Bust . . . . . . . . . . By Kent Cartner W1092
How many of you have seen the words " ___________ Or Bust"
(fill in the name of a city) pasted on the side of a van or bus full of folks heading to
some event that was of importance to them. I never really appreciated the meaning of that
quote until I started my trek to Dayton Beach to be a part of the C5 Registry gathering
and view the inaugural race of the new Corvette C5-R team.
Like many of the C5 Registry members, my anticipation for
the race grew as the date drew closer. Hotel rooms were booked, caravan arrangements made
and info on GM personnel attending all added to the excitement. The anticipation picked up
a notch when Dan Adovasio and Jake Drennon announced that Corvette Brand Manager, Jim
Campbell, had helped them secure permission for a first ever parade lap around the famous
Daytona oval! (How fast do you need to go to stay on the banked turns?!!)
January 28th finally arrived and John Jones, a
friend of mine from the Star City Corvette Club in Roanoke, VA, and I loaded up the 98
Nassau Blue Convertible and headed for Daytona. Arrangements had been made to link up with
fellow C5 Registry Members Bruce Phipps, Jim Potts, Lynn Kennedy, Nadine Carmody, Chaz
Cone, and Mase Sanford along the route to Daytona. We did not have a "Daytona or
Bust" sign on my Blue Baby, but thats kind of how all of us felt. We would not
miss the historical "Corvette Returns to Racing" parade lap and 24 hour race for
The day started out great. I told my trusty navigator John
that when the temp hits 68, the top comes down! We did not have long to wait to feel the
wind in our hair. Things are going well as we link up with Lynn and Nadine near Raleigh,
NC. We hit the road in our RED, WHITE, and BLUE caravan - kind of appropriate for the
"only true American sports car". We stopped at a rest area just out side of
Florence, SC, where things started to get interesting! As we accelerated out of the rest
area merging on to I-95, the left rear of my Vette flew in the air and we heard a loud
BANG! I thought I had blown a transmission!
My DIC immediately registered "reduced handling, left
rear tire flat". I pulled over to the side of the road, got out and had a sinking
feeling as I saw a huge gash in my left rear tire and an even worse 'V' gash in my wheel.
Lynn and Kurt Kennedy pull up behind wondering why we have stopped. Nadine, unaware of any
problems, continues on the road. At this point I am wondering, WHAT THE HECK did I hit? We
saw nothing in the road as we left the rest stop and Lynn and Kurt saw nothing behind us
as we pulled over. I immediately checked the front tire, undercarriage and body panels for
any damage. I figured whatever could tear up a wheel and tire like that must have done
some more damage! To my surprise, I could not find even the smallest nick - what a relief!
OK, time to use my warranty and call 1-800-CHEVUSA for
help. They say - "No Problem, a wrecker will be there in 30 minutes!" Lynn &
Kurt stayed with us until they were sure we had coordinated getting to a dealership.
Nadine called to make sure I was OK. Its nice to know so many care!! Time check - it is
now 4:00 PM. One hour and 15 minutes later, the wrecker arrives. In the meantime I had
called the local dealer and explained my situation. I asked if they might have a tire and
wheel in stock so I could get back on the road to Daytona. After the service tech stopped
rolling on the floor with laughter, he informed me that I needed to get to the dealership
by 5:30 or wait until the next morning. He further stated that it would be "sometime
next week" before I could expect to get the car fixed - Keep in mind this is Thursday
evening. The wrecker operator put the pedal to the metal and we arrived at 5:30 PM on the
dot! The service tech wrote up the information, took the keys, and locked the door. John
and I are sitting on the curb outside the service area with our luggage stacked next to us
looking like a couple of dejected hitchhikers.
Bruce Phipps had sent out everyones cell phone number
on a pre-trip e-mail so at least we could keep in touch. I called Jim Potts in the super
stock motor home to see where he might be. Luckily (for me anyway) Jim had a problem with
his motor home bathroom plumbing (we wont touch that one!) and was running about two
hours late. He graciously agreed to pick us up (two people he had never met!) As I was
coordinating the details, a gentleman from the parts department, Wes Stroman, struck up a
conversation with John. John filled him in on our plight and our 'quest' to make Daytona
for the parade lap and the race. Wes started asking questions like, "Had anyone tried
to get on line and locate a wheel and tire?" Wes took my cell phone number, said he
would get on it right away (it was now 7:00 PM) and committed on the spot to getting the
car fixed by Saturday so I could at least pick it up on my way back through Florence on
Monday. He then offered to take us to a local restaurant so we could grab a bite to eat
and wait for Jim. In the mean time, Bruce Phipps, Lynn Kennedy, Tony Petrea all called to
check on me.
Jim and his wife arrived, took us to Savannah where we
spent the night. Friday morning we met up with Chaz Cone, Mase Sanford, Bruce Phipps, Lynn
Kennedy and Nadine Carmody. Mase gets on the horn and calls around trying to find a wheel
and tire - no luck. We all start to talk about a plan for SOMEONE to stock a set of wheels
and tires so if anyone else in the Registry ever has this problem, we could call in and
get a wheel and/or tire. Hind site is wonderful!!!!!
We head out for Daytona in caravan. I jump in Mase Sanfords
Mallett C5 - what a ride; we never saw our caravan again. Wes Stroman calls me with an
update; he has located a tire in Tennessee and a wheel in Columbia, SC. He arranges for
express bus delivery and tells me he thinks there is an outside chance my car may be ready
Friday evening - ALL RIGHT - Parade Lap here we come!!!!!!! Wes says it all has to fall
together with the tire getting on one bus and the wheel on another. He commits to
PERSONALLY picking the wheel and tire up from the bus station and taking them to the
Goodyear Tire shop for mounting. He tells me that he wants to get me on that parade lap!!!
We get to Daytona where Mase takes me to the local airport
- he thinks we might be able to find a private pilot who would fly me back to Florence if
my car gets fixed. It was a valiant effort and a great idea, but it did not work out. In
the mean time my story is spreading through the C5 ranks. A lot of folks expressed concern
for me and my car, provided encouragement and support, and said they were cheering for me.
Wes calls at 4:30 and utters those words I have been waiting to hear - " your car is
fixed, come and pick it up." I could not believe that in less than 24 hours from the
time I dropped it off it was ready - only one problem - I am 410 miles and about 6 hours
away. By the time I could get a rental car and drive to Florence, we are looking at 11:00
PM on a Friday night. Wes says "No problem, Ill give you my home phone number.
Call me when you get within 30 miles and I will meet you."
Tom Crawford gives me a ride to the airport; I pick up a
car and am on the road by 5:30 PM. At 11:30 PM I roll into Florence where Wes meets me and
leads me to the airport where I drop the rental car. Wes gives me a ride back to the
dealership and gets me on the road at Midnight.
Five and a half hours later I am rolling into the hotel at
Daytona Beach. We get a wake-up call for 7:00 AM so we can get the car cleaned up and meet
with all of the other Vettes for the parade.
Wes had given me the damaged wheel as a souvenir, so I
figured what the heck, Ill make a little sign 'FOR SALE CHEAP' as a joke and put the
wheel by my car. Pretty soon folks start asking me what happened, was I all right, did the
car get hurt, etc. The Wheel is drawing a crowd, Im starting to get real 'punchy'
about now so I grab a marker and ask folks to start signing my wheel. Pretty soon Jim
Campbell walks by and signs the wheel. The #2 Corvette Drivers show up and THEY sign the
wheel. By the time we get in the car for the parade lap, just about everyone in the parade
has signed the darned thing! Coming off of the track, Dave Hill was standing there waving
at all the Vettes, I pulled up, parked the car, grabbed the wheel and took off running
down the line of Vettes toward Dave. I am sure he wondered what this crazy guy running
towards him with a wheel rim wanted. Dave was gracious enough to sign it with an 'OUCH' as
well as his name.
By now the wheel is famous. Dan and Jake tell me I have to
hang it on a chain around my neck and bring it to all the C5 Registry events! Someone
mentioned it might be easier to loan it to the NCM for display. About that time Liz Hill
from the NCM walks up, we tell here about the idea and she says, "Great, send it
in." So if you go to the Museum and see a wheel with a lot of autographs and a big
'V' about three inches deep in the sidewall, you will know what happened.
The remainder of the day (and night) is sort of a blur. The
race was great, the C5-R team did very well on their first outing and I found out that the
C5 Registry people are GREAT! A lot of people helped me out and expressed concern for my
safety and for my C5. I also found out what GREAT customer service is like. Wes Stroman at
Newsome Automotive in Florence, SC, is one PRINCE of a guy. If you ever get by that
Dealership, stop by and give him a pat on the back.
I guess you could say the trip really was a 'BUST' but the
way I look at it, no one was hurt, the car was OK, my insurance covered most of the $1,200
expense, my wheel is now famous, and I met a LOT of super C5 Registry folks. Hmmm, maybe I
SHOULD put the wheel up for sale on the NCM auction page. Maybe I could get enough to buy
a 50th Anniversary Vette!
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