NCRS Florida Chapter                         NCRS Florida Chapter

 

2004 NCRS International Road Tour

by Ron and Laureen Ramsey

This year’s road tour saw four separate tours travel cross-country to meet in Canada and celebrate the annual gathering of our beloved Corvettes at the NCRS (Inter-) National Convention in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.  Marvin and Joan Burnett led a group from the middle of the USA, originating in St. Louis, Missouri.  Leon Garfinkle headed up the posse from Eastern Canada.  Jimmy Romano and Elaine Renner gathered up the usual suspects from the Northeastern U.S., while Laureen and I herded the Florida and Southeastern US contingent.  CCO members Ed & Donna Augustine were our only local traveling companions!

 

The Florida group stopped the first night in Augusta, Georgia where we were the guests of John and Faye Pirkle.  They had arranged for a Georgia barbecue at their beautiful home and invited some of the local Corvette enthusiast over as well.  We had a wonderful time and enjoyed their southern hospitality immensely. 

 

As luck would have it we didn’t make it through Georgia (as usual) without some type of mishap.  One of our participants, Michael Hanks driving a ’57, needed his front end realigned as it was chewing up his tires.  Ron realigned it at a stop along side the road and then we headed off to find Michael a new set of tires.  We got the tires on and set out once again but didn’t get very far.  This time Ron and I heard some noise and low and behold one of the trailer tires was shredding!  After using Ed’s “Georgia jack” we headed off to Pirkles and arrived late but safe!

 

After dinner at Pirkles home we all visited John’s business, Masters City Classic Car Parts.  Chances are if you have a solid axle, mid-year or early shark, car then you have a starter, alternator, generator or voltage regulator under your hood from John.  At Pirkles, Ron and I picked up a large gas station sign to deliver to Scott Sinclair, one of the convention co-chairs in Canada.  When Scott described the sign we had no idea it was going to be quite as large and heavy as it was.  Ed came up with a great idea and we ended up screwing it directly to the ramp of the trailer.  While we were worried about it coming off and hitting the car, it held tight the entire trip.

 

The next night saw us arrive in the town of Abingdon, Virginia.  We arrived early enough in Abingdon to have a bit of a parking lot tail gate party and then as a group we went to dinner.  We had a nice meal at the “Restoration Company”.  While the service was slow, the food was good.  After dinner we headed to one of the last operational drive ins in the US (The Moonlight Drive In) to see Spiderman II.  It was tons of fun and while the Dodge was comfortable it would have been nice to be in an old Corvette!

 

Thursday we traveled North through West Virginia and spent the night just outside Pittsburgh.  There we gathered up more road tour participants and headed off for Canada the next morning.  Crossing over just south of Niagara Falls we drove along the Niagara river in route to the falls.  We spent a couple of hours at the falls and even road on the “Maid of the Mist” boat ride!  Then it was off to St. Catherines.  Most of the tours actually met up the night before the official “last night out” location of Chatham, Ontario in St. Catherines, Ontario.  There we were treated to a couple of neat things.  The first was unseasonably cool temperatures, I believe I saw a bank sign with a thermometer that was flashing 10° (Ok, Laureen says that was Celsius, but hey that’s still cold for a Florida boy!).  The second was an incredible tour of GM’s Powertrain Division, St. Catherines Engine Plant, home of the new LS2 6.0 litre Corvette motor.  In fact, we were witnesses to the “birth” of one of the first Corvette production motors.  At the end of the line they even hooked it up to a computerized dyno and fired that sucker up…SWEET!  The amount of automation in the assembly of this engine is incredible; there are very few steps where a human is involved in the “building” of this engine.  NCRS-Ontario member Gary Bishop set this up for us and it was fantastic.

 

The next morning the group headed out to the home of the Speed Channel television show “Dream Car Garage”, Legendary Motorcars Inc., in Milton, Ontario.  There we got a behind the scenes look at this popular TV show and their high-end restoration process.  Legendary has an awesome collection of classic and muscle cars on display inside their facility, most of which are for sale, and quite a few cars under restoration in the shop.  Peter Klutt, one the hosts of the show even made a brief appearance much to our surprise!

 

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After our visit with the good folks at Legendary the group headed for Chatham to get ready for the evenings activities at RM Restorations.  Alan and Ann Foster met us in Chatham and provided lots of assistance in checking in road tour participants and handing our merchandise.  We couldn’t have done it without them!  Clark Ferguson of RM was hosting the welcome reception for the road tour that evening and he was most gracious, providing us with a warm Canadian welcome, a catered cookout and personalized tours through their large and impressive facility.  RM has produced several Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance class winners and Clark had three cars nearing completion for next year’s event.  So what did we learn at RM…well, unless you are restoring one of the original Grand Sports then you have no idea how much time and money you can spend restoring a car!  One car they were working on was over $3 million dollars!

 

Later that evening, back at the Wheels Inn (what a cool name for a hotel!) everyone was milling about in the “Corvette Corral” (the hotel had blocked off a large section of their parking lot just for us) fielding questions from the “civilian” guests.  The local police cruised through off and on all night to keep an eye on our prized possessions and were there the next morning to assist with our departure. 

 

Ron and Alan unloaded the ’61 in the morning and loaded the rental car into the trailer.  Thank you Alan & Ann for driving the trailer so we could lead the road tour into Windsor!  At 10:45 a.m. sharp we left for Windsor via a scenic two-lane road which hugged the river and Lake St. Claire. All total we had nearly 100 official registrants, although as usual we picked up a few “extras” along the way.  Although a few people missed a critical turn where the road forked and ended up at Lake Erie, most eventually made it to the rendezvous point where we picked up a group of 1954’s that were gathered.  We regrouped and paraded into the convention arriving right on time at 1:00 p.m. 

 

We placed the ’61 on the judging field and then the Augustines, Fosters, and Ramseys checked into the Windsor Casino, which was directly across the street from the judging field.  Ron and I weren’t being judged until Thursday, but the time flew by.  The weather was fickle; one day it rained all day and didn’t get above 63 degrees.  Another day it was sunny, in the 80’s and beautiful.  Ron and I did a mini ops check and found we had blown two original T-3’s on the way into the convention.  Luckily another Florida chapter member, Wayne Burkhart, loaned us a full set and we changed them out before judging began.

 

The judging was stressful.  We were on a Duntov quest and didn’t have many points to loose.  Since our engine stamp pad had been decked we knew we were starting off 38 points in the hole.  For Duntov you can loose a total of 135 points out of 4510 (need a minimum of 97 points).  If you score 10 bonus points on ops for having your battery disconnect, decal and fire extinguisher that allows you 145 points.  Starting out with the 38 point stamp pad deduct we only had 107 points left.

 

Things didn’t start well.  The first judges were interior and they killed us.  Right off the batt we lost 37 points.  We figured it was a lost cause, especially when we started to see the point deducts coming in on paint (another article on proper NCRS paint restoration to follow!).  There are new guidelines for standard paint deductions for over restoration and it isn’t pretty.

 

Ops was second which we aced, in addition to getting our 10 bonus points, so we were feeling a little better.  Mechanical was third and we lost 52, 38 for the stamp pad which we knew, so the other 14 points were about what we expected.  The chassis judges got us for 32, most of which we agreed with (except the 5 points for what they said were the bolts on the A frame being upside down).  So there we were.  One set of judges left to go and it was exterior – with only 24 points left to loose.

 

Now I don’t know if anyone remembers what the poor little black car looked like when we drug it home, but the front end was sitting in the trunk!  Ron did all of the bodywork himself and he painted it in the garage with black lacquer.  I was awfully proud of his bodywork, but became absolutely ecstatic when we received only a 3 point deduct on paint for the body being too smooth!  We ended up loosing 23 points – 1 to spare – and were successful in our Duntov quest!  No sense being over achievers!  Needless to say we rushed off to the secret beer stash in the back of the truck for a victory brew! 

 

The awards banquet was a time for celebration and getting the Duntov plaque was a proud moment.  I’m bugging Ron to Duntov my ’64 but he’s taking a well deserved break in between restorations and I don’t want to push too hard!  

 

Ed & Donna and Ron & I made the drive home a lot faster than the journey out.  We went straight across into the US at Detroit, hit Interstate 75 and bee-lined it for Florida.  We left on Friday and made it home Saturday evening and had nothing eventful to report for our return trip.

 

We had a fabulous time and wouldn’t have missed the road tour for anything in the world.  We are already planning for next year’s trip to Park City, Utah and will have beautiful back roads with some scenic side trips to enjoy.  We’re going to make it a C5 trip and take a year off from judging to allow some time to finish the ’64.  We hope you can join us next year when we go “on the road again”!