There were a few influential factors that factored into my Rocky Mountain driving adventure from my mid-20s.
At that age, I was almost beyond the grasp of the ten feet tall and bullet-proof phase of life-but not quite.
Western Canada’s biggest summer playground is the Okanagan region of British Columbia.
Temperatures hover in the 90 to 100 (30- 40 Celsius) degree range all summer long. It is essentially a desert that borders on a large lake system.
An annual tradition that continues to this day is July and August long weekend free-for-alls for the young and restless.
At 24, I was dangerously close to old guy status in 1979, but the call of the wild weekend was still strong for me.
The year before, a couple of guys had shown up in MGAs and won the attention of numerous babes in our campground. It was a shallow and superficial gesture and it worked like a charm for the guys.
It may have been close to the last days of disco in the summer of ’79, but shallow materialism and image was still a winning formula in the social scene.
So I convinced my brother Bruce to give me his 1976 Triumph TR6 for the August trip. To this day I have no idea why he was willing to hand me the keys to his beloved car. I suspect it was an act of pity on his part.
He probably realized that I needed a racer’s edge in a game where I would be lightly-armed in adequate social skills for the mission at hand.
The trip from my place in Calgary to Penticton was about 416 miles (670 km) that usually took at least 8 hours with good traffic. I decided to make the trip in under 7 hours in the TR6.
Most of the road was in the Rocky Mountains on a tight two-lane route that peaked in a region known as the Rogers Pass.
My game plan was a simple Kowalski plan to get out to Penticton as fast as I could with an unrealistic arrival time. Kowalski didn’t quite make it in ‘Vanishing Point‘, but I was optimistic about my chances.
Only two cars passed me during the entire run. The first was an insane driver in a BMW that pushed by me on a blind 20 mph corner at roughly the speed of sound. That idiot reminded me of Springsteen’s “suicide machine”, but tramps like that were born to die in a horrific wreck-not to run.
The second was on a long and winding road beside a major houseboat lake. It was dark and the bright headlights suggested it was a police car. It was actually an El Camino and I re-gained the lead shortly after I discovered that valuable piece of information.
I managed to pull into Penticton in about six hours and fifty minutes-with car (and idiot behind the wheel) in one piece.
The car actually served me well as an ice-breaker during that weekend, but the highlight will always be that moment in time when I had my ultimate driving experience.
Just not my smartest driving experience.
Happy ending part…The TR6 is still around and under restoration by my brother’s oldest son Angus at http://www.thetr6project.com/
BOB:”Jim I tripped back to about the same time you made you mad dash. My 60 MGA and my 61 Austin Healey 3000 were long gone. I was running at high speed in an Oldsmobile when a lunatic in a TR-6 went by me like I was standing still, I said to my co-pilot ” that guys going to kill himself ” we caught up with them 10 miles later. … Yep crashed big time. Nobody was seriously hurt. That was a miracle! Another case of a member of the more balls than brains club being watched over by GOD ALMIGHTY”.
BERNARD“like the Kowalski with a happy ending spin on the story. Those TR-6’s were hot cars aesthetically and performance-wise.