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Emerald Empire Sports Car Club
P.O. Box 1204 Eugene, Oregon 97440
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22 Seasons and Counting for #45
By Andrew Hafner

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22 Seasons and Counting for #45
By Andrew Hafner

It all started out innocently enough. I’d been cruising car lots for a while, looking over used cars and chatting with all types of used car salespeople. After moving to Portland from Eugene in 1992, I had my first experience with DEQ. My 225K+ mile 1982 Celica failed (big surprise…) I’d seen a sign somewhere “we do DEQ”. “No problem!” they said. Sadly, it was a problem. They couldn’t get it to pass.

A week or two later, some salesman calls me out of the blue. “We just got something in and I think you might find it interesting” he says. As it turns out, he had no idea how right he was. It was Valentine’s Day 1993 when I signed up for 5 years of payments on my 1991 Eagle Talon TSi AWD DOHC Intercooled Turbo. It was only 2 years old, and about half price after I talked my way to $3500 trade-in on the Celica that I couldn’t register in the metro area. I felt pretty good about that deal!

By this time I had been to an EESCC event or two, but only to observe (the Celica had a bungee mount for the battery). My brother Mark had discovered the club while I was in the Army and I had to see what it was all about. He drove a gold/yellow Lancia Beta Coupe and took me for a spin. FUN!  It was out at the airport overflow parking lot, and it may have been the year that a formula car speared Dave Lumbra’s (silver?) 2002 while he was parked at the start line. Something about a foot or shoelace under the brake pedal at the finish comes to mind.  I have not seen a finish box face a start box since…

Anyway, I don’t remember if I made it to Icebreaker in ’93 or not, but I made all the subsequent events that year. Won my class! But mostly because I made it to all the events and the 2 or 3 others in my class didn’t. Then I started winning regularly as my skill set improved, and I finally had to invest in some real rubber – BF Goodrich R1’s if I recall. WOW! What a difference those made! 

A few years down the road at an August event I overheard someone talking about “the hill”. Um, what?? That’s how I found out about Larison Rock, the hillclimb event that the EESCC puts on near Oakridge, and it usually happens around the July 4 weekend. I’d usually had plans on that holiday weekend, but found myself single in 1998 and thought I’d give it a try. I had 5 years of Auto-x experience and a track day or two at PIR by then and I was looking forward to it. I have to say that 65 mph on a single lane in the woods is way more exciting than 120+ mph on a nice wide, flat track!  I haven’t missed one since.

A few more years go by and then I heard about (afterwards, of course) an event in someone’s field.  Fast grass, they called it. “It was on the website” they said. I kept an eye out the following year. When the time came, I mounted up my Toyo studless snow tires, put Jennifer in the car, and headed south.  I remember a few things about that event: 1) I’ve never giggled that much, out loud, for that long, EVER! 2) First time I got beat in my own car.  Apparently Jennifer didn’t care if we made it home or not that evening.     3) Jason Braunberger asked me for advice (no, NOT for the Camaro), and 4) Jeeps that look like they’re going to roll…will. Eventually.   I won the next 2 Fast grass events (I did invite Jennifer but she didn’t bite; I think she wanted to retire a winner). I was the only car to beat the rental (Grand Marquis?) one year, but by a pretty slim margin.

There have been new events recently that also deserve mention. The Scavenger Hunt comes to mind, partly because my team tied for victory in the 3+ class this last weekend. Getting that 1989 penny as change at St Vincent’s was a huge stroke of luck!  Also, the Blind Auto-x has a HUGE giggle factor (for spectators mostly) and as a club we donated $575.00 to Guide Dogs For The Blind.  I also encourage anyone to participate in the road cleanup if they have a few hours to spare. It’s not a motorized event but there is plenty of conversation with friends!

I also want to mention that through this club I have met many wonderful people and acquired a lot of pleasant memories. I’ve been offered cars on the (thankfully rare) occasions that mine has broken down. I’ve been allowed to hold a microphone and try to make people smile while announcing results.  I’ve seen a Subaru Justy on 2 wheels at VRC, and filmed a borrowed Focus bounce from one ditch to another and keep going at turn 7 at Larison. I’ve finished Larison sideways and driven home afterwards.  I believe I gave the 5 Shades Focus its nickname.  I have become a member of a Chump car team.  And last but not least, I have lost to a Prius – thanks to lots of standing water and my race tires. (That’s for Ed, and all the other people I made fun of who lost to him too!) There’s plenty more memories from all the years with my Talon, and I hope to collect more.  I’ll have to share those in another column sometime. See you at the races!

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