Return to Road Atlanta: Chapter 2. Hello Dolly! and Cletus too!

I did find a way. I always do.

WW snarling
I always thought I was a Marvel girl. Until fellow Car Spotter GoThing NC assigned Wonder Woman as my superhero character. She needs reading glasses, then we can be twins. (Image copyright DC Comics)

Absent an imminent trailer purchase, my Pig, a Mercedes Benz R 320 CDI would haul a tow dolly, but needed a hitch.

A week ahead, we ordered the OEM MB tow hitch. Four days later, no word. This could take months! Truly, one of the organic joys of German automobile ownership is paying love in gray hairs.  “kein Problem dude. That’s where ‘Murica wins!” and I drove to UHaul.

The UHaul sign promised: “Right Hitch, Right Price, Right Now!”  Translation? “A week from now, miss. Next in line.” I called Matt at Leonard’s in Durham who could get the hitch by Friday, but that would be too late.

With just 28 hours until drivers meeting, I got a truck. My exhausted debit card shuddered.

My plan: depart Thursday night for a midnight arrival in Dawsonville. Meeting Ron Z at Discovery Parts and Clay at Racing Analytics at 7am Friday. All day would be dedicated to set up: I hoped to have a personally fitted racing seat photo 1installed, the existing drivers seat mounted on the right, the fire extinguisher relocated, and a pre-track inspection done by evening. Then, I’d drive to Braselton for Chin registration.

Coordinating this in four days required serious scheduling gymnastics. Kudos to Mrs. Zap and Shea H!

Thursday after clinic, I picked up the UHauls.  I had never done anything remotely like this before! I could barely see over the trucks’s steering wheel. Big T guided as I loaded Moxie onto the dolly. It tore off the front bumper. A harbinger of  the future, no doubt, but I remained oblivious from excitement. (Note to self: always take Rennlisters’ cautions seriously!) Packed, loaded, humming to myself, I blithely set off! 

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The MoxieMobile. Driving the GianTruck was kind of fun, in a sleazy, cigarette-smoke, exotic way.

Twently minutes down I-85, I remembered: Rain tires! Moxie had slicks and it was a 60% forecast.

An hour later, with tires on board, and Dolly’s speed limit at 55mph, I realized my ETA would be 2:30 am, best case. Sigh.

But, like many of you, I enjoy driving and by the time I passed the South Carolina border, I had melted into the pleasurable experience with an operatic accompaniment.

By 2:15 am, still an hour from Dawsonville, The MoxieMobile, Puccini, and I were lone ramblers on the diamond-studded asphalt, riding left lane at 65mph. A pair of headlights rapidly approached from behind and, nudging the wheel toward the right lane, I reached the turn signal. Just as I flipped it, my mirror lit up with flashing blue lights.

I wasn’t speeding! I wasn’t weaving! I wasn’t even listening to rap music! What???

I pulled onto the shoulder. With hands raised, trembling, nauseated with panic, I sat still. From behind, a flashlight beamed on my neck. The officer approached the passenger window, motioning to roll it down.

“Ma’am, do you know why I stopped you?” He sounded like a 16-year-old.

“Please officer! I wasn’t speeding! I just got a ticket on this road six weeks ago! My husband will kill me! Please, no ticket!”

I sounded shrill over the crescendo of Tosca stabbing Scarpia in the murder scene Il Bacio di Tosca! The officer gestured to turn the sound down.

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The Dukes of Hazzard: Cletus and Roscoe. Image owned by Warner Brothers Studios.

“I just wanted to check if you were awake, that’s all. Is this your truck Ma’am?”

“I’m awake, sir. It’s a UHaul.”

“erhrrrm…” he awkwardly cleared his throat. He asked me who owns the race car and where was I going.

“I’m taking my car to drive at Road Atlanta, sir.”

Glancing agog at my orange helmet on the passenger seat, his fingertips reached into the window toward my folded Nomex jacket. Unconsciously caressing the embroidered SunTrust logo, his eyes grew wide.

“Is this your helmet? And your racing suit?”

I nodded.

“Do you like to drive on track?”

“Yes.” I hiccuped, my arms still raised.

His expression changed. He chuckled, returned my license, and patted the truck.

“Don’t worry about it Ma’am!” he waved.

Being an old lady does come with plusses! I breathed deeply and shifted to D.

By 3:45am I was checked in at the Dawson Village Inn Hotel, in Georgia. Noticing the truck, the young receptionist offered the main entrance awning for parking, because their lot was fully packed.  I had overshot by 2 feet, and needed to reverse for correct positioning.

Some lessons are so incredibly painful, mainly because of the context.
Some lessons are so incredibly painful, mainly because of the context.

Or, I could just drive it around the hotel” I thought, cleverly. Imagining the hot shower and cozy bed  awaiting me momentarily, I pulled toward the far end of the lot where I would turn, and … hit a dead end. “Oh carp!”

Next indelible lesson: *It is not possible to reverse a dolly.* Remember this one forever kids.

The truck, the dolly, and Moxie were blocking a dozen vehicles. After futile solo struggles, I asked the receptionist for help. Brandon good-naturedly guided my attempts toward un-stuckness.

Absolutely minimal progress 45 minutes later, I could no longer see straight.  I had not slept in 24 hours. Sunrise was imminent and I was scheduled to meet the folks at Discovery Parts in two hours. No, I did not cry. Instead, I decided to take a nap!

This young man, Brandon, is the person who exemplifies the type of unexpected and selfless kindness people have shown me on so many occasions. He is currently seeking his Masters Degree in Education, and works the night shifts at the hotel reception desk. To his right is his sister in law who is the morning desk clerk.
This young man, Brandon, is the person who inspired me!

With Brandon’s blessing, I left the parking lot jammed with the hideous contraption. Staggering upstairs, I collapsed into the bed. Perhaps I slept. Forty-five minutes later I was downstairs. Showered and alive. Brandon was still there, smiling softly with kind eyes. He had waited after his shift in case I needed help.

Inspired by this unexpected flash of kindness, I felt a freshness of purpose! The potent combination of a hot shower, clean panties, and caffeine re-surged my ridiculous optimism! In a bounding victory over middle-aged sleep deprivation, I charged the beast again!

The night had melted seamlessly into morning. A light mist hung in the air.
The night arced seamlessly into morning. A light mist hung in the air.

This time, we succeeded in pulling a full 3 point- turn in less than 30 minutes! Amidst a small cheering audience, I took photos and said goodbyes.photo 1

With Moxie’s nose pointed in the right direction, she was ready to go. Twenty minutes later I signed the waiver at the gates of Atlanta Motorsports Park. The guard seemed shocked that I arrived in a UHaul. “I’ve never seen anything like it before!”

High snob factor or not, everyone at AMP was very kind. Bleary-eyed but victorious, I had reached my destination!

photo 3
Mission phase one: Accomplished!

7 thoughts on “Return to Road Atlanta: Chapter 2. Hello Dolly! and Cletus too!

      1. Dear Agt 007, I owe my driving skills to my excellent instructors…such as you! Any errors in my driving are my own. Thank you so much for the kind words, the encouragement, the friendship and the faith you have shown in me all these months. Your pal, FDM

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