ACC is proud to display our members Corvettes. This month we are presenting Bruce & Mary Wentzel.
What it takes to run the last autocross of the year.
We had some time share to use before the end of the year and what a better way to do it than to head to Florida with plans to run the final NCCC event of the year at Brooksville. Of course the weather can be challenging in December anywhere between here and there so some decisions had to be made.
Would we take a car on the trailer or drive a Corvette? Trailering in bad weather could be pretty bad. BTDT. So driving our 2016 Z51R Stingray seemed a reasonable choice. After all, if the weather got too bad to drive then we could just stop for an evening. Next decision, drive on the OE Michelins or the Bridgestone RE71Rs, expecting them to be the better autocross tire without too much downside for traveling.
Decided to go for the best autocross package so off we went on Friday Dec 1, stopping in Niota, TN that evening to visit with some NCCC friends. Must have been a lot of snowbirds going south that day as we detoured from I-75 twice because of intense traffic congestion. Saturday headed for Florida with a stop in Leesburg to visit old time CCM'ers Jan and Marge Millen. Once again, detouring from the Interstate twice. Darn snowbirds! We had a nice visit and next day a leisurely drive to Kissimmee.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn-Orange Lake Resort from Dec. 3 until December 9th. While at the resort we had lunch with Bruce's step sister and her husband who live in Celebration, Florida. In the evening, we watched them make snow at the center of town in Celebration. They make snow every night during the holidays. It is more like soap bubbles, but the kids (little and big) have a ball laying in it, making "snow" angels and throwing it. We had breakfast with Chef Mickey at the Contemporary Hotel. They have a real nice large buffet and Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto and Goofy visit each table.
The grand opening of Disney Springs (previously Downtown Disney) was all decorated for the holidays and many new stores were open. It is a shoppers paradise. Each time we go there the Ghirardelli ice cream shop is a must. We have started to split the sundaes because they are so large. A must is the Orlando International Premium Outlet. Bruce is wonderful in going with me to all the fun places. (smart dude that I am, lol) We went to Epcot and went on the new "Soarin" which was real cool.
They closed the Test Track due to rain. It was nice being able to relax before heading to Brooksville, Florida to run 7 autocross events early Saturday morning. Ran the always fun events they do but regretfully only had time to take the first 7 runs because of the travel coming up.
From Brooksville we headed to Port St Lucie where my (Bruce) brother lives, but not without a stop in Sarasota to pick up pies at Yoders Restaurant for him. He was distressed that we were driving the Corvette and could only squeeze 5 pies in the car on this trip. After spending a few days with him we headed north. The weather in Florida was really nice, but we had to return to Michigan for Christmas. The plan was to visit some other NCCC friends in SC then on to PA to visit my son and his family over the weekend of Dec 17-18. I was monitoring the weather forecast on a daily basis to avoid any snow or freezing weather. It was looking like a plan that would work. Possible snow on that weekend when we'd be visiting and clearing by Monday when we would drive home.
Well, the best laid plans, as they say. We were on our way to PA when my son called and he sounded like death warmed over. We knew his wife had been sick for weeks but with two of them we decided to turn toward Michigan right away. Of course now the weather avoidance plan was put in turmoil. The forecast was for snow in Michigan that evening and no way to get home before it, but of course we hightailed it toward home.
All was well until Ann Arbor. Snow started to fall and the roads were slippery I think. Can't be sure how they were for cars on real road tires, but I was skating. Few were passing me, either I was all over the road scaring them, or it was slippery for all of us. Getting progressively worse as we travel north. Remember I would stop for bad weather? Well, in the morning there was a forecast for 5 or 6 inches of snow accumulation so I'd be holed up for a good day, maybe more. Time for forge ahead. From the intersection of US23 and I-96 there are 3 choices to get home, 2 of which involve hills of note. Chose the 3rd which was the longest but hopefully navigable. Snow getting deeper but we are making progress.
Until I get to within 1.5 miles from the house. There is a grade as you turn onto Commerce Rd from Hickory Rd that you don't think out under normal circumstances. These were not normal. I got around the corner, somewhat, but not really straight on the road. The car went sideways to the road at 3 mph and I was immobilized rather perpendicular to it. I'd been in weather mode all along and the car just would not move at this point.
So, I did the logical thing, turned off the traction control so I could spin the tires and managed to get up that hill. PHEW! As expected, Bridgestone RE71R tires are not very good in the snow.
So, there's our joint effort story. Got you confused as to who was writing what? Not to worry, our Rally in April will be easier to follow. Join us for that.
Thanks for sharing the photos and story of your car with us, Bruce and Mary Wentzel