I just returned home from my first 24 Hours of LeMons race in Fernley, Nevada, and while you can read all about it in this issue, there's a little piece of the story I want to elaborate on. No, it doesn't have anything to do with the event-the tow up was an adventure in itself.
When it came down to the wire, we ended up borrowing a trailer from my teammate Vince's buddy. To his credit, I still appreciate the fact that his friend was willing to make the tow up to L.A. from San Diego, where I would then take over the 600-mile journey. But the poor thing looked like it was pulled from the cargo hold of the RMS Titanic; yes, it even had the same shade of rust covering its metal frame, and the wood boards were, well, lacking in certain spots.
Our first problem occurred coming down Interstate 5, just past the Grapevine. I looked over and asked "Do you smell that?" Could my brakes be the source of the dreadful stench? We assumed the trailer didn't have brakes, and figured the 6 percent downhill grade wasn't helping. After pulling over to check things out and not spotting a problem, we continued up the highway for a few miles, until we saw a guy passing us putting his hands to his nose, gesturing that something stinks. Just as I looked at the passenger-side mirror-boom! We lost a tire on the trailer. Second problem: We didn't have a spare! Third problem: My towing service had just expired, and even after I renewed it on the phone, they later rejected me for not having RV coverage.
We only had one choice and that was to pull the tire off, get on SR 99, and try to limp into Bakersfield. At 30 mph, we got, say, 5 miles before running into our fourth problem: The second tire on the passenger side decided to let go. Think fast: Call a tow truck to haul our third-gen, swap over one of the remaining two tires to get back on the road, and hope we make the 26 miles to Bako. We made it, but everything was shut down by then until the morning.
Another day and four fresh tires later, we were back on the road with little time to make our 5 p.m. deadline for tech inspection. Lucky for us, Vince's father-in-law was already up there and explained to the techs our situation. And just when I thought it couldn't get any worse than pulling a trailer at 6,000 feet elevation through Lake Tahoe with little to hold us back from falling off the cliff...fifth problem: We were pulled over by the highway patrol for expired trailer tags-by five years! I have to admit, the officer was friendly enough, and after hearing about our past 24 hours, he cut us a break and only fined us with a registration ticket, which was better than the alternative: impounding both the trailer and car. Thankfully, the remainder of the tow was fine and even the 10-hour tow home went relatively flawless.
The moral of this story? Before any haul, check the tires and make sure you have RV coverage. If my twisted tale of what should have been a simple tow can save you from a similar headache, the experience was well worth it. I know I can't be the only one who has gone through this sort of debacle. Share your tale-and if we print it, I'll trade you a Chevy High plate for it!