As the Rush to Gold Bridge awoke for the third and final day, it was bitter sweet. We had one more day of fantastic roads to enjoy with each other, but it was the last day. Great friends would be saying goodbye before dinner. A couple of our guests, or their cars rather, decided that they should do that earlier!
The Mercedes of Barb and Edwin had developed a mysterious feeling in the steering coming into Hope the night before. A worn tie-rod end was discovered…not unsafe, but the wise move was to head home directly instead of joining the route. Paul’s Saab 96, which earlier had one valve badly out of adjustment, had now reached “horribly out of adjustment”. Paul and Tony would limp it home, discovering once they got home that the push rod decided to leave the rocker assembly entirely, and simply enjoy the ride inside the valve cover. Not one to miss a party, they bee-lined it north to meet the group at the finish.
The rest of us headed off after the driver’s meeting for a west-coast favourite. We travelled up Highway one, into Lytton for a coffee and then over to Lillooet for the traditional gas stop at Lightfoot Gas. Ten years ago, when we started running classic car events, the staff at Lightfoot were always shocked to see a group of classic cars depending upon the pumps. Now, they laugh and say hello to folks who have become regular faces throughout each motoring season.
Departing Lightfoot gas for Pemberton, one must traverse the “Duffey Lake Road”. Years ago this was a gravel gem, but paving in the 90’s has created a brilliant mountain road. We climbed from Lillooet, with gorgeous views of Seton Lake, and then over the divide between BC’s interior desert and the coastal rainforests. As you pass Duffey Lake, towering peaks fill your windshield ahead, and after passing alpine meadow after meadow, it’s into the descent. Harrowing for anyone driving an RV or loaded vehicle, the descent into Mount Currie is a driving enthusiasts dream. The speed limit is 60km, and if you like both your brakes and staying on the pavement, you’d be wise to heed the signs!
As we rolled into the finish at the Black Squirrel Restaurant, it was nothing but smiles. The Duffey, even with a light touch or rain, is far too good to not beam when you’re done. We told exaggerated stories of our tarmac and gravel adventures to one and other, discussed the ideal car we should purchase for next year’s event, and simply enjoyed our final meal together…but before we could depart, there must be some awards!
Taking home the Hard Luck Award was certainly Paul and Tony in the Saab 96. The cylinder head (at minimum) is coming out of the engine bay for some serious overhaul, and from experience we know that only leads to more items needing serious work.
The McGyver award, generally reserved for the best fix, was given to John Hinde for the astounding method he used to ensure his Intermeccanica could finish not only day one, but the entire event. “Astounding?”, you might ask? Well, yes. You see, when it seemed as though a fix might be hopeless, or certainly not forthcoming in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere. John knew just how to encourage the team of friends trying to solve the problem. “I bet there is cold beer at the restaurant tonight,” he’d mention, “I’m definitely going to have to buy some rounds.” Ah yes, nothing like a little encouragement to get the fix happening! Lying half under a car in a puddle of oil, sun beating down on my legs, that cold beer was sounding like very good motivation indeed!
The Spirit of the Rush award is reserved for the person or persons who best shows what it is we’re trying to do here at Classic Car Adventures. Traditionally, on the Rush to Gold Bridge, we prepare a stunning award from a 12” genuine gold-panning pan. This year’s award was carefully packed into the Mini, and made it all the way to our first road-side stop where we did a wheel bearing adjustment. A couple of days later I asked Mark “hey, have you seen the Spirit Award?” We couldn’t recall when we had last seen it, but a review of my phone’s photos told the tale. Mark, you see, had placed the award on the roof to get to the tools. That is where the award was last seen…neither of us put it back into the mini’s trunk.
For this year’s Spirit of the Rush award, we thought it appropriate to honour a gentleman who’s often working on the CCA team, and thus isn’t really eligible for an award. On the Rush to Gold Bridge, however, he takes a full vacation from his restoration shop, a full vacation from his usual role as sweep on our events, and this year invited his son to join him. His love for classics is infectious, and his knowledge across makes and models almost unbelievable. One minute his tuning weber carburetors, the next he’s fixing a Porsche headlight, and moments later identifying why a door doesn’t quite fit right. “If we just tweak it here…” and suddenly it fits better than new. And so, this year, we presented Robert Maynard with the Spirit of the Rush award…hastily remade with a roadside Pie Plate and a spare decal. Hmmm…maybe we should take that McGyver award back?
With the awards presented, there was just one final task before our departure. All weekend our guests had been trying on my Roue Watch, asking about the various styles, and imagining what one might look like on their own wrists. In Colorado, we drew a single car number and presented the two watches to driver and co-driver. For the Rush to Gold Bridge, we decided to draw individual names, and see where they might end up. Jim McLagan and Paul Westwick were both excited to head home sporting new watches on their wrist!