A Newbie’s RTT 2012 Report by Adam (ldsbeaker on MyE28.com), reprinted with his permission:
Sunday May 27, 2012
After all the revelries of the previous two days at the Vintage BMW show in Winston Salem, North Carolina, we were ready to hit the road! We had a driver’s meeting at 0830 to discuss the (ahem) rules, and pass out route maps. Then we took off promptly at 0900. About 45 minutes on the highway, then we dove into the twisties proper. I got to see the S54 powered BMW e28 525 and Sherman’s e28 M5 disappear over the next hill as they did top speed runs on the highway. Nice. We even managed to lose a couple people on the highway apparently, but they cut us off at the pass. I had just installed the 750 Big Brake Kit (BBK) on Wednesday, and had only bled them once, so the brakes were still a little squishy. I didn’t push TOO hard, but had decent braking feel for the overall moderate day. Within the first hour of twisties, we (of course) hit a dirt road. It wasn’t too long, but apparently, it scared some people off. We got separated a little bit. My car got some dust in the pulleys and was making some noises, but it went away after we got back on the pavement.
After we hit a dirt trail so soon, I was kinda concerned that maybe my car was a bit TOO low for this kind of event, but I pressed on. We ended the morning by driving the “Back of The Dragon” (VA 16 from Marion to Tazewell West Virginia) which consisted of going over 3 different mountains/hills. Constant switchbacks and climbs/descents.
We met up at a gas station where the mayor of Tazewell who is a BMW motorcycle enthusiast had setup the lunch provided by a local wrestling team trying to fundraise. It was good. They had 100% gas at the station, but only in 87 octane. I got a couple gallons just because I support that kind of thing, and figured that I should have a little extra gas JUST IN CASE.
So, after lunch, we take off and promptly get separated again. Adrian and Cousin Billy travelling in a BMW e28 535 hit a HUGE rock with their front driver’s tire and a shimmy begins. They pull over and check it out, then we press on to the next town. Just before leaving the town, they pull over and call a tow truck. The car has become undriveable. They suspect a upper control arm bushing (UCAB) failed. I hang with 3 of the lead cars and we go ALL OVER. A couple wrong turns, dead ends, etc. I’m trying to follow along on the route map, but it was hopeless. We weren’t even close to the roads we were “supposed” to be on. After a particular dead end, one of the canadians asks Aaron the route planner if we can just go to the hotel. He agrees, and we spend a half hour on the interstate to get to the hotel. I look at the route map AGAIN, and get pissed off at the fact that we are so far off that we need a full half hour on the interstate to get to where we were supposed to go. I get more and more worked up thinking that if I hadn’t kept up, I would have been left on my own in the middle of nowhere. Maybe I misunderstood all the disclaimers, etc… But I was PISSED. My blood is up from all the hard (ABSOLUTELY GREAT) driving, my allergies are blinding me, and I could have been left for lost. We get to the hotel and I promptly put my asshole hat on and blow up on Aaron and Peter. I get it out of my system, we grind down to an understanding, and we move on. Everyone was SO cool about it. “This happens every year.” they tell me. I apologize all around, and they are asking ME if we’re cool. Wow. I was so humbled. I was the asshole!
Anyway, the disabled car is on the way, so I get a cold beverage, and ask Peter if he’ll help me bleed my brakes before the flatbed gets arrives. I get some bubbles out, and leave my tools out. Just about the same time we finish, the flatbed shows up.
I pull my long reach jack over, jack stands and we get to work. Andy is working on it, but we can’t get the ball joint separated. They’re working with framing hammers. I tell them I’m going to get MY hammer. They shrug and I walk off to my car and get Thor. Rest assured, it is the biggest usable hammer you have ever seen. (editors note: It really was, it is a giant piece of metal welded onto a giant piece of pipe) I make short work of the ball joint, then get the bolt out of the bushing and we laugh and point at the grunt’s bushing. That thing was literally powder. Meanwhile, we’re working with Paul (Moosehead Engineering) on a solution. He’s got it covered, and we set up a plan to have the bushing delivered. Since I don’t drink, the guys volunteer me to stay up and get the bushing at zero dark thirty. I happily agree, and we commence to hanging out and prepare for dinner. Just as the sun is setting, some of the Canadians are telling me that I’m going to drive Sia’s car (S54 e28). I didn’t put too much stock in it, as it’s Sia’s car, I think he would be the one with the keys. After I’m done with Thor, and we have the disabled car on a jackstand, I’m getting ready to clean my hands and Sia tries to hand me the keys. Okay, let me clean my hands! So I get back and a couple guys jump in the car with me and we take off. Oh wait, first I get the brief about “The Red Button”. Apparently, it’s the ///M button. I get the brief on how to use it and that’s it. No words of caution, no don’t speed, no keep it below 5 grand, nothing. Have fun!
The car was perfect. So much power! The clutch and shift throw were perfect so I just jumped in and no slip, no stalling, etc. I take off HARD, and we get to the interstate. The exhaust RIPS. We get on the interstate, and I set up for PUSHING THE RED BUTTON. The car “shrugs” after pushing the button, and you can tell it’s ready to REALLY go. We blast around for a bit, then get off the highway and go through a tunnel a couple/three times. The other guys are having a ball, the car sounds amazing, and I’m in complete wat mode. We get back on the highway and I start looking around at the car. The AC works (COLD), the temp gauge is un-buffered, etc. It’s just a euro e28 with a huge powerful engine. I finally do a high wind speed run and realize that I’m going to have to hand the keys over and may never get to drive something like this again. I try to soak it in, and enjoy it. I get back, hand the keys over, and we talk about the car some. I ask if he’s interested in driving my car, since it’s got all the suspension stuff. He says yes, but we’ll do it later.
Cousin Billy serves dinner (shrimp salad, chicken salad sandwiches), and we talk and hang out. I go for a nap around 1030, then we take off about 0100 for a town a few miles away. They offer any car in the parking lot for me to drive. I say I want to drive an M5, and Rodney volunteers, as long as he can supervise. It was fun, and a very tight car. I offered my opinion on his shift throw, but other than that, the car was fast and solid. (I definitely prefer the M5 over the M6 I have driven) I think he bought the right one. Sherman wants to come along, but he drives his own car so we have 2 M5s blasting around in virginia in the middle of the night. We get the part, and I think I end up in bed at 0330.
So, I drove some great roads, had the right tools, drove some epic cars, acted like an asshole, was forgiven, and got to help out some people in need. A great day.
Monday May 28, 2012
I meet with Bill and Michelle (driving the Supercharged S50 e28), and we decide to leave about 15 minutes early and go on our own. Michelle will be navigating, and I’ll be trying to keep up with the HP monster. We have a GREAT time and they didn’t have to slow down TOO much for me. Mostly on uphills, etc. We did hours of singletrack/lane and a half roads with no guardrails, lines, or traffic. Awesome. Those bubbles that we bled were really holding the brakes back. I hammer the brakes all day, and they just take it. We cross over into WV, and are getting close to our “midway” stop, and the directions get a little hazy. We tool around a bit, meet some locals, and decide to hang out at Panther State Park to wait for the rest of the group. I break out my peanut butter and jelly, we all share snacks, and hang out. The bugs love us. Since there’s only the two cars, it’s so easy to decide what to do, and we decide that we’ll get out of nowhere and find the bigger roads. We kept expecting people to show up on our tail, but it wasn’t till we were heading back to the interstate that we found a couple e28s in front of us. We then pulled into a gas station where most of the group was. Nice! We all take off for the Mardi Gras Resort/Casino, Cross Lakes West Virginia where we are booked. I don’t think any of us finished the “route” that day, but the first half was pretty dang awesome. WV is just beautiful.
We get cleaned up and decide to eat at the “First Turn” restaurant. It’s got an excellent view of the greyhound track, so we watch about 5 or 6 races and just yak and have some food. I pay cash for my dinner, and we’re walking through the casino to our rooms when I realize that I’m broke. I had reached into my OTHER pocket for my big stash of cash, and it was gone. It was well over $200, and all of a sudden I remember the night before when I’m getting ready to roll around on the deck for the disabled car and I take the envelope with my cash in it and put it under the phone at the hotel. DOH!! We pray about it and call the night manager at the hotel. She says she’ll do her best and leave a note for the day manager and housekeeping. I go ahead and write it off as gone. Not that I have money falling out of my ass, but what can I do? We go to bed relatively early.
Tuesday May 29, 2012
We all get some breakfast. People are getting a late start as the casino was VERY alluring. After I eat, Sherman hands me his phone, and it’s the hotel manager from TN. She says that they found the envelope right where I left it, and all of the money was in there! $270!! Wow, man. Prayers are answered. Bill and Michelle are breaking off today and headed back to that exit, so they agree to pick up the cash. Matter of fact, they just write me a check for the total amount and agree to just keep the cash! I love these guys! We say goodbye, a (editors note: a is Andy’s Username on MyE28.com) fills up the diff in the 533i, and we all get going. There are only 9 vehicles left for the jaunt to our final destination. We take off and have to ride through some towns. We’re keeping together pretty well, and even look so awesome that we cause a 3 car accident. oops. Long story, but the cars should have been looking at what the hell they were doing. Today, I’m navigating pretty well. We get to our halfway stop, have some food, and the sky starts getting dark. I check the radar, and we have a line of red approaching. It’s gonna be a boomer. It’s gonna shit potatoes. Pick your aphorism, but it’s not gonna be nice. Everyone else is pretty cool about it, but I’m dreading it. My car is so stiff it handles like freaking garbage in the rain. I have yet to learn how to set it up to run “right” in the rain. It’s gonna be slow going for me if it rains hard/the roads are wet. I also was having trouble with my wipers again. Last year, the passenger wiper got caught on the driver’s wiper and broke the mechanism. I got a new one from a board member, but somehow it was broken IN THE EXACT SAME SPOT. I JB welded the new one, and I had wipers again! Yesss! Then, as I used the wipers, the passenger one was ummm slipping a bit, and threatening to get tied up in the driver’s one again, so I went ahead and pulled the wiper. Turns out the splines on the actual wiper arm are trashed. Now why didn’t I see that??
Anyway, we take off, and everyone promptly leaves me in the dust. I have the bike and the 533i behind me. I’m taking it super easy when it’s raining/wet, and they keep up just fine. Then when it’s dry, I get my twisty on, and leave them. This goes off and on all afternoon. We finally climb the mountain to Snow Shoe Ski Resort and because it’s off season we have the place literally all to ourselves. The Canadians rented condos, and Sherman and I were sharing a room in a building all by ourselves. Hilarious. We clean up and go over to the condos to hang out and eat. Just before dinner, the sun is still up, and it’s dried out some. I hand the keys to Sia, and he goes up and down the mountain in RECORD time. He says the car has got “potential”. I take that as saying that I still have a LOT of work to be done. And I do. Cousin Billy dazzles again, and we eat well. We BS, drink, eat, sit in the hot tub, bench race, etc. A great time. I say goodnight and goodbye to everyone and almost promise to be out next year. Aaron is gracious and says that I am more than welcome and gives me a few hints about ideas for next year.
Wednesday, May 30, 2013
I take off at 0630, and have about 100 miles of twisties ALL TO MYSELF to get out of West Virginia. It’s great. I take some of my favorite roads on the way back and get back just in time to hang out with the wife and kids.
End Note: 1400 miles; no car problems; no bottoming out/scraping/rubbing despite some wicked elevation changes, turns, rough roads, etc.; and BBK on vacuum boost was perfect.
I feel more confident behind the wheel of my own car… and everyone seemed to get a kick out of my car.
The perfect vacation.