Thursday, August 10, 2023

1 SASY 67

When I met Nan in 1991, I owned a 1984 Corvette -- just one Corvette.  Nan owned two sports cars -- a Datsun 300ZX and a classic 1967 1/2 Datsun "Fairlady" Roadster.  

I decided a beautiful woman who owned two sports cars was too good to let get away, so we got engaged, married, and joined our lives together.

Nan had purchased the Roadster in 1984 and drove it to college classes at San Diego State University.  The car had a convertible top, but she preferred to not use it in favor of a tonneau cover -- a California girl in a convertible.  Parking at SDSU for commuter students was a challenge, so she would head to class in the early the morning chill, crouched down in the driver's seat, peering between the top of the dash and the bottom of the steering wheel.  

Nan loved the car and after we became a couple, she would drive it around San Diego County on weekends with me riding shotgun, and her big golden retriever, "Boomer", sitting on the back "ledge" behind the bucket seats.  After Canon was born in 1993, Nan would take her for rides in the Roadster down by the beach here in Carlsbad.

Nan had purchased a vanity tag for the car -- 1 SASY 67.  Completely fitting.  


By 1997 I had purchased and restored a 1962 Corvette.  I did all the maintenance on the Corvette and her Roadster.  I came up with a great idea! I said to Nan, "You know, the Roadster is worth $4,000, and we could put $10,000 into it and it would still be worth $4,000. Maybe we could sell the Roadster and buy a classic Corvette for you!" I'm not sure how "sold" she was on this idea, but we did sell the Roadster (see below) and Nan used the money to purchase a Robinson's English Greenhouse, which she had shipped from England, for her garden.  Eventually we purchased and restored a 1956 Corvette for Nan.

Before we had an opportunity to think about how to market the Roadster, a chance conversation solved that problem.  

In the early 1980's I was traveling the country selling and installing computerized ticketing systems to college sports teams.  Customer # 4 was the University of Washington Huskies in Seattle.  The Athletic Department was instantly sold on the system since it had been operational at USC, San Diego State and the University of Illinois.  But the UW IT department was slightly skeptical of this new company with a new product.  So to ensure that everything would meet expectations, they assigned one of their IT guys, Dennis Sullivan, to oversee the project.  Denny got deeply involved in the project, going even so far as to pick me up at SeaTac airport, drive me to the campus meeting sites, and escort me to my hotel.  We became good friends and have maintained this friendship ever since.

Shortly after we decided to sell the Roadster in 1997, I took a business trip to Seattle and asked Denny to meet me for dinner downtown.  We talked about PAC 10 football, family, careers, and sports cars.  Denny told me that he once owned a sports car -- a 1967 Datsun Roadster, but he sold it in order to have a larger vehicle to support a growing family.  Completely surprised, I told Denny that we were selling the classic Datsun so I could buy Nan a classic Corvette.  Denny said that he would like to buy it. Reaching a decision to sell and to buy was never easier!  Before we shook hands on the transaction I insisted that Denny be aware of every problem, irritant, or issue with the car (which I later listed and emailed to him) -- I wasn't going to lose a long-time friendship over a 96 HP Datsun.

Exhibiting far more courage than I could ever muster, and showing his belief in the reliability of classic Datsuns, Denny flew to Carlsbad and drove the Roadster 1,200 miles up the California (and Oregon and Washington) coast to his home in Burien.  Before cell phones, I worried every night that the car might not make it -- but it did.  Denny has recalled to me many times that the trip was one of his fondest memories!  Here is Denny's recollection:

"The drive back to Burien was amazing.  I drove the Roadster like Nan, with the top down.  It took over four days.  I chose Highway 101 for the scenery and less traffic.  At Cary's recommendation, I used partial choke to keep the engine running well.  Along the way I stopped in LA to visit with my son, Scott.  I took a little side trip through the Redwoods.  I would let truckers pass and they waved and tooted their horns." 

Denny and his wife, Nancy, continued to keep in touch sharing the annual Christmas cards and photos -- sometimes a photo of the Roadster -- over the 26 years from 1997 until now.  Denny kept the California license plate, but was also able to secure the State of Washington plate 1 SASY 67.

For a reason that I'll never be able to explain, I sent Denny an email on February 20, 2023 with our usual update on how things are going, and the latest news from Carlsbad.  At the end of the message I said, "How is the Datsun Roadster doing? If you ever think about selling it, maybe you could call us first?"

Three days later, I received a reply from Denny with an update from Burien. His response included this, "Well the Datsun has been sitting in the garage for over a year. . . . You guessed it right, I was thinking of selling after I replace the master cylinder and have it running and (I will) give you a call first."

Then on May 2, 2023, while Nan and I were sitting at our monthly Corvette Club meeting, my phone lit up with the following email message from Denny, "Greetings from Burien and hope all is going well. Well, the Roadster is for sale and as you requested, you have the honor of being first. Denny & Nancy."  Attached to the email were four photos of the car in Denny's driveway, looking as good, or better, than it ever looked.

I was so excited, I left the meeting, ran outside, called Denny on his cell phone and said, "Sold!" In a generous style that Denny has always exhibited, we worked out all the details of getting 1 SASY 67 back in Nan's hands after 26 years.

This time the Roadster would be shipped, rather than driven, back to Carlsbad.  Denny and Nancy packed up everything that was associated with the car -- spare parts, the original wheels (Denny had replaced them with some cool "mini-lite" style wheels), receipts, and a big Tupperware box full of manuals and receipts that we had given to Denny 26 years ago.  They sent this photo of themselves with the Roadster as it began its trip back to Carlsbad.


 Denny has shared his memories of his time with the Roadster:

"At home, the Roadster was used to drive to and from work, taking the grandchildren for rides, and the Roadster also made the trip to the San Juan Islands. 

The Roadster has been idle for the past couple of years.  This moment, and this transaction, come at the most perfect time -- we are looking to start paring down for the future, and the return of the Roadster to Nan is the best of all worlds."

We kept the new addition to our car collection a secret from the neighbors, but when the delivery truck arrived in the neighborhood, everyone came out of their houses to see what was going on.

It was a joyous reunion, shared by all our dear neighbors.  Everyone loved the idea that Nan was getting her Roadster -- her college car -- back after so many years.


After the delivery truck left, and the neighbors returned home, I spent a few minutes unpacking the car and organizing a few things to make the Roadster comfortable in its new garage.  I was touched at the loving way that Denny had packaged up everything -- the original wheels were carefully wrapped, and the parts and documentation sorted neatly for the 1,200 mile trip.  Even more, I was so pleasantly surprised at the excellent condition of the Roadster after 26 years in the Seattle area.  The car had received a beautiful new paint job, the seats had been reupholstered, and the engine compartment displayed new parts of correct vintage.  The car was close to pristine.  It was obvious that Denny and Nancy loved 1SASY67.

As I closed up the garage, I noticed an envelope, addressed to Nan, taped to the dash.  I took it into the house to Nan and here is what she found inside:

No gift could have ever been more perfect, no kindness greater, no friendship more dear.

Denny and Nancy, thank you so very much!

Love, Nan and Cary

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Laguna Seca 2023

For the sixth time since 2016, Nan and I went to Laguna Seca Raceway on May 13th and 14th to watch Corvette Racing.  Unlike every prior year, this time we were missing Don, Shirley, and Bill Athas.  

As in recent years, we drove the Z06 the 400 miles from our house to the racetrack. This year, we broke up the drive by stopping in Paso Robles on Friday night -- we enjoy the town, its wineries, and the scenery (and we would be returning to Paso Robles in a few weeks with Canon -- so this was a trial run).  That strategy made it possible for us to arrive at the Corvette Corral early on Saturday morning so that we could take advantage of all the activities.

The Laguna Seca race has  been traditionally held in September, but the IMSA people changed the schedule to allow the IMSA teams to stay on the West Coast for the Long Beach race, followed by the Laguna Seca race.  We had been at the Long Beach race just four weeks earlier.

This was the 25th straight year that Corvette Racing was at the Laguna Seca track.  After finishing P2 at Long Beach, we were hopeful for a good showing in Monterey on Sunday.

The first stop was to get our goodie bags.  

Next, we spent time drooling over the same red C8 Z06 that we saw one month ago at Long Beach.  I asked one of the attendants if Nan couldn't just drive this car home?  We didn't get a satisfactory answer.

We made our rounds to the exhibits and vendors, then stopped by the pits to check on the preparation of the Corvette C8R.

Besides the race, our favorite activity at the Corral is meeting with, and talking to, the Corvette engineers and program managers to learn as much as we can about the new mid-engine Corvette. Over the years, Harlan Charles – Product Manager, Tadge Juechter – Executive Chief Engineer, and Josh Holder – Vehicle Chief Engineer have spent time with us sharing important information.  This year we met Devon Blue – Program Manager.

Nan is concerned about the lack of rear visibility in the C8 convertible.  Tadge and Devon explained the nuances of the rear view "mirror" -- which on the LT2 and LT3 cars is actually a camera and not a mirror!

 Devon took her time to help Nan with many more questions and ideas. Thank you, Devon!


As the day turned into evening, and the track got quiet, we drove the short distance to our hotel.  Customarily we would do that with Don and Shirley, but tonight it was just the two of us.  We stayed at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Monterey, located on the Del Monte Golf course.  We were able to walk the grounds then enjoyed a nice dinner at the hotel.

As Saturday night turned to Sunday morning we checked out of our hotel and returned to the track, early enough to be among the first arrivals.  The weather had turned foggy overnight and the usually noisy track was eerily quiet.

We spent time visiting with the nice people we always find at the Corvette Corral and checking out all the C8 Corvettes for options that we liked.  Happily, Doug Fehan stopped by for a brief visit -- Just like old times!


Finally the weather cleared and the race was on. Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia have struggled all season to be competitive in a year in which IMSA has made an "exception" for Corvette Racing's entry, but saddled them with BOP limitations (I'll write more on this as the season draws to a close).  But the Corvette team is always pushing, and we were hopeful for a good result.  Although they qualified 5th, they were just 4 tenths of a second behind the pole winner.


We love watching the race from various vantage points -- the "corkscrew", the hairpin at turn #2, the elevation change leading up to the Corkscrew, and the final turns as the cars head back down the hill to the start/finish line.

Driving first, Jordan Taylor quickly moved up to 4th place, then an excellent pit stop catapulted the Corvette two spots to second place. When the leading Porsche was penalized for leaving the pit lane with the pit exit closed, the #3 Corvette was leading the race at the one hour mark.  During the next pit stop Garcia replaced Taylor, and took on full fuel and four tires.  Unfortunately, the Aston Martin exited in first place because they took less fuel and no tires.  It was Aston Martin - Corvette in tight contention for the lead right up to near the end of the race when disaster struck for both teams.  During the final full-course yellow, the Aston Martin, the GTD PRO leader, went around the Safety Car -- a penalty, and unfortunately, Antonio followed!  Antonio -- what were you thinking?  You would have won the race easily!! The race ended in a frustrating 4th place finish for the Corvette

Nan and I packed the Z06 and made a non-stop drive back to Carlsbad, arriving before bed time.  We passed the time looking at the central coast vineyards, hills, and oak trees, and playing "name that tune and artist" for the 50's and 60's songs emitted from the Sirius XM radio.

We had traveled 861 miles in three days -- which got us prepared for our next Corvette adventure -- a Corvette Caravan to the Black Hills Corvette Classic. 

It was a nice time, but it just wasn't the same without Shirley, Don, and Bill.  😢