What a great way to end the season! I got to go out to Los Angeles for 5 fun filled days of cars, complete with the LA Auto Show and a spin in the new VW Beetle Convertible. Then I capped it off with the MORE race, where each participant brought some toys to donate to Toys For Tots.
We saw some great cars at the LA Auto Show. My faves were the new Abarth cabrio, although to be honest I’m not sure how much of a true convertible it really is. I adore that car and really wish it were offered in AWD and a true drop top, but if you’re down with FWD and want some fun, definitely check it out.
I also got to say hi to the head of SRT, Ralph Gilles. We talked Challenger and Viper and all things SRT. I really like how they have brought back some great designs, but never lost the original feel. Design evolution as opposed to revolution if you will.
And though I will probably never ever buy one, I was pleased to see the redesigned Honda Civic. Everyone pretty much trashed the 2012 Civic as being, well…boring. Honda responded quickly with a 2013 refresh that I think is quite successful, at least from the rear.
Friday I found myself driving the new Beetle Convertible. They had many different engines/transmissions to try and I got behind the wheel of the TDI manual and the turbo manual. Both are fantastic, with the TDI offering excellent mpg and torque.
Along the way they had some vintage VWs for us to drive. Honestly I was more excited about this 1979 bug than anything! Funny but it drove just like a class 11!!
A highlight for me was watching some journalists try to get the Beetle out of the soft sand. They were so cute! I was tempted to tell them to lower their tire pressure, but decided it was more fun to just sit back and watch.
That night I hightailed it out of Los Angeles and made my way up to Barstow for the MORE Toys For Tots race. It honestly felt a little odd; like I was just kind of dropped at the race with little prep time, which I guess is not far from the truth. Mark and Dad had been out with the Mr. Myagi of Shocks the week before and had the car dialed in as much as they could. The engine had been gone through down in Mexico and everything was good to go. They had even bought gas. It just feels odd not participating in any of the pre-race stuff. I never pack up the truck or do any of the leg work…I really want to get back to CA. Being this far away from everyone is killing me. I’m just so lucky that I have good people helping me. Very very lucky.
At any rate, we ran a pretty smooth race. I dropped to fourth after the first lap (hey, I didn’t pre-run…gotta take that first lap slowly) but came back to second by the end of the second lap and held it the rest of the race, thanks to co-driver Pepper keeping me at a good pace and boosting my confidence with phrases like, “That was so much better than on the last lap!!!” The format of the race was pretty cool. We ran 6 laps of 19 miles, then 6 laps of 13 miles. Sometime on lap two I separated the tire from the rim a bit and had a flat. Best flat to have if you ask me, as the guys just popped it back on the wheel and it holds air just fine. We stopped again at the end of lap 3 for one minute as the guys had missed a lug nut during the tire change.
When I gave the car over to Mark, we were 6 minutes behind the leader and 4 minutes in front of third. Martee hopped in as co-driver but we had a bit of a fuel spill while she was getting buckled in. I’d like to say that making sure this won’t happen again is Priority Number One for next season. A fuel spill is absolutely not to be tolerated. It’s unsafe and we won’t have that.
Mark and Martee took off and put down two great laps, but the spill took it’s toll on Martee. She was smart enough to take herself out of the car so she could get out of her suit and clean up a bit. I was the only one still suited up, so guess who went into the car for another 50 miles? Yours truly. I was happy to do so, honestly, as I got to ride with Mark who has more 1600 seat time than I do. He kept a steady pace and took us the last 4 laps and on to the podium.
The guy who won said his team were sweating us a bit. They found our radio channel and modified their pit schedule when they heard our chatter. It’s nice to know I made someone worry a bit.
So now it’s all about Morocco and raising the money to get to the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles. It’s nine days, off road in Morocco with no GPS. Points are awarded for shortest distance, not fastest time, making this a rally that is won by navigation and decision making rather than speed. We need about $18,000 just to register. You can donate via the link at the top of the sidebar. Anything raised above and beyond our entry and rental fees will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
And of course, don’t forget about our awesome Women of Off Road Racing 2013 calendar. We are on our second printing so be sure to get yours NOW. www.teamcouragegazelles.com/calendar