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Ontario 1500 - Day 1

As it seems to go with all projects, the to do list seemed to get longer, rather than shorter as the Ontario 1500 approached. My father needs to be commended for all of the hours that he put into preparing for the event, and that's on top of the thousands of hours spent actually building the car.

With such a unique vehicle, we knew that we would be on our own for spare parts. It's not like we can walk up to the counter at any Parts store to purchase heim ends, Wilwood brake pads or an Appleton steering rack.

My race car was stripped of any usable parts, including the steering rack, tie rods and spare control arms and ball joints. Other spares include a complete set of pads, distributor & wires, rocker arms & push rods and starter. That's just the high ticket items! The trailer was also packed with the necessary tools to make any repair along our journey. Hopefully, we won't need any of it!

The rules allow for two full sets of tires to run the event but with limited miles on the Nitto NT05s, we did not want to commit to two brand new sets before getting a chance to really feel them out. Instead, we opted two only bring two spare tires for the week but without having a square setup, the size would have to be a compromise. With 235s on the front and 275s across the back, we ordered 255s as spares so that they can be used on either end of the car. Eventually, they will find a permanent home at the front of the car.

Until this point, the Studebaker was trailered to all events with the only street driven miles being to local cruise nights. With only 344 miles on the odometer, we felt that an extended highway run would not be a bad idea. On the Thursday prior to departing, the Studebaker completed a 100 mile loop to Fort Erie and back, achieving a respectable 21 MPG while cruising between 65 and 70 MPH.

Friday brought a trip across the border to the UPS/Purolator depot to pick up some LED headlights and an electronic defroster. Unfortunately, the defroster did not arrive in time, so the entire week will be run with no heat or defrost. Liberal application of Ran-X anti-fox on the inside and water repellant to the outside of the windshield is the best that we can do. THE LED headlights will also remain on the to-do list, as they will require surgery to the the back of the headlight buckets. Instead, a pair of fresh incandescents were installed before our departure. To assist with the night time drive, a second pair of driving lights were also installed.

The weather outlook for the entire week is fantastic, except for the weekend immediately preceding the event. The drive to Bowmanville would prove to be a wet and soggy affair. The Stude left Grimsby with 444 miles on the clock and after a brief stop in Burlington to load a few more items, my Ontario 1500 adventure officially started.

The first audible was executed as we approached Toronto. With overhead signs warning of extremely slow traffic ahead, we changed our route to follow the 407 toll road with plans to rejoin the 401 once we had cleared the big city. The 407 was a great decision but rejoining the 401 certainly was not. The 404, otherwise knows as the "Don Valley Parking Lot" certainly lived up to its name. I'm not sure if there was an accident, or if it was just full of cottagers returning to the city, but the 401 was not moving and the backlog stretched for several miles.

Stop and go traffic does not play kindly with an engine that has north of 500 horsepower and the longer we sat in traffic, the higher the water temperature climbed. Eventually, we gave up on rejoining the highway and merged into the through traffic, heading south beyond the highway. After a few zigs and another zag, we were able to rejoin the 401, heading East with a clear road ahead.

Eventually, we arrived at our destination after a quick stop to refill the tank. A quick calculation revealed that with a fully loaded trailer and some stop-and-go traffic, our mileage dropped to 14 MPG. As primary sponsor for the Ontario 1500, Canadian Tire provided each team received an Eliminator Ultra battery; which will install prior to hitting the track in the morning. After registration, tech and introducing ourselves to fellow competitors, we were back on our way a few hours later. After a brief stop for dinner, we arrived at our hotel for the night. With a full week of events on the track and plenty of highway miles, getting a great rest prior to the start of the week will be critical.

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