May Maine Madness

The weekend prior to Memorial Day 1998 saw us once again headed north for our fourth run in the New England 1000. CatieCat, my 62 XKE roadster was prepped and ready for another week of fast running, this time into the wilds of Maine. Rich and Jean Taylor, our hosts, had planned a grand tour of Maine, starting and ending in Freeport, Maine, home of LL Bean. The trip up began with a pleasant ferry ride to Bridgeport, Connecticut from Long Island and run up to Lee, Mass. to pick up my trusty navigator and co-conspirator, Clark Nicholls. We arrived at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport mid afternoon after a delightful 400 mile top down run.

We awoke Sunday to greet old friends from previous years and to the sight and sounds of more competitors arriving. After a hearty breakfast, a tour of the parking lot revealed an incredible array of classic machinery. An Alvis Speedster, Bugatti Type 57C, Alfa Romeo 6C2500 and an Auburn 852 Speedster fresh out of restoration were among the more exotic. Morgans, Mercedes, Ferraris, Astons Martins, Porsches and Jags were in abundance along with an AC Bristol, a Abarth-Fiat Allemano Spyder, AC Cobra and an assortment of MGs including our co-champions from last year Peter and Karen Efros in their MG TD.

Jaguar was very well represented this year with eight entries out of fifty-one total. These included Mike and Jill Griffin in a 1953 XKC Proteus replica, four XK 150s owned by John Darack, Ron and Whitney Gaeta, Ray and June Thompson and Chris Sas as well as the XKEs of Charlie and Chuck Goolsbee (all the way from Texas!) and Andy and Luke Manganaro. We were indeed in good company this year!

A further surprise awaited us as we toured the lot sizing up the competition. We were approached by an ESPN crew member who asked if we would be interested in taking them for a top down ride through the countryside so they could shoot some video of us and another car for a possible cable show on the event. We quickly grabbed Ron Gaeta and his beautiful XK 150 and off we went to the Maine countryside for about an hour of video taken from each car. Hope it makes it to the air!

This years event sent us on 1005 miles spread over four days and 14 rally stages with some very interesting special stages and points of interest. Special stages included an autocross at an airport, visits to two race tracks at White Mountain and Oxford Speedway and the chance to run the car on a real 1/8 mile drag strip! Great fun to line up against another E and go at it! Our best of three runs, with navigator aboard, was 10.139 seconds at 73.31 mph. The drag strip runs were just for fun but the track and autocross events were timed laps and used to score the speed events.

The tour took us to several automotive points of interest along the way including the Owls Head Transportation Museum, a must see display of antique autos and planes. Here we were treated to a old fashion Maine lobster bake while surrounded by these marvelous antiques. Stops were also made at the homes of Bob Bahre to view his fabulous collection of Dusenbergs and Packards and at Andy and Sarah Rheault, noted Bugatti collectors and restorers. The opportunity to see a Bugatti restoration underway is not to be missed. We also were treated to dinner one evening aboard the Lafayette Dinner Train. A gourmet dinner is served aboard restored antique dinner cars while the train takes a leisurely two hour trip to nowhere and back. It is easy to imagine yourself in the early part of the century when this was a common, first class, way to travel.

CatieCat and her fellow felines proved both swift and reliable over the four days. Despite our best finish ever, scoring only one penalty point in over 1000 miles of rallying it was not quite enough as John Burton and Helen Wickett, in their 1967 Lotus Europa, ran a perfect event and took first place honors. We finished first in class, second overall in the rally and first in class and third overall in the speed events. We were not alone with class wins however, with Mike and Jill Griffin in the 1953 C replica taking first in class in both events and ninth overall and Charles and Chuck Goolsbee in a 1965 XKE doing the same in their class finishing fifth overall! "Team Jaguar" had taken more first place trophies than any other marque! Icing on the cake after a week of fine motoring.

As always, Rich and Jean Taylor conduct a well run, thoroughly enjoyable, first class event. The Maine countryside proved as beautiful and challenging (black flies and all!) as any of the previous events. Once again, proceeds from the event were used to make a sizable charitable donation this time to the Maine Police Scholarship Fund.

Events of this type are a great way to enjoy your classic car. Four beautiful days of top down motoring, in the company of fifty other classic cars carrying like minded folks, fine food and lodging makes for a grand time and some great memories. Our thanks to Jaguar Cars for making our participation in this event possible.