Any gearhead is familiar with rallies, but no one has quite been able to pin down an exact meaning. We're all familiar with stage rallies, regularity rallies, rallycross, and road rallies. Rallies were the precursor to most modern forms of motorsport, and yet, none of that has much relevance to the DWA "Coastal Range Rally".
In the old days, it was about survival. Guts. And camaraderie. And that's what DWA sought to recreate on a sunny weekend over some of the best roads in California.
It all kicked off at a franchise coffee shop in the lovely coastal town of Carmel, CA.
The main difference from the usual concept of rallying as we know it was that the ultimate list of entrants was culled from a list of applicants who were chosen based not on speed or efficiency but on being awesome. And we offer our sincere apologies to those who did not get in.
Jay Leno once said that rather than cars that make people say, "You showed up in that?", he prefers to drive cars that make people say, "You showed up in that?"
Unfortunately, the very nature of having a classic that needs miracles to complete journeys implies that you're living very close to the edge.
For the team in this 240Z, the miracle never came, and shift linkage failure past the 140 mile marker left them stuck in 4th and unable to continue their journey once they arrived in Paso Robles.
Not every car that was accepted into the rally was able to come along. As for this author's Porsche, which is Arena Red, optioned to the hilt, and now old enough to drive, it was not able to come along on this rally. A broken suspension piece the weekend before the rally sealed the deal and thus my daily driver, this Scion FR-S with "C Stock" class modifications, would be my chariot.
Others' fate was sealed in similar ways. The owner of this Ford Ranger was supposed to bring his '69 Austin Healey, but electrical problems set him back. No worries, because even this ultra-clean truck is awesome (!).
Our first stop was at a gas station along the way.
I wonder how the people who work at these remote gas stations feel when a caravan of cars comes rolling through. On one hand, cool cars surely aren't common in the middle of nowhere. On the other hand, these stations are right off an awesome road, so maybe these sightings are normal?
We continued to the fork in the route. At this point, participants had to make a choice: the shorter route, which contained a hard-packed dirt section, or the longer route, which was entirely tarmac.
It seemed like the majority of people wanted to do the dirt route, which made sense.
However, I chose the tarmac route for exactly one reason: I was following Art in his 993, and he had chosen the tarmac route for fear of damaging his car on the dirt route. This turned out to be a fairly ironic choice, because the route we took was clearly not in constant use, and as such was littered with rocks. I destroyed my windshield and got plenty of rock chips all over the front of my car on this part of the route, but was it worth it? Oh yes. Live by the sword, die by the sword, as they say.
The funny part was that we weren't even the only ones meeting up at this particular desolate junction; across the street was a group of motorcycles.
It's incredibly relaxing to hang out in such a peaceful place, but we had roads to drive. Onward!
Our next stop was the Parkfield Cafe, which lies right on the San Andreas Fault, and is one of the leading places in the world for earthquake research, believe it or not.
Creepily, their motto is "Be Here When it Happens!" because so many earthquakes happen right here on the fault.
The cafe, however, was outstanding. It's the type of place where you park next to a horse, and all the food you eat is grown right there.
I'm not gonna lie; I felt pretty nervous being around that much raw horsepower.
Check out this Bristol 408, certainly the most unique car that came along.
Powered by a Chrysler V8 and made in England from 1963-1966, only 83 of this model were produced--with this particular car being the only one currently in the USA.
Another hallmark of modern rallies--particularly the DWA Coastal Range Rally--is the slow-paced, relaxed element. It's not a race!
We all got to hang out, enjoy each other's company and cars, and then eat some great food.
A great aspect of this rally was the variety of cars. Far from being "just some cars on a drive", it was a veritable grab bag of interesting rides.
Are cars from the 90s still considered modern? In any case, there were several 90s era rides mixing it up with stuff from the 50s and 60s.
You just don't see scenes like this in your everyday life.
After lunch, I took some time to walk around. Just a block from the cafe I saw this old Dodge truck...still being used as an everyday work truck!
We had two C3 Corvettes along; one coupe and one convertible.
And they were both equipped with three pedals and a four-on-the-floor!
I can't resist showing some detail shots of the Bristol. Look at that patina.
And check out the ashtray in the dashboard! Definitely a product of a different era.
At this point, we had one more destination for the day: our hotel.
Of course, the roads on the way were sexy, but we had plenty of time so we took a detour and scoped out some places to shoot photos.
We parked right up front of Mission San Miguel and hung out.
There was a spot right across the street that Art had seen on his previous travel. Luckily I had the right lens, so I made it happen.
That night we hung out in Paso Robles, and unfortunately for this article I left my camera sitting in the hotel room.
But the next morning we were up bright and reasonably early, and everyone met in the hotel parking lot.
This gave us yet another chance to salivate over each other's rides, and from a photography perspective it was outstanding due to the low, diffused light.
Brian led the meeting, first of all thanking everyone, and then explaining what the day would be about.
And then, we were off to Mission San Antonio de Padua.
We took over an entire parking lot, and it was glorious.
Whoa there, this NSX looks like it's about to fly away on that stock suspension!
Simple and basic. Whoever originally bought this 911T back in 1969 was ready for some cheap thrills. Base model, steel wheels, no side mirror. Hey, at least it has the flat six!
This Factory Five Racing Cobra was barely big enough to contain the smiles of its passengers. The driver came up to me at one point, gushing about the quality of driving we were experiencing. Far from an awkwardly slow parade, everyone on the rally drove at the pace they were comfortable with.
Another modern Japanese "future classic", in the shape of Honda's S2000. You're never really surprised that a Honda turned up anywhere, but it's always nice to see something with both rear-wheel-drive and VTEC.
After the rally, a survey was sent out asking a few questions. Among them was, "If you could have driven the rally in any other car that was on the rally, which would you have chosen?"
Unsurprisingly--well, at least to me, because it's what I chose--this 1961 356 won by a landslide.
A weekend spent in a beautiful classic car on beautiful roads with your significant other. So who can be surprised at their sparkling attitudes? In fact, the same can be said about many of the participants.
Unfortunately, the Mission was under renovation and was not picturesque in the slightest. What a bummer! So we mostly hung out near our cars in the dirt lot.
Pretty interesting that this 944 is older than this 911, despite the latter's body style being much newer.
From a photographer's perspective, I have to give a shoutout of appreciation to this 2002, whose near-fluorescent hue attracted my camera lens like a moth to a flame.
Seriously, how good does that look?
My research is now complete--it has been proven that good attitudes are contagious.
Speaking of 2002's, the owner of this car was the youngest on the rally. There may be hope for the future of car enthusiasts after all!
All rally participants got a great grab bag with a bunch of neat goodies inside. Among them, these not-yet-on-sale DWA socks! Comfy, snazzy, and they provide great protection from heel to toe.
Off to the next checkpoint!
Unfortunately, the road leading in to Mission San Antonio de Padua is controlled by the US Military, and we had been warned that they are extra militant in this area about speeding. So despite the excellent roads, we all kept the pace to a minimum, which led to a bit of a parade.
Hey, at least if we're going this damn slow, I can safely take photos, right?
On the way out to the coast we encountered one of the gnarliest roads so far. Barely over a single lane wide yet accepting traffic in both directions, this road carved out of the side of a hill was a bit nerve wracking to drive.
But the immensity of the scenery? Stunning. In fact, I hardly took any photos here as I appreciated the view of nature.
That is, until we heard the roar of internal combustion.
Here they come!
After that, there was one more meetup spot, but I have to admit---with more than a hint of embarrassment--that I got lost on the way there, so I don't have any photos of that bit!
Anyway, after the aforementioned meetup and then lunch in Big Sur, it was time for the conclusion of the weekend. Or was it? The sun was still shining and we still had to head home. Art and I decided to stop by one iconic place on the way back up the coast: Bixby Bridge.
Iconic spots like this cut both ways: their beauty is self evident, which also means that popularity is sure to follow.
After climbing 15 feet up a rock wall (and falling once in the process), I managed to secure the perfect photo spot. And then a couple old farts decided that "right in my way" would be the perfect spot for their photos!
Like many aspects of life, however, patience paid dividends. I waited and waited and waited, and then BAM! 1/50th of a second later, the deed was done.
Art and I then drove up the coast to Santa Cruz to grab some food and see our friends. Then we got on the legendary Highway 17--aka Cop Heaven--and cruised back to our respective domiciles. Wow! What a weekend.
But wait! That's not all the photos. I couldn't fit everything into one post, so make sure to check out my Flickr album with all the pics from the weekend. I tried to take as many pics of as many cars as I could, and I apologize if I didn't properly capture your car.
One last thing--I would like to thank everyone on the rally for their participation. To all of my friends who I saw again and to all the new friends I made along the way, you deserve a sincere THANK YOU. Cheers!
This article was written by Matt Brown, aka hushypushy (or "hooshypooshy" according to the DWA podcast). Check out his website and follow him on Instagram (@hushypushy). Want a photoshoot of your car? He does that too. Just don't ask him to recommend a restaurant.