The Steve McQueen Inaugural Car Rally
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Malibu CA, May 14 2016 - The Steve McQueen Car & Motorcycle Show is growing in popularity every year. Great causes tend to find their own kind and make sharing and giving easy. Saturday June 4 is the 9th annual show raising funds for the young men. The Boys Republic is not so new – it’s survived 109 years on grit, determination and a worthy mission. So many young human beings have benefitted from the guidance and life skills provided by the Boys Republic over so many years – it’s a wonder we don’t hand them more money destined for juvenile rehabilitation right across the country.
Fundraising requires having to do something – providing a value proposition to attract a broad audience. Success always attracts success - Friends of Steve McQueen is fast acquiring a wider set of acquaintances willing to step up and contribute valuable time and funding. When Gareth Ashworth offered to run a Steve McQueen themed car rally in support of the upcoming car show, it was not hard to think of as a good idea.
Significant Porsche fan and Boys Republic contributor Ron Harris invited us to follow the leaders. Meeting Saturday morning on a foggy morning in Malibu, more than nearly two dozen paying participants learned how to roll #48 rally stickers on doors given a slight breeze. Significant preparation went into documenting a turn by turn handbook for two days of navigation. This was very handy as it was a challenge to ride close to the fast pack along the twisty coastal mountain roads. The organizers warned about parts without GPS or gas – gave reminders of where to check things out and make sure you had a buddy system going if you needed help.
To try to fit it better, we thought we’d bring our old rally car – 1970 Oldsmobile 88 Royale (yep, 25 twitter characters worth of name). By rally in this case we mean it has originalish two pinstripe bias ply tires to roll with. The fan belt’s been squealing awhile from that cloth I got stuck in the pulley, and the water pump leaks and chatters but the old in this Olds never fails. It didn’t look so bad together in the parking lot but it didn’t take too long to fall behind the Porsches, Cudas, Mustangs etc. and more Porsches. The rally followed highway 33 up to Ojai – a fantastic twist through the coastal mountains. The route planner clearly knew the best way for driver’s to go – ultimately on the way to Fess Parker’s Hotel in Santa Barbara.
We caught up with the pack only when the group stopped to help one of their kind. A vintage Porsche oilpan met the off-camber peak in the road on the corner rise. After that, we abandoned the notion of keeping up to the little cars and anything else with radial tires. The twists became a lot more twisted. Having never been on this particular mission before, some of the curves were deemed afterwards to be just a little over the Cooper tires’ ability to support 4535 lbs of lurching metal 60/40 to the front.
There is nothing like hearing the sound of all four wheels groaning around a sharp corner – so much worse if you are not in a Porsche. Though the front disc brakes are big and new, they were fading before reaching the flat valley. As scary as piloting a barge up and down the hillsides roads with no shoulders is, we wonder what kind of mystical internal fortitude the countless bicyclers have that allows them to ride with any regard to longevity.
Steve McQueen themed events were organized along the route. At Camarillo, the first planned pitstop was at the Commemorative Airforce Museum, where participants could park amongst vintage aircraft. Chad McQueen dropped in to say hi and show his appreciation for the participants contributing to the Boys Republic cause.
Just past Ojai, we dropped GPS as promised. As if on cue, the progressively noisier fan belt decided to end it all and jump into the fan clutch for safety. The sound was an obvious companion to the sudden appearance red amp idiot light; I knew the drill. We could get so far before the battery would drain from lack of alternator - if we didn't overheat first. Luckily, there’s only such much drama one can think of and Ventura was soon in coasting distance.
As soon as we picked an exit, there just happened to be a repair at first sight - Ventura MBC & Auto Repair. Only one mechanic was keeping the place open – I asked if they would carry fan belts by any strange coincidence. He said no but they do, pointing to O’Reilly’s Auto Parts somewhat coincidentally across the street. By the time I got back with new rubber he’d unstrangled the old remnants in my fan; helped me tighten the new one, filled a bucket of water and walked back inside without expecting a reward. That’s the perks of running with the old car crowd – camaraderie that pays forward.
Given the leak and squeak, we had to fall out of formation to ensure safe return to LA in safe time for a late night flight. We could only capture the start of something great, but will be there with a different set of tires (or new set of wheels) next time if we can. The Steve McQueen rally number one will be remembered as the start of something great.
Next Car Rally May 20-21 2017 - Details.
1935 Duesenberg SSJ Replica at Steve McQueen Car Show 2016
Next Car Show June 3 2017 - Details.
Related: Making Friends: Steve McQueen Car Show 2015 (Video); Steve McQueen Car & Motorcycle Show 2014: Still Lovely (Video); and Steve McQueen Car and Motorcycle Show 2013 - On the Right Road (Video)
Pictured below: 1970 Plymouth Cuda; 1970 Plymouth Cuda convertible; 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback; 1936 Ford Convertible Sedan at Steve McQueen Car Show 2015 (Video); and 1925 Ford Model T - Depot Hack at Steve McQueen Car & Motorcycle Show 2014: Workin' Progress (Video)
by Randy Berg