Volume 46 Issue 25
Dec 5, 2021
Cathy Roush goes on the FCA Annual Experience rally in Sebring, Florida. Reading is fun-damental!
If there’s anything you’ve learned about me in the 11-plus years since I became publisher of the FML, I hope you remember that I am always looking for a ride in a Ferrari.
Whether it’s on the track for any event, or a rally or pleasure drive at an Annual Meet, I’ve had the opportunity to ride in a variety of models from old to new. Been on Daytona in several, including an Enzo and a Daytona; been on Watkins Glen in a Challenge car; can’t remember all the cars I’ve been around PBIR … but I definitely remember the BB/LM with Jim Fuchs.
I’m not ashamed to ask for a ride, and most folks are happy for the company and opportunity to show off their driving skills. Unfortunately I wasn’t in the right place at the right time either Tuesday or Wednesday for a ride on the track at Sebring.
But forgive me because the reasons were valid.
Checking in to the FCA Annual Meet Sunday evening, I put my name on the list of persons looking for a ride for either pleasure drive (both Tuesday and Wednesday that week) or the competitive rally, only on Tuesday.
I even added the phrase ‘get your name in the FML’. You’d have thought my phone would be ringing off the hook.
Nothing … nada … zilch.
That’s okay, I’m also walking around the event and pretty vocal about my wish. Enter Jay Weitzel. You know Jay. Well, you know his voice. Master of Ceremonies for the FCA Annual Meets and Cavallino Classic.
Jay has a 1999 355 F1 Spider, Giallo Modena with nero interior. Plans were made Monday evening for us to meet and participate in the Hagerty Competitive Rally on Tuesday.
Jay had not registered for the rally when he signed up to attend the meet … but I had ‘just in case’. While not planning to take my daily driver, I was going to Sebring with intentions of finding a driver with a Ferrari. Better to be registered and not enter, than want to enter and not be registered.
Anyway, as it turns out Jay and I were the first to show up. Not only that, but Jay and I were the perfect team.
Both Type A, both in it to win it. And with apologies, both Chatty Cathys. I mentioned to the guys from Motion Products who I found a ride with and one of them remarked, who will talk more?
Jim and Debbie Pyle were the rally masters for this meet. I’ve known Jim and Debbie since I was a teenager. Jim grew up in the Sebring area, and the Pyles live in Wauchula, Florida. To say they are familiar with the roads/back roads around the area would be an understatement.
This was not their first rally, either as participants or designers. Jim recalled the Annual Meet in 1981 in Asheville, NC, where my brother Chris (then a 16-year-old) was his navigator in a 308 GTB.
Debbie remarked that long ago David Seibert had taught them tricks when designing a rally. A lesson well-learned, as I will explain shortly.
I’d like to comment on the quality of the books for the rally and pleasure drives. The competitive rally book was spiral bound, color cover with a photo of the 1961 Sebring-winning 250 TRI/61, S/N 0792, also on all the other meet literature, and orange groves in the background.
The pleasure drive book had a similar cover but was fewer pages and stapled; both books had tidbits of historical information about the area to add to the fun. Well done!
At the driver’s meeting we were cautioned to read the instructions, although a few of the instructions were vocally emphasized: do not turn around or go back to look for answers; not all the questions have answers (nor are the questions between instructions necessarily in the order you may encounter the answer). After the driver’s meeting, we were first off!
Jay and I were confident; this wasn’t our first rally either. What do you think, read the instructions? Or skip right ahead to the directions and questions? We chose the latter. And missed a most important instruction – probably THE most important instruction (and made a mistake I hope never to repeat).
“While interpretation may often be required, each and every answer is clearly written on signs, street signs, walls, buildings, poles, etc., along the route.”
Clearly written. A very important instruction. Because you see, question #7: “What is holding up the mailbox at 6423?”
Jay and I looked at each other like, duh, a manatee. But, duh, there was no sign stating that a manatee was holding up the mailbox. So while I entered manatee as our answer in our guide book, it was wrong (at least according to Pyle’s Rally Rules).
Same with question #13: “How many tanks at Lykes?” Clearly there were three tanks, but do you think there was a SIGN stating there were three tanks? Nope. Another ‘no answer’ was the right answer.
Some of the answers requiring interpretation, #35. “I shall return”. Of course you recall General Douglas MacArthur’s promise. The answer was just McArthur Road. And #36. Wild West dentist gunslinger. Doc Holliday, but it was single l in Holiday Road.
Did I mention Debbie Pyle spent her career in education? I don’t know if she was taking points off for spelling, so we used the sign spelling rather than the true name.
Lest I lead you to think my ride on Wednesday was any less enjoyable, the other reason for missing a ride on the track was the opportunity to act as navigator for an encore performance of the 2019 Scottsdale Meet pleasure drive with David Varwig. This time in his Blu Corsa 488 Spider.
Before he tattles on me, you know how it is on a pleasure drive. You’re just kind of taking it easy, following the car in front of you, catching up on life.
When, BOOM, I say, oops … we were supposed to turn right off of SR 66 back there onto Sweetwater Road. There was no pressure to follow the directions, and eventually we would circle back to SR 66.
Some navigator I was. David made a u-turn, got us on Sweetwater, and now that we were not following anyone, was able to drive his Ferrari like, well, a Ferrari ought to be driven. Oddly enough, it was a while before anyone else was behind us (i.e., no one else turned around!).
The ride eventually took us through Highlands Hammock State Park; plenty of scenery and not just the hammock and swamp. Imagine going for your daily walk and encountering two dozen Ferraris!
Not as lengthy of a drive as Scottsdale had been, we returned to the track for lunch and in time to catch the Coppa GT competition.
At the awards banquet Wednesday evening the Pyles had a poster board with Polaroid photos of the signs that proved the answers. By then I’d given up any hope of a winning a trophy, so I didn’t bother to compare their evidence against my book. I was convinced that was no way to write a rally.
Open mouth, insert foot. As it turns out, most of our competition must have made the same mistake in assuming the answer to a question without seeing the answer on a sign. Because Jay and I came in third place!
Hagerty provided the most fun trophy - criss-crossed pistons and rods. I proudly display mine next to my other third place navigator trophy, from the 2017 Annual Meet in Daytona.
Which, ironically, is on the same shelf as a third-place trophy Dad won in 1961. The prize is an ashtray, inscribed ASCC, probably for Alabama Sports Car Club. But I treasure it nonetheless.