PastaFazoom 26-27 Sep 09

This was the ninth and final running of the PastaFazoom rally, organized by Cal Crouch to begin in Cortland, NY (about 33 mi south of Syracuse). Next year we will probably organize our own version (tentatively named “The Calzoom”) in the same area. This is the eastern edge of the Finger Lakes region, within the Adirondack Mountains and the roads are in very good shape for the most part, but very twisty and hilly (of course).

The Ottawa contingent consisted of Jeff and Donna (’82 Spider), Marc and Julie (’80 Spider) and Chuck and Marsha (Lancia Delta Integrale AWD Turbo). We drove down Saturday morning and arrived in Cortland at the Ramada Inn around 3:30. We had been tops-down all the way, but it got pretty cool during the last hour and the sprinkles started at the same time we arrived. Beer and wine were broken out and our American friends began to arrive after 4 o’clock. There was Dave Church, who lives nearby, plus Bart Woodbridge from Pittsburgh (a 6-hr drive) and Dave Nene and Barb Halmi, from Erie, PA. These are all FLU folks whom we know from FreakOuts past. Another couple joined us for dinner, but not the rally – Ed and Carolyn from PA, whose home we visited on the way to FFO (Alfa Duetto Spider).

After a few drinks and lots of laughs we went to dinner at a very busy, large restaurant called Hollywood. The service was a little slow and our waitress looked really stressed out. I commented to Julie that I could see her chest heaving as she attempted to use deep breathing to get her nerves under control. But there was a funny incident halfway through the meal when she asked if everything was OK with our meals. Ed said his little steak was OK but was he ever going to get the soup that was supposed to come with it? We all laughed gustily and so did the waitress, when we pointed out to Ed that he’d already eaten the soup!! It was raining steadily when we went back to the hotel, but we had a few more drinks, hoped for better weather in the morning and called it a night shortly after 9 o’clock.

Sunday dawned with wet roads but no rain, so we started to be a little optimistic about our scheduled drive. We all had breakfast at Friendly’s, then Ed and Carolyn headed home. At 9 we gathered in a shopping centre parking lot, where the organizer was waiting for us. I believe his name is Cal Crouch and he’s quite a character. But an enthusiastic owner of an Alfa and a Ferrari 308. We chatted for a while as everyone straggled in, then received our route books and took off. I should have had a co-driver, since it was laid out like a normal navigational rally, with distance to turns, but without specified speeds. And it was laid out in miles, while my odometer is in kilometres.  So I had to try to follow the other guys, read the instructions in case I fell back, annotate them to mark each completed instruction and convert them mentally to kilometres. I was pretty busy – especially keeping up to the others.

These guys are nuts! The roads were wet, with occasional showers for the morning portion. The posted speed limit was 55 mph (90 km/h), with numerous warning signs for 25-40 mph curves, and lots of steep downhill sections. These guys were routinely doing 120-140 km/h, with bursts up past 150! There were lots of farms with who knows how many trucks, dogs, children, horses, etc. that might appear in the road over the next crest. But Cal was confident that on a Sunday morning it just wouldn’t happen. I’m not comfortable with those kinds of risk, especially when I can satisfy my need for speed at the track. So I fell back a few times, as much as a kilometre or so, but would catch them at the next stop sign or village. At one point I missed a turn because they had gotten especially far ahead, but they sent out a scout and I realized my mistake, so it was all good. The odd thing was that Bart and Dave were behind me in Bart’s ’72 Spider (original owner – nice burgundy car), but they weren’t reading the route book and didn’t know we’d missed a turn. We stopped for lunch at a place called The Boathouse, on a medium sized lake (don’t know the name). The owner (named “Dad”) had opened it up especially for us, so we had a mixed lunch of burgers, dogs, salad and speedies. What are speedies, you may ask? Think of shish kebab-sized chunks of chicken, grilled without the skewers.

After lunch it was raining steadily, so the speeds had to come down and we all stayed pretty closely grouped. It was still pretty spirited driving, but at more reasonable – if still illegal – speeds. The total distance was about 180 miles. We finished up at a gas station near Dave Church’s house, where we all filled up. Marc and Julie left for Ottawa since she had to work Monday, while the rest of us went to Dave’s. We killed about 3 hours drinking, snacking and chatting before having a nice barbecued chicken dinner. He has an unusual house he built on the edge of a conservation area, surrounded by bush, fields and a pond. The house is perched on top of a two-car garage, so it is very compact and really only suitable for a single guy, which he is. So it was cozy and fun, but we’d all had lots of fresh air and excitement, so we tired early and left for the hotel before 9 PM.

Monday morning we left Cortland in overcast skies to meet Dave for breakfast in Tully. Bart and the other Dave and Barb had been his house guests, but they left at 5:30 AM for PA. So we had a good brekkie at a nice family restaurant and left there a little after 9. Everyone else was going to the big shopping mall in Syracuse, so I just headed home on my own, getting here in 3-1/2 hours. It was a lot of fun and adventure, and a bit hairy at times. If I do it again, I will take a co-driver! I now have more respect for the handling capabilities of the Spider, even on 15 year old tires. It ran flawlessly and used virtually no oil. Maybe it’s been waiting for a work-out like that all along.

Pictures are available here – but there are no action shots!

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