Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sebring 2007, Part 1

The drive down from MD to Sebring, if I blast straight down I-95 til I hit Daytona, can take as little as 13h 26m. I've done the trip at that pace, stopping only for routine pit stop stuff. Cup of coffee here, smelly gas station bathroom there, and I get through it quickly.

But this year, for the second time, I agreed to take one of my best friends down to Sebring with me. This is, however, a best friend who no longer lives "about an hour" out of the way. As I found out on my way down, he now lives about FOUR extra hours off the beaten path. I left my house around 9 PM Monday night, and arrived in Sebring just before 9 AM today. Approx 1300 miles logged already.

The extra drive was nice, though, as it took me down I-81 to I-26, just brushing Tennessee and then back into NC through the Blue Ridge Mountains. The drive is one of the most scenic anywhere this side of the Mississippi, and I'm certain that at least one person reading this knows just how breathtaking the scenery can be.

But still, an additional four hours of mountain driving can really take its toll. And so, it did: MY CLUTCH IS GONE.

I can no longer shift using the clutch on my car. If I want to engage reverse, I have to shut the motor off, pop into reverse, restart the motor, back up, shut off, engage 1st gear again, and restart.

So, my second clutch, after barely 90k, is toast. My first clutch out-lasted the transmission itself, still working nicely when the gearbox blew out at 95k. This new clutch, Mopar's "High Torque" model taken from the PT Cruiser, is fried. Broke. Annihilated. And this, after my driving in the last few years has been an exercise in smoothness.

If I had a shop (and some skilled help), the damn thing could be done in a night, parts totaling $250 or so. Instead, the only shop in town that can touch it before next week wants over $600, and takes cash only.

Sorry, I'll drive the fuck outta' the car, and if it dies, I'll deal.

In the meantime, I'm having to drive the car like an old racer without synchros -- literally rev-matching and banging it into each successive gear. This probably isn't doing any real damage to the gearbox, or maybe it is, but I'm past the point of concern. When I get home, I'm finding a good shop and dropping off all of my cars for an extended stay. It's probably gonna' eat my savings whole, but fuck it. I'm gonna' go find an alligator tonight, and punch his fuckin' lights out - and have Tim get it all on video tape.

Oh yeah, I'm at the track and there's lots of cars and some hot chicks and it's fucking hot out.

That's my Wednesday update. Damn car.

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