularity where the Porsche ran into trouble. In the middle of the regularity, one of the ERA trucks pulled out right in front of Jeff and Chris, burying them in dust. They had to stop to see where they were going. When the dust cleared, they took off at great speed, only to find the end of the regularity right around the corner! So they finished too early - and had that time taken off their score. But as Jeff and Chris say, "Such is life!"
It was a long afternoon, with first the Porsche, then the Ford, arriving to the city center hotel after 7 PM. Dinner was an organized buffet, and our team enjoyed each other's company, having dinner and drinks, and sharing their stories. They are definitely ready for a day off from driving. Giving the cars some attention, doing laundry, and repacking supplies, will hopefully only take part of the lay day - and they can spend the rest napping and exploring the city of Salta.
A day experiencing extreme weather changes-and Porsche difficulties!
The Bodacious Racing team woke up in Uyuni this morning to freezing temperatures. They bundled up to head to the cars - but the Porsche's battery - which they had purchased in Lima - was dead! They think the cause was a combination of a substandard battery and the freezing temperatures.
But, they had a great solution. Tim and Jim rigged a tow line for the Porsche, and they proceeded to pull one car with the other. Jeff and Chris in the Porsche were able to bump start the car with the momentum given to them by the Ford. Success! Disconnecting the tow strap was easy, and the guys in the Porsche had a lot of fun speeding up and passing the Ford! The drive then allowed the battery to fully charge.
Getting gas in Bolivia has been a challenge. Service stations only have a low octane fuel available, which creates problems in the the fuel lines. The cars experience a lot of skips and hitches in accelerating, and that certainly doesn't help performance. In addition, every time the drivers fill their tanks there is a form to fill out, listing the driver's name, license plate number and amount of fuel purchased. They think this has something to do with keeping fuel off the black market. Bolivia has to import all gasoline, so purchases are carefully monitored and the fuel is very expensive.
That being said, Tim reports the Ford is running great! They were able to pass another rally Porsche going uphill and were very excited - only to have the same car pass them on the downhill. They have been treating the overheating issue proactively, by occasionally pulling over to let the engine cool down. The Ford seems to like that - they actually hit 85 mph on a straightaway!
As they headed further south, the temperature heated up, causing the drivers to shed layers of clothing. The drive once again included winding roads with steep turns that had them peering over cliff edges. They drove two regularities, both quite challenging, again on gravel roads at altitude topping 13,000 feet!
While waiting in line at a gas station, another rally car backed into the Porsche, putting a nasty dent in the right rear panel of the car. It's something that can be fixed, and doesn't affect the car's performance, but it is never fun to have your car damaged.
As the Porsche completed the second regularity of the day, Jeff and Chris noticed a cloud bank forming on a ridge. Their directions led them into the clouds, and soon they were driving through thick fog, with visibility reduced to about 3 feet. As they felt their way through the fog, it materialized into freezing rain, drenching the windshield and coating it with a layer of ice. The Porsche has both heat and a windshield defroster - unlike many of the vintage cars. Jeff flipped the switch to the defroster - and he and Chris were inundated by dust and debris the system has picked up over the past 10 days. But it worked! Soon the windshield was clear and their coughs eventually cleared up!
Tim and Jim were not that lucky. The Ford has no defroster or heat, so their windshield kept icing up. They needed to pull over to the side of the road to scrape the windshield. At one point Jim was using his credit card to attack the ice buildup!
But they soldiered on, eventually clearing the fog and ice, and once again arrived at the hotel before sunset! They could get used to this...
The rally's last night in Bolivia was spent in a great hotel in Tarija. Chris reports they had great French fries at the bar; and Jeff was happy with his room's spaciousness. Temperatures were once again below freezing, so we'll see how the Porsche's battery feels in the morning!
While our team is looking forward to leaving the Andes and Bolivia behind, they all have commented on the friendliness of the people. They have seen people dressed traditionally and contemporarily; folks have wanted to take pictures of the cars and their drivers; and smiles have eased the way. The Ford has attracted a lot of attention, with onlookers wanting pictures taken with it, and at one point parents encouraging Tim to hold their baby in the car for a photo opportunity! The Bolivian part of this adventure will be completed as the rally crosses their next national border into Argentina!
A shorter day, smoother drive and a hotel out of Star Wars - Bolivia continues to surprise!
The old city in central Sucre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and daylight this morning showed the Spanish architecture in its best light. After a difficult drive, dealing with bad, low-octane fuel, and truly sick of substandard hotel rooms, our team loaded into their cars eager to make it through another long day at altitude.
But the day was full of positive surprises! First, the drive out of Sucre was spectacularly beautiful, even if tangling with Sunday morning traffic was no fun. The day offered a slight climb in elevation, but nothing like the hairpin turns, rugged Andean peaks, and elevation climbs and dips of the past week.
Instead, once out of the city, the dry plateau opened up before the drivers, welcoming them onward south. They drove through a valley where there must have been thousands of llamas - milling about, blocking the road, staring at the cars as if to ask, "What are you doing in our territory?" Our drivers have experience driving through herds of cattle, bison and sheep, but driving through herds of llamas is a new one!
The regularity driven today was a frustration for all the teams. The official clock was off by 14 seconds, so each competitor came up with that much extra time counting against them. Everyone complained, of course, so the ERA staff will make the necessary corrections - it was too consistent to be anything other than a mistake on the official timekeepers' part.
As they came over a rise, they were stunned by the expanse of white stretching out in front of them. The Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni Salt Flat) is the largest salt flat in the world. The leftovers of a prehistoric lake, it covers nearly 11,000 km, and its otherworldly appearance impressed the drivers by its magnitude and bleak beauty.
The hotel for the night appears to be constructed mainly of salt blocks, with many of the rooms featuring salt block domes. The guys describe it as being like something out of Star Wars - and a big step up from the hotels of the past few nights!
Other good news today was that everyone arrived at that great hotel early! Chris and Jeff had just sat down at the bar when Jim and Tim walked into the lobby! Seeing each other before sunset for the first time in a week was cause to celebrate, and with Jim feeling back to his normal self, a few beers were in order. Neither the Porsche nor the Ford had any issues, so there was no need to work on the cars! Jeff continued his adventurous eating at dinner by ordering the llama - and again the discussion over a wine pairing ensued. He reports it was quite tasty - different - and the Malbec he paired it with worked quite well!
The salt flats were an entertainment for the rally drivers, many of whom headed out to drive around, spin their cars and enjoy the scenery. Drivers from car #14 enjoyed the flats by making entertaining videos and photos - good times!
Tomorrow the rally heads to the border town of Tarija, about 400 km south. It will be their last full day in Bolivia.
From one capital of Bolivia (La Paz, administrative capital) to another (Sucre, constitutional capital), the rally progress continued through the Andes mountains.
And what a day! The rally cars climbed from La Paz to above 15,000 feet - and then approached a regularity. Regularities are strictly timed, with complex calculations required of the navigators to direct the drivers to finish at their predetermined time. Add the ascent and descent of driving the rugged Andean peaks, vintage cars and gravel roads, and a regularity can be tortuous for both cars and drivers. That experience was exaggerated today many times over!
These climbs are specifically hard on a car's clutch, since you have to ride both the clutch and the accelerator to slow down and then speed up. The Porsche suffered a slipped clutch cable on that high-altitude regularity, so Jeff and Chris carefully nursed the car in to Sucre. They headed to the garage after checking into their hotel rooms. Owen, the rally mechanic, came to help - making short work of the repair.
The Ford continued to overheat today, but at this point pulling over to let it cool down has become routine. The lower altitudes in the next week should help with that issue.
The air at 15,000 feet might have been thin on oxygen, but it was rich in views. Unfortunately, while we hear there were some good pictures taken today, connectivity is such at their hotel that sending them is problematic. Jeff got these few good ones out, but we'll just have to wait until transmitting those other photos becomes possible.
Tim reports the scenery is beautiful, but with all the ups and downs of the roads and all the hairpin turns the roads are more than challenging. He describes the cobblestones on the road as about the size of your fist, and says you can hardly walk on them, let alone drive on them. Then they have a lot of speed bumps, which make driving even more difficult, and that's not even getting into the traffic!
When Jim and Tim got to the hotel, they were told they weren't at that hotel - their room was booked at another one! Shouldering their bags, they walked over to that hotel, checked in, and found there was no elevator. They humped their bags up three flights of stairs, got to their room, and found that there wasn't any air conditioning or fans. A ceiling fan would be really appreciated! Jeff knows he gets no sleep without a fan no matter the weather, so he is traveling with his own! He said he was really glad he had his with him in Sucre, since it was a hot, airless kind of day.
The big news of today is that Jim is feeling much better. He was laughing and joking with Jan on the phone - much more like himself. Thank heavens for resilience!
On to the next day of the Lima to Cape Horn rally - and whatever adventure awaits!
Friday, the Bodacious Racing team and the rest of the Lima to Cape Horn rally left Peru behind... after a long wait at the border.
The team had secured their Bolivian visas before they left the United States, so they didn't need to accomplish that before crossing. But word of general strikes shutting down areas in Bolivia spread through the drivers waiting in the parking lot after clearing the Peruvian border. Due to the strike, only one border crossing was open between Peru and Bolivia; the wait was long and boring. Patience seems to be a required commodity on this rally!
Jim was feeling a bit better today, after visiting with the doctor retained by the ERA staff. He received two injections - last night and again this morning - of medication aimed at alleviating his symptoms. Chris convinced him to eat a plain roll and a bit of cheese for breakfast. His stomach continues to act up, but he seems to be hanging in there. There needs to be a real turn-around day soon for the ailment plaguing Jim and so many other drivers on this rally.
We heard another installment on the 1936 Ford fuel leak story from yesterday. The carburetor problem was actually caused by the hinge pin rattling loose. When Tim and Jim diagnosed the problem, they figured they could secure the hinge in some fashion - and ended up using Jim's empty lollipop stick for a hinge pin - it was a perfect fit! Just as they were congratulating themselves on their ingenuity, the sweeps drove up. After their usual greeting, they took a look at the engine, as Jim and Tim showed them their solution to the missing hinge pin. "Wow, mate, that's really quite clever!" Owen said. He then reached in to the engine bay to neaten up some nearby wiring, and uncovered the missing hinge pin! So Tim and Jim never found out if their lollipop stick solution would have worked - but they filed the idea away for another time!
It took our team six hours to get across the border. They then had what Jeff described as a "Blade Runner drive through La Paz in the dark." There were no streetlights, and the Porsche had to weave in and out of traffic consisting of buses, cars, trucks, bicycles, pedestrians, and the ever-present street dogs. Jeff says it's hard to describe just how disorganized, turbulent and anarchic the traffic was. "It was like nothing we've ever seen," he said. "And in the dark, we were really stressed and disoriented. Getting to the hotel was a tremendous relief." Chris says it's a wonder the car survived without a dent!
There was a report of one team of drivers, who - for whatever reason - didn't get their passports stamped at the border crossing. When they went to check in at the hotel, they were told they were in the country illegally, and would have to go back to the border to get their passports stamped! The ERA staff will have their hands full working that glitch out.
At the hotel, Jeff and Chris were texting with Tim and Jim, who were still on the road. The Ford had made it through the worst of the La Paz traffic, only to overheat 10 km from the hotel. They pulled up onto the curb, shut the car down, and - relying once again on patience - waited for the car to cool enough to continue. They finally made it to the hotel around midnight. They all will be up again at 5:30 AM to prep the cars for another 560 km drive. There's a reason these are called endurance rallies!
In many ways, Day 6 of the Lima to Cape Horn Rally felt like a restart. The concerns of the early days around the Ford's electrical system performance and the Porsche's battery were behind our team; political protest seemed to be left behind in Ayacucho; and a day of rest recharged our drivers. Ahead was another spectacular day of driving the Andes and a last night in Peru.
With nearly as long a drive from Urubamba to the southwest Peruvian city of Puno, as they had had in their transit day to Urubamba on Tuesday, our drivers headed out to their cars before 7 AM.
Jim was feeling better, but it seems the ailment he's suffering from has affected nearly half the rally drivers. Is it a viral bug, or is it a symptom of altitude sickness? No one knows for sure, but Tim, Chris and Jeff remain untouched. Jeff commented that as the drivers headed to their cars, they saw plenty of other driving teams clutching a roll or two of toilet paper; it's best to be prepared!
Just in case it is something contagious, good hygiene became the name of the game. Routines honed during Covid set in with our drivers. Masking, antibiotic wipes and hand washing at every opportunity marked this day.
Jeff reported it was a pretty straightforward drive. "We had two regularities, which I think went okay. Chaos going through the towns. So much dust and pollution; both of us were gagging. I forgot what it's like to be in an emerging market!"
The drive had them passing by both Incan and Spanish ruins, a testament to the long, rich history of the region. With small herds of alpacas, vicuña, and llamas continually spotted at these extreme altitudes, drivers had to be cautious despite needing to maneuver blindly on hairpin turns - adding to the stress and strain on both cars and drivers.
Tim and Jim worked through a car issue today that demonstrated at least one of the regularities wasn't so straightforward. Driving a pockmarked gravel road, the Ford began smelling of gas. An investigation of the carburetor found a nut or bolt had rattled loose and fallen into the carburetor, making a hole, and sending gas spewing. By then, half their fuel had leaked out. As they worked on the car by the side of the road, Owen, one of the mechanics, pulled up. Together they got the carburetor patched, cleaned up the fuel leak, and the '36 Ford resumed the rally.
Another rally car was rear-ended while driving through Puno to the hotel. There are frequent speed bumps, and the older cars nearly have to stop to clear them. A local truck driver didn't expect that-and plowed into the rally car. Mechanics report it can be repaired and will be able to get back in the rally!
With Jim needing to go straight to bed, he headed up to the room as soon as he and Tim got to the hotel. With the elevation in Puno above 13,000 feet, the thin air of high altitude will not help those suffering tonight.
Tim joined Chris and Jeff in the restaurant to compare notes and make a plan for the morning. One of the ERA staff members saw Tim and offered him a spare room they had available. Of course, Tim said yes! When he texted Jim to let him know he wouldn't be sharing a room that night, Jim responded "Good! There's only one double bed!"
For both of their sakes, it's a good thing that extra room became available!
Arriving in Puno as the sun was setting, our drivers didn't get to see much of famed Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America, and the highest navigable lake in the world. But we hope they'll take some pictures in the morning as they head to the Bolivian border and leave Peru behind.
What a great day, as the team recovered from the harsh drive of Day 4.
Tim and Jim eventually rolled in on Day 4 around 10 PM. The rally staff and hotel had ensured there would be hot food waiting for the drivers arriving late, so they were able to get something to eat. But, as Tim writes: "I got some soup and a salad, but my hands were shaking so bad from the adrenaline of driving so long in challenging conditions I couldn't eat the soup because it would spill out of the spoon."
The ERA (Endurance Rally Association) website has a full account of the morning's attempts to leave Ayacucho. That, coupled with Jeff's story in yesterday's Bodacious Racing report, paints a good picture. But Tim also added to the narrative.
Getting out of town around the protesters was quite an adventure. The police agreed to escort us to the highway via back alleys and a rough road through the dump. We started leaving the warehouse where the cars were parked at 3:30 in the morning. It was a long convoy, starting and stopping on hills because the police had to clear rocks off the road. Large rocks!
This was very hard on the cars. Many people fouled their spark plugs, stalled, and held up things because we couldn't get around them. Plus we couldn't leave them behind.
When we got to the really rough road through the dump, climbing a hill, several more cars had trouble making the turns and the climb, got stuck and blocked everyone behind them. Finally we got to the end of the road, and were only 100 meters from the highway. The protesters had three barricades of large rocks across the highway, and the ERA was negotiating with them, but there was no agreement to let us pass.
Tim and Jim, from the 1936 Ford, saw the exodus up the goat path from a different vantage point than Jeff and Chris, in the front of the group with the 1972 Porsche. While Jeff and Chris were able to drive up and over with few stops, the mass of cars eventually bogged down, grouped too closely together, trying to climb the slope while stopping and going on the steep and rough path, burning up clutches and otherwise damaging their cars.
Tim explains their strategy: "Jim and I waited because I wanted a clear run at the hill with no one in front of me. Therefore we were one of the last cars to go up the hill. I put Gypsy Rose in first gear, hit the gas and she climbed just like a goat, never slipped, never stalled, went right up that hill no problem at all."
Sound strategy, Tim! Especially considering the cars that had to be pushed or towed, and many with damage that will be tough to recover from.
Tim and Jim drove about 18 hours in the car, and the last 4 hours or so were in the dark, in the mountains, on small roads with 90-year-old headlights. The modern bright lights they had installed shorted out at some point--useless! Passing trucks was required, but took some real courage. Fortunately, the size of the Ford added an intimidation factor, so while trucks were a continuing challenge, Tim found he could bluff oncoming cars into getting out of his way!
The team regrouped over breakfast this morning, having all had a great night's sleep. And now, Chris reports:
"Jeff and I awoke to a great surprise - Tim and Jim made it with no car troubles. The '36 ran well, but it was slow going for all the pre-war cars. The Andes are beautiful, but brutal on these old cars and old guys. Jim made frequent bathroom stops yesterday, and he dipped into the medical supplies to ease his stomach."
Tim was in his element today, in his coveralls, covered in grease and sweating like a pig. But just doing his regular car maintenance, not having to repair anything major, was a blessing. Jeff and Chris pulled the wheels on the Porsche, checked the brakes, changed the fuel filter, and topped up the fuel. They're ready for another 600 km day tomorrow!
The team also forwarded some great pictures of the trip yesterday, and of today. Thanks, guys, for making my job writing this post easy!
The most recent communication from the team came from Jeff, sitting at dinner, requesting a wine-pairing suggestion for a Peruvian delicacy, guinea pig. Now there's a question that our friend, Chef, and Sommelier, Matthew MacCartney - doesn't get every day!
All in all a good day, preparing the Bodacious Racing team for Day 6's adventures, as they continue in Peru's Andes Mountains.
A long and exhausting day!
Our teams were at their cars a little after 3 AM - yes, basically the middle of the night. They had each barely managed a few hours of sleep. But the plan from the rally staff was to convoy out early as a group, with a police escort.
Unfortunately, the protesters had other ideas. They engaged the police in shouting and debate. With the rally staff wanting to still negotiate their way out, the drivers sat in their cars waiting for direction. It seemed there was no way they were getting out of Ayacucho for yet another day.
Eventually, one of the drivers of another one of the Porsche 911s began hiking up what Jeff describes as a "goat trail." After 20 minutes or so, he came back, sharing the news that the path led to the road on the other side of the roadblocks! The driver told the other competitors that the path was tough, but totally doable. Rally staff were not happy about the group splitting up, but the drivers began hopping in their cars and heading up the path, led by the Porsches. The rally folks finally agreed this presented a good solution to the intransigent strikers' roadblocks, and began organizing to tow the less nimble cars up the hill. It was barely more than a path all the way to the top - sand, gravel and rocks made a poor roadbed, but eventually the rally cars made it up and over.
It was nearly 7 AM by the time the first cars crossed out of Ayacucho for the 580 km drive over the Andean peaks to Urubamba. Rally cars were strung out all along this alternate escape route.
With straining brakes and clutch, the Porsche made good time despite the Andean challenges. When they approached Abancay, where they were supposed to have spent the night of Day 3, they were really glad they hadn't had to stay there! The road narrowed as it twisted through the small town perched on the side of a mountain, and the accommodations did not look welcoming. With stop and go traffic adding to the strain on the Porsche, they were glad to leave the town behind, and head to Urubamba!
Stops were limited to service stations, where they bought sodas and fueled up. Kind bars were the meal of the day, with neither Chris nor Jeff wanting to stray far in search of more sustenance.
The Porsche, car #30, was the fourth car to finish after the exhausting and challenging drive. The first 5 cars to finish were all Porsches built by Tuthill Porsche - a fine advertisement for that rally car builder! Chris and Jeff checked into their rooms at the impressively fine hotel, then met up in the bar for a refreshing glass of wine, a burger, and to tiredly share stories from the other early finishers.
Jeff, who has spent time traveling and driving through some of the great mountain ranges of the world - multiple sections of the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevadas, the Alps, the Atlas Mountains - is in awe of the Andes. He describes them as spectacularly beautiful, jagged and rugged. By their very nature, the challenges of scaling them in a vintage car is evident!
Chris texted with Jim twice during the day, enough to reassure everyone was making safe progress towards the day's destination. Tim and Jim, in the 1936 Ford, reported the car was running just fine for the conditions, but that they were about 4 hours behind Chris and Jeff. Once they had successfully maneuvered through Abancay, they checked in again, and everyone figured the rest of the drive would be not so difficult for the Ford to accomplish. As of this writing they had yet to arrive. They'll have their own tale to tell!
Day 5 was to be a rest day, with a trip to Machu Picchu planned. Jeff and Chris have pulled the plug on that idea; not only are they adverse to getting up at 5:30 AM to make the trip, they know they have car maintenance to attend to. They struggled with one of the fuel pumps today, and they plan to replace it. On the goat path climb, they picked up lots of debris in their brake pads and filters, and they want to blow everything out and see if the brake pads need replacing. The plan was to head to bed, sleep in, maybe take advantage of the pool to stretch their cramped driving muscles, and get their cars ready for Day 6!
Even the best planned rallies run into issues. Day 3 of the Lima to Cape Horn Rally was spent without leaving the town everyone arrived in last night, due to a local university student strike.
Students moved boulders onto the only roads exiting the town, preventing anyone from leaving or arriving. The day was spent in Ayacucho while the rally staff worked to find a solution to losing a day of the rally - and in discussions to ensure that only one day would be lost.
That proved to be a gift to Tim and Jim in Car #5, the 1936 Ford. They were up early, and snagged one of the mechanics before he got involved with another car. They spent some time trouble shooting the Ford's problem. It seems the fan had shifted position, banging into the radiator. The resultant frozen motion of the fan blades caused the radiator to overheat and shut down the car. The electrical surges also fried the alternator. The electrical system probably shut down due to related reasons, but they are still not sure about that. They replaced the fan, securing it (they hope!), the radiator, and the alternator as well. Fuses were also swapped out, and wires secured. The car starts; lights, etc. are working; the fan and radiator are functional. Now we will see how the Ford handles the heat, altitude, and dryness of driving the Andes!
Jim and Tim were excited about driving this pre-war car in this rally, despite Jeff and Chris having issues with it in the 2019 Peking to Paris Rally. The car was fully reconditioned for the South American rally, but their issues echo problems of the Peking to Paris rally. They are already reconsidering taking the Ford on the Anchorage to Cabo rally they are planning to do in 2023! Those left-hand drive Escorts are looking pretty good right now...
The work on the car wrapped up in the early afternoon. Fortunately, rally staff were able to secure some hotel rooms in a slightly better hotel for this second night in Ayacucho, so our team happily moved the few blocks for larger bedrooms, and bathrooms with better water pressure!
They also got wind of a great little restaurant where they enjoyed a large pizza and drinks, and were able to relax for the first time since Tim and Jim experienced the Ford breaking down.
The strike involves local university students protesting for the administration to resign. Clearly a major issue for the students, but shutting down the town is an interesting tactic for students to take for a university problem. Nonetheless, the rally staff eventually negotiated a way to leave Ayacucho. Drivers and support vehicles are to assemble at 3:30 AM, and travel with a police escort out of town.
They will drive about 580 km to Urubamba. This will be a long 12-hour plus transit, but is a sure way to make up for the lost day. They will then have Wednesday as a lay day; they have booked a trip to Machu Picchu that no one wants to miss! Let's hope the Ford - and the Porsche - rise to the challenge of the distance and altitude changes of the extensive drive, and that our drivers have the stamina to focus for those long hours!
The second day of this 30-day rally presented many more challenges than the first day's easy morning drive. Climbing to the summit of a 13,000 foot mountain was a harsh introduction to the Andes.
What a day! Within the first three hours, Jeff and Chris in car #30 had driven from sea level at Paracas to the top of their first Andean peak - at 9,330 feet! Switchbacks were endless, on narrow roads, some at the edge of the cliffs. They shared that road with trucks, buses, dogs, llamas, goats, mototaxis, bicycles - a harrowing experience in both driving and passing the slower traffic, while stopping for various animals crossing in their paths.
A cave carved through one of the mountains was an interesting spot on the road, saving them from driving uphill and down again, but creating its own feeling of nervousness and claustrophobia.
In addition to the route demands, there were two regularities in the day. Regularities are run on a fixed section of road, often unpaved, where speed and time need to be carefully paired to reach a predetermined time for each car. Perfectly calibrated instruments are the key to success - the navigator manages the driver's speed by monitoring time in each section of the regularity. Cars are penalized for arriving at the end of the regularity too soon or too late - so getting the timing down is key. Unfortunately for Jeff and Chris in the first regularity, their Brantz timer was not accurately calibrated to record their kilometers per hour. They received a 20-second penalty. The second regularity there was a problem with the rally official recording the event; they weren't sure how that would translate, but by their calculations with the now accurately calibrated timer, they were off by only a second.
The route offered ongoing challenges of turns and altitude, eventually climbing peak after peak to reach a height of more than 13,000 feet. Even Jeff, fairly immune to altitude after living at the Montana ranch at nearly 6,000 feet, felt the effects. Lightheaded and feeling vaguely nauseous, the drivers continued on the down-slope, testing brakes, exerting muscles to steer (no power steering in these vintage cars!), straining seat belts and nerves. Jeff has vowed to increase the idle on the Porsche to handle the strain on the engine due to altitude. With the altitude of Ayachuco hovering near 9,000 feet, those feeling the altitude will have a difficult night, with the medical team fully in standby mode.
Tim and Jim in the Ford had a more exhausting, challenging and rally-typical day. Early on, electronic issues stalled the car. Getting things back on line with the help of rally mechanic Owen allowed them to continue, but the 1936 car kept overheating. With careful nurturing, the Ford made it through the torturous route. Chris and Jeff - cell phones running desperately low on charge - waited at the hotel bar, eventually hearing they were just 30 km out, with Owen accompanying them in one of the sweep trucks.
Many other cars experienced similar issues. The thinner air at higher altitudes is a real challenge to any car - but especially to the older vintage vehicles. The sweeps were the busiest people on the rally, tending to one car after another. We'll see how many cars - hopefully not the Ford! - are sidelined tomorrow.
The hotel for the night was dubbed "rustic" by the rally staff, which translated to small rooms, tiny bathrooms and less than comfortable beds. But at least the bathrooms are private, not shared; there are windows that open; and the morning will come with continuing altitude and car challenges!
The first day of the 2022 Lima to Cape Horn Endurance Rally!
After an evening studying the tulip book, Jim, in Car #5, the 1936 Ford Cabriolet, and Chris, in Car #30, the 1972 Porsche 911, each began the first day of the rally eager to direct drivers Tim and Jeff down the Pacific coast from Lima to Paracas. Drivers and navigators need to arrive at a comfortable level of communication to be successful in rally events. After several rallies around the world, both short and long, the Bodacious Racing teams have their communication down pat. Prep work is essential on a daily basis - even for short days like this first rally day.
Before he left home, Jeff mapped the entire rally route - and the distance is so long it took three screen shots to capture the plan! We're running the first section today - and you can see the coastal route the rally competitors drove today.
The day in Lima started out as so many Pacific Coast days do - chilly and foggy. Tim and Jim, starting earlier, drove through more morning mist, but it was still very much in evidence when Jeff and Chris took off. A short drive led them in turn to a go-kart track where the first test of the rally took place. A test is purely a timed race. Drivers take the cars around the track as fast as they can - a real challenge to the drivers and these vintage cars! Since both Tim and Jeff enjoy pushing their skills and their cars to the limit, this was a great way to begin a rally. Results at the end of the day record a strong showing for the Porsche, with the Ford firmly in the running.
Once off the track, the rally route took the competitors on a winding trip to Paracas, a beach town about 4 hours south of Lima. Jeff and Chris had a uniquely Peruvian adventure - they were stopped by local police! It seemed just a routine stop - checking on license and insurance, but it's never a good feeling to be pulled over by the police, let alone in a different country!
Once in Paracas at the the beach resort that is the rally hotel for the night, the team enjoyed an excellent lunch. Surrounding palm trees set the mood for relaxation.
While some rally participants chose to take a flight to view the Candelabra petroglyph or take a boat trip to the Islas Ballestas to see the sea lions and Humboldt penguins, our team decided their time would be better spent staying in town, checking out their cars and working on regularity timing. Jeff and Chris, having realized they had never used the jack to lift the Porsche, took a few hours working through that process. The first effort was getting the jack out of the car - resulting in a sliced finger for Jeff. Chris joked "Don't cut your arm off!" The injury gave them a good reason to unearth their first aid kit - all good!
Once the jack was out and assembled, they figured out the lift points on the car, levered it up, and are now confident that if they have a flat tire - or maybe, knowing rally roads, when they have a flat tire - they will easily be able to replace it.
The guys regrouped for dinner, enjoying seeing many participants they have met on previous rallies, and meeting new folks. The rally community is an international one, and interesting stories emerge in these informal sessions.
Jim was looking forward to spending the time between dinner and bed studying the tulip book and preparing tomorrow's route directions. The drive on Day 2 promises to be more challenging than the first day's drive, as the route turns inland and begins the climb to the high altitude of the Andes. They will stop at Ayacucho, at an elevation of 9,058 feet. The drive and the thinner air will be challenging to these vintage cars, as well as to drivers who have issues with altitude. The medical team has reviewed altitude sickness symptoms with the rally participants; let's hope those symptoms are rare and mild. Seeing the Andean peaks will be amazing - let's hope we get some good pictures!
And so it begins! Dead battery, missing keys, and a slow start to scrutineering...
Our team met up in Houston, Texas on Tuesday, to board a plane to Lima, Peru. Seeing each other again in the Houston lounge immediately brought out the jokes and jibing. When Jim left to peruse lounge offerings, the others took turns pitching miscellaneous stuff into Jim's hat, left on his seat. And when Chris wandered off, Jim tucked some things into Chris's bag--maybe continuing the ever-present snake joke?
An uneventful flight took them to Lima, with everything carried on board and checked arriving with the travelers. A driver took them to their hotel on the "Pacific Riviera" in Miraflores Park. This was a perfect place to spend a relaxing Wednesday, acclimating to the Southern Hemisphere, walk around the neighborhood, and check out the rally hotel about 3 miles away, where the cars would be delivered. With Lima in the same time zone as the Central US time zone, there was no time adjustment needed!
Thursday began early, with the guys enjoying a quality breakfast at their luxurious hotel and snapping pictures of each other snapping pictures of Lima and the coastal road from the rooftop terrace. They checked out of the hotel, and headed off to the rally hotel to check in and receive their cars!
First to arrive in the hotel parking lot were the rally support vans, the mechanics' vehicles and the medical van. Then the cars began arriving!
Tim and Jim discovered that the keys used to drive the 1936 Ford for shipping had gone missing. Fortunately, Tim had traveled with his spare set of keys, but put the word out that the other keys needed to be found. Mildew was discovered blooming on the car seats and tool bag fabric--that became a cleaning challenge for the guys. There was also very little gas in the tank--so little Tim decided not to even try to start the car until he identified a nearby gas station to fuel up!
But a challenge of a different kind awaited Jeff and Chris. They had a heads-up even before the 1972 Porsche 911 arrived: the battery was dead. A big concern, obviously, was that there was something else wrong that had drained the battery--this had happened with a bad alternator in the Ford during the 2019 Peking to Paris Rally. It seems at least one other car had a dead battery, and once their cars had arrived they discovered the common cause. A new GPS had been left plugged in, and had drained their batteries. These are special gel race batteries designed to tuck into a space behind the driver's seat in the Porsche 911; if they couldn't recharge the battery, would they be able to even find another one like it in Lima? Jeff managed to wrestle the battery out of the car and hand it over to the mechanics for an overnight charging.
The guys headed to bed with lists of chores for Friday before scrutineering, scheduled to begin around 8:30. Their first official rally breakfast was not quite up to the quality they had been enjoying; Chris gleefully took a picture of Tim's runny scrambled eggs-- a traditional hallmark of a rally breakfast!
Tim and Jim were able to start up the Ford, head to a gas station less than a mile away, and do a full refueling. At the scrutineering spot, they worked through wiping down seats, tool bags and refamiliarizing themselves with the location of all the replacement parts, repair tools and safety equipment they had prepared and loaded into the Ford back in May. And the keys were found! Having that spare set of keys gives a sense of security during a long rally like this one.
There was no joy over at the Porsche. While the other rally car with the same dead battery problem had their battery reinstalled and happily started their car to head over to scrutineering, Chris and Jeff found their battery still completely dead. So on to Plan B! They were able to buy a standard lead-acid battery, and jury rig it with straps into the battery space behind the driver's seat. Of course, having an acid-based battery in the car body is way less than ideal due to the fumes it gives off, so Jeff and Chris are committed to driving with the windows open! Once the battery was successfully installed, Jeff climbed in to the driver's seat to start up the car-- and flooded the engine! After multiple attempts, they pulled some of the spark plugs and replaced them with new ones--that did the trick! So off they went to fuel up, and take their place in the scrutineering line.
They have sent out inquiries about finding a replacement racing gel battery in Lima, but don't have high hopes. They also asked Tuthill Porsche, who built the car, to ship them a replacement, hopefully picking it up in Argentina in two weeks or so. Meanwhile, this battery will have to do!
Both cars passed their scrutineering inspections, showing all the required safety equipment, that their lights and horns work (not a given in these vintage cars!), and the preparations they have made to successfully and safely accomplish this endurance rally.
With rally badges around their necks and their tulip (direction) books in hand, our team had some down time in which to finally eat lunch and begin the navigational preparations for the rally. Jim and Chris each have their own system for working through the tulip books. Using different colored markers to represent different directions, they work through each day's instructions. Reviewing each page at the beginning of the rally gives them some sense of where they're going, and each evening will find them preparing for the next rally day. Since the detailed directions often have no reference to actual road names, but rather give distances and directional turns, these rallies are a serious navigational challenge. And that challenge for the 2022 Lima to Cape Horn Rally began today!
A rally meeting Friday evening resulted in the start times for the entire rally field. These times will be adjusted as the rally progresses, but for now, Car #5, Tim and Jim in the 1936 Ford Cabriolet will start at 7:34 AM Saturday morning; Car #30, Jeff and Chris in the 1972 Porsche 911 will start at 7:55 AM.
And the Bodacious Racing team will be off on another driving adventure!!