Day 2, Leg 12
Before the Stage
With the news that they had quite the distance to travel to make the trip, the decision was made, mutually, to empty the trunk. Out came the empty fuel cans, the spare bottles of oil, the containers of transmission fluid, the last of the repair parts, everything except the jack, tire iron, and spare tire.
“Think we can make it?” Amy asked.
“I’m not sure. We should be able to make it, but… We might not have enough fuel.” Luke said.
With that bit of news in the air, most of team Twin-Snail got into the car as Luke pushed it to the starting line.
Day 2, Leg 13
“The car has to be running, pal.”
“I know that. We’re so low on fuel that we can’t afford to waste it by driving it here.” Luke replied to the race official. Wave us through and start the timer, I’ll cross the line under our own power, but I don’t want to sit idling while you yank our chain for three minutes."
Luke got into the driver’s seat and held the key, letting the starter buzz up to speed. The flag dropped, Luke let go of the key, and the engine roared as Luke stuffed it in Drive the instant the car started. They lurched violently as the car started moving, slowly bringing it up to highway speed. They rumbled along at 50 miles per hour, the car’s optimal speed for economy, watching as the gas gauge bounced and wiggled with every bump.
As they drove along, the fan clutch partially engaged and filled the car with a rather unpleasant screeching, made worse by the power steering pump bearing going from “kinda dying” to “certainly dead” and joining the chaos. Shortly after that, the alternator bearing, which had been rattling for quite some time, finally let go and picked up a third note in the wailing of screaming metal. This, of course, made the highway miles particularly unpleasant.
“Why did they all have to fail now!?” Linda yelled.
“Murphy’s law. By doing it now, they’re making the fuel efficiency worse when we need it the most. The fan’s stuck partially on, the power steering let go, and the alternator’s joined the chaos.” Luke replied.
As they made it off of the highway and onto the last 5 miles of road, the fuel situation was even worse, with the gauge reading on empty, and every time they hit a bump, the “Fuel Empty” light in the gauge flashed in the typical crimson of all the other gauge lights. Every now and then, there was a slight sputter, a mild lurch, though the car kept rolling.
“The hell is going on, Luke?” Scott asked.
“Fuel starvation. She’s having a hard time picking anything useful up, so she’s bucking and coughing and shuddering.” Luke said.
“Oh, because that’s such a good thing to do with a turbocharged car.” Linda said sarcastically.
As they neared the last mile, the car stalled. Luke slammed it into neutral and turned the key, releasing the starter and kicking the engine back over. It sputtered instead of roaring away, but it started, and while it kept sputtering, lurching, and coughing, it kept running.
With mere yards to go, the engine coughed and started making all manner of unpleasant noises.
“Spark knock! We’re on nothing but fumes now. Come on, baby, hold together.” Luke said, trying to limp the rattling, sputtering, knocking Sinistra into the parking lot.
As they made it over the line, the engine sputtered and stalled, spitting an angry puff of black smoke out of the cropped exhaust system.
Day 2, Leg 13, End of Race Aftermath
With the car still barely rolling, Luke guided it to a parking spot, throwing the car in park. The instant the car stopped moving, Linda, Scott, and Amy jumped over the sides of the car, not even bothering with the doors as they ran for the food, the booze, and the soda. Luke, on the other hand, took his time getting out of the car and immediately set about trying to sell the Sinistra to anyone who looked at it.
“It made it here through two days of hell, and while it needs a lot of work to restore it to its former glory, it does run. You’ll have to put some catalytic converters on it, the fan clutch needs replacing, the alternator and power steering pump are shot, so those have to be fixed, and we’re missing two of the four mufflers for the car. Oh, and the 35 gallon gas tank is completely empty, as in ‘can’t start the car’ empty. So whoever buys it is gonna need to provide fuel. Oh, and the top sticks.” Luke said.
While Linda and Scott were busy arguing over whether the ribs or the steak was better, and Amy was getting up to get another beer, Luke attended the Awards Ceremony.
When it was announced that Team Twin-Snail managed 7th, Luke was secretly rather glad. This challenge wasn’t just about getting to the finish first, it was about surviving the challenge overall. That their $500-or-less land yacht had managed to finish at all was impressive enough.
More impressive was Luke managing to trade the old 1977 Sinistra Savage Convertible for an old 1998 Minerva Midnight as their next major project car.
“Hey, come look at this!” Luke yelled, standing next to their new car.
Linda, Amy, and Scott ran over, looking at the dark blue sedan. “What about it?” Amy asked after a few minutes of trying to figure out what was so special about it.
“It’s ours. I traded the old Sinistra for it. Someone was here looking to sell it, but despite the Sinistra’s problems, they decided they’d restore it instead. So we’ve got a V6 executive FWD to make our way home in.” Luke replied.
“I like the thought of that.” Scott said.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Linda asked.
“I’m not telepathic.” Luke replied. “But if you’re thinking that we ought to use this the next time the Roulette Runner comes around, I’m thinking that’s a great idea.”
Original Car Condition:
On a flat bed tow truck heading to Texas.
New Car Condition:
Seems okay enough. Surely comfortable. Slight lifter tick, and Luke highly suspects the number 4 cylinder is misfiring.
MRL +17 overall. We made it! The living members of the team are enjoying the food and festivities. Luke is busy making sure the new car’s able to get them home.