The Oppo Rally: Steaming Across Connecticut
We began putting some miles behind us to hit every checkpoint in the “Because Racecar” category.
Soon Stratford was behind us as we made our way north to the town of Gaylordsville, home of Hot Rod Heaven...also known as Big Al's Toy Box. Al Lombardo makes some amazing hot rods, and specializes in high powered engines for them. We took numerous back roads over to U.S. 7 north through the beautiful scenery of rural western Connecticut. My wife's Ford Flex was surprisingly fun to drive through the twisties, and its EcoBoost motor gave us plenty of power to pass the occasional Sunday driver. After Waze took us down the wrong road to get there, we backtracked on 7 and found what we were looking for.
Unfortunately we'd arrived about a half hour after closing, so we didn't get to go check out some of Al's hot rods ourselves. But we got our picture of the mascot and the sign, then set a course for our next race car destination—Lime Rock Park.
After pausing for a photo with a steam engine—not a checkpoint, but an entry for the best non-checkpoint photo (worth 50 points)—we continued up Route 7. We blew right past the beautiful Kent Falls waterfall without realizing it was worth 30 points. I'd only looked for "while we're there" checkpoints near our known destinations, not in between them, so we completely missed this opportunity. We did, however, notice signs for a covered bridge just off of Route 7. This was good for 10 bonus points, so we took advantage of the opportunity.
From there we continued to enjoy the drive north to Lime Rock. This was the first destination I was actually familiar with, having done a number of track days and other events there. It would be occupied by the Pirelli World Challenge this weekend, so we wouldn't be able to score the 30 point bonus for getting our mascot on the track, nor the 100-point bonus for getting our car on the track. But almost on autopilot I got us to the track entrance, then paused for our photo.
Our next stop was in Torrington, where we needed to look for the Enforcer monster truck. We were unable to find any information about its precise location on the internet, but we knew it was along one of the main roads. As we entered the west side of Torrington on Route 4, we came up with a plan to cruise back and forth across town on these main roads until we found it. At one point my wife said she saw monster truck tires on the side of the road, but we couldn't see an actual monster truck, so we kept going. After a while we stopped by a Cumberland Farms, and while she was inside she asked the cashier if he knew about it. Everyone in the store knew about it, and gave her directions straight to it. It was back the way we came on Route 4, and turned out to be the place where she'd seen the monster truck tires. I pulled in to a small garage, and before I knew it she was out of the car, running to the back parking lot to get the picture.
This didn't sit well with the owner of the place, who we didn't realize was at the shop. He followed her out back and began to give her a piece of his mind. Fortunately, her training as a social worker and her polite Canadian attitude smoothed things over, with an apology and an explanation about the rally and that this truck was one of the items on the list. In the end he felt flattered enough to be included that he moved the truck back out to the front parking lot for other teams to score their points. Big thanks to Wayne's Radiator for helping us out, and apologies for being a little too enthusiastic.
From Torrington, we had a bit of a drive ahead of us to the center of the state. Here we would look for a traffic control tower, a display of balancing Yugos a la Cadillac Ranch, and a motocross track. But it was here that we would run into some problems that would end our rally..