The Califlorio, a rally with all the fun and drama of the Targa Florio, but without the restrictions of car age and entry fee. This was the second of hopefully many more rallies put on by a group of very awesome and down to earth car guys. The first one I did not participate in, but after hearing about that rally from our very own TFritsch there was no way I was missing out on another one. I almost did miss out on this rally due to the Corvette deciding that it no longer wanted to provide spark. Unfortunately, after much work to the car (as you’ve undoubtedly seen in my previous posts) the optispark decided it wanted to retire. Thankfully as my partner is going to Cal Poly SLO I was able to take the train up and we used his Miata for that rally. I have to say dating someone with the same passion for cars and driving you have is quite an amazing thing.
Moving on, the rally started off at the Buckhorn in New Cuyama. A place I had frequented before and if you have the chance and time for a full sit-down breakfast it is worth every penny. Just a good old school dinner with great food. The rally start time was before they were open for breakfast, but there newly added on coffee bar had great pastries and real good coffee. Walking around outside watching the cars roll up and taking to the varied owners was a nice treat. The variety of vehicles on the rally was great. Sadly, there was a distinctly large amount of kraut and the only American freedom came from a Ford wagon and a LS swapped 240z. (insert really inappropriate joke about American power in Japan)
The first part of the rally took up through Pine Mountain. I had done this loop in my partner’s Miata earlier this year in fact and was excited to be driving parts of it this time. Hudson Ranch Road or CA-95 is a beautiful climb up into the mountains. With several turn off and re groupings we were able to see a bit more of the beauty of the area than last time we drove through.
After hitting Pine mountain, we turn down Lockwood Valley Road. Now being in a rally means you can be in groups of cars maybe not pushing to where you wanted to be. So we pulled over and watched all the others fly by and gave ourselves some space to push the road, because we knew what we were about to hit. Lockwood is a great road for a light and quick car. You lose elevation fairly quick and there are some real fun corners where the flick ability of the Miata makes it quite fun. We all grouped back up where Lockwood and CA-33 meet up just before going over the mountains. Stopped there was a motorcyclist asking if we had reception. One of his buddies got a flat on 33. We did not, but we pointed him towards where we last had reception and off he roared.
CA-33 over the Transverse Range is one of my favorite roads. I would frequent there in the GTO for a day after having breakfast at the Buckhorn and then lunch in Ojai. We headed up in the lead group with a new Cayman (love his license plate QwkCroc, let it sink in), E30 M3, and a E55 AMG. And we booked it up and down that mountain. Able to keep the Miata on pace with the E55 made for an epic ride. As we hit Ojai the small lead group missed a turn, but cell service returned and as the others made a wrong turn we pulled the Miata over, pulled out the pace notes and Google maps, and found out way back just in front of the others on the route.
Knowing the main group was behind us we followed the pace notes to CA-150 and on to CA-192 missing Gubernator Canyon Road. The other stopped behind us, but the Miata plowed on. There was supposed to be a meet up at a green bridge, but between satellite view of the roads and looking ourselves we never found it. We followed 192 till just before our next turn and got fuel. Just about there I got messages from TFritsch saying he was hopelessly lost and I tried to convey the closed roads we had found and the route around them. While searching for and alternate route we saw the others in our front pack make another wrong turn, but continued on. Finally found a route to Gibraltar Road that takes you up on top of the mountains and knife edges across. Half way up we found the front running group again. Somehow they got around the closures faster than we did, but that is alright we were just happy to be driving with others again. You can see the whole coastline on one side and the valley drop below on the other side. It is utterly breathtaking. While not a fast driving road being 1.5 cars wide and full of cyclists, it is worth the drive because of the view. With just the M3 and the Cayman as the AMG decided to bugger off as it was getting late, we kept heading towards the destination. I was driving the Miata and not being quit as familiar with that car I took it easy on Gibraltar as the M3 and Cayman plowed on. After getting to the bottom of Gibraltar was Stagecoach. This is a road I have been meaning to drive for a long time. It always looked pretty on the map and there is a small tavern that has great reviews, but I’d never had a chance to stop there. As we drove by the area was packed with people. Reminded me of a miniature Newcomb’s Ranch. Waiting at the next turn off was the Cayman. Knowing we were shortly behind him he waited as the M3 took off for the finish.
The Miata and the Cayman all wanted to do the full rally, so we took the last off main drag route towards the finish. Met with a quite interesting and in parts really bad farm road, we drove on. Finding a bit of a fun section with nice pavement had us excited for the rest of this section just until we hit some dirt. The rally was not supposed to have any dirt sections but without google maps working we were unsure of how much of the next 4 miles was dirt. This first part looked really rough and beaten so we elected to turn around and head back. Once back to the main road, we followed it to the finish at Barrelhouse Brewing in Buellton. While the Miata and Cayman were last to arrive, we were the only ones to do most of the rally route with the Miata achieving just a bit more traveled than the Cayman. So I dubbed us 1st and 2nd in my mind.
The rally was absolutely wonderful and I would do another one in a heartbeat. The people and cars and interaction were all the right kinds of connections. Like Oppo but in real life. Where all you get are car people for car people. No one there was showing off how shiny their investment was or dogging on the cheeky Miata with lots of miles and a very chipped up front end. We were all enjoying each other’s company on and off the road.
I know we are in the planning stages of the next rally so hopefully the group will grew, throw in a few more Oppos, and maybe get the Vette to come along this time.