Getting ready - almost!
Since 2014, more precisely, since May 2014, the preparations for the 2015 Trans America Rally runs at full speed. One might think it was kind of a small and quickly done project and not what turned out to be a large complex project building such a solid, stable, fast rally car. We say in German “burned children are afraid of the fire". So taking into account that it might take a few weeks more, we got the sledge-hammer out already a year ago, exactly last May thinking that we have plenty of time. Wishful thinking you may say, The fire is everywhere and the completion of the Ford Falcon, born in 1963 and called by us "Drunken Monkey" is still going on. God knows if Curt will be able to finished it on time, so we are praying every day…The sleepless nights are becoming more numerous, the phone calls to America getting longer and the fire inferno larger and larger… "Help, where is the fire brigade?"
On May 18th, the Drunken Monkey needs to be in Los Angeles, drunk or sober. Mr. Trucker wants to load Drunken Monkey on the rolling cage. Will Curt make it? Curt has been like a mother pampering Drunken Monkey every day, nearly 24 hours a day. He has been trying to learn Drunken Monkey to walk, to run, to speed around the corners and most important to behave. Not so easy when you know that you have to control a V8 engine with 449 wild horses, an 5 speed gearbox, disc brakes on all 4 legs, special reinforced suspension, survival cage, racing harnesses, large gasoline tank, rally wheels and tires and last but not least special shocks to allow Drunken Monkey to jump over hill and dale. And this is what came out:
1963 Ford Falcon (predecessor of the legendary Ford Mustang
V8 engine, 331 cubic inch, 449 hp
MSD ignition box
Tramec 5 speed gearbox
Wilwood disc brakes (front & rear), incl. rally brake for fast turns
Mike Maier performance suspension
JRI Racing shocks
Pyrotec fuel cell
ET rims with Pirelli rally tires
Safety roll cage with harnesses
Brantz, Blizz rally computers
That's it - here is our Drunken Monkey
D-Day, May 18th, 2015
Preparations are in (almost) in full swing. During the past few weeks my friend Curt Hill has worked almost day and night, seven days a week on the Drunken Monkey. As so often, the mischief came around the corner and the time was running out. The days got shorter, the hours even shorter and the minutes were gone! But, Curt made it, literary in the last minute, despite a last minute operation on the Drunken Monkey. The gearbox and the drive shaft had to be replace, not to mention the loading of all parts, tools, emergency kit, insurance papers including a special one for Canada and the instruction to the Monkey Trainer Marco “how do get Drunken Monkey alive” So, what to say? Hopefully everything goes off without a hitch.
Back to the final sprint. Last night was the D-Day, because Drunken Monkey needed to be on time in Los Angeles, exactly May 18th, around lunch time. Ready to be loaded on a truck for his journey to Amherst, near Boston. What a relief when Curt mailed us last night a few photos from the drop off location. Our nerves immediately relaxed and we didn’t had to get back to the bottle of whiskey to calm us down. Curt made it! The Drunken Monkey is ready to be loaded together with Ferdy (the Porsche 911 from Marco & Carol). Far well to both, a long journey lies ahead from the West cost to the East coast where accordingly to the forwarder they should arrive not later than May 28th. That’s the deal – not one single day later, because on June 2, Marco, my friend, and I want to sniff for the first time on our two “wild animals” and find out if they behave like we want. Marco and can only I hope that they will behave properly and get us to San Francisco. Just one note, I have no clue what other name Ferdy has, Porsche 911 sounds boring, maybe Marco and Carol will tell later us, on their way across America… Meanwhile Curt is on his way, back home to have a beer ot two, or three... "Cheers Curt, you deserve it!"
Curt is the one who owns our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for what he accomplished together with Jason, namely to have provided us a great car on the wheels! The long days and hours have for sure paid off. Looking at all the pictures that Curt had mailed us, over the last 12 months, we are very anxious to see and drive Drunken Monkey for real. We know already now, he is going to be a wild, well trained, muscular, reliable and good looking Ford Falcon alias Drunken Monkey. Again, thank you so much CURT, JANSON and to ALL who worked on this project! We will put every effort to return Drunken Monkey unharmed to your shop at Pleasant Hill.
And our very last thanks goes to Dan, the engine builder, who gave our Drunken Monkey a powerful heart, so powerful that hopefully the others will only see his tail... We all know, without power you aren't going nowhere!
At Pentecost we say in German, everything goes easy... Not when it comes to the brunch buffet and being able to eat "as much has you can". Hardly possible, even if a horde of famished Sunday walker gets to work on the buffet. Do not worry, in the first place we were with our "old boxes" on the road, so no walking and, secondly, we know how to behave in such a situation: FILLING THE PLATES TO THEIR MAXIMUM! Honestly, the buffet was great, the friends also, what more one needs? Perhaps a little siesta, afterwards? Thank you for coming, to all who could come. Sorry that some were missing. Another time, we promise, because the brunch there is amazing. By the way, the dinner in the evening became redundant and still we left mountains of food behind.
Soon our adventure starts – The Trans America Rallye!
The Journey has started - June 2nd
In a few hours we are off to Boston along with Carol and Marco Marinello, two good friends who are also joining the challenge of 10000 km across the States. We are of course very happy to team up with another couple who has not only blood in their veins but also gasoline. Our bags are since yesterday in the suitcase terminal and will hopefully be loaded on time into the Swiss airplane LX25. Hard to imagine if our underpants, bras, socks and some other stuff ends up in Tombouctou. My advise: carry always a T-Shirt and underwear in your carry-on baggage. You never know... The toothbrush is not a problem, you get this free on the plane. And "Anti-smell'" (Deo) is not really important since Claudia and I will be sitting along in the drunken monkey, just among us, able to smell only the other, A monkey doesn’t need a deodorant, right?
Once arrived in Boston, hopefully without major problems at immigration, we are being chauffeur driven for approx. one hour up North to Amherst where the cars had been dropped about a week ago into a warehouse. The Ferdi (Porsche 912 Targa) and the Drunken Monkey (Ford Falcon) probably wait eagerly to get out there and burn some rubber on the street. However Curt had warned me in advance to go easy on the throttle since the Drunken Monkey has an over dimensional implanted new heart. A so-called V8 heart with all kind of special valves and tubes making some 440 beats per minute, Capito? So I will take his advise and not be a monkey tamer showing him my way. No, I will take it easy, there is still a long way to get to San Francisco. However needless to say that in between should the streets and weather conditions allow, I will let our Drunken Monkey the leash. Am already curious to see what will be the result. Hope I will not shit into my pants from the sheer brutality of Drunken Monkey. Never mind, all monkeys have shitty asses, whatever their species may be. Ups, that was just a joke. But if you do not like my straight forward writing, words, jokes etc. then maybe you should considering reading instead the Bible. “I am, how I am – straight forward”
Let’s go back to our travel plans. After we have spent the night in Amherst we will drive to Portland where we are joining Janet and Ed in their Volkswagen Beetle. Two dear friends from the previous Trans America and the Safari Rally. We look very much forward to hug them again. The two hour journey will allow Marco and me to become “friend” with our two cars, which both had not been driven before. I hope by the time I get to Portland Drunken Monkey and I will be real buddies. Later in the evening sail by ferry to Yarmouth where we arrive early Thursday morning hopefully in good health condition, at least for me. Just seeing a boat, a ship gets me seasick, and it usually doesn’t take up much time I am lying over the railing instead of standing at the bar holding a glass of Whiskey. So let's hope that Neptune has mercy on me and spared me from his wrath. From Yarmouth on, there are still almost 300 km along the coast to Halifax, where the start of the 2. Trans America Rally will take place
Thanks a lot for all your good wishes and your guest comments on our website! We promise, we will be carfully.
The Drunken Monkey Team
Start preparations 5 & 6 June
Meanwhile, we have arrived in Halifax without major problems, except that Claudia after the sea crossing with the ferry had some minor balancing problems, called the marine sickness. That happens when the ground on which you normally walk starts to move up and down. Fortunately in the evening she was getting her “inner balance” back. As for me, Neptune had mercy with “the old man”, in other words, I didn’t had to get out to railing to say Hello to the fishes…
Well, let’s start from the very beginning. Last Wednesday Marco M. and I picked up our two cars in a warehouse from a friend of Marco. Both cars had been perfectly guarded and taken care of in Lothar’s big warehouse. Thank you very much Lothar, Marco and I really appreciate your generosity! We managed without any problems to wake up Ferdy and Drunken Monkey from their long sleep since they arrived in Amherst. Drunken Monkey was initially coughing a little bit, but soon he was roaring away like a big gorilla who wants to impress his females. This Drunken Monkey beast is so loud that I have to warn everybody standing close, otherwise they may risk a heart attack or loose theirs shoes... Regarding shoes, we watch Carol and Marco stowing around 20 pairs of shoes into their Ferdy, luckily this car has a secret compartment. We both loaded our entire luggage and drove off to Lothar and Sarah’s beautiful house. A George Clooney Nespresso Machine was waiting for us and more important a beautiful collection of very exclusive cars. There they stood, the beauties, well treasured in two luxury barns, Ferrari, Mercedes, and of course Porsches. Lothar is also a Ferdy friend, like us. All great cars, which I rather don’t tell you exactly the types since one has to stay cool and discreet. Only one thing I would like to mentioned, Lothar has also gotten to the point that he has enough from the IRS and will soon go back to Europe. It has become a nightmare in the States with all the tax demands. Who needs that, if you can change it. “YES WE CAN” and goodbye Barak Obama.
Before leaving to Portland we went for a small bite and soon we were off for our two hours’ drive to Portland. There we happily embraced our friends Janet and Ed who had arrived a few days before. Luckily for them they got in sooner because on their way to Portland the heavy rain had damaged the motor of the wipers. Of course it was not the rain, but Ed and Janet had to drive for hours through some heavy rain, using constantly the windshield wipers. To find a wiper motor is not so easy, especially a 1967 Volkswagen Beetle. They spend nearly a day on the phone and on the internet to finally find one in Virginia. When we got there, everything was fixed, everybody was happy again and soon it was time to load the cars on the ferry. The Americans seem still trying to forget 9-11, because when we wanted to take some pictures of the ferry and our cars, we were politely reminded that this place belongs to the "restricted area" and we were not allowed to take any picture. We all know how Germans can be and especially Claudia. She immediately started her charming offense and finally convinced the parking security boss to let us take a few pictures. Incredible what blond hair and blue eyes can achieve…
The loading went smoothly, the acquisition of the cabins, the allocation of the beds and the bar were found very quickly. However the nice South African white wine that we ordered was over the top. It was dark yellow and smelled like Sherry. Luckily for us, the wine list had a few other choices. The crowning glory was unfortunately not the dinner at the restaurant; it had been booked by a group so we ended up having to fill up our empty stomachs with a buffet from the canteen Chef. Our first training in eating buffet food, I am sure there will be plenty to follow during our rally!
We are since two days in Halifax. Not really a beautiful town, especially when it rains all day long. It appears as the good Lord had opened the floodgates. No problem, the start will be anyway only on Sunday. We took advantage of this two days to make our final preparations, for all us, woman, men and the Drunken Monkey. While we enjoyed one of the best Lobster we have ever eaten, poor Drunken Monkey had to undergo a complete body search. Everything had to get out, bags, tools, spare parts etc. etc. Everything was checked out and inspected. A few minor things were missing, not vital. The spinning wheel looks turned out to be nice but not at all practical, because in order to check the wheel nuts you had to undo the wheel looks every time. After consultation with my buddy Marco M. he got me convince to take them off, in other words take of all the tires in order to dismantle the wheel nuts. Easy you would think? A job you can do in half an hour may be a little bit more.
Forget it! It became for me a survival exercise, my back, my shoulder and my nerves suffered. The wheels weight more than 125 Hamburgers at 200gr a piece. Truth, my 21 inch wheels from the Infiniti are just a miserable pile of light aluminum compared to this rally wheels and especially the tires. I was done… and so happy that Marco and even Claudia helped me. My lesson: other wheels and tires will be needed, but only after this rally ends. We need anyway to improve a few things still. One thing is the nice look, the other story is however the practicability. In a rally everything needs to have is place, everything should be done easy and fast, not only the driving! Over the next days and weeks I will have enough time to get my own list of “things to do” together for Curt. Back to the wheel change, we managed together to finish it before I felt into a comma. Now I hope of course that I will never have to change a tire until we arrive in San Francisco, if not, Good lord…
Work done, time to relax and treat us for something special. So Claudia and I ended up in a Jacuzzi bath, Claudia with a glass of gin-tonic, me with my usual Campari. It was just right stuff to do for our souls and muscles. Pure relaxation! And in the evening we got treated to one of the best Lobster, we had ever eaten, as already mentioned. It was a good day, despite all the hassling. Today is briefing, scrutinizing, packing, and relaxing day. Wake up time tomorrow we will 06: 00h, followed by breakfast and the race marshal question:
Are you ready to race? Yes we are!
Marco & Claudia
Herzlichen Glückwunsch und schön, dass Ihr glücklich, zufrieden stolz und vor allem Gesund wieder zu Hause seid!
Uwe und Jutta
Herzlichen Glückwunsch an Euch beiden zu dieser beeindruckenden Leistung :)
A great achievement! Congratulations.
Ron and Melinda Carrico
Congratulations My Friends, What an incredible achievement. I bet you're already thinking of your next trip...WhoooRey!!!!!!!!!