Motherlode 400 event report

The Motherlode 400, organized by expert and enthusiastic haver of good-times Josh Prentis ran on June 20 – 21st, but began for me on Friday the 19th when I spent an hour rigging up an air cleaner for the Sprint from some borrowed components from shop mate Duff.  Sprint’s oil and water levels were fine so I chucked one of my better looking spares in the trunk, filled a pillow case with tools I might need, stowing it under the back parcel shelf panel and declared myself prepared for the worst.  Having commuted 70 miles a day in the Sprint for two weeks solid, I was confident my tools would stay stowed unless needed by a fellow motorist.

Joined by first timers Hoon and Coutney in their charming Datsun Fairlady 1600, we rolled off from Peet’s coffee in Oakland at 7am on Saturday.  Meet up was at the Jackson Lodge in Jackson. 

motherlode thumb stephPedal Pusher Citation bait getting used to the new and potentially improved Sprint that she is half owner of.  The tach cable started squeeling like crazy soon after this and I had to cut it at the firewall.

h and cHoon and Courtney in their Datsun.  Best color ever?  This car stopped charging the battery at some point on day one so the Sprint did all the charging for both of us and we swapped batteries a few times. 

rally meets sandrailsOn a one-and-a-half lane fire trail with a name like N2 W23 or some such we ran across a group of sand rails (or what ever you call them) filled with smiling ‘I’m about to go off-road and have fun’ faces.  That’s one of those zip-out rear window late 60’s Porsche 911’s they made like 10 of. 

nick sonoraNick Pon ran a solo event in his 1976 2002.  He and I met on our first rally, the 1999 California Melee, he in this car and me in an exceedingly crappy yet great Austin Healey Bug-eye Sprite.

sonora pass sprintSprint is catching its breath after about 30 minutes of first and second gear steep climbing, hindered by an Acadia minivan that seemed to plot against any momentum we built up.  It kind of looks like I must weigh 500 pounds the way the corner is pushed down.

massive roadThis is what it is all about.  Wide open epic roads.  This is the view looking down towards 395 from Monitor pass.

shaun of the weirdLess than an hour from home and Hoon’s Datsun required another battery change, the third that day.  You can go about an hour and a half running with lights at night without charging the battery.

All told the tour probably covered 500 miles with about 250 miles of gettin’ there and gettin’ home thrown in.  On day two we climbed the Sonora Pass, Monitor Pass and Ebbitt’s Pass, with a combined elevation approaching 30,000 feet.  The Sprint’s newly rebuilt 1300 buzzed happily along on 20 minute sustained 5000 rpm climbs in second gear, only registering a slight warm-up of the oil. 

The only problem encountered by me was an over-estimation of my fuel economy on day two resulting in a short head scratching session on the finish line after wheezing and burbling into town and stalling as I parallel parked.  Shaun Pond (crazy man appearing to pull puppet strings in picture above) found a loose spade connector to my coil which he put the squeeze on and Windsor Owens donated a gallon of gas and one or the other saw the Sprint fire up and idle in the usual way.  

 If you’ve never been on one of these events I highly recommend it.  You get to make new friends, re-establish contact with old friends, give your classic sports car a good workout while enjoying magnificent scenery and best of all your cell phone doesn’t even work most of the time so there is no point in even worrying about your work-a-day life until Monday morning, allowing you to be here now, in the moment for a full two days, rare in our so-called improved modern life.

There is a link to a bunch of photos on my event photo’s page, and a write up of last years event can be found here.


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