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Chicagoland MG Club: Driveline
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  Chicagoland MG Club:Driveline
Missouri Endurance Rally
March 23, 2002 - by David Lieb

David Lieb We had a record turnout this year for the 7th Annual Missouri Endurance Rally, otherwise known as the Big Misery. A total of twenty-four teams registered. One team did not show up and another team ran into clutch difficulties which led them to bail after the odometer check, but that still left twenty-two teams competing.

This year’s event started with a driver’s meeting at 5:30 on March 22nd. Fortunately this year it was indoors as it was almost as cool outside as last year. Our odometer check was a 15 mile run in groups of four cars out to St Charles where we were given our lists of the 16 checkpoints and sent on our way. The rallymasters blandly assured us that time would not be a factor, so Michaela and I spent some quality time in the parking lot trying to find a logical sequence. Having given up on that, we headed out to a likely suspect on a brisk but beautiful day.

Augusta Bottom Road looked like it would cut off a good amount from our route, so we turned off of MO94 to look for Augusta. While we were hesitating at an intersection wondering if we were going the right way, a pickup truck coming towards us rolled down his window to yell “They went that-a-way!” Took care of that question. Of course it turned out that the last mile or so of Augusta Bottom Road was a very nasty washboard, but it did seem to be shorter.

Shortly after clearing the checkpoint at the old depot in Washington, I found that my car was getting louder and louder. I pulled over in the tiny town of Richwoods to see if their hardware store might have a 5/16 bolt long enough to replace the one that had fallen out of my exhaust flange. The hardware store was closed and the general store did not have any bolts, but they did have a very interesting display case at the back of the store housing the owner’s collection of old firearms, swords and knives. Among other things, he had a Sharps .58 caliber buffalo rifle, flint-bladed squaw knives, a ghost-dance buffalo shield from Wounded Knee, and WWI Mauser pistols. But not a single bolt. Ten miles further down the road I thundered into Walmart’s parking lot and uneventfully got a bolt.

We proceeded to take our pictures at other checkpoints; the Jesse James Wax Museum, the Stonehenge replica at the University of Missouri campus in Rolla (yes, that would be MO Rolla), Sandy Creek Covered Bridge, and the town sign for Competition, Missouri, among others. By the time we got to Competition it was dark. Somehow those Missouri Ozark highways that are so much fun in the daylight aren’t quite the same after the sun goes down and there is something about the sensation of having the silhouette of your car displayed on the road in front of you where your headlights are shining courtesy of a polite yet impatient semi behind you...

Shortly after that, history repeated itself and my alternator light came on. I swore a mighty oath that I would perform the alternator reversal conversion (put a GM alternator on my MG) before I ran another endurance rally, and the light went off again. A couple miles down the road it repeated its performance. And again. And again. At this point we crossed over Interstate 44 in Lebanon and decided that discretion was the better part of valor. Regretfully we turned East and drove the 170 miles back to a good night’s sleep in St Louis.

It turned out that there were quite a few DNFs this year. A lovely 1962 Sprite bailed when his speedometer quit, as it is a little hard to compete in an endurance rally without a mileage reading. The rallymasters who always try to complete the course themselves fell into a pothole deep enough to take out their radiator. They were able to patch it up enough to limp home, but just barely. Someone broke an axle. A rubber-bumpered B showed us how effective those bumpers can be at scooping deer off their feet and over the car without damaging the B. We also had a lot of people who did not make it back in time this year. One team made it back with only three minutes to spare! For a while the rallymasters were questioning whether there would be enough finishers for the trophies or if they should waive the time limit. In the end, only six teams managed to complete all sixteen checkpoints and return in time.

The winning team of William Fox and Gary Hayes completed the rally in their 1972 MGB with a corrected mileage of 761.74 while the team of Rob and Ann James and their 1980 MGB got the Most Miles Award with 885.64.

I think that the formula this year worked well. It allowed for a decent amount of sleep between the time limit and the awards, and it emphasized the daylight driving. Maybe next year...

(See photo on cover)

©2002 Chicagoland MG Club, All rights reserved.