Moss TR Team Runs (a Good Part of) the Gold Coast Rally

As you may have read in the last edition of Moss Motoring, we were busy readying the Moss TR3 for the upcoming Gold Coast Rally in San Luis Obispo, California, a beautiful two hour drive north of our California headquarters. As a major sponsor of this three day event, which included a vintage car auction, 175 mile rally, and a Concours d’Elegance, we were certainly looking forward to a great long weekend!

Peter Arakelian and I (the Moss Triumph team) made our way leisurely up the coast on a Friday afternoon toward the convention hotel in San Luis, and once there, settled in for a quiet evening of trying to find out if anyone else there knew exactly what “Monte Carlo” style rallying meant!

Actually, we enjoyed the welcome party and browsed around admiring the various cars on display. Including Jaguar E-types, racing Ferraris, and impressive numbers of MGs and Triumphs. We took in part of the auction, and enjoyed seeing some wonderful friends we’d met while in Lake Havasu last year.

Rally day dawned cool and overcast, which had no affect whatsoever on the buzz created by people still trying to figure out what “Monte Carlo” style rallying meant. We attended the rally-master meeting and set our clocks to correct rally time, and then went about trying to find a calculator so we could figure out how long it was supposed to take us to get from checkpoint to checkpoint, at exactly 47mph or whatever- in a Triumph- right!

Peter asked If I’d had the speedometer calibrated; I told him we were lucky it worked. He said “Cool!”. You’ve got to like a guy like Pete!

The big red vintage-type number plate we were given for our car proclaimed the number 22, which also served as our departure order. One last check of supplies was performed; air in the spare, driving gloves, maps, gas, and the all-important time clock. I told Pete, “I drive, you say where.” “Cool,” he says.

The cars departed at two minute intervals, and soon we were out the gate and on our way. “Down the street and to the left, up to the stoplight and take a right. Now down this road until you see a crossroad and take a left just after the state park sign. After the park sign, that’ll put us in the park.” “Read that part to me again,” I said. Now Pete and I are yelling at each other. He says, “After the park sign, man”. “O.K., but those guys in front of us aren’t slowing down”. I cranked the wheel hard and we turned into the park all by ourselves. Up the hill, and boy, it isn’t looking good. We turn around and go back, passing cars going the way we just came from. “Darn!” I said. “I’m going back. I don’t care where those guys in front of us went.”

Onto the dirt shoulder we went, and I performed a “no-point” turnaround (handbrake on, 180 degree Virginia dirt track style turn). Back up through the park and around the trees we saw the checkpoint. Darn & shucks! (The original commentary here has been superseded to the above to protect the guilty.)

O.K, so the first stage was a learning experience! On we went to the second and third stages without too much drama. We weren’t putting too many people in danger of losing the rally, but we were really enjoying some of the most beautiful driving roads you’ve ever seen. Twisty little up and down mountain roads, covered by overhanging California Oaks. Peter informed me that if we crashed, his wife, Leslie, would kill me. I couldn’t really hear him over the screaming tires.

So, we’re into the groove and approaching the midway lunch checkpoint. Three miles to go, right on time, all systems go, sitting at a stoplight waiting for the green, right behind an MGA. The light turns green, and with a blip on the throttle we take off. Shriek, clunk, and the sound of metal dragging. Pete says “What the heck is that?” I said I didn’t care, we weren’t stopping! Well, the dragging metal sound got worse at 40 mph and with a quick glance at my “rally-master accurate” watch, I figured we had an extra two minutes to stop and
see what the problem was. I flew out of the car, telling Pete not to let it cut off. I ripped the hood open, and sitting right there on the wheel arch was our original equipment Oualcast water pump pulley. Is this a problem?

Immediately I think, “If I shut the hood, it will go away and we can go on to win the rally! More darn & shucks! Pete’s yelling at me, “What’s the problem, hurry up!” I said, “Turn it off, turn it off. Curse, curse!”

Our drive in the rally ended abruptly, right there on the side of the road with a sheared off water pump shaft – a fault that every Triumph owner there could relate to. No fewer than every single rally car behind us stopped to ask if we needed help. Now that’s camaraderie! We got a ride with two guys in a 1954 Corvette to the lunch stop, and the sweep vehicle gave us a tow back to the hotel.

The reason I mention all of this is because, not for one minute, did any of it dampen our spirits one iota. The Gold Coast Rally weekend was one on the most enjoyable, best run, best organized events I’ve ever been to. The people were great, the cars were great and we had a great time. The Concours held on Sunday was beautiful, and we made a lot of new friends. The whole weekend was summed up when, as we pulled out of the grounds in the Moss motorhome, one of the show winners shouted out to us, “Yeah for Moss Motors, thank you!” I guess it goes without saying that we will be seeing you all there next year!

(Although David and Pete eventually found out just exactly what a Monte Carlo style rally was (at least until the great water pump fiasco), if you’re not familiar with the specifics, read on. In simple terms, this style rally involves a set of instructions to the effect of: two miles left turn, go five miles right turn, etc…. There are numerous check points that you have an allotted amount of time to reach; arriving early or late incurs a penalty. —Ed)


By David Eichelbaum
Research & Development

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