Day 12: Our longest, hardest day. Salt Lake City to Reno. 541 miles. Snow, rain and sleet. Lots of climbing. Crossed Sonoma Peak at 9395 ft. Then, it gradually dawned on us, even in ideal weather, no one could make the alloted 6 hr. 11 min. for the new cars or the 7 hr. 11 min for the antiques. I calculated the average speed for the new cars at 88 mph. I didn’t bother to work out the speed requirements for us, but immediately tried to call the race committee. We had only spotty cell-phone coverage, but I finally managed to get through to Jeff. They had neglected account for the time zone change. They added an hour for everyone but then a high wind alert was issued on the highway with winds up to 50 mph. Jan and I traded off driving several times, as the difficulty of keeping Stewball on the road cramped our hands and shoulders. We did make our time with 20 minutes to spare. but it was a LONG, tense drive. Jack Crabtree fared worse. He had engine problems, a piston problem. He almost missed the banquet and award ceremony having to drive slowly. He is having a new engine shipped to Frisco today and will replace his engine-again-before we ship to China. This istrue grit.
We had another surprise waiting in the plaza of the Harrah Hotel. Four of our friends from the 2008 centennial Tour were here to meet us. We had no idea they were coming. Two from Canada and two from California. It was like a class reunion with Luke, Ray, Patrick and John. Then a quick change of clothes and off to the National Auto Museum with Harrah’s car collection and the 1907 Thomas Flyer center stage in our banquet room.
We were all awarded beautiful glass etched globes as awards for finishing the US leg of this world race. Jan has posted this today instead of the tulip she had in the bud vase. The photo doesn’t do it justice. It was made from sand that was collected from the route the Flyer took across the US in 1908. A very meaningful and personal award.
Tomorrow morning many of us will be in tears. The Thomas Flyer, winner of the 1908 race will be started (hopefully) and will lead us out of Reno under the old Reno Arch. Jeff Mahl, great-grandson of George Schuster, winner and driver of that same car, will sit in the passenger seat, dressed as his great-grandfather did. The Flyer has been restored to the condition it was in when it finished the race, complete with dents, chipped paint and mud. Once the Flyer pulls aside, the torch will pass to the cars who hope to go the whole distance to Paris and we continue to San Francisco to complete leg 1. We part with many of our friends who will go the distance only vicariously by following our adventures on our blogs. We will miss them, but I know these friendships are forever.
Finishing the first leg of the Long Road to Paris,