Words and photos by John R. Paul
With the arrival of Stage Five, Miss Adventure’s misadventures officially came to an end, riding across the border back into the United States on a trailer while the rest of Team HVA piled into the giant white Suburban to continue along the remainder of the route. Seeing her off on her sixth trailer in almost as many days, the official slogan has now become “The trailer changes, but the car stays the same.” Quite apropos.
Undeterred, Team HVA soldiered on into the beautiful Thousand Island region of New York. Crossing one of several bridges spanning the sprawling St. Lawrence river immediately following the border crossing, it became easy to see how, during Prohibition, the myriad islands, inlets and bays served as ideal drop points for bootleggers coming to and from the states. Today, the islands are little more than cottage-dotted havens, accessible only by boat and far too numerous to tally; a magnificent sight when seen from above.
Arriving well in advance of the racers, the team opted to stop for lunch just outside of Clayton, New York. Here we dined on roadside burgers, fries and ice cream. While doing so, we noted an older truck as it passed, jokingly stating we should follow the gentleman to get his story, especially after yesterday’s stellar success. Little did we know the joke would be on us several scant hours later.
As the hour of arrival drew near, we headed to the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton where our fellow Great Racers would soon begin to gather, on the beautifully picturesque shores of the mighty St. Lawrence. Upon arrival, we were greeted by yet another sea of humanity, all of whom were giddy with excitement as they strolled amongst the cars, chatting up the racers and trying to get a handle on just how the race operated.
I had the pleasure of chatting with a couple who could not understand how it could be a race if there was no rush to get from point A to point B the fastest. This made me realize that it would perhaps be helpful to go over just how the race is run. The race itself operates on the basic principle of control, timing, acceleration, and, most importantly, knowing your car inside and out. Racers draw a start time by number (15, for example) and are given the official start time for the day. If the start time is 8:00am, the car in the number 15 slot would start at 8:15am as racers are to leave every sixty seconds. They are then to follow detailed instructions spelling out when to accelerate, speeds at which to proceed, and for how long at a given speed, penalized for arriving early or late. The team with the time closest to that spelled out in that day’s course instructions will be deemed the winner.
Milling around the main drag, a number of racers commented on how perfect the weather had been today for the race; sunny, yet mild, with a slight breeze proved to be simply ideal for all of those out on the course. A number of racers previously riding with their tops up opted to cruise alfresco and enjoy a bit of fresh air for a picture-perfect Stage Five.
While wrapping up the show and chatting with a number of folks along the way, we happened to spot the truck we had seen earlier in the day. Riding high off of yesterday’s experience with Conrad, we approached the gentlemen, explained who we were, what we were about and asked if he would be interested in participating. As it turned out, Larry Trumpole and his 1932 Ford Model B simply stumbled on the happenings in town and decided to stop by and check out all of the great cars on display. He informed us his wife was under the impression he had gone out to mow the lawn at one of his properties. Promising we wouldn’t tell, we listened as Larry shared the story of his car, how it had been a gift from his son, that it was completely original (with the exception of the tires), and how the paint chips on the louvers were the result of thirty below zero temperatures experienced the previous winter.
As with Conrad, Larry extended a generous offer for a ride, just not in the truck. As the chair of the Antique Boat Museum trust, he owns a number of vintage wooden boats and, following our interview, offered to take us out to cruise amongst the 1,400 plus islands in the Thousand Islands. Sadly we were pressed for time and had to politely decline. Larry was additionally disappointed by the fact that we would only be in the area for the one evening and miss the many sights the region has to offer, though he understood and suggested we make a return trip in the not-too-distant future.
Arriving at the dinner stop, we were greeted by the vast expanse that was the Watertown show field. Throngs of people gathered around a wide array of cars and trucks, all of whom had their own stories to tell. We were fortunate enough to capture a small handful for our This Car Matters movement, however, but there were certainly many more that remained tantalizingly out of reach. One of the more interesting being a 1914 Saxon, which we were told had been the first car in Jefferson County New York and now resided in the local historical center. Emily was even afforded the opportunity to honk the ancient horn, much to her eternal delight.
In addition to the Saxon, we also spoke with the team from Michigan in the 1914 Ford Model T. Running the race as rookies, they were having a wonderful time, even pulling in an ace (a perfect time) on one of the legs. Yesterday, however, they experienced a major setback that forced them to return to Michigan for repairs. Upon completion, bound and determined to continue and see through what they had started, they drove eleven hours to meet up with their fellow racers at the day’s stop. They will be continuing on for the remainder of the race, looking excitedly toward the finish line in their hometown and a triumphant return amongst family and friends. We at Team HVA will certainly be cheering them on throughout the remainder of their route, looking forward to seeing them across the line and on the field in Dearborn on Sunday.
All in all it proved to be yet another grandly successful day spent within the ranks of some of the most quality individuals we have met. While not quite on the same level as our Canadian hospitality experience (that would be a hard one to top, really) today again filled us with a sense of pride in the job with which we are tasked to do, proud to document the stories of those around us and meet both them and their vehicles firsthand.
Top Five Things We Learned Today:
- While Canada is great, there is no place like home. Plus it’s nice to be able to use your cell phone because really, who can live without a cell phone these days?
- Instead of rounding up, those who named the Thousand Islands actually rounded down for some reason. Why hide the fact that there are really 1,400 some islands? I would think that would be something you’d be proud of and want to show off.
- Bugs have it better off with modern cars. The grilles of these older cars resemble that of a battlefield; a war waged with millions of tiny casualties, none standing a chance or hope of survival. What a mess.
- You can’t substitute fruits for vegetables in the state of New York.
- Emily listened to every band several years before they were popular. I, on the other hand, listened to these bands before they even formed. Top that.