Welcome to the Monty Wolf Blog!
Here you will find random bits of me

Saturday, November 22, 2008

tales to tell: ugo fadini – the master modeler

10-years ago, in 1998, while i was at the bonnevile salt flats with darryl (aka: willy of “the adventures of monty & willy”) for just a few hours of land speed racing spectating at the bonneville nationals, i noticed a man erecting a display of 1:43 scale models of lsr cars.

willy and i watched as he carefully placed the models into his display.

some of the miniatures, all of which looked like the real cars after being placed in a shrink-machine, included mickey thompson’s “challenger I” (as it appeared in 1959 and when it had been modified for the 1960 runs), craig breadlove’s “spirit of america” (the original “soa” that resembled a military fighter jet, sans wings and horizontal stabilizers; the vertical “stab” was added after the first runs on the car proved a lack of stability at speed. this is the car that nosed into an evaporation pond after crashing over one of the many dikes that crisscross the salt flats.) and my friend, al teague’s, striking “speed-o-motive” streamliner among several other lsr cars of the past; all beautiful!

“you do great work!”, i said to the man.

“thank you.”, he said with an italian accent.

half jesting, half seriously i said, “you need to make one of ‘the redhead!’”

“that’s my next model!”, the man said with a broad, beaming smile.

it was ugo fadini.

a woman, whom i was soon to learn was his wife, said, “that is my favorite car!” fluffing her hair she continued in her italian accent, “but, i am a redhead, too.”

ugo explained that he was currently finishing the hoffman-markley streamliner “master” and had begun the initial stages of the redhead model.

ugo and i exchanged contact information and willy and i made our way out to the 5-mile to watch a few passes before we had to begin our trek across northern nevada to the opposite side of the silver state.

all the way back to fallon i fantasized about ugo’s model of the redhead: imagining just how cool it would be to actually own a model of a car that i had driven.

ugo and i soon began an email relationship.

it was not long before we discovered that besides having a great interest in land speed racing, we also share an affection and respect for the band king crimson.

the world is not so large after all!

i don’t know how much time had actually elapsed between meeting ugo and when i received my model of the redhead, but it seemed like years.

i was, however, not disappointed in the wait and the outcome; ugo’s model of the redhead is impeccably accurate to the actual car!

it is with great pride that i displayed my model.

until, however, i returned from myrtle beach, south carolina – where i was emcee for harley-davidson (if you know me you will surely know what a great acting job that week was!) during “bike week” – to find that my model had, along with joann’s bronco 2 and mobile home, suffered damage at the hands of her niece – or, perhaps, her niece's friends' – who was supposed to be taking care of joann’s cat.

joann may have been able to excuse her niece’s indiscretion of trashing the suv, kicking in the bedroom door and the used condoms left on the floor, but i did not excuse any of her, or her friends' actions! i envisioned somebody shoving the little model across the carpeting like it was a $1.00 hot wheels toy.

i demanded a replacement!

within a month of returning from bike week, payment was sent to pedova, italy and ugo sent me a new model.

# # # # #

a couple of weeks ago, while looking for pictures of the redhead for my “world’s fastest indian” blog, i found a website for a collector, jonathan wilson, in new zealand who said he had ugo’s model of the redhead on his wish list. i sent him an email complimenting him on his collection and confirmed that he did, indeed, need a copy of ugo’s model.

within a few day jono sent me an email asking if i would mind him having ugo send the model to me so i could sign the base and then send it along to him in new zealand.

i told him that i could do better than that by sending it to my dad, who built all of the engines for "lattin & gillette racing team" and my brother, mark, who also drove the redhead to a land speed record (which still stands to this day almost 20-years later), to have them sign it before they send it down to socal to have jim and bill sign it and then send the model down to the bottom of the world.

as i write, a redhead model is making its way from northern italy to the central california coast.

sadly, i have learned in the past week through emails with ugo that the economy and many mass-producers of cheaply-made and poorly-reproduced models has taken a toll on his business; at over $200 for a model, it is a special person who buys one of ugo’s pieces of art.

and art is certainly what ugo’s models are; they may be of similar size to hot wheels. but a paint-by-the-numbers rendition of any great work of art may be of similar size to the actual painting but is surely not of the same quality or craftsmanship.

ugo’s work is that of a true artisan!

it is my hope that he, along with the rest of us, weathers this economical climate and sees the demand grow for his works of art.

Monday, November 17, 2008

phil hill’s last laps

phil hill sits in the passenger seat of a maserati mc12 stradle

throughout last winter and spring, i was instrumental in the organization of an event for the western automotive journalists, the organization of which ron is president, called: waj media days.

it’s a conclave where waj members have the opportunity to drive the newest and best the world’s auto manufacturers have to offer.

for the last few years those events have been taking place here on the monterey peninsula.

not only do the members get to drive the vehicles – this year ranging from fords to chevys and kias to a bentley continental gt speed (only $220,000+) – on a designated route on public roadways, they also get to drive many of them (not the bentley) on mazda raceway laguna seca.

in addition to securing many of the vehicles the various manufacturers made available for the event, i was also instrumental in bringing several aftermarket companies so they can show off what they have to present.

besides pitching manufacturers to bring their products we were also working with many of them to sponsor lunches, dinners and cocktail parties.

one of the companies that we pitched to sponsor one of the cocktail parties was maserati, which was very eager to be a sponsor of the wednesday night cocktail party.

our contact with maserati, deb pollack, became very involved in organizing their party.

within a few days of all-but-inking the deal, deb asked if it would be ok if they could bring with them america’s only formula one champion: phil hill (yes. you’re right: mario andretti was a f-1 champion. but, mario was born in montona d'istria, italy! phil was born in miami, florida.).

phil’s first grand prix season was in 1958 and in that year he was driving for, you guessed it: maserati.

how could we refuse?

but, who in their right mind would want to refuse the opportunity to have a legend the likes of phil hill attend their soiree?

while researching phil for the party and trying to help deb and jeff ehoodin, also of maserati, find pictures of the great legend, i discovered that phil’s 81st birthday was going to be on the sunday, (april 20, 1927) before the wednesday (april 23, 2008) maserati cocktail party.

what could be better?

how about maserati convincing doug magnon, the head of the california chapter of “the maserati club” and owner of the riverside international automotive museum, to bring his maserati mc12 stradale (one of only 3 ever made) and having phil’s son, derek hill (an accomplished racer in his own right) drive it with his legendary father “riding shotgun” around the track (laguna seca) he helped to make famous?

this, my first media days, was surely set to be the best media days event waj, or any other automotive journalistic organization, ever staged!

even up to a couple of days prior to the party itself, we were not sure if phil would be able to attend because he was in an advanced state of parkinson’s disease.

because of phil’s ill health we did not even announce that he would be the guest of honor for what was shaping into the most memorable media days in waj history.

certainly, phil’s health was of the utmost importance. but you can imagine how apprehensive ron and i were in the days leading up to affair.

that anxiousness was dashed, however, on tuesday afternoon when i got a call from deb asking me to find a birthday cake.

phil was going to make it!

not that the news afforded me the time to worry about whether he was coming or not: i had a luncheon to organize, including a hyundai video presentation and sound system to arrange and set up. i did, however, have the luxury of taking a couple of drives across laureles grade, a wonderfully curvy road between california scenic highway 68 and carmel valley, with my new friend, alan galbraith, in a 2009 – very fast – (don’t ask me what model) corvette and a new dodge challenger.

why, with all my driving experiences and ability, was i not behind the wheel?

despite that fact that i write everything that ron issues as president of waj and performing more work than any other person – including ron – to make media days a success, i do not qualify to be a member of waj. so, as a non-member, i am not “qualified” to drive any of the cars.

not qualified!?!?

irony can be so ironic.

after catching a few rides with alan and breaking down the a/v equipment, i headed into monterey to retrieve phil’s birthday cake and get our ballroom at the embassy suites prepped for the maserati party.

maserati reception invitation

before long our hosts, deb and jeff, and our guests began to arrive.

soon thereafter, our guest of honor joined us.

phil hill, guest of honor

i’ve been fortunate to have met many racing legends in my life. not only have i shaken the hands of every person who has set land speed records over 500 mph (no. stan barrett was not one of them since the budweiser rocket car was a stunt conducted without official sanctioning, timed with inaccurate radar guns and was “timed” at a terminal velocity instead of over a timed mile!) and have met several other racing legends including: mickey thompson, dan gurney, al unser, don garlits and befriended several others who are renowned institutions at bonneville.

but, phil hill’s accomplishments and reputation of being “the gentleman racer” felt to me like a very special occasion.

after jeff made welcoming announcement and gave a special presentation to phil on the 50th anniversary of his first formula one season, i had an opportunity to briefly speak with our guest of honor.

l-r: deb pollack and jeff ehoodin of maserati

despite his poor health phil, still the gentleman racer he was always known to be, graciously spoke with several of us in attendance. he even indulged me in signing his picture in a 2005 bonneville nationals program.

in 1959 phil drove the mg ex181 streamliner powered by a 1506cc, 300 horsepower engine fueled with 86% methanol laced with nitrobenzene, acetone and sulfuric ether to a speed of 254.91 mph, which qualified phil as a member of the bonneville 200 mph club.

l-r: mg ex181 streamliner (phil's ride into the 2-club); socal speed shop lakester; the redhead streamliner (my ride into the 2-club) at 2007 goodwood festival

phil’s picture in the 200 mph club roster appears on page 50 of the program, top row, second from the left.

2005 bonneville nationals program, page 50

conversely: my picture in the roster appears on the facing page – 51 – bottom row second from the right: directly opposite of phil’s picture.

2005 bonneville nationals program, page 51

i love symmetry!

phil’s widow, alma, said if he can sign a check he can sign an autograph.

but, since he spent 30- to 45-seconds just signing ‘phil’ i said, “mr. hill that works for me. thank you very much for this honor!”

phil hill signs my 2005 bonneville nationals program

the following morning we all convened at laguna seca for track day.

except for a few very minor duties, i was able to just enjoy the day!

i may not have qualified to drive any of the cars on the track, but stuart langager of page one automotive – the company that provided most of the vehicles for media days and many of the test vehicles that ron gets on a weekly basis – allowed me to drive one of the mini coopers on the autocross course. i have to tell you: i was very impressed with my 6 laps on the short track and would seriously consider owning a mini despite its diminutive dimensions.

the first laps i was able to take in a passenger seat (with one of the “hooked on driving” instructors behind the wheel) on the track itself was in the audi r8.


what a ride!

the first time we dropped down the world famous “corkscrew” turn was like taking a ride in a rollercoaster, while the following turn – turn 9, one of the fastest turns on the track – was flat and fast because of the all-wheel-drive and general stability of the car.

i took a few more laps in an audi s5, a bmw m class and even took a docile 3 lap stint with ron in a lexus hybrid.

before the day was over i took an exciting few laps in a griggs racing mustang and 3 really fast laps in a roush 427r trak pak mustang with the owner of “hooked on driving”, david ray. these laps would prove to be the fastest of all the laps i took on that day as david really put the mustang through its paces.

after lunch, doug magnon brought his maserati mc12 into the paddock and phil took his place in the right hand seat.

as derek took his place in the driver’s seat and warmed up the engine, i quickly walked out to the flagstand at the start/finish line to get pictures of the duo on track, which in and of itself was a thrill.

phil hill, with son, derek, behind the wheel of the maserati mc12 stradle leaving pit row at laguna seca

three short, fast laps later, according to deb pollack, phil took his last checkered flag and he and derek returned to the paddock.

little did i know at the time just how historic the moment would be.

a couple of hours later, i was lucky enough to sit in the same seat phil was in earlier while doug drove me around the track in his mc12.

a few minutes later the track was closed and waj media days came to an end.

# # # # #

for the waj party during the pebble beach concours d’elegance, ron commissioned a friend of his, academy award nominated art director (raging bull) kirk axtell, to draw a commemorative poster for media days to be used as a means to collect donations for the group’s scholarship fund.

“captain” kirk did the artwork and i added the text, including the title, all of the logos for each of the manufacturers involved in media days and an acknowledgment that we “saluted” phil hill.

waj 2008 media days commemorative poster

in just a few days following concours (august 28, 2008) phil lost his battle with parkinson’s disease in a hospital here on the monterey peninsula, adjacent to pebble beach, where he won the pebble beach road races in 1950, 1951 and 1953.

he is survived by wife his alma, son derek, daughter vanessa, stepdaughter jennifer and four grandchildren.

phil hill’s memory, however, will live on for many of us as being the gentleman racer and one of the greatest drivers in history!

phil hill's final checkered flag

Sunday, November 9, 2008

tales to tell: the world's fastest indian

in late august 2004, following the bonneville nationals, i got a call from my brother, mark, telling me that “the redhead” streamliner was going to be used in a movie about the late burt munro staring anthony hopkins called "the world's fastest indian".

through the redhead’s owner, jim lattin – the lattin part of lattin & gillette racing team – mark and my dad, elmo, where going to be race car wranglers for the production, which was going to be filmed, where else: on the bonneville salt flats.

i knew i couldn’t let this opportunity slip through my fingers and asked to have my name put into the mix, despite having just started working for a new owner of kptl and losing all the vacation time that i had earned with the previous owners, the holder hospitality group.

so, i took a leave of absence and began planning my trip to be a part of the production.

i have had several small world connections with kiwi burt munro, besides racing on the bonneville salt flats.

in the 1970s, while working for a photo company in monrovia, california i used to see burt’s bike almost every day sitting in the front of a motorcycle shop in duarte; burt used to leave the bike up here in the u.s. and just take the engine and transmission back to new zealand with him.

also in the 70s, in a quest to seek relief for the headaches from which i have suffered since 1964, i was under the care of a chiropractor in covina, who was a new zealander. one day in august (1974?) i told chris (i’ll be damned if i can remember his last name and he always insisted that i call him chris) that i would not be coming in for a couple of weeks as i was going to go to the salt flats to go racing. he said he grew up around the corner from an old motorcycle racer in the little town in which he lived in new zealand. i told him, “you must mean burn munro!” “how did you know that?”, chris asked. i told him there was only one motorcycle racer from new zealand that i was aware of, so it had to be him. chris told me he used to hang out in burt’s shed, watching him work on his bike and listening to him tell stories about racing his highly modified 1920 indian scout motorcycle. if you’ve seen the movie “the world’s fastest indian” this scenario will sound familiar to you and i still think of chris every time i watch the movie and “tom” is on-screen.

within 5 or 6 weeks of first hearing about the movie i was headed from carson city to fallon to meet up with my dad and brother to begin our trek to wendover on the utah/nevada border.

in addition to the redhead, the producers also wanted to use my dad’s deuce street roadster.

now, before i go any further i want you to know that only a 1932 ford is a “deuce”. not a chevy, not a plymouth, not anything but a ford is a “deuce”! anyone who tries to tell you different is either trying to bullshit you, is foolishly mistaken or is in complete denial.

elmo's roadster: a proper deuce and a "real" hot rod

the “little deuce coupe” that the beach boys sang about (written by brian wilson and l.a. radio “bossjock” and racing aficionado roger “hot dog rog” christian) is a 1932 ford coupe. i’m not sure, since there is no reference to it in the lyrics, if it’s a 3- or 5-window coupe. but, one thing is for certain: it’s no damn chevrolet. back in the days of real hot rods no real hot rodder would want to have anything to do with a 1932 anything but a ford. don’t get me started on what people call “hot rods” these days.

too late!

(ron pointed to an mg the other day and said “there’s a nice hot rod.” i tried to tell him it wasn’t a hot rod and he told me i didn’t know what i’m talking about. this, from a man who cannot drive a car with a manual transmission without stalling the engine, jerking and/or smoking the clutch or grinding the gears when he can find the right gear in which to shift into. typical sports car-guy: no driving ability; just ego!)

btw: the line in the song: “and she purrs like a kitten till the lake pipes roar” refers to the exhaust pipes hot rodders used to build from 1936 ford torque tubes (drive shaft housings), which fit perfectly onto the headers and, not only improved the flow of exhaust, but made for a really nice mellow sound. these torque tube exhaust pipes were commonly referred to as “lake pipes” because pioneering hot rodders raced on the dry lakes in southern california.

so, after packing up the power stroke and loading the roadster on the trailer we were off to “the salt” with a few stops on the way to hunt for the occasional geocache.

our first stop, once we hit wendover, was at the former “state line inn” - now known as “the nugget” - to check in with the producers and secure our rooms. it was there that we befriended one of the production assistants: steve schrader. mark and i would spend much or our free time on the salt during filming with steve and i am still in contact with him to this day. it was also here that we met scott chester, the bonneville production supervisor; scott was the racers’ liaison during the production.

steve schrader and mickey thompson's challenger

after checking-in at the hotel and dropping off our luggage we headed out to the world famous bonneville salt flats.

the first person we ran into was jim’s son, bill lattin, who was towing the redhead behind his ford power stroke. he had been a part of the scene when the redhead is first seen in the movie: towing the famous streamliner onto the salt behind a vintage gmc suburban.

anthony hopkins and the redhead streamliner

after a quick “hello, how ya doin’?”, we drove out to the set, which looked so much like the pits for the bonneville nationals we, out of habit, kept calling it: the pits.

except for placing the timing stand (which looked almost identical to the timing stand i remember from the 60s and 70s) at the starting line across from the pits the re-creation of the pits was impeccably accurate.

in fact: it was downright nostalgic!

everywhere you looked were s.c.t.a and bonneville nationals logos on various trailers, temporary structures and equipment. in 1962, for some strange reason, the bonneville nationals logo was red instead of the traditional blue and this did not escape the art department’s scrutiny.

registration stand

not only did the art department bring back the observation tower missing from the starting line area since the early 60s, they also set up a miniature version of the bell auto parts tent.

when i was a kid the bell auto parts tent was the place to get a really tasty cold drink of water, self-drawn, into one of those old cone-shaped envelope-style paper cups. according to bonneville legend, multy aldrich, it was just the water from the western motel in wendover, which is tasty water on its own, with a lemon sliced into the cooler. that may have been – and surely was – true, but i could never get it to taste that good.

bell auto parts tent, sans multy's water

they also faithfully recreated the porta-potties used back in those days (the real ones were hidden behind pits and other equipment made to look like they belonged there) and various other objects d'art that made – and still does make – bonneville a unique experience.

despite the faithful accuracy of the art department exhibited in the pits there were some errors that, regardless of them not being represented in the final product, were painfully way off. i assume the art guys looked at the pits as being more of a communal place than it is in reality: one pit was loaded with nothing but oil cans, while another had a bunch of thermoses. i guess they envisioned the pits as drive-thrus where you come in to get a quick lube in one pit and a cup of coffee in another pit.

it’s been 4-years since the film was shot, but i think it was the first afternoon that we had our race car wrangler meeting back at the nugget, where we learned important things like: don’t ask sir hopkins to say “good evening clarice”. btw: hannibal lecter never did say that line in the movie “silence of the lambs”. the actual line was: “hello clarice.” we also learned that, unlike most movie sets, we were encouraged to take and post on the internet as many pictures as we wanted. i assume this was to build as much excitement in the racing community over the movie as possible while filming continued in new zealand and during post production.

the next day was the latest start we got for the (almost) 2-weeks we were there. but, we still beat the sunrise. the rest of the shoot saw us on the salt every morning at 0400 hours so we could eat cold sausage patties, eggs and potatoes and be ready to wrangle cars into place; we had to stay each night until 2100 hours.

unloading the karl orr model-t track roadster
my father, elmo, in the red jacket standing next to scott chester

the first part of the day was spent unloading the cars used to represent the race cars in the movie, most of which were not real race cars or not real bonneville race cars. but, there were enough notable cars there to make this gathering an historic occasion unto itself: in addition to the redhead there were two mickey thompson streamliners (“the challenger” and “the pumpkin seed” – which is still being raced to this day) and the “flying caduceus” of dr. nathan ostich: the first land speed racing jet car, which now resides in the national automobile museum in reno. also on-hand were fred lobello’s original belly-tank lakester and the “black widow” rear-engine modified roadster. many of these car were never expected to ever return to the salt and there they were: all there at the same time!

l-r: the pumpkin seed, the redhead, the challenger and the flying caduceus

i love being a part of history!

we also were assigned to our various sections of the set (aka: pits). ours, where we kept the ’32 and hung out for most of the shoot, was in the southeast corner, right next to the art department’s department, which was disguised as another pit.

our pit
elmo in the red cap on the left and me in the pith helmet just behind him

it was also the day that many of the non-racing cars were given attention by the art department to make them look like real racers. dad’s roadster, for instance, was given some authentic-looking decals faithfully recreated by the art department and a realistic-looking roll bar made out of plastic tubing, which reminds me of a story jack lufkin once told me about hot rodding legend ak miller:

back, i think it was, in the 50s when scta first required roll bars, ak bought a long length of salami, painted it black, and affixed it, somehow, to the chassis. at the end of the week, ak hacked-off slices of the salami and offered it to everyone, including the officials.

it was a different world back then!

the rest of the time we were there was pretty much a blur as far as the days and order in which the various occasion took place; we only had one scheduled day off. but, because of a storm that marched across the salt, we ended up with a late start on one day, which the film makers used to film in town.

artist and cousin, jeff decker

one day after that day off, jeff decker, an extremely talented bronze sculptor who specializes in vintage motorcycles (one of jeff’s more recent pieces is a recreation of rollie free – played by william lucking in the movie – riding a 1948 vincent black lightning wearing only a helmet and swim trunks at over 150 mph in 1948) was talking about living his entire life in the state of utah – my favorite state in the nation – and had never visited the mormon temple grounds. mark and i told him about our experience at the temple the previous year, the day before our grandmother’s funeral in magna, utah. we told him how cool it was to learn a bit about our ancestor, henry grow, who designed the tabernacle. jeff said: “one of my ancestor’s also built the tabernacle!” the next day, jeff said he called his mother and she confirmed that the person of which he was speaking was henry grow, making jeff a distant cousin!

jeff's rendition of rollie free at speed

i think it was about the 3rd or 4th day that we had the opportunity to meet the star of the film: sir anthony hopkins, who introduced himself to us as “i’m tony and this is my wife, stella.”

he’s a regular guy and a very sweet man: as charming as dr. lecter with much more reasonable dietary habits.

when we told tony that we used to know burt munro he told us how much we were going to enjoy the movie once it did come out. he explained to us that it was very complimentary to burt and that it was not only, in his words, “a splendid script”, it was the most fun he has ever had working on a movie!

i was really happy for my father to be able to meet tony, one of his favorite actors, and tony treated “the ol’ man” like he was the star: “are they feeding you alright?” “are you getting enough water?” “are you staying out of the sun?”

it was a real treat to watch tony perform his craft and to be in a few of the scenes with him, albeit just a non-speaking background player!

i’d known for several years that tony likes to adlib. and, being an adlibber myself, i really enjoyed hearing him modify and adjust his lines from take to take. many of those adlibs (“it’s a cork – cork from a brandy bottle! what’s it look like?”) made it in the final cut.

another scene that showed tony’s formidable skill as an actor, one in which i was a background player, is where wendy (played by: jessica cauffiel) brings “burt” over to a crowd of people to give him a pouch of cash that was collected for him. the scene goes something like this: tony is perfectly playing the almost-comical and gregarious burt munro when wendy brings him over to the group and explains that they have decided to give him the “sportsmanship award” and felt he could use the money more than a trophy. so, they passed the hat around the pits and gave him the money collected. tony went from being the jovial burt to having eyes welled-up with tears and cracking-voice to have director/writer/producer and personal friend of burt munro, roger donaldson, say: “cut! back to one.” now, instead of trying to “stay in character” tony went over and began joking around with the crew, only to bring that emotion up again after “action” was, once more, called and bring that emotion back yet again. he did that, at least, a dozen times before roger called “cut!” for the last time.

now that, ladies and genitals, is acting!

btw: a brief ceremony was held following the preceding scene where burt’s son displayed the original pouch that burt was given containing the money gathered from the competitors and officials.

other standout memories while filming “the world’s fastest indian”:
  • the entire salt flats erupting into an horrendous thunderstorm, the way they usually do on the salt, in a matter of seconds, which put filming out of the question for a day or two. as it turned out, an even more violent storm destroyed the entire set on the day we left to come home.
  • climbing, for the first time in my life, “graffiti hill” on the east end of wendover to ring the bell with mark and bill lattin and watch the shoot go on below.
graffiti hill
  • watching bill drive the redhead below me, while i stood atop the observation tower, when the crew filmed the ‘chute coming out. btw: you can see me for just a nanosecond from a camera positioned in the “timing stand”, which also shows my brother, mark, as bill drives off of the starting line seconds earlier.
my brother, mark, packing the redhead's 'chute
  • being a background player in the scene where “burt’s” motorcycle is being inspected. i was “blocked” with karl orr’s beautiful model-t “track roadster”, which is now owned by jim lattin. besides “sharing the screen” with anthony hopkins, the inspector with the best lines is actor bruce greenwood, who has played united states presidents in, at least, two movies.
me in the karl orr model-t track roadster
  • standing behind the camera and watching the video split of the redhead being filmed static and making it look like it’s traveling at speed.
prepping the redhead for its final shots
elmo's deuce. note the re-creation of the 1962 inspection sticker and the various geocaching "travel bugs'
hanging from the windshield post and door hinge.

it was a very long and miserable shoot of 17-hour days, but i will always cherish that experience!

for more pics from the set of the world's fastest indian click here.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

rick comes to town

(l-r) me, unnamed mazdaspeed girl and rick
photo courtesy of mazda

my friend, rick, was here a couple of weeks ago (yeah, i know: it’s about damn time!).

how great it was to hang with him for a few days!

rick (rrinnv to you geocachers) was my primary inspiration and driving-force (or driver) in building the final two rallies that i put together in nevada. rick and i spent untold hours in the deserts and mountains of northwestern nevada plotting, designing and refining the courses that we used in 2006 and 2007; the two best rallies that i have ever put together. not that the 2004 and 2005 were not good rallies. but, by the time he and i started working on the last two rallies i had refined them to the point that the concept was just about perfect. of course, there is always room for improvement. and i now know how to make the rally even better and more effective.

if it were not for rick there, most likely, would not have been rallies in 2006 and 2007! not only did rick invests hundreds of hours in crafting the courses, he also spent well over $1000 of his own money to make those rallies realities, only to have the gbes board of directors stick their collective middle finger at him!

gbes is now just (barely) a social group and, by the look of its website, out of the rally business. i’d be out of the rally business too if i put together a rally with fewer than a dozen entries, as witnessed by last june’s disastrous attempt at feminizing and taking all the competition out of what i spent years perfecting.

you get what you deserve!

but, enough of that crap!

lmp1 audi

rick came for the american le mans series finale races at mazda raceway laguna seca and there we did, indeed, spend most of the weekend courtesy of the good folks at mazdaspeed. thanks dean!

that's me kneeling down in front of a group of playboy bunnies and
spca mascots on pit row below the mazda vip suite
photo courtesy or rick

during the races, and a few days before rick arrived during a western automotive journalists event in san francisco, i was able to conduct interviews and gather sound effects for a story for ron’s radio show: wheel talk coast to coast.

hear it here.

as per usual, the racing was exciting at “mazda raceway laguna seca” (as a responsible journalist i am supposed to tell you that it is “mazda raceway laguna seca” and not just “laguna seca”) despite all the yellow (caution) flags due to crashes. but, if you’ve ever been to laguna, as most of the racers call it, you know that it is almost always exciting racing at the famous track. as far as road courses go, it is a fairly short track at just under 2 ¼ miles in length. but, with the track’s trademark corkscrew turn and hilly-terrain, it is quite a track on which to drive and compete!

in addition to the racing we got in some obligatory sightseeing around the cypress coast’s formidable scenery, rang the bell a few times and even got in a brief exploration, albeit a paved adventure, up robinson canyon that heads south, toward big sur, out of carmel valley’s mid-valley region. what a great road this is! the first half of the road winds through dense redwoods and up into rolling hills where, i am told, one can see wild boars.

it was not as adventuresome as some or our previous journeys. but, it was fun nonetheless!

we were even able to find a quick geocache on one or our trips over “the grade” (laureles grade) between the valley and the track, which is just north of california scenic highway 68, between monterey and salinas. rick also logged my cache here at the pad: “when you’re a jet you’re a jet all the way!”

all too soon, rick headed back to his home in carson city and the wonderful state of nevada.

with “the silver state” being my second favorite state in the country, behind the beehive state (utah), you never know. i may end up back there some day and rick and i, and/or mark/ivan, and/or willy, and/or kathryn can continue our adventures.

my new, soon to be, short lived ultra-short hairstyle
photo courtesy of rick