With our final drivers meeting complete for this year, our group hit the road from Prineville to The Dalles for the end of the Hagerty Fall Classic. Despite being the final day for the event, we certainly hadn’t used up all the great roads…and by the time we got to the finish, many of us had wished a second half of the day was yet to come.
Leaving Prineville, we headed west along the Oneil Highway, a meandering journey through golden fields of cut hay. Just as you begin to think about whether the morning will be all rolling hills and fields, the road twists and the towering rocks of Smith Rock jump out into view. It’s a stark, and almost shocking, contrast to the rolling fields. Similar to driving along the plains of Nebraska, only to turn a corner and see an example of the Rock Mountains towering over a tiny town.
From there it was North to Willowdale, where we left the fields and plains for canyon carving. The road twisted relentlessly up onto a plateau where we went through Antelope, the historic towns of Shaniko and Bakeoven, and then tested the brakes all the way down into Maupin.
For the start of the twisties I was following the group of Minis and an Alfa Romeo, with one of the BMW’s and a Corvette behind me. I realized, too late, when the road started to twist and climb that there was no where for me to pull over. The ’58 Volkswagen was going to have to keep up to the Minis and not disappoint the cars behind me. With my foot firmly planted to the rubber mat, I gripped the steering wheel and dove into each corner. As the theme music to a certain childhood movie staring a white car with the number 53 on it played in my head, an old saying came to mind. “Its better to drive a slow car fast, then drive a fast car slow.” No where was this more true than the climb up onto our first plateau.
While the Minis danced their way up the corners looking like a life sized slot-car set, the BWM and corvette behind me appeared to be enjoying the drive while not riding onto my back bumper. In the ’58 beetle I was merely doing the speed limit up the hill, but I couldn’t have found an single extra mile per hour if you had closed the road and called it a race course.
Leaving Shaniko, along a road we’ve used in a previous event, I looked forward to the reverse of our canyon climb, as you drop all the way down to the Deschute River in Maupin. It’s a series of twists and switchbacks that will test the brakes on any car not driven with foresight and planning. Upon reaching the bottom, there’s a beautiful drive along the river, where the slow speed limits allow you to take in the views and watch the white water rafters next to you in the river. Soon you arrive at a stop sign, and turn left…er, right? Hmm, the route book says right…I don’t remember this road?
Moments later were climbing up a canyon twisty that would be far more at home in the Alps vs the middle of Oregon. Every 100ft there was a sign proclaiming “Abrupt Edge”, when it honestly should have read “no shoulder, that’s a cliff.” With zero guardrails, and a sudden drop for hundreds of feet, I was sure happy to be in the driver’s seat and not the co-drivers spot! We crossed the Deschutes river canyon, made our way up through the grass valley and eventually over to The Dalles, where the Columbia Gorge Discovery Centre hosted our finish lunch.
This being our final meal together, it was time for some awards, recognition, and draw prizes. The Hard Luck award will be headed to Duane and Sylvia, who had to head home early in their Jaguar XK140. A float issue was causing one cylinder to flood, and despite a couple of roadside attempts no repair could be made.
The McGyver award went to Bill and David in the BMW. Initially we thought it would be for the way they managed to repair a clutch slave cylinder with a bolt, and rebleed it on the side of the road…but they decided to add to the effect by arriving at the finish with an exhaust system held onto the car with bailing wire, rope and a whatever else they could find in the car. As it turns out, if you see the exhaust system appears a little rusty on your pre-event inspection…you should probably check to see if it’s surface rust or almost all the way through!
The Hagerty Sprit of the Classic award was (unknowingly) in stiff competition this year. Ross flew in from Colorado, to join Jacob in a car they bought together essentially sight-unseen three days before the event. The Mini crew continued to be the life of the evening party, while entertaining us all on the road with their usual parade antics. Jay and Linda arrived as new entrants, but made friends so quickly they were “regulars” before the Thursday dinner had even started. But in the end, we could only award the honour to one entrant.
They began the weekend as new entrants, but not only quickly made friends…they made it a mission to get to know as many people as possible. Each night they were seen dining with new people, finding out all about what made them join our adventure. On the road, when their center console of their Camaro became a gear-oil volcano through the shifter, they were unfazed. Together with help from other cars, they created axle stands from rocks, diagnosed where the oil fountain was coming from (a torn shift boot) and worked out a system by which the co-driver was now in charge of both directions and oil deflection. When the problem couldn’t be solved on Saturday night, rather than head home directly, they decided that an adventure such as our should be finished! Besides, the whole underside needed to be cleaned anyways…what’s another day of oil? All smiles as they shared stories of their adventure at the finish, Aaron and Zafera were the perfect choice for our Spirit of the Classic award!
RWM & Co. graciously donated two gift certificates worth over $300 each for use at their Delta BC restoration shop. Len Swanson and Aaron Aaron will be making good use of their certificates in the coming winter!
With our event almost complete, it was time to draw for the two Roue Watches which had been asked about all weekend. Bill Eastman, winner of the McGyver award, will be able to time their next repair using his new SSD model Roue watch. Helaine has found the perfect early birthday present for her husband Curt after having her name drawn for the CHR model watch. We think it will look pretty good with his Hyabusa powered Lotus Seven!
All too soon it was time to say good bye until next year. We’ll be back for next year’s Hagerty Fall Classic, and you certainly won’t want to miss out on the fun. Events, much like slow cars driven fast, are much better experienced in person vs. reading about it!
Thanks, once again, to Andrew Holliday Photography for another stunning preview of images from today’s adventure.