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  • Kris Gove

Holy sh*t, what's that smell?


Cracked open the door today to show a fellow E30ist the inner sanctum of a full-on vintage rally car. He showed up in an '87 BMW 325i convertible to buy some of my E30 parts stash. I'm not a convertible guy, except for my beloved NA Miata, but I let him in anyway. Especially since he said his daily -- his daily -- was a '91 M5. And this from a fella who looked like he was still trying to figure out his razor. He knew good cars. Reminded me of me, only way less cool of course.

But man, when I opened that door, what struck me first was, damn, how do I fit in this thing? Let's just say I'm a little larger than I was the last time I raced, about a year and a half a go.

The second thought was, Sweet Moses, what... is... that... smell?!?

Old sweat and fear, that's what it was. Festered over the winter, along with a small leak in the semi-truck kick vents we use for ventilation in the roof, the smell was a mix of stale, mold, synthetic fabric from the Momo seats, damp suede from the racing wheel and the sultry stank of a beer shower I gave the car in 2013, after finishing the New England Forest Rally for the first time -- on the third attempt.

But to me, it was also the smell of adventure. I had always dreamed of racing a car through small towns and deep woods, finishing at all costs, using whatever MacGyver-isms were available in short time: Barbed wire, a pine needle and a pack of 'spirited' spectators that would roll the car over for you -- with you and your navigator still in it -- to continue on to the finish.

Below: The Black River Stages 2012 Driver's Meeting with Anders Green laying down the law (no one messes with that hat). BRS-ought-12 was Slap's first full rally finish. And those people of way-upstate New York were ridiculously hospitallic (yes, that is a word... no, no it isn't {shame}) in their welcoming of all kinds of rallyists from all over the world.


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