The Undeniable Lightness of Driving (Part 1)

June 5, 2019 by

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A Fuelfed MotorGearo First-Timer Reflects on the Drive

By Joe Rosenthal

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We’re excited to have member Joe Rosenthal share his two part perspective on what it’s like to drive in the Fuelfed MotorGearo Vintage Rally for the first time in 2018.

 

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Back when I was in high school and felt like getting away from it all, I used to hop in my beloved ’84 Scirocco (metallic bronze, sunroof, tinted glass) and just drive. Sometimes it was plowing through snowdrifts in blizzard conditions to watch the tufts of powder explode around me in whorls of snow. At others it was flying up the dirt roads that traversed Cheyenne Mountain at the time, gravel chattering on the undercarriage in the turns. I would always go alone, and the experience was wonderful.

Flash forward 30 years and everything has changed. I’m married with two kids who have more energy than a Pikes Peak Hill Climber. I have responsibilities. Bills to pay. A mortgage. All the stuff your parents warned you about. But perhaps more astonishingly, the world around me has changed even more. Constantly buzzing and dinging cell phones. Thousands of hours of Peak TV on our smart televisions. Endless drop-down menus at our fingertips. Constant but fleeting contact with every single person we’ve ever known. It’s liberating, but also confining. Which brings me to the MotorGearo 250.

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When I signed up for the rally I was intrigued by a few things. One was the camaraderie of Fuelfed friends new and old. I knew the impeccable planning of Fuelfed would ensure an inspired and seamless weekend. I had heard about the Driftless area and was excited to see it up close. And I was curious if my 1976 TR6, which had not been on a drive longer than an hour and a half since I’d purchased it three years ago, would actually make it 500-plus miles in two days. Finally, I was not-so-secretly hoping that the Motorgearo would provide the same kind of diversion my favorite drives did back in the days when John Hughes dominated the mall theaters and my biggest worries didn’t even come close to rating on the Richter scale of adulthood.

I was planning to drive alone. And that fact itself was interesting. When I mentioned it to my friends many of them did a double take. They raised their eyebrows: “Alone?” As if to say, “Why would you ever want to do that?” But I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Those high school drives were about becoming one with road and banishing the complexity of thought. And that wasn’t going to happen with a passenger. It’s not that I don’t appreciate driving with others – there’s a place for it and it can be a blast. But this was something different.

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In New Glarus we broke into our driving groups. I’d be running in Group Four, a friendly bunch of drivers who’d be piloting a ’72 Mercedes 280sel 4.5, ’58 Lancia Aurelia, ’67 Volvo 1800, ’77 TVR, ’79 Fiat 124 and an Intermeccanica 356. A veritable rolling sculpture garden. The TR6 hesitated a little and then sparked to life with a low rumble and some smoke for punctuation. We’d been warned a few times that our cell phones would not work where we were going. I rifled off a couple last text messages and stowed the phone in a side pocket. It would only be off for a few hours, but the thought of replacing it’s pestering vibrations with the constant rumble of the straight six seemed a great bargain.

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I have to admit, for the first segment (there were four a day, of about an hour to and hour-and-a-half each) I was enjoying myself, but I was still tethered to reality. It was similar to that feeling of the first day of vacation, where your mind is still occupied with lingering thoughts of work and deadlines and next steps and action items. But with each curve of the road, that feeling was more and more distant. The thought crossed my mind that while our thumb scrolls have gotten faster, our power of focus had been slowly eroded like aging British steel. And this kind of driving requires nothing if not focus.

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By the time we’d stopped for our BBQ lunch I was fully in the zone. There is a rhythm to the road and the sequence of turns and inclines that is almost musical. It may just have been my imagination but it seemed like the car ran better the higher I revved and the more pushed it. I started to shift less, allowing the car a higher range of revs. Earlier in the day I’d been toggling between third and fourth, but by the end I was committed to third, letting the engine spin and growl through valleys and sweeping turns. I kept waiting for the protestation of a sputter or miss from the engine, but it never arrived. As the hours went by I trusted the car more, and found myself thinking less. By the time we were charging through the woods on the final stretch to Prairie du Chien any thought of the mundanity of work or potential breakdown had long since passed.

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It would be hyperbolic to say I’d become one with the car, but there’s no doubt the relationship had changed. It seemed like time was flying by as fast as the scenery, but at the same time it was becoming easier to perceive the beautiful view all around me. I suppose that as trust in the vehicle increased and mental analysis began to fade, there was more room for perception in the moment. The landscape was stunning. The prettiest I have seen in the Midwest. It was emerald green and hilly like Ireland, but dotted with quintessentially American-looking barns and tractors. Cows grazed on steep inclines dramatized by jutting rock formations. At times the hillsides looked like oil paintings, so perfect were the lines and gradations of color. People were few and far between. Aside from a few Amish families farming and the random resident mowing an improbably massive lawn on a riding tractor, the land-to-human ratio was squarely on the side of the land. It was the kind of scenery that makes you wonder if all the progress we’ve attained has actually been a matter of regress. Cities are exciting and suburbs are quiet and lovely in contrast, but the countryside has an eternal and calming presence. Some may argue it’s the sort of thing best experienced on a hike or wilderness walk, but it has its own perfect impact when seen from a car window with the top down as it unfurls in Technicolor parallax.

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Rounding the final turn of Day One on the stretch to the hotel, the Aurelia in front of me had a minor breakdown. I think it was a Weber getting finicky. But in true Fuelfed fashion, we quickly surrounded the car and pushed it to a safe spot. Of course, a specialist was on hand within moments, the carb disassembled, and the ride preserved. That’s the sort of thing we’ve come to expect from Fuelfed. It was also the sort of inevitable occurrence that breaks a reverie. The drive can’t go on forever. And the fact that we’re challenging fifty-year-old parts to keep on spinning at thousands of revolutions per minute is part of what makes it special. It’s all highly improbable.

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The farm fields and undulating shallow canyons had finally given way to a little bit of traffic and commercial activity. The engine revs dropped and you could see the Fuelfed flags up ahead. My first thought was “Shoot! Let’s keep going all night.” But in actuality I was tired and running on adrenaline. Plus my headlights are poor and there was a Supper Club with Wisconsin-sized Manhattans just around the corner. My second thought was, “ How was that an entire day?” Although I was hot and my arms were tired and I was smelling of exhaust and suntan lotion, I was deeply refreshed. Tired but renewed. And it was the third thought that really struck me: “My cell phone has been dead for hours!” And I didn’t miss it a bit.

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We pulled into spots in the hotel parking lot and finally let the engines rest. The sunlight was falling in an intense afternoon angle in a way that portended rain. We shared congratulations, swapped stories from the road, and struggled to raise our non-compliant convertible tops to protect against the oncoming showers. It was the perfect way to end, fueled by the excitement that we were only halfway to the finish. And that although we were just halfway there, we’d already had the full measure of experience.

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Next Week: The MotorGearo 250 Day Two

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Joe Rosenthal, Fuelfed member 414, is a Creative Technology Director at the ad agency Ogilvy. To prove he has no badge loyalty whatsoever, he’s been the proud owner (in order) of a Sears minibike, 1973 Kawasaki KE100 Enduro, 1964 Alfa Guilia Spider, 1984 Scirocco, 1959 Chevy Apache, two Saab 9-3’s, a Passat, a Tiguan, a 1976 Triumph TR6, and a Hyundai 3-Row Santa Fe.

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The 4th annual Fuelfed MotorGearo 250 Vintage Starts in 24 Hours

May 29, 2019 by

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Thirty classics and a savory crew of characters converge in remote Wisconsin for a weekend of serious driving and hearty camaraderie in what has established itself as one of the best intimate vintage rallies in the US.

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Tomato Zagato

May 28, 2019 by

Member’s lovely Lancia Zagato rally car from yesterdays’ Coffee & Classics Winnetka.

This Sunday Coffee and Classics will Feature Porsche 356

May 25, 2019 by

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This Sunday 5.26.19 our Coffee and Classics will feature Porsches’ first model platform that set the future course of all future air-cooleds that followed: the great 356.

All 356s will have featured parking on north Lincoln Ave.

Parking starts at 9:00am.

 

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Those posting pictures online, we ask that give the courtesy to let others know you were at Fuelfed Coffee & Classics. And yes. Fuelfed has an official Instagram account #fuelfedcarclub.

Finally we do not allow any soliciting, nor marketing of your car or services at any Fuelfed events.

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The Fuelfed Motorgearo Cometh.

May 23, 2019 by

Just a week from our 4th annual vintage motor rally. Two days of driving bliss and culinary debauchery. As one driver put it in 2016: kinda like a shorter Colorado Grand with better drivers and no big egos.

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Fuelfed Coffee and Classics Theinsville, WI This Sunday 5.19

May 18, 2019 by

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Fuelfed is excited to be bringing back its tradition of Coffee & Classics® gatherings focused on classic European cars to the quaint village of Thiensville. Milwaukee area classic European enthusiasts will now have the opportunity to share their passion with other like-minded drivers at the very same location Augie Pabst and Briggs Cunningham did back in 1959,

Fuelfed Coffee & Classics Thiensville is for Fuelfed members AND non-member enthusiasts and collectors with their Classic European cars (pre-1990).

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Thiensville is a small village nestled along the Milwaukee River north of the city. Its business district consists of many historic buildings that have been converted to small shops and businesses. We will be parking on quiet tree-lined Green Bay Road where the old Mill Race Motors once hosted their C&Cs back in the 1960’s. Shully’s Catering will be open for those looking for coffee and easy to carry sweets and savories (or bathrooms), as well as Fiddleheads Coffee Roasters and Artisanal Bakery, a short walk across the mid-block bridge.

Sunday, May 19

9:00am to 11:00am
On Green Bay Rd at Green Bay Rd & Elm, in east downtown Thiensville, WI

Map It

Parking

The format for Fuelfed Coffee & Classics in Thiensville will be a casual gathering of classic European cars parked along the street in existing parking spots. No streets blocked off, and no standing in the street. Please obey the traffic laws. See map below. Shully’s Catering has offered up its parking lots on the south and north sides of its building for classics if street parking is filled.

Display Card

We ask drivers to download windshield display cards and fill out their car’s vitals. This will allow the rest of us to appreciate the classic even if the driver isn’t near by to chat. Click on Editable pdf below to enlarge and fill in your data, then print it out. Or click on Regular jpg to print out and hand write in.

Editable pdf.

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Public Courtesy:  This is a club event, and the public is welcome to spectate. However, soliciting services, products or activities without Fuelfed’s prior consent is strictly prohibited, and those doing so will be escorted out. To those taking pictures and sharing online, we ask you to state that your images were taken at the Fuelfed Coffee & Classics.

Advertising cars for sale at any Fuelfed event is strictly prohibited.

Please respect the neighborhood with NO hot-rodding or open exhausts.

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Fuelfed Coffee & Classics® Barrington This Sunday Morning

May 4, 2019 by

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This Sunday morning May 5, we continue our very successful Coffee & Classics series in Barrington for 2019. Each event draws an incredible new crop of classic European cars vastly different than what we see in Winnetka or Hinsdale or anywhere else for that matter.

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9:00am to 11:00am, May 5, 2019
The Foundry of Barrington, IL
710 West Northwest Highway (Route 14)

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Ambrosia will be serving up coffee, pastries and brunch options.

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First a little Spring garage cleaning.

1. Coffee & Classics is a private club event for current Fuelfed club members. However, if you have a classic European car manufactured prior to 1990, you can make a donation of $10 at the main gate to show your car. We encourage you to join Fuelfed and your $10 will be credited to your membership dues.

2. Please arrive at 9:00am, not 8:30am.

3. Those posting pictures online, we ask that give the courtesy to let others know you were at Fuelfed Coffee & Classics. And yes. Fuelfed has an official Instagram account #fuelfedcarclub.

4. Finally, we do not allow any soliciting, nor marketing of your car or services at any Fuelfed events.

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View Parking Map.

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Display Cards

We ask drivers to download windshield display cards and fill out their car’s vitals. This will allow the rest of us to appreciate the classic even if the driver isn’t nearby to chat. Click on image below to enlarge and fill in your data, then print it out.

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We want to thank our quality partners in alpha order:

Autosprint
BTR-Chicago
Catalyst Communications
Continental AutoSports
The Finish line, Inc.
Imports Unlimited
Northshore Sportscars
Perfect Power
The Last Detail

Fuelfed Coffee & Classics Starts in Winnetka This Sunday Morning

April 25, 2019 by

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It’s been ten years since Fuelfed® started the famous Coffee & Classics® and created the format for what would commonly be known as cars and coffee. The long running Crown Jewel of Midwest car gatherings returns to beautiful downtown Winnetka this Sunday, April 28th from 9:00am to 11:00am for the first C&C of 2019.

For April we are featuring vintage Land Rover and Jaguar. These two vintage marques will get priority parking.

Yep, rain or shine in the British tradition.

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First a little Spring garage cleaning.

1. Coffee & Classics is a private club event for current Fuelfed club members. C&C is not an open car show for every & any car. There are plenty of other car events with that format. However, if you have a classic European car manufactured prior to 1990, you can make a donation of $10 at the main gate for entry with your car. We encourage you to join Fuelfed and your $10 will be credited to your membership dues.

Members who have not yet received their 2019 membership packets, your name be will on the list at the main gate.

2. Please arrive at 9:00am, not 8:30am. Our village event permit states that we keep these times in check. Village parking enforcement will be in play before 9:00am and after 11:00am.

3. Those posting pictures online, we ask that give the courtesy to let others know you were at Fuelfed Coffee & Classics. And yes. Fuelfed has an official Instagram account #fuelfedcarclub.

4. Finally we do not allow any soliciting, nor marketing of your car or services at any Fuelfed events.

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Display Card

We ask drivers to download windshield display cards and fill out their car’s vitals. This will allow the rest of us to appreciate the classic even if the driver isn’t near by to chat. Click on Editable pdf below to enlarge and fill in your data, then print it out. Or click on Regular jpg to print out and hand write in.

Editable pdf.

Regular jpg.

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C&C Parking Map…click to enlarge.

Getting Ready to Drive

April 21, 2019 by

Same year, both coupes, opposite philosophy. More Fuelfed members submitting their cars coming out of hibernation.

Which would you drive to Coffee & Classics Winnetka next Sunday?

Through, Wind & Snow…

April 14, 2019 by

Tough group these Fuelfed members. Despite the snow, they came. Each wondering who was crazy enough to drive their classic on what appeared to be February 14 and not April 14. 26 members made the trek to Lake Forest. Some in moderns, most in classics. All were happy to be there. Three years now it either snowed or sleeted on what we should call the SNOPEN.