Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival,
Road America 2003

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1. Introduction/the Tale of the Trailer

There it was on the [email protected] email list. An announcement for the Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival at Road America... featuring... LOTUS!

Well, my family and I have attended eight or ten of the major vintage races held every year at Mid Ohio, but this summer's schedule sort of knocked that one out this year. When I saw the announcement for the Road America event, I decided I'd better see what I could do about getting myself over there! It didn't take too much convincing that I really ought to go, with Lotus being featured and all -- the Mid Ohio events had never featured Lotus! MG, Triumph, Camaro, Corvette, Porsche (at least two or three times) Jaguar... but never Lotus. I simply HAD to go! Of course I equally HAD to take the Seven with me.

No dear, I do not intend to drive it 360 miles past Chicago on a Friday afternoon! I had the option of begging Rick Cook's neat little car hauler trailer again, but I get tired of borrowing, and besides, I had started to collect the bits I'd need to built by own simple, lightweight hauler. I already had wheels and tires, a brand new drop axle, springs and hangers... all I needed was the frame.

I did up a couple of sketches to get some pricing. Sketch number one was a slick job, with square tube frame, consisting mainly of two one foot wide 'rails' decked with tread plate for the car to ride on. An estimate of $1,200 for that one ($550 for labor alone) was rather well out of my budget! Sketch two was rather simpler, the rails being made up of 3" angle iron oriented in such a way that I could drop a 2" x 12" x 9 foot board between the angles and call it good. Much lighter weight too! That one came in at about $375, which was much more along the lines I had been expecting!

I went in to the nearby tractor repair and farm fabrication shop, on a Monday with the hope of picking up the trailer the following Monday so I would have a couple of days to test and fiddle with it... so much for plans! Stopping in on Friday, my axle was still sitting out in the pen, and not a piece of steel had even been cut in preparation for my trailer! I called on Monday, and was told that they had the raw material in, and that the welder expected to have the frame tacked together for my approval on Tuesday. Turns out it was ready on Wednesday to look at, and Thursday morning it would be finished. So, a road test on the way to Road America would have to suffice! So I picked up the trailer Thursday noon, dropped it at my house and went back to work. Thursday evening was spent attaching bolts to secure the tie downs, wiring up the lights, laying in the boards, and pushing the car up onto the trailer. Well, it fit, and didn't collapse! By midnight, I was in bed. Friday mornings I drop my daughter off at school, so away we went, lined up with all the other mommies and daddies dropping their kids off, but us towing a trailer with a Lotus Seven on the back. Don't ya just love standing out in a crowd?!

Threading my way back out the school parking lot, I definitely noticed, or rather didn't notice the trailer tugging and bouncing around as has been the case with a variety of other trailers I've towed. At 25 to 30 miles an hour, it was like nothing at all. So now, onto the on-ramp to hit the highway to work, and I gradually worked up to speed. I was perfectly comfortable with 60 mph, again, everything seemed smooth and secure.

I began going through my mental checklist of everything I'd packed, being sure I had a few tools, spares, changes of jeans, ticket... the TICKET! Where was it? I thought I had already put it in the car, but couldn't figure out where - not pulling a new trailer at 60 mph on the highway anyway! I was halfway to work before I decided that I'd better turn back home and look around for it. So I tested how the trailer would track at 70 mph on the way back to the house... it was fine. Back in the comfort of my driveway I tore through the interior of the car looking for the bloody ticket packet. Padded envelope... where was it? I resorted to standing on my head to look under the passenger seat - not under there, but what was that behind the seat? Sure enough, I had put my sleeping bag on top of the envelope which I had tossed on the floor behind the passenger seat the night before. Big sigh. I decided 70 was a good top speed for the rig, and continued directly to my office at that rate.


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