Air Cooled Wittes in Carlisle

July 14, 2003 through July 19, 2003


Dusty and bug-spattered, my red Corsa pulled in the driveway here in DeWitt, Michigan on Saturday night at 8:15. We were just returning home from my first Corsa International Convention, and what a great trip it was....

Last Monday I loaded the Corsa with suitcases, towels, tools, helmets, maps and my two oldest children, Jake and Allie, and we rolled out the drive at about 4:15 p.m. on our way to Carlisle, Pennsylvania. We had a long drive ahead of us, by my estimation 10 to 12 hours. This was quite a long ride for a ten-year-old and a twelve-year-old in an old car with black vinyl seats, no air conditioning, no radio that could be heard over the wind noise, and no videos. But as we headed south from Lansing, the kids were excited about the adventure, and I heard no complaints.

It was a beautiful evening, with crisp clear skies. After a dinner stop at Burger King, we said goodbye to our Michigan home. We hit the Ohio turnpike and our course shifted south to east. Jake caught this T-Bird on a flatbed headed east:



We drove that night until about 11:30 p.m. The moon rose a deep scarlet, the reddest moon I have ever seen. We stopped in western Pennsylvania for the night and got an early start the next morning. We breakfasted the next day at a McDonalds on the turnpike and met up with a contingency from eastern Pennsylvania. We caravaned with them the rest of the way to Carlisle.



We arrived mid-afternoon on Tuesday and had time for a dip in the pool before the valve cover races. True to his prediction on Virtual Vairs, "Smitty" Smith's wife Helen took all the marbles with a gold-painted dual valve cover contraption.

Tuesday night after the races I happened upon Steve Serenska of the "Ideal Garage" web page. He was just passing through and could not stay because of business, but we did get to talk for awhile, and Steve is a first-class guy (as if there were any doubt).

Wednesday morning we were up early to wipe the rain off the Corsa for the car display. I decided not to enter the concours, thus sparing the kids hours of boredom while I cleaned the car. Here's my ride in fine company:



There was a multitude of cars in the car display and concours. To get some idea of how big the field was, click the following link to take a look at a panoramic view of the show. This will be a large file and will take time to load. If your browser automatically resizes pictures to fit the window, turn this feature off and pan through the image to get the full effect.


Panoramic Image of Car Display and Concours


Promptly after the car show, there was a caravan to The Corvair Ranch. It was a gorgeous drive--this was my first real trip to Pennsylvania, and it is a lovely state. All the way to The Corvair Ranch, the kids were saying that we were going to have to move to Pennsylvania because it was so much prettier than the flatlands from whence we hail.

When we arrived at the Ranch, we found that proprietor Jeff Stonesifer had laid out a spread for all of us. He was a generous and gracious host, giving us the run of the place. Here are a few pictures from the visit:









Wednesday night was the Virtual Vairs meeting, one of the events I was most looking forward to. It was a real pleasure to meet many of those who until last week were just names in my in-box ... I would list them except that so many list members were there that I could not possibly miss them all. However, I do want to mention one VVer by name, and that is Hank Kaczmerek. Hank took on a tough job, and grew into it. I am sure most of those on the list have butted heads with Hank at one time or another, but he has done a great job and we all owe him a debt of gratitude. Well done, Hank.

Thursday morning was another beautiful day. Our morning was occupied by the rally. The booklet we got contained driving instructions and bonus questions, so Allison took charge of the bonus questions while Jake assumed navigator duties. The route took us through some spectacular countryside. One of the checkpoints was a local fish hatchery, which the kids loved.



Here's the view of the rally from the perspective of back-seat navigator Allison:



In the afternoon I succumbed to temptation and bought a set of carbs for my Corsa. Think that I could save on postage, I decided to change the carbs right there and avoid having to ship the cores back to the vendor. The rule of unintended consequences was in full force; the tall carb stud on the left primary stripped completely out of the head. After a short period of utter panic, I got a ride from Rick Loving and his dad to the nearest Autozone, where I picked up a helicoil and insert tool. This went in without fuss and I was back in business. In the meantime, however, the whole thing had turned into an impromptu tech session for fellow Western Michigan Corvair Club members Steve Ridderman, John Koning and myself. Without any further serious problems we got the car ready for the autocross.

Friday morning started early with the tech inspection for the autocross.



After the driver's meeting, we snuck off so that I could feed the kids. When we got back the stock classes were running.



For pure entertainment value, you can't beat an aggressively driven Greenbrier.



I overheard one wag in the paddock commenting that the 'Brier was a self-limiting vehicle because before it could roll, its lifting rear tires lost the ability to put power down, and the vehicle slowed. Interesting notion....

After the stock classes finished, it was time for the modified, prepared and specialty cars to run. I shot 400+ pictures at the autocross. Here are some of my favorites.

A late model couple belonging to I am not sure who:



An early coupe, driver also unknown to me:



Michael LeVeque nails a corner:



Bob Peplow threads the cones:



Warren LeVeque hit the course in a new, untested car. He says that the body was made by greasing down an early coupe and using the body as buck upon which to lay up fiberglass panels. I don't know how he did but he sure looked fast:



Yours truly launches another conservative run, placing himself somewhere deep in the back of the pack:



And that was it for us for the organized events at the convention. We spent some more time swimming and visiting with friends and started the long drive home Saturday morning as the econorun was staging. We could tell that the competition was serious when we saw Bill Hubbell pushing Alice back from the gas station so as to conserve every last ounce of fuel. Somehow, I didn't see this contest and my lead foot as being a good match.

We played leapfrog with WMCC member Mike Mehl on the way back to Michigan and pushed through in one day. As it had on the way there, the Corsa ran flawlessly. The kids had a great time and wished they could have stayed longer.

The host clubs deserve a huge thank you as do all of those who attended and made it a great convention. I'm looking forward to seeing you next year in Lexington.

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