RIDING SHOT GUN AT WATKINS GLEN!
It’s ironic that one of the most memorable events I participated this year happened to be one I didn’t get to drive my Z. For the past few years I’d heard a lot of good things about the annual trip to Rochester NY. I wanted to be part of it this year, but the issues with the rear-end of my Z, worried me driving it that long distance. But since Kisa was out of town, and Lou was going alone, I jumped at the chance to go shot gun with my good friend and fellow Z32 owner.
The convoy started Friday afternoon with me hook- ing up with Lou, Mauricio & Shima at a west-end burger joint. After a quick bite we headed off to the first stop. The Duty Free to buy some booze! Lou did all the driving and left me in charge of song selections on his great sound system. We checked into the Hotel in Rochester by late evening, and met up with the rest of the gang from OZC. Some had arrived earlier and more was expected to arrive Saturday evening and Sunday morning.
We had a meet & greet that night at the Hotel with dinner, that were made out of left overs, interestingly called “garbage plates”. After the dinner Mauricio and Shima decided to check out the local mall for shopping, with Lou, my self tagging along. However Lou had other plans, like catching a movie. Apparently it’s a ritual of his, to check out theatres in every city he travels to. Strange as it sounded, the movie buff in me loved the idea and we ended up watching Transformers IV.
In the morning the two of us along with Roy found a Tim Hortons near by for some real Canadian breakfast. But due to a miscommunication, we missed Mauricio & Shima at breakfast. Unfortunately they also missed the morning briefing and the tour. There were about 30 cars and Mike Noonan was the lead who did a fantastic job of not losing a single car, through the beautiful country side roads leading to Watkins Glen. It took us a good couple of hours and the roads were simply amazing.
By the time we got to the track Mauricio was already there, having taken a direct route via the highway. As expected everyone was giddy with excitement, lined up for the chance to race on this famous track. Will Hayward was busy setting up his GoPro, while I saw one guy (from US) actually inflate the tire of his 240Z, with an old bicycle foot pump. Nigel White was there too, in his Honda Accord coupe, not having his 240Z for the summer (more on this on his Prez write up in this issue). Lou on the other hand, had other pressing issues. His gas tank was running near empty, close to fumes. It would be funny & dangerous if he got stalled somewhere on the track!
Finally we got on the track, and Lou was ready to tare it up, only to find a slower car in front of him. His frustration was quite evident as I held the two cameras, listening to his groans. But he managed to get some gaps, so he could attack some corners, the way he wanted. We stopped at the front straightaway on the second lap to take some pics. By this time we got in front of the slower car and finally had one last blistering lap before heading out. Throughout the 3 laps all I could wish was I had brought my Z! Then I remembered what happened when I tracked it 15 years ago at Shannonville. Yup, blown engines are not fun! We drove back to a nearby town where we had lunch at a restuarant specialized for BEER. I was amazed at the battered onion rings order I got. Each were the size of an actual doughnut! The drive back to the Hotel was equally exciting with great roads with beautiful scenery. We arrived to find more OZC guys checked into the Hotel.
That evening there were cocktails, and we were handed out “fake” detective badges, as part of the dinner show, which was a Murder Mystery. It was a first for me. We all had a good time watching a wine tasting lady get poisoned, the Police detec- tive’s attempt to solve it by interviewing some of the ZCCR members. It was a unique and clever way of introducing some of their members to us. Our table with Mauricio, Lou, Jason ended up winning special mugs, for picking the correct murderer. Next was an auction, which had some interest- ing items, from an old Datsun Gas Can to new Z posters commissioned by ZCCA. Mauricio, Dave Buttle and my self managed to snag one each with one combined bid. There was also a video show of Nissan racing heritage, which most of us skipped having seen it before.
Sunday morning we woke up to some showers. But the forecast was to clear up by noon, when the show would to start. Howie, Roy and few other OZC guys joined us for breakfast at Denny’s. By the time we reached the show, the rain had stopped and the skies were bright and sunny. We had a good time at the show, checking out carsnd some of our guys winning in their categories. Jason, Mauricio, Bob Chwalyk & Bob Burnham along with Brian Gracie who’d driven that morning from Canada, won in their categories. We also won a trophy for the highest participation by a club, which was an additional honour!
We left Rochester early afternoon, hoping to cross the border before the traffic got worse. After a quick stop in Buffalo to meet one of Lou’s Aunts and a bite, I finally got to drive. At the border we only got held up for about 45 minutes, which wasn’t bad consider- ing it was also a long weekend. But the real downer was after we crossed the border on to QEW, where we were stuck for the next ONE to TWO HOURs in stalled or crawl- ing traffic. It was all thanks to badly organized road paving projects, where else… in good old Ontario!
Nice welcome Canada!