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Around the Lake '98
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  Chicagoland MG Club:Club Info

Around the Lake '98

by Curt Bork

This was my first occasion to make John Twist's Summer Party. The TD had been performing real well and I had decided a few weeks earlier to give the rally a try. An acquaintance from the Boots and Bonnets Club in Rockford was to be my co-driver / navigator, however two days before leaving for Grand Rapids he had to cancel due to family illness. After checking out a few possibilities in our Club and coming up empty handed, I decided to go to Grand Rapids and find someone in the crowd.

Just after pulling into the Hilton parking lot (even before checking in), I was introduced to Waylon Hunsucker, a fine young lad from Indianapolis, whose plans for the rally had been canceled due to car problems. Waylan and I discussed the TD, the fact he completed the rally last year, and he inquired about my maps. "Maps," I said, "I don't have any maps." A quick trip to the nearest filling station and we had State maps. Not the detailed County Atlas' or Topographical Maps that I heard some teams felt necessary, just ordinary State highway maps. I also found out the rally required a Polaroid camera, so a trip to Miejer's and we were set. (Two Polaroids at home naturally).

Thursday morning rolls around, sign up for the rally is in full swing and I haven't seen hide nor hair of my newly found rally partner. I began to worry that I'd been stood up. Just before the odometer check begins, Waylon shows up.

Don and Scott Anderson's odometer check confirmed my suspicions, the odometer / speedometer in the TD was significantly off. A correction factor of 1.1579 would be applied to my recorded mileage. (Didn't surprise me, the previous owner had converted the TD to an MGA rear end and wire wheels, and my calibration of the gauges was preempted by getting the car on the road this past spring).

A quick review of the rally directions which gave us 14 checkpoints, of which we had to hit 10. At each checkpoint a member of the crew and the car had to be photographed, as evidence of being there. Each checkpoint also had a trivia question within 50 feet that needed to be answered. The objective was to circumnavigate the lake, hit 10 checkpoints and do it in with the lowest mileage.

We headed straight north from the hotel on County roads, towards the town of Gaylord Michigan, our first checkpoint. A very nice afternoon drive for the beginning leg. Reached Gaylord in a few hours located our checkpoint, low and behold, another MG taking their Polaroid picture. Must be in the right place. This checkpoint was a Big Buck Micro Brewery. On the road and up and over Mackinac Bridge to the U.P. This was my first crossing in my adult life and it was pretty impressive. On the U.P. side we gassed up, checked the oil, a quick Whopper and headed down the one and only road towards Escanaba, our next checkpoint. It was early evening at this point and the TD was performing well. Had heard nasty rumors about the vast quantities of deer on this stretch, and on the previous evening had installed a set of the deer deterring whistles to the front bumper overriders, compliments of Bill Hedrick, who had a spare pair in his glovebox. They must have worked, we didn't see a deer on the whole rally.

What a coincidence, the Escanaba checkpoint was a Micro Brewery also. And common sense precluded sampling the wares. Gassing at Escanaba we were informed of another cute little car 10 to 15 minutes ahead of us. The attendant at the gas station offered to trade her beater for the TD, but I declined.

The run to Marinette Wisconsin was again very limited in road choices, but after crossing the Wisconsin line, my navigator chose some County roads and we shaved a few miles over the main highways. On to Green Bay and another Micro Brewery, this is becoming a habit. This checkpoint was our second occasion to meet another rally team, a black C, I believe.

Shortest route was again County roads to the fourth checkpoint outside of Denmark WI. Again met up with the Black MG at a Micro Brewery, what else. Told them we were going to the Chilton WI checkpoint, but headed directly to the Port Washington, Micro Brewery checkpoint. Heard the next day that they had minor car trouble and thought we would be along shortly. Sorry guy's, I lied.

By this time it was the wee hours of the morning, top was still down on the TD, and hot black coffee was becoming a regular necessity. I'm sure that I did my 17 year old navigator an injustice, but I couldn't bring myself to allow him to drive the TD. I was certain, sleeping with him driving was out of the question, so I continued to drive.

Surface streets from Port Washington to the Milwaukee checkpoint (again a Micro Brewery, and this time in a very bad part of town in the middle of the night). We didn't waste much time heading for Kenosha, and our Seventh checkpoint. Leaving Kenosha we decided on Sheridan Road along the lakeshore was our shortest route. We skipped The Chicago, Clybourn Street brewery and proceeded downtown via Lake Shore Drive, then South Shore Drive towards Hammond IN.

Just after making the transition from Lake Shore Drive to South Shore Drive (at dawn Friday morning) a black man in a new Lincoln Town Car rolled down his window, complimented the TD and said very firmly "You boys don't want to get lost in this part of town". I replied "We were just passing through". At the next light he again rolled down his window and inquired where we were heading. "Calumet Ave, Hammond" was my reply. He again stated "You boys DO NOT want to get LOST in this part of town". The man then showed us a badge and suggested we follow him to where we wanted to go. This gentleman escorted us for about 6 to 8 miles, until we were in Hammond, IN. at the intersection of highway 41 and Calumet Ave. He then waived and pointed at Calumet Ave, turned his car around and left. I don't know whether he was on duty or on his own time, but certainly appreciate his efforts.

The Hammond Micro Brewery proved to be way on the south side of town, and probably added twenty or so miles to our total. Another MG was leaving as we pulled up. We concluded we should have made the Chicago checkpoint and skipped Hammond. Though, the Hammond brewery operator did let us use the washroom facility and gave us a six pack of their brew. (Which we saved for later). On to Holland MI, utilizing US Route 12/20, again hugging the lake. Again a brewery and no less than 3 MG's pulling out as we approached.

Our final checkpoint was back in Grand Rapids, and we took the interstate from Holland as the choice route. The checkpoint was once again a Big Buck Brewery, as the first one was. The midday, through town, stop and go traffic seemed not to agree with the TD, she started running hot and missing. (Next morning a slight advancement to the timing set things right) Back at the Hilton, we logged in at 899.6 (adjusted miles) and 22.5 hours on the road. Waylon and I had a wonderful time, top down all the way, no mechanical problems and finished with a second place. (The choice finish, the winner has to plan and organize the event the following year).

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