07th Oct2016

The Best Worst Trip

by Michael Chandler

ronda-lotto-tickets

It was cold and dark last night.  In the darkness, surrounded by storage units filled with other people’s stuff, Scott, myself, and a man named Cody pushed Big Ronda onto a U-Haul trailer.  As they were ratcheting the car onto the trailer, I began thinking about something I found the day before.  I went down to the storage unit on Tuesday, and began cleaning it out the refuse that had accumulated in the three years I owned the car.  While cleaning out the glove box I found a receipt and some lotto tickets that never made it across the counter of the convenience store in Franklin, Idaho.

The Powerball jackpot was rather high, but not historic in August 2013.  Being the sort of fellow who thinks that having ridiculous amounts of money would allow me to pursue many of the endeavors I’d like to, and having a GT car in need of a test of its grand touring prowess, the decision was made to head to Idaho and grab some lotto tickets.  I called up Dave, and we made plans to run to the land of Russets.  But first we needed to address one big problem the car had: the lack of speakers.

When I test drove the car, it had a speaker box in the back and some semi-functional door speakers.  When I picked it up, the speaker box was gone.  Dave and I went to a junkyard, harvested some door speakers from a GS300, and proceeded to install them while parked on the street in front of his house.  While installing the speakers, we also plumbed in a fully functional boost gauge.  One that went up to 25psi.  With those installed, we made our way to Tommy’s family’s restaurant: Thai Drift.  We rolled in, showed off the car to Tommy and Trent (who happened to be down there) then made our way back to the freeway.  On that short drive we noticed something: Ronda was making more whoosh pcha noises than before.  While I stepped on it, Dave looked at the boost gauge and let out an excited laugh when the needle hit 15psi and the car hit fuel cut.  That was an issue we’d deal with later, because we were on our way to prosperity!

We stopped at 7-11 in Kaysville before making the final push through Logan and into Idaho.  The clutch felt weird while getting off the freeway, but I just attributed it to the heat.  We grabbed some drinks, popped the targa top off, and got back on the road.  Everything was fine, until we got off I-15.  While merging onto US-91, the clutch pedal stopped doing anything.  It would sink to the floor, and stay there.  I managed to keep the car going, but we ran into some construction on 89 and I killed the car.  I had only ever driven it with a full functional clutch pedal, I could blip the throttle on downshifts, but I had no idea how to drive the car without using the clutch pedal entirely.

It was at this point that I began rethinking every decision I made for the last few months: why did I buy this car?  I didn’t want a mk3, I wanted a mk2.  Something I could slam on tiny wheels, and live out my new found dreams that I saw on Instagram feeds like All That Low, DOHC Research, and Liberty Walk.  Why did I not test the car out on a different drive?  What happens if this car can’t get going again?  Why am I here?  Who am I?  What is this?  Through all of the self-doubt, Dave’s voice came through. He coached me through, and while it was stressful, we made it to the L Tienda.

The radio took a dump on us at some point, so we just had our conversational skills to get us through. So while I went in and spent way too much on lotto tickets, Dave contorted himself and got the radio kicking again.  We then faced an important decision: Head back the way we came, which would take us back through Logan and Brigham City at rush hour; OR stay on the 91 until it ran into I-15.  After some brief discussion, and realizing that there would be a lot less shifting required, we stuck to the 91.  We got on the road, and Dave found what would end up being our soundtrack for the rest of the drive: Sports by Huey Lewis and the News.  The 1983 classic went into the tape deck, and never came out.  The damn thing ate the tape, but kept playing it.  It played both sides, on constant repeat, but refused to eject the tape.  It was on the third play through that I decided to uncork Ronda, and see how 100+mph felt without a roof.

We weren’t stopping until we got to my house, where we would grab the Subaru, and take Dave home.  A friend of mine in Farmington wanted to see the car, and us, but I did my best to convey to her that we could not stop, despite how much we wanted to.  We soldiered southward, and prepared for our final test: the stretch of road between the freeway exit and my driveway.  A harrowing 1.1 mile stretch of surface streets, filled with stop lights, traffic, and people who don’t understand how traffic laws or courtesy work.  Would we have to face each battle, or would luck smile upon us?  Mercifully, we had a favorable drive over that stretch.  We made it to my driveway, where we abandoned Ronda for the Subaru, and made our way back to Dave’s.

That was the first, and only big drive Ronda ever went on.  It was the best drive it could have been.  If it was completely uneventful, it would have been boring, and I wouldn’t have remembered the details three years on.  If it was an abject failure, then Ronda would’ve been gone long ago.  It was exciting, it had danger, humor, drama, no romance though.  I could not have scripted it better, nor would I have wanted it to be any different.

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
11th Sep2014

Boise Drift Day 2

by Michael Chandler

Boise Drift Labor Day Two Day event Day 2 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (1 of 56)

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

When last we left our brave travelers they were scrambling for cover from the sudden and violent storm that had rolled upon Magic Valley Speedway.  Chance, Mikey, Brandon, Hector and myself chose to sleep in Brandon’s trailer, while Jordan and Riley elected to sleep in Jordan’s and Hector’s trucks respectively.  And now for the conclusion of our tale…

The sudden storm lasted through the night, but had mercifully ended by morning.  We awoke to a beautiful, albeit a little chilly, sunny morning.  Those of us who slept in the trailer had has decent of a night as one can while sleeping on the floor of a trailer.  Meanwhile Jordan and Riley had learned why you don’t sleep in your vehicle in the cold.  While at least Jordan came prepared for camping, Riley only brought his hoodie.  Suffice it to say they were both happy to see the sun creep over the mountains.

Boise Drift Labor Day Two Day event Day 2 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (3 of 56) Boise Drift Labor Day Two Day event Day 2 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (6 of 56)

All over the makeshift camp grounds people were working on various things.  Brandon was mounting tires for the day, and Mike had begun to cook breakfast for himself and his crew of jolly pirates.  Zack was still working on his wheel studs, while Jordan was looking at what appeared to be a bent left rear wheel.  Chance took Brandon’s truck into town, and left Mikey with us.  Chance returned with breakfast for himself, Brandon, Mikey and Jordan.  I had a Clif Bar, and Hector managed to score a parfait from Brandon.

Hector, having eaten, and Zack, having replaced his wheel studs, were the first two out on track, and were both giving ride alongs.  Chance and myself made our way over to the track and were chatting about something inconsequential to this story while watching the two of them make their way through the infield.  Hector took his usual line through the last two turns, and Zack took a wider line…

Boise Drift Labor Day Two Day event Day 2 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (13 of 56)

The rear quarter panel hit then end of the barrier, and spun the front of the car into it with a great deal of force.  Zack and his passenger were ok, however his car was finally dead.

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The car hit so hard it snapped the lower control arm, bent the coilover on that corner, dented the wheel well so deeply that the clutch pedal couldn’t be pushed in, sent the fender into the windshield and generally tweaked everything.  As it sat the car couldn’t move or be dragged off the course without leaving more parts in its wake.  So the plan was hatched to bring the trailer down, and drag the car on to it using ratchet straps, a jack and man power.

Boise Drift Labor Day Two Day event Day 2 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (18 of 56)

A crowd gathered to watch the lifeless S13 get dragged on to the trailer.  It took some effort on the parts of everyone in the infield, but the car was on the trailer and secured.

Boise Drift Labor Day Two Day event Day 2 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (16 of 56)

Although he had the worst weekend on paper, he had the best weekend because he went out there and said fuck it.  Blow out both tires? Finish the lap on the bare rims and swap them out.  A wheel goes flying? Throw that thing on the hatch and get to work fixing the studs.  Destroy the car? Jump on that hood, throw your arms to the sky and declare that you won’t be defeated by conventional means! It had cost him $75 to drive, and he got his money’s worth.

After clearing what was left of Zack’s car, the rest of the drivers came out to play.

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Everyone was having a good time, just sending one after another after another.  Things were moving like clock work.

Boise Drift Labor Day Two Day event Day 2 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (27 of 56)

Smile! This is going on the internet!

Boise Drift Labor Day Two Day event Day 2 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (26 of 56)

And then Brad spun out and knocked one of his battery connections loose. This brief pause in the action allowed for some other drivers to fire up their chariots and make their way on to the track.

Boise Drift Labor Day Two Day event Day 2 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (28 of 56) Boise Drift Labor Day Two Day event Day 2 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (29 of 56)

Crowd favorites Mikey, Brandon, Worm and Dennis all were out.  Things progressed as they do: one driver led to pairs of drivers.  Those pairs linked up with the other pairs and suddenly we had gridlock in the grid.

Boise Drift Labor Day Two Day event Day 2 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (31 of 56)

Thankfully this traffic jam passed, everyone was sliding, and I climbed atop a gigantic planter.

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This continued for a few laps, then people started peeling off to grab tires or to let their car cool down.  This left me standing on top of the planter, and Dane in his 1UZ swapped Celica Supra taking laps. After passing me he stopped, backed up and asked “Hey, do you want me to just hit this corner?”

Boise Drift Labor Day Two Day event Day 2 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (35 of 56)

Yes, yes I do.  As so he did until the time came for him to grab new tires and take a break.  Which it seemed liked we all decided to do.  I took this time to wander about, change lenses, and eventually jam a GoPro on to Jordan’s car before he went out in a four car group.  All was looking good.

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Until a small fuel leak caused a fire in his car.  Thankfully the fire was extinguished quickly, but not before his wiring harness was toasted.  Fear not though, there were still three of our group still running!  Sort of…

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So the trio went out, with various passengers who had GoPros on sticks.  Since this was a grassroots, just for fun kind of thing nobody could communicate with the cars while they were on track.  And car to car communication was primitive.

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And occasionally crude… It was during these runs a few of noticed that Mikey was smokey.  Really smokey.

Boise Drift Labor Day Two Day event Day 2 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (54 of 56)

Catastrophically smokey.  There was an oil leak somewhere, and it was bad enough to send Mikey back to the trailer.  He wasn’t done though, he would take a few runs in Brandon’s car.  However, Hector was entirely done.  He bent a tie rod on one run, did an epic burnout and headed back to his trailer.

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Our crew may have been decimated, but there were still some people who hadn’t broken their cars! Mike and Worm were still out taking cuts.

Boise Drift Labor Day Two Day event Day 2 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (44 of 56)

And then the track cleared, and the Previa rolled down the bank, and began its runs.

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Behind every good man is a strong woman, and Dennis & Katie literally demonstrated this.  They mounted the rear bench seat of the Previa in the van backwards, she strapped in and went for a ride!

And it is on that note that we end our story.  It was an awesome weekend, spent with awesome people and doing awesome things.  If there was a better way to spend Labor Day Weekend, and close out the summer, I can’t think of one.  This wasn’t an isolated trip either.  While I can’t make it to the next event, I will make it to a few more next year.  Until then, thank you Idaho!  GOODNIGHT!

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.

 

19th Aug2010

1,487 Miles in a Dodge Viper Part 2

by Trent

The Year was 2010, the first half of the Epic Viper Road trip was completed. I no longer wanted to be in the Viper. Fortunately, we had access to another vehicle while in California. Not wanting to drag out the trip to San Diego we had to make into a 3 hour drive, we took our alternate vehicle. Our purpose was to meet up with Gene, the owner of a red RX-7 we featured previously. Fortunately, the drive to and from was uneventful. The next day however, it was time to embark on our trip back home, putting another 700 miles in on the V10 that has had it’s bouts with schizophrenia. Unfortunately, to make it home in time before work the next day, the drive had to be done in the day time.

First things first, a drive to the coast is not complete without a drive on the gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway. The Viper actually kind of fit in here. We even had a few people staring which is pretty amazing considering the amount of $100,000 and up cars that surrounded us throughout Laguna Beach and Newport Beach. We eventually made our way up the coast and turned inland to Anaheim to scout out a car show and get one last breather before the trip began. (more…)

18th Aug2010

Part 2 of the Viper Road Trip tomorrow

by Trent

The second and final installment of the Viper Road Trip will be posted at 11:00am MST tomorrow. More pictures and more mayhem is all you need to know.

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners. Images and words may not be re-posted, re-distributed, modified, or copied without expressed written consent from CAMAutoMag.Com.

17th Aug2010

1,487 Miles in a Dodge Viper Part 1

by Trent

In preparation for Part 2 of this story, we are re-posting part 1 here to refresh your memory about this epic journey. Look for part 2 this Thursday!

I thought we might be on to something, I thought I was going to prove to everyone that cars were meant to be driven and driven hard. Nothing tests a car’s endurance like taking it 1500 miles through the desert where’s it’s 105-degrees during the day and drops to the 30’s in the canyons at night. No sweat, no worries. I’ve got a semi-functional heater and no Air Conditioning. No A/C? Yes, but there’s also no top and no windows to keep us cool. It was a plan half baked in awesomeness, then the first of many ‘check engine’ lights came on. (more…)

13th Aug2010

Viper Road Trip Pt. 2 next week

by Trent

Next week you’ll finally be able to read the exciting conclusion to the Viper Road Trip. It’s just as, if not more eventful than the first leg of the trip. The first leg of the trip will be re-posted first so you can refresh yourself on our pain and misery. Look for it next week.

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners. Images and words may not be re-posted, re-distributed, modified, or copied without expressed written consent from CAMAutoMag.Com.

30th Jun2010

Cars and Mods Second Issue!

by Trent

Cars and Modifications Cover

The highly anticipated second issue is here. Download the PDF and check out our Viper Road Trip feature, Civic Hatch feature, and RX-7 Feature!

Download the second issue!

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners. Images and words may not be re-posted, re-distributed, modified, or copied without expressed written consent from CAMAutoMag.Com.

25th Jun2010

Viper Road Trip Live Twitter Feed

by Trent

Today, Mike and I embark on the first 700-ish miles of the Viper Road Trip. Feel free to follow along on our @camautomag Twitter account. We leave today around 5pm MST(we have day jobs). It’s a balmy 91-degrees today and we have no means of cooling down other than the wind surrounding us. It won’t be too bad until we hit Vegas where it’s 103-degrees today and there is ALWAYS traffic on the freeway. Wish us luck!

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners. Images and words may not be re-posted, re-distributed, modified, or copied without expressed written consent from CAMAutoMag.Com.

27th May2010

CAM: Viper Road Trip Feature

by Trent

Viper Road Trip

Dodge Viper Interior

This is where Mike and I will spend at least 1500 miles in late June. It is a 94 Dodge Viper, and it will be our road trip car from Salt Lake City to Southern California and all the places we need to go down there. We’re traveling down there for a reason, but it’s a 10 hour drive there, 10 hours back and we’ll be in California for roughly 25 hours. Crazy? Yes. But even crazier is that two overweight guys are going to cram themselves in this car with a duffel bag(which will fill the trunk) and all our requisite photo gear. Needless to say, we’ll be packing light.

The top and windows will be left at home because they take up too much trunk space, and there’s no A/C, so we can only hope for pleasant weather. Check out the June 30th issue for more on this 2-part series of our road trip in the Viper.

-Trent

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners. Images and words may not be re-posted, re-distributed, modified, or copied without expressed written consent from CAMAutoMag.Com.