I drove a lot of things down on the ice. I drove Deltas at McMurdo, I drove bulldozers, skidsteers, and loaders at Pole. I became a reasonably competent operator, and a surgeon with a forklift. But as much fun as 18 tons of american steel can be, they were all, well... slow. Racing is what I do. And you can really only open up the snowmobiles in the short window between station close and when it gets too cold to run them. So what to do? Go home and buy a race car, of course! And so I find myself crammed into a full 737 at 34,000 feet somewhere over the midwest, back on an airplane after 35 hours of planes last week and wondering just what the hell I've gotten myself into.
This all kicked off just after mid-winter's day. I was planning how to properly get rid of the rallybimmer (since I know it would have killed its next owner) and trying to come up with what I wanted to replace it with. And browsing the classifieds back home, I came upon an ad that just seemed too good to be true. 1992 Mitsubishi Mighty Max pickup, race-prepped and logbooked, won the SCCA Rallytruck championship before I was born. Hadn't run in a while, but started. Ran a bit rough off idle. It's small. It's square. It's a truck. It ticks all the boxes. And so I sent the seller an email, one I'd sent to others before.
Hey, I like the thing you're selling, but I'm in Antarctica and won't be able to come buy it until we get planes again in November. Will you hold onto it for me? Something something deposit?
And for the first time, I got a response that wasn't assuming I was a prankster. I put down a deposit on the spot, and a long email chain of engine debugging from the end of the earth began. Long-distance car repair is one thing, but let me tell you that trying to diagnose an engine issue via email at a rate of one message per day (stupid satellite) is something else entirely. But we did well. I thought I had it cracked, and I would show up in Portland to fix it and drive it home. But it was not meant to be. The seller went out to have another look at it, and it didn't run well at all. It wouldn't go above idle. I was heartbroken. I've done many stupid things with cars, but I know my limits and flying cross-country to try to fix a car in a driveway so I can drive home is not something I'm willing to mess with. Commence desparate last-minute email debugging. And then, just as I was coming to terms with not getting the truck, an email:
There were actually that many exclamation points. A wire on the throttle position sensor had corroded and snapped, and once it was fixed it ran. A new TPS and ECU, and it ran better. I bought a plane ticket.
And now here I am, flying to the west coast to buy a car I've never seen and never driven so I can roadtrip it back to the midwest for the 2016 rally season. It may go well, it may not, but it will definitely be an adventure. I encourage you to follow along, experience the ups and downs, and yell at me when I do stupid things over on the social media thing with #OperationRallyTruck. It'll be fun, I promise.
Adventure time, let's go!