OBJECTS OF DESIRE – Return of the Curse of NNJR

Emily AtkinsBy Emily Atkins, Provinz Editor (from Provinz August 2014 page 37)

EmilyObjects

Photo by Brian Graham

It was with some considerable trepidation that I signed up for the NNJR-UCR Driver Education weekend at CTMP (Mosport) this year. My track record at this event has been less than stellar, with the engine seizure of my red 944 in 2012, and the plumbing failure that sidelined the silver 944T in 2013. The curse of NNJR haunts me.

I would be bringing the 911 racecar. Why would I want to expose it to the Bermuda triangle of DE events that mysteriously manages to drive a wedge between me and my driving pleasure every time I attend?

A week before the event I dropped the 911 to a mechanic for an oil change and inspection and general pre-track nut and bolt exam. Driving the Ford Explorer tow pig home, I’m waiting in line to turn left, and SKREEEEEEEECH, GRIND, CRUNCH, CRUNCH, GRIND—a TTC bus has cut in behind me, trying to get to the curb lane. He miscalculated his turn and ground off the back right corner off the Explorer. The taillight is gone, bumper broken, quarter panel mashed.

I don’t need to repeat what I said. I’ll leave it to your imagination.

The following Thursday I’m driving a giant (and wonderful) Ram 2500 pickup as my replacement tow vehicle. At the mechanic’s it’s obvious the hitch I use on the Explorer won’t do with the taller truck. An hour’s detour to Canadian Tire gets me set up with a new hitch and finally I’m on my way to the track, racecar in tow.

Except it’s now 6pm and I’m more than two hours away. The NNJR track package says the gates close at 8pm. Do I want to risk missing it and have to sleep in the truck on the road?

After trying to get an answer while driving, I give up and pull into my parents’ place (where I normally store the racecar). My 92-year-old dad helps me turn the truck and trailer around, but we don’t quite make it past the barn as I position the rig for a quick pre-dawn departure. The trailer fender clips the barn’s corner, and then the wheel gets wedged. I’m stuck. Really stuck.

After a great deal of machination, argument between me and my dad, consultations (thank you, Dave Osborne, for the inspired suggestion that ultimately proved to be the solution) and the arrival of a friend to help, we jacked up the trailer on both sides, attached the back corner to an oak tree and used a ratchet strap to haul it six inches away from the barn.

At 5am the next morning I’m ready for the drive to Mosport. Apparently Mr Murphy slept in the truck overnight—the running lights, that were perfect when I switched off last night, are now kaput. I fiddle a bit with them and give up. If the cops stop me, so be it. With the eventual appearance of the sun I sigh with relief and by 6:10 I’m at the track, no ticket.

And that was it. The curse stopped there. The weekend was fantastic. I made great new friends from Rennsport and Michigan, visited with good old ones and enjoyed every second of seat time.

So the question remains: was it the curse of NNJR that made the bus hit me, setting off this train of events? I think perhaps not—the track event itself was actually more of a blessing than a curse.

Nonetheless, I love how much I learn every time an adventure comes to me. You cannot stagnate if you keep trying new things, push your limits and see what happens. Adversity develops resourcefulness, helps to cultivate deep friendships and ensures that life is never dull.

Facing down a curse isn’t so terrible. Push on through, never quit and you’ll come out with a story, at the very least.

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