Road Trip to Final Bout II: Part 3

I think today’s post will conclude my Final Bout II coverage (if you want to call it that.) You can find my previous entries here:

It felt nice to sleep in a bit on Sunday morning. We still woke up pretty early to head to the track, but I don’t think anyone expected nearly as large of a crowd for day two so we weren’t as concerned about parking in the lot at USAIR. After chatting with some folks over breakfast at the hotel, we cruised over to the track.

Since the competition took place on Saturday, Sunday was basically open driving all day. This resulted in some seriously smashed up cars as the afternoon progressed. The weather wasn’t quite as hot on Sunday which was nice, but it was still pretty muggy out. We spent most of the morning just hanging out with our friends from Essence and BH.

Alicia got to ride along with Andrew in his Altezza while I took a ride with Jimmy in his R32. What a treat! It was really fun to ride with Jimmy and I am grateful to both him and Andrew for giving us rides. This was Alicia’s first ride in a drift car and she really enjoyed herself. After getting back to the pits I think she was ready to take my car out on the track!

I met all of my pal Teddy’s friends from Auto Factory Realize. Their cars are really neat. I know they all had a fair share of issues with getting the cars here and continued to have some problems throughout the weekend, but I am really glad they made it and got to drive for a bit!

In the afternoon, Tony told me that Sean from The Narita Dogfight wanted to take some photos of our cars. I wasn’t sure if Sean actually wanted to shoot mine at all or mostly just Tony’s, but we went to talk to him and he seemed interested in both cars. It was really an honor to meet Sean as I have been reading his site and admiring his work for a good while now. I didn’t expect to see him at Final Bout, but I was excited when I found out he was coming.

Alicia climbed into the back of my car (where there isn’t a back seat of any sort mind you) and Sean hopped in the front. We cruised with Tony down the road a couple miles and found a random side road in the woods. There were a couple of houses along the road and a very weird abandoned campground/shrine looking area. Sean liked the location so we hung out for the better part of 45 minutes or so, repositioning the cars every once in a while so that Sean could get the shots he was after. Our friends Mitch and Oliver tagged along as well in his CRZ.

A few of the guys had just cracked open some beers when a Sheriff’s car pulled up. We could only assume that the people that owned the homes down the street called the cops as some of them had returned home while our cars were blocking the street and had to drive through the grass. Fortunately the officer was very nice. He told us that someone had complained that a small black car had passed them going well over 70 MPH on the road outside of the event. Since all of our cars were black, we handed over our driver’s licenses and he ran them back to dispatch. Tony and I had both driven fairly slow to the location, but we weren’t so sure about Oliver. He asked us to drive responsibly, wrap up the photos, and to be sure to not drink and drive before shaking our hands and taking off. It was really refreshing to have a positive run-in with the police, especially considering the fact that one person in the group was conveniently wearing a “cop lives don’t matter” tee shirt.

After we wrapped up the photos, it was time to say goodbye to Tony as he had to head back to Indiana. Alicia and I were staying at the hotel an additional night before heading on with our trip despite the fact that most people were leaving that night. After watching some more drifting through the afternoon, we said goodbye to many of our friends that live across the continent. It’s always hard to say goodbye to so many great people knowing that it’s not likely that we will see them again within the next year.

After getting back to the hotel, we decided to go to the pool and order pizza with Cody, Ryan, and Steve. We had a great time hanging out in the hot tub and eating pizza (just not at the same time.) All three of these guys are great dudes and it was nice to have time to unwind with them. A big thunderstorm rolled through just as the event ended and people were heading home so it was cool to watch the lightning from inside the pool area at the hotel. Eventually we called it a night after saying goodbye to even more great people.

Alicia and I checked out of the hotel on Monday morning, gassed up the car at the station next door, and gave Ryan and Cody one last handshake before they started the trek back to Idaho in Ryan’s cool GS. We then hit the road and started heading Northeast toward the upper peninsula of Michigan. The weather was pretty decent for this leg of the trip and we weren’t dying of heat exhaustion anymore. We took a quick detour to see the Pictured Rocks in Northern Michigan before crossing the Mackinac Bridge into the lower peninsula. I truly love living in Michigan and relish any opportunity I have to spend time up north and cross over the bridge. Always a cool experience.

Look, a rock (pictured.)

A quick photo before crossing the bridge.

After crossing into the lower peninsula, we took another detour to drive the Tunnel of Trees. This is a roughly 20 mile long road that snakes along the coast of Lake Michigan. It’s slightly narrower than a two lane road and doesn’t have a line painted down the middle of it. The pavement is for the most part really smooth and I believe the speed limit is 45 MPH, but it’s filled with tons of twists, turns, and elevation changes. We took my Evo here during the fall back in 2013 and had a blast, so we knew it was worth the detour. I had a lot of fun blasting the S13 through here despite the fact that I essentially destroyed my oil pan (which I didn’t realize until we made it home the next night. Fortunately the leaks weren’t worse.)

After taming the Tunnel of Trees, we arrived at our destination in Petoskey, MI just in time to catch the sunset before sitting down for a relaxing dinner. Pretty cool!

We stayed in room 240 (heh heh) at The Inn at Bay Harbor which was super nice. Alicia found a crazy deal that must have been an error on their website making the stay actually affordable. We awoke to gray skies on Tuesday morning and checked the radar. A massive system was moving over all of the northern half of Michigan. We had no sooner looked at the weather and the thunder and lightning started. After doing a little shopping and having lunch downtown, it became apparent that the rain was not going to slow down. We packed up and decided to make the three hour trek home to SE Michigan to see our daughters.

On the way home, Alicia remarked that her purse that had been sitting on the floor was wet. Remember that Cusco cage I used to have in the car? The one that was bolted through the floor? Yeah, I didn’t. Water had been entering into the floor of the car for the long drive home in heavy rains and the carpeting was soaked. The day after we arrived home, I had to rip everything out to dry it all properly before it began to stink. Luckily there wasn’t any major harm done, but it was definitely something I don’t want to repeat. The holes have now been properly sealed up.

All in all this was an incredible trip. The drifting and cars are always a sight to see, but the people are really what Final Bout is all about. I’d like to give a huge thank you to all of the great people that hung out with us, approached me to say hello, and took photos of my car. It’s so cool to meet people that have followed my build and have had it impact them in a positive way. It still astounds me to this day!

I also have to give a heap of credit to my wife Alicia for wanting to go on this trip. She faced some really less than ideal conditions throughout the trip and was always a trooper. Not only did she tolerate it, she had a blast and seems to be hooked on drifting now! It’s amazing to have someone so supportive by my side.

The weather is beginning to take a turn here in Michigan but I’ll have some more updates soon! Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Damon

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11 Responses to Road Trip to Final Bout II: Part 3

  1. Albert says:

    Loved the updates, I have heard nothing but great things about Final Bout (both I and II). Your wife is definitely a trooper, can’t imagine many other females being able to survive what you both went through. Hope to make it out next year. Glad the car made it home safe.

  2. codygarcia says:

    Oh hey, based on that parking lot pic you stayed at the same hotel as my wife and I did at FBII!

    Car looked great!

  3. bhworld says:

    great story!

  4. Alicia says:

    Shout out to a husband who enjoys me being a part of his interests. Time to get us (another) drift car baby 🙂

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