2 May 2007

2006 New England 1000 Vintage Rally Recap

The number 13 figured prominently for me in the latest running of the New England 1000 vintage rally. It was the 13th edition of the event, begun by SCMers Rich and Jean Taylor in 1993, and the entry number of my car also happened to be 13. For the rally, it was a lucky 13th—for my car, not so lucky.

The Taylors are adept at choosing new routes each year, and the 2006 rally was an international affair. Starting in Stowe, Vermont, at the Topnotch Resort, the cars ran 989 miles through northern Vermont into Quebec and back over four days. After the first night’s stop in Bromont, Quebec, we pitched camp at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City for two nights, driving through the eastern reaches of the province along the St. Lawrence.

The scenery was a great mix of open farmland and spectacular water views from little-traveled country roads. Winter in Eastern Canada can be brutal, and some of the surfaces showed it, with frost heaves and potholes making driving fast a challenge in places. Add to that the usual hazards: moose, deer and John Deere tractors, school buses, some fog, and an occasional rainstorm.

In addition to the driving, there are always varied activities on the rally. We visited the Bombardier museum in Valcourt, Quebec, to see the original snowmobile and stretched our racing boots at a karting track in Orford.

As always on Vintage Rallies’ events, SCMers were well represented, and the mix of cars was interesting. It’s great to be in an event where you can run with a Mustang Boss 302 and two ’64 Corvettes after breakfast, a group of Jaguar XK 120s and a Cunningham C4 on the way to lunch, and a Ferrari Superamerica, 500 Superfast, and 275 GTB/4 in the afternoon.

I mentioned the significance of the number 13, which was the entry number assigned to my ’69 Lamborghini Islero. I had a fast, pleasant, and uneventful four-hour drive up to the start from my home the day before the rally began. The next morning, I drove it around to the starting line—and just as I was about to take the flag for the first stage, it died with total electrical failure.

Details
Plan ahead: June 2007
Where: Route varies
Eligibility: Pre-1975 sports, racing, or GT; exotics of any year
Cost: $4,995
More: www.vintagerallies.com

As SCMer Matt deGarmo said, when asked what makes the perfect rally car, “Wipers that don’t work, an overdrive that’s intermittent, a car that leaks when it rains—I mean, you have to have the full experience.”

I left my car in the capable hands of the chase mechanics from RPM Vermont and drove the rally in one of the loaners from event sponsor Porsche Cars of North America, a 2006 Carrera S. It certainly made light work of every stage, but reminded me of the real reason we want to run 40-year-old cars for hundreds of miles a day. It’s so much more interesting when you have to worry about making it to the end of the stage, although in retrospect, perhaps it was best that I didn’t have to navigate rough roads with the Islero’s four-and-a-half inches of ground clearance.

Once again, SCM sponsored the “Vintage Spirit” award, which was given to Michael Lerch and his daughter Alexandra, who were in a 1956 MGA roadster. The nine teams that“zeroed” the rally also took home as prizes one-year complimentary subscriptions to SCM.

After more than a decade of working at it, Rich and Jean really know how to both put on a good rally and take care of their participants. When you’re putting together your 2007 exercise schedule for your favorite mount, this event certainly merits consideration.

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