Friday June 8, 2001
Blue Sky & Sun;
What Could Go Wrong; Who's Allison?
Destination
WIC Baytown, Texas
Mileage
240

Victory was at hand. Only 240 miles left. We motored to Discount Tire to hook up with Enkei's Chris Ditty, who was joining the final leg in his yellow 300ZX, the Enkei van and a S-15 Silvia sans motor that was being trailered to the WIC. On the way to Discount Tire there was some late discussions on which off ramp to take and I got hung out to dry. I made a late lane change onto the ramp and found that where painted lines are in California, Texas uses a bumpstrip-like curb. Realizing I was six feet from a real curb I aimed the Lexus square and earned my self-given Chitwood nickname as the IS 300 reached for the clouds. As I understand it, the Lexus got two or three feet off the ground. Bondurant instincts kicked in and I quickly gathered the car. All in all, a successful suspension compression test.

With our vehicle count somewhere in the teens, the Trek lurched southward and took aim at Houston. We arrived at Houston Raceway Park together. It was hot and sunny and while the others applied the sunscreen I bolted to the line and got some shots of Kenny Tran grabbing the number one spot in the Quick Class at 9.57. As Friday wore on, the sky took on an ominous shade of dark gray. It started to rain and I retired Friday night thinking the rain would pass, much as it had in Fort Worth. To my chagrin, this was no passing storm. It was most definitely tropical storm Allison, and it would literally make a loop around Houston, intensifying its impact, and move north to wreak havoc on another import drag race seven days later.

Saturday, June 9, 2001 & Beyond

I awoke Saturday to a city whose basic infrastructure had been taken off-line. Freeways were under water, homes were flooded, hundreds of thousands of people were homeless. In a wise move, the promoter cancelled the race early. I had planned to fly out so the Lexus was westbound already. Staffers Gary Castillo and Jason Mulroney had rented a Blazer 4x4 and we forded water aplenty as the 15-minute jaunt to George Bush airport was a three-hour struggle. We got there, but all flights had been diverted for the prior 12 hours and the planes on the ground had no crews to fly them. The terminal was complete chaos. The illogic of the lines to the Continental ticket counter, that weaved in and out of lines to other counters, only added to the heightened sense of desperation. It was a lost cause; nobody was going anywhere Saturday. We looked for a room and decided to backtrack down the highway that got us to the airport only because we knew it was passable. We tried every hotel we saw and finally found a room at the Forest Inn, 30 miles outside of Houston. This was the last available room in a flea-bag hotel, but we were better off than many in the Houston area. Sunday was still crazy and we surmised correctly that our original flight on Monday would prove to be one of the early flights out. We cut our losses and hit the AMC 24 at the mall. It was late Sunday and only then did ATM service return. We checked out "The Animal," starring Rob Schneider (I was out-voted) and later attended the Greyhound races at a track that was half way to Galveston. I won $20, Jason won $2, Gary drank a lot of beer-it was a beautiful thing. On Monday the airport gave off the aura of impending normalcy. We checked in two hours before take-off and made it home.

The World Import Challenge has been rescheduled for February 2002.

"The journey is its own reward." If this isn't a saying of some sort, it is now. We are about cars, ogling them, wrenching on them, racing them and driving them. Only on the open road can one truly meld with a car-come to understand its quirks and appreciate and utilize its strong points while identifying and remedying its weaknesses. Road trips are cool and our Trek 2 Texas' mission was to drive some of the hottest imports to Houston and cover the World Import Challenge. The Trek would take us from Orange Country, California to Houston, Texas, with a number of stops along the way.

The Cast
Larry Saavedra
AKA: Lawrence, Fearless Leader
Trip Organizer, Editor of Sport Compact Car

Michael Graham
AKA: Graham Master Flash, Grambo
Zany comic relief, ad salesman

Sean Morris (John Kim)
AKA: Lucky dog driving Skyline 3,400 miles
Works at MotoRex

Trevor Kaplan & John Kim
AKA The Vortech 2
Paid by Vortech to drive supercharged Integra 3,400 miles

John Prescott
AKA: Baldwin, Get that outta my face
Trip photographer

Jay Friedman
AKA: J-period
Ad salesman

Jerrod Strauss
AKA: J-Rod,
Ad salesman

Jared Holstein
AKA: Running Man
Staff editor SCC

Evan Griffey
AKA: Lexus hog, Chitwood
Editor of Turbo Magazine, quiet guy

Hired Guns
Tommy Lee Liang
Erik Olsen
Bill Sundin
John Kim

The Crew
Lexus IS300
Nissan Skyline GT-R (R32)

Toyota Celica
Blown Acura Integra
Turbocharged Nissan Maxima
Mazda MP3
2000 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT

Nissan Xterra
Mitsubishi Montero