The Trans America Challenge 2018
27 May - 17 June 2018
JUNE 7, 2018
Wichita Falls to Amarillo
It was a simple sort of day today with lots of big skies and impressive landscapes both to look at and to drive though.
We woke up in Texas but, almost as soon as we left Wichita Falls and hit the highway, we entered Oklahoma, the Sooner State, and the seventh of our journey so far. We were headed for the Wichita Mountains through an open range complete with buffalo, antelope and longhorns.
Our American Marshal, Mike Halley is now on his home patch and he proudly sported an Oklahoma State University hat whilst manning his Passage Control alongside Dave Maryon and a herd of curious bison.
The road, rolling through these low hills and over scrubby plains, eventually led us to lunch in the log cabins of the Quartz Mountain resort where the Rally enjoyed, beef, creamed potatoes and beans.
Pam King and Gaye Hill who rolled in a little later than the rest of the field explained that they’d stopped to replace some vital brake calliper bolts on there way through the mountains, with the help of Andy Inskip and Tony Jones.
After lunch, a short sharp rainstorm with thunder and lightning added a bit of drama to the drive just before we re entered Texas and set a course for the Route 66 Test which was another two lap, dirt oval blast with some strategically placed cones to give the navigators something to do other than hang on and try not to scream.
It looked simple enough on paper but with adrenalin running high there were some notable performances such as that from Alex Vassbotten and Eric Osland who spun their Alvis through 180° then quite calmly put it into a power slide to bring it back onto the right track and continued as if nothing had happened.
Stephen Hardwick is obviously still getting used to the power from his Falcon and a couple of late saves around the cones kept him pretty much on course.
For Roger Hitchins and Jeremy Clayton though it was a lack of speed which caused them to lose time here. Fuel vaporisation caused their Mustang to stall mid way through the test. Starting this old warhorse isn’t easy either as the park switch sensor on the gearbox has failed which means that they’ve got to go through a bit of a sequence to get the motor fired upon again.
Peter Weigelt and Bruno Himmelman were late into test as their Mustang has also been struggling with the heat and, once the two laps of the track were up and they’d pulled into the time control, their motor died and would only start again once it had cooled down sufficiently.
The night halt in Amarillo was only a few blocks from the circuit and in the Hoffbrau Steakhouse, the days events were relived and evaluated.
There’s no change for the top three though, Jim Gately and Tony Brooks are still leading, ahead of David and Jo Roberts, with Mike and Lorna Harrison in third. And, over a salmon steak in the self styled beef capital of the world, David admitted that he’s delighted with their performance so far but is taking nothing for granted as there’s still a long way to go to Seattle.
Tomorrow we move into New Mexico, via the Cadillac Ranch and a section of the old Route 66.