Roads & Rallies: 2018 Texas 1000 – West of the Pecos

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Forgotten, But Not Lost

There are so few roads in scarcely-populated West Texas that we can’t do an event there every year without repeating parts of the route. So every five years or so, after we’ve all forgotten the route details, we shift Texas 1000 from the picturesque Hill Country of Central Texas to the monumental landscape West of the Pecos.

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You Can HEAR Your Heartbeat

This huge area of the Chihuahuan Desert, ringed by 7000-foot mountains, can be as stark and forbidding as a lunar landscape, but also clean, pristine and so quiet you can hear your heartbeat. Scattered across this barren wilderness are a handful of small towns linked by perfect sports car roads, plus the sister cities of Midland and Odessa.

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A Posse of Porsches and a Flock of Ferraris

We attracted a spectacular group of cars for our West Texas adventure, including a variety of early Jaguar XK-120s and 140s, multiple Mercedes including a 300SL Roadster, multiple Corvettes, multiple Porsches ranging from a 356 Roadster to a whole class of late-model 911 Turbos, a brand-new Aston Martin DB11 and a whole raft of Enzo-era V-12 Ferraris that included a 250 GT Lusso, 275 GTS, 330 GT, 330 GTC, 365 GTB/4 Daytona and 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spyder. They were joined by four late-model Ferraris, including the prototype Pininfarina 550 Barchetta shown at the 2001 Paris Auto Show.

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Among the offbeat entries were a 1953 Delahaye, 1954 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 in training for the Mille Miglia, 1955 Austin-Healey 100S, 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air hot-rod, 1973 Alfa Romeo Berlina, 1985 Renault R-5 Turbo and 2005 Ford GT. You can’t say we don’t attract a diverse mix of cars!

As we have in the past, we started with a visit to the Commemorative Air Force High Sky Wing Museum at Midland-Odessa International Air & Spaceport. We’d planned a gymkhana and Warbird rides for charity, but drizzle and a socked-in airport eliminated both. No problem. The High Sky Wing of the CAF still has an interesting World War II Museum plus a hanger full of neat Warbirds, so we started with a visit to the CAF before heading to Churrasca Brazilian Steakhouse for Sunday dinner.

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Rallying Through Wild Rose Pass

Monday we rallied through the booming oil fields to historic Pecos, Texas. From there, we drove through gorgeous Wild Rose Pass to a spectacular lunch at our friend Charles Mallory’s Hotel Limpia in Fort Davis. Monday afternoon, we drove Scenic Loop to the mountaintop University of Texas McDonald Observatory and then to Marfa.

Thanks to sculptor Donald Judd, tiny Marfa has been transformed into an art center, complete with an upscale new hotel, the St. George, designed around Judd’s minimalist ideals. After dinner, world-famous technical artist David Kimble allowed us to visit his fascinating Top Secret studio.

The next morning we visited Historic Fort Davis, had lunch at the Holland Hotel in Alpine and drove locally famous Camino del Rio—Route 170—from Presidio to Lajitas along the Rio Grande. A 25,000-acre golf resort in the middle of nowhere, Lajitas dates back to the nineteenth century. Watching the sunset over the Rio Grande from the porch at Lajitas was well worth the trip to get to this faraway place.

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Buckled Up for the Big Bend

The next day, our rallyists explored Big Bend National Park, 1.5-million acres along the Rio Grande. Big Bend is absolutely spectacular; even the mountaintop restaurant at Chisos Lodge has a view to die for. We were there on Wednesday, November 15, the day of the Solar Eclipse. National Park Rangers handed out special sunglasses so we all could observe the Eclipse from the restaurant balcony. How cool is that?

From Big Bend, we made our way to the restored 1927 Gage Hotel in tiny Marathon, Texas for dinner and overnight. The next day we drove back to Midland, stopping at Fort Stockton for lunch and at a 36,000-acre private ranch owned by the Harkins family who’ve run cattle here for five generations. It was a very special treat to visit with these West Texans.

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Jim Hall’s Chaparral Cars

Our big finale was dinner in the Chaparral Gallery of the Petroleum Museum, with our dining tables literally set amongst Jim Hall’s innovative Can-Am cars. Our rally prizes were from the Petroleum Museum store, fascinating trophies carved from stone with fossilized sea creatures from 70-million years ago. Rallyist Michael Johnson, an oil geologist who retired as vice-president of Chevron, identified the fossils for us.

After four days and 1202.35 miles, seven teams Zeroed the rally: Jim & Jamie Earsley, 1953 Jaguar XK-12O OTS; Joe & Kate Hayes, 1972 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spyder; Rob & Patricia Moler, 1965 Jaguar XKE; David North & Will Kontes, 1968 Ferrari 33O GTC; Ed & Terri Pensock, 2013 Ferrari California 30 HS; Matthew Polk & Amy Gould, 1954 Oldsmobile Rocket 88; Steve & Russell Wolf, 1966 Ferrari 275 GTS.

In a sea of Ferraris, Porsches and other rarities, by far the car that attracted the most attention was the ’54 Oldsmobile Coupe of Matthew Polk & Amy Gould. They received our Car of the Rally Award. Rob & Patricia Moler drove the wheels off their newly-acquired 1965 Jaguar XKE—which replaced their stunning 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa race car—so they received our Drive of the Rally Award.

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Spirit of the Rally

Many vintage racers know Philippe & Francoise Reyns. You may also know that Philippe had a terrible accident a year ago when his Formula Atlantic flipped and the roll bar hoop sank into trackside sand. The damage was so extensive that, as Philippe says, “My head was no longer attached to my body.”

Thanks to high tech surgery, Philippe’s head is now permanently bolted to his shoulders in a fixed position. He’ll probably never race again—one certainly hopes not!—but with Francoise’s help, he drives as well as ever. We gave them our Spirit of the Rally Award, and wish we could give them even greater recognition for their remarkable grace and spirit in the face of unimaginable horrors. Philippe and Francoise are very special people…it is our great good fortune to think of them as friends.

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For twenty-five years and 100 events, Tom Meunier, the President of sponsor Exotic Car Transport has joined us to help out. For the same remarkable period, either Peter Markowski or Stephen Markowski of sponsor RPM VT has been our official mechanic, aided by other master mechanics from RPM VT. On Texas 1000, Tom Meunier from Exotic plus Stephan Markowski and Nate Barcomb from RPM VT worked so hard and brilliantly that for the first time in twenty-five years, we gave our Special Spirit Award to the mechanics. They’ve surely earned it over and over!

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Written by Rich Taylor, Founder of Vintage Rallies
For Premier Financial Services

Photos by Taylor-Constantine