Home » I Towed My 53-Year-Old Sports Car Across The USA With My 35-Year-Old Forest Service Truck Because Life’s Too Short To Do Things The Easy Way

I Towed My 53-Year-Old Sports Car Across The USA With My 35-Year-Old Forest Service Truck Because Life’s Too Short To Do Things The Easy Way

Mark Road Trip Ts

“You’re crazy,” said Roger Wilson, one of the old-timers in my MG club in Oregon, when I told him my plan. “I’ve done stuff like that before, and I never want to do it again.”

“It’ll be fine,” I replied, “and if it isn’t, I’ll have a story to tell.”

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Well, my friends, I have a story to tell, a tale of triumphs and failures and near-misses and almost-made-its. It took me six days, not counting a two-day stop to visit family in Kansas, but I did it: I drove my beloved old ex-US Forest Service Chevy pickup all the way across the country, with my bright yellow MGB GT in tow.

The Wherefore And The Why

This winter, my mother-in-law passed away unexpectedly. My wife and her sister both took it very hard, and decided that they wanted to be closer to each other geographically. Their mother left behind a house in Delaware, right on the coast, and a sizeable chunk of money. Deals were made, the estate was settled, my sister-in-law moved into the house, and we bought property nearby just across the state line in Maryland. We aren’t retired, exactly, but we don’t have to hold down full-time jobs anymore.

Once a decision like that is made, the reality of the logistics involved kicks in. We have four vehicles–five if you count the vintage trailer–a house with eleven and a half years’ worth of accumulated furniture in it, three cats, and several stuff-heavy hobbies. All of that needed to get moved from one coast to the other. We talked to a few moving companies, and a few car-shipping companies, and we were put off by the same fact in both cases: Your stuff gets moved from truck to truck more than once. Things can and do get lost. Cars can and do get damaged. The more we thought about it, the more we realized that the only people who would take care of our belongings to a standard acceptable to us were ourselves. So we ordered the pack-it-yourself shipping containers, which we could fill and lock with our own padlock, and I reserved a trailer from U-Haul to transport the MG.


My family had already been planning a memorial get-together for my dad, who passed away about a year and a half ago, in Kansas. It only made sense, then, to time this first drive to coincide with that event. The date was set, the arrangements were made, and now all I had to do was make the drive.

My Beast Of Burden

You have probably seen photos of my truck before, if you read Jalopnik about four years ago, or are a regular on Opposite Lock. For those who are unfamiliar with it, here are the specifics: It’s a 1989 Chevrolet K1500, in the base Cheyenne trim level. It has a 4.3 liter V6 engine, a cast-iron SM465 four-speed manual (three plus a “granny” low), shift-on-the-fly 4WD with a low-range transfer case, and 3.73:1 gears. I’ve had it for five years, and at the beginning of this adventure, it had a bit over 210,000 miles on it. Oh, and the original owner was the U.S. Forest Service, hence the funky green color.

Rocks In Bed

I have used the hell out of this truck, and it has never let me down. It’s slow, certainly; the 4.3 only puts out 160 horsepower and something like 235 pound-feet of torque. But with as many gearing options as it has available, it has taken any job I’ve thrown at it with no complaint. It will haul a half-yard of gravel or rocks up my steep driveway in Portland without breaking a sweat. And empty, it cruises along at 70 MPH or more easily, if not serenely. I felt confident that it could tow the lightweight MGB on a trailer.

Except that the MG isn’t all that light. When Pininfarina added the hardtop to the standard MGB to create the GT, it also added about 300 pounds of weight. The GT weighs about 2,300 pounds; combined with the U-Haul standard car hauler’s empty weight of 2,100 pounds, I’d be over the truck’s official tow rating of 4,000 pounds by about a sumo wrestler’s worth. The same truck as mine equipped with a 350 V8 has a tow rating of 5,000 pounds. U-Haul didn’t ask what engine I had, and I didn’t tell. I figured it was the same power output as the V8 from a few years earlier anyway; it should be fine.


When I Get To The Bottom I Go Back To The Top

In addition to towing the MG, I wanted to take advantage of the truck bed for hauling some tools and other items that I dind’t want to go in the moving pod, things like a box of spray paint cans and various car chemicals. The last thing I wanted was for a can of Krylon Fusion or PB Blaster to burst open inside the pod. In the end, I may have overdone it a bit: the truck bed contained not only the boxes of chemicals, but a generator, a radial arm saw, a small tabletop drill press, a jigsaw, a set of Quickjacks, a hydraulic jack, two pairs of jackstands, two of my four toolboxes, and a few boxes of miscellaneous RC car parts and supplies. It didn’t seem like a lot in the bed, but it was several hundred pounds more weight, not to mention the fiberglass topper I got free from Craigslist to keep everything dry and secure.

Image (1)


And U-Haul threw me a curve ball right off the bad by changing my pickup location. Instead of picking up the trailer on nearby Foster Road, I had to drive out to Estacada, twenty miles away and down in a valley. I was annoyed, but agreed to go ahead and drive down.

If you’re unfamiliar with a four-speed transmission with a granny gear, let me explain: Under normal circumstances, you use the top three gears only. In fact, on the knob, they’re even labeled that way: L, 1, 2, and 3. The low gear, what would normally be first gear in a typical four-speed, isn’t even synchronized on an SM465. You can’t engage it unless you’re completely stopped. Low is really low, a ratio of 6.55 to 1. It’s only good up to about ten miles an hour, but it will get you moving without slipping the clutch if you’re carrying (or towing) a heavy load. I needed low gear to pull out of the U-Haul rental lot, even with an empty trailer. I should have known then what I was in for.


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With the MG loaded, the acceleration up that first on-ramp was quite a shock. I’m not used to revving the engine in this truck; it rarely sees revs above 2500 RPM or so. But with the MG behind, I had to wind it out in every gear just to get up to speed, and even then I was only going fifty miles an hour by the time I got to the end of the ramp. This is a pattern that would continue throughout the trip: Start in Low, wind it out in first and second, and only grab third if I was doing at least 45-50, or else it would bog down.

To complicate matters, the first hundred miles or so through the Columbia Gorge were in torrential rain, including the first real incline climbing out of the gorge into the high desert. I ended up in the truck lane, in second gear, going 45 miles an hour with it floored. This, too, would become a pattern. Fortunately, the rain let off, the road leveled out after I crossed into Idaho, and I was feeling pretty good… until I decided to stop for the night.

Tear Down These Walls

I hate stopping on road trips. Once I get in a groove, I want to stay in it as long as possible, usually until the fuel runs out or my bladder has had enough. Clearly this is not the norm, however; at one point in Idaho I was passed by the same fast-moving Prius three times in a four-hour stretch. We later ended up at the same gas stop. The tortiose and the hare, Interstate 84 edition.

But eventually, you have to know when you’ve reached your limit, and a little ways past Boise I finally decided it was time to bring the first day to a close. I chose Mountain Home, Idaho as my first night’s stop, and turned into the too-small parking lot of the Thunderbird Motel. I checked in, asked the desk clerk where I could park my rig for the night, and he directed me to a line of empty spaces alongside the swimming pool, which I would be able to see from my room. I swung the truck over towards the spot, and heard a crunch.


Idaho Wall


I had hit the corner of a cinderblock wall of a small pump-house next to the pool, sticking out into the lane of travel further than I realized, with the right fender of the trailer. Bad move, but what happened next was worse. I attempted to reverse out, turned the wrong way for a fraction of a second, and got the edge of the trailer wedged against the wall. I couldn’t go forward, or back. It was a matter of less than an inch, but when you’re maneuvering a rig with a combined weight of nine tons in tight quarters, every inch counts.

The desk clerk came out and surveyed the damage. “I think I need a tow truck,” I said. “I can’t get this unstuck by myself.”

“I’ll call the police,” the clerk replied.


“No, just a tow truck. I’ll give you my insurance information and we’ll get it sorted out.”

But he called the police anyway. They took my information, filled out a formal accident report, took photos, the whole thing. And still, the trailer was still stuck against the wall, unable to move. I tried unhooking it from the truck and repositioning the truck to get a better angle, but it was no use; the whole trailer needed to move sideways to free it, and that wasn’t going to be possible without some muscle.

Idaho Tow Truck

The tow truck driver took all of thirty seconds to yank the trailer sideways six inches, charged me $150, and left. By then it was dark, and my nerves were frazzled. I told the desk clerk, “It’s not blocking anything; I’m leaving it there for the night.” In the morning, I hooked back up, carefully maneuvered out of the parking lot, and drove off, before the morning-shift clerk had time to come bother me.

Thank goodness I had purchased the $70 insurance policy from U-Haul, so I wasn’t on the hook for the damage to the trailer. I’m still waiting to hear about the chips on the corner of the wall. I’m hoping they just touch up the paint and move on.


In A Big Country, Dreams Stay With You

The second day was easier, with beautiful weather and not much traffic. My top speed even on level ground was about 60 MPH; on hills that could drop as low as 40 in second gear. It was tough driving, but I stayed to the right, turned on my flashers when I had to, and didn’t have any trouble from other drivers. I sailed through the upper-right corner of Utah without incident, and made my way into Wyoming.

The funny thing about Wyoming: It’s uphill. Everywhere. No matter which way you’re going, somehow you end up climbing a hill. The upside of this–no pun intended– is that you are rewarded at the top of each hill climb with a spectacular view. Sadly, the elevation climbed as rapidly as the road condition deteriorated. Interstate 80 across Wyoming is choppy and poorly-maintained; I suppose it’s tough to get enough road crews to keep up with the wear and tear on the roads, but it was awful. Only one other state had worse road conditions than Wyoming, but we’re not there yet.

Laramie Parking Lot

I stopped in Laramie (elevation 7,200 feet) for the night after about ten hours on the road, at a Fairfield Inn right off the interstate. Before pulling into the lot, I pulled off the road and walked in to inquire about trailer parking; I wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice. The clerk pointed to a gravel lot full of ruts and puddles and said I was welcome to park anywhere in there. I looked, thought “what the hell; I have 4WD,” and pulled in. It was a lot less treacherous than it looked, and ended up not being a problem. I went to my room, ordered a pizza, wrote the next day’s Shitbox Showdown, and went to sleep, with the whine of the truck’s gearbox and the roar of the engine still echoing in my ears.

Eastbound And Downhill

East on 80, south on 25, and into Colorado was the next morning’s path. I had looked up the toll information for the new E-470 bypass, decided not to pay $40 to save ten miles, and headed for the older I-270 route. What I forgot is that 270 is a left exit; no way could I make my way through traffic to get there in time. Oh well; Interstate 25 intersects I-70 directly a little ways further south; it just meant more traffic.


Once you get clear of Denver, eastern Colorado flattens out in a hurry. By the time you hit the Kansas state line, it’s all downhill from there all the way to my next stop, just outside Wichita. The truck seemed happier with this arrangement, especially since it was traveling downwind as well as downhill, and we flirted with 65 miles an hour a few times. Probably not coincidentally, I got my best gas mileage on this leg of the trip, an astonishing 15.1 miles per gallon.

Jeep 1987

I spent quite a few summers of my youth in Kansas; my Aunt Judy has lived in the same house for fifty years, and my grandpa had a small farm in Pawnee Rock for ages. It was on my Aunt Judy and Uncle Bill’s property that I learned to drive, at the tender age of 14. Bill was a long-haul truck driver, one of the best drivers I’ve ever ridden with in any vehicle. He and my dad wanted to make sure I learned right, before the high school driver’s ed program “messed me all up,” so they conspired to give me driving lessons out here, in the middle of nowhere, where I had room to make mistakes. Their vehicle of choice was Bill’s weekend toy, a 1981 Jeep CJ-7 Scrambler with an inline six and a four-speed manual. “You get good with this,” Bill told me, “an’ you can drive anythin’.” That was thirty-seven years ago, and he hasn’t yet been wrong. From dock trucks to vintage Corvettes, I have felt confident and comfortable behind the wheel, thanks to Uncle Bill’s calm influence and patient guidance.

Except when it comes to backing up a trailer. I just didn’t have much experience with it before this trip, and it took me a while to get a feel for it. But after several attempts, I finally parked the trailer and MG in front of the barn, more or less where I wanted it, not far at all from the spot where Bill taught me how to reverse in the Jeep all those years ago.

Kansas Yard



The next day, family members from all over converged on the west side of Wichita, all to pay their respects to my dad. We all went out to dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant managed by some distant cousin or other (half of Sedgwick County, Kansas is a distant cousin of mine through blood or marriage, it seems), ate, drank, and talked. Our family isn’t all that close, geographically or emotionally, and getting any number of us together in one spot is an accomplishment. But when it happens, we all have a great time.

Dads Memorial

Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now

I saw the driver of the red Ford truck rubberneck as he passed the gas station and I knew what would happen next. He stood on the brakes, pulled a U-turn (or rather, “flipped a bitch,” a term I taught to David a couple years ago in Los Angeles, to his great amusement), and pulled into the station behind me.

“That’s an MGB GT,” he said.


“Yes it is,” I replied. “Nineteen seventy-one.”

“You selling it, or did you just buy it?”

“Neither,” I said. “I’m moving it across the country. Had it about eight years, and it’s not going anywhere.”

He nodded approvingly, and we chit-chatted about British cars while the truck’s enormous gas tank took on provisions. He asked me if I knew various people in the Wichita area (no, sorry, not from here), told me all about his Triumph (coincidentally, not too dissimilar to the one my dad had when I was young), and when the truck was full we went our separate ways. Little interactions like that are one of my favorite aspects of classic car ownership. I’m naturally an introvert, not crazy about talking to strangers, but I open up if there’s a car involved. Never let anyone tell you it’s all about the machines. The machines are cool, but the people and the stories they tell about the machines, that’s the good stuff.

It was raining by the time I reached the on-ramp to the Kansas Turnpike, a toll road that encompasses the whole of Interstate 35 through eastern Kansas. It pre-dates the Interstate system and was designed with high-speed travel in mind. It was on this very road that, many years ago, I drove faster than I ever have before or since–an indicated 135 miles per hour, in my dad’s Ford Taurus SHO, for a mile or two.


I wasn’t going anywhere near that fast, obviously, when I took the exit towards Emporia, to connect back up to I-70, and it’s a good thing. I stepped on the brakes, and the pedal felt soft and spongy under my foot. It was still raining hard, so I paid the toll and carried on, stopping a little further up the road out of the storm to check things out. One chamber of the master cylinder’s reservoir was low, but not empty, and the parking brake pedal was suddenly much higher. I figured what had happened was that the rear drum brakes had self-adjusted suddenly, from the extra weight, and that made the fluid level drop. I bought brake fluid, topped off the reservoir, gassed up, and got back on the road.

Just past Columbia, Missouri, I had to slow down to avoid a slow-merging camper, and the brake pedal went soft again, and this time the warning light came on on the dash. A few miles later it turned off again and the pedal felt all right again–still not what it had been, but not unsafe. I decided to stop for the night somewhere past St. Louis, and investigate in the morning. Not long after, the light came on again, and this time it stayed on. With no place to stop safely, I just kept rolling, and somehow, through a combination of luck and good timing, cleared the St. Louis metropolitan area without having to touch the brakes once.

I stopped in Greenville, Illinois for the night, the brakes rock-hard and barely effective, and I suspected I knew what had happened. Sure enough, in the morning, I looked under the back of the truck and found the inside of the right rear wheel coated in brake fluid. The brake cylinder on that wheel had blown.

Wet Wheel

Disc brakes in a car work by squeezing a metal disc, or rotor, between two pads via hydraulic pressure. Drum brakes, instead of squeezing together, push a pair of brake pads outward against the inside surface of the drum. The hydraulic force for this comes from a tiny two-sided hydraulic cylinder, about three inches long and an inch in diameter, with a plunger at each end that pushes outward when the brakes are applied. There is nothing holding these plungers in except the ends of the brake shoes pressing against them, so if you get too much of a gap, one plunger or other can pop right out. And there goes all your brake fluid, and with it, all the brakes to the entire rear axle.


There are two types of people when it comes to car repairs, it seems – the ones who do things, and the ones who have things done for them. I am almost exclusively in the former camp; I hate turning over my keys to someone else to fix something I am perfectly capable of fixing myself. I’ve rebuilt drum brakes plenty of times; it’s not difficult, or expensive, just messy and time-consuming. Had this happened in my garage at home, I could have easily spent a couple of hours doing the brakes and been on my merry way.

But I wasn’t in my garage; I was in a motel parking lot in Greenville, Illinois. I thought briefly about unloading the MG to make a parts run–I liked the idea of the “unreliable” British car coming to the rescue–but ultimately I did the sensible thing and called around to a couple of repair shops. The receptionist at Custom Wrenches agreed to let me bring the truck by, and drop my trailer in their lot while they looked at it, “but it might be a while, we’re super busy.” I agreed and tiptoed the truck across town, downshifting whenever possible to slow down so as not to damage the front brakes as well.

Trucl In Garage Copy

The service manager at Custom Wrenches, a jovial guy named Josh, is, as it turns out, a Chevy truck guy. I get the feeling if I had been driving anything else, he would have told me he couldn’t fix it that day, and I would have been stranded. But even though it took all day, he and his crew helped me out and got me going (and more importantly, stopping) again. We chatted about Chevy trucks; he told me all about the truck he was fixing up, and even gave me a ride into town so I could get a burger for lunch.

Wet Brakes


The damage was more extensive than I thought. The right wheel cylinder was completely blown out, and the left one was starting to leak. Also, the brake shoes, which were not that old and had plenty of material left on them, were soaked in brake fluid and therefore ruined and useless. The drums on both sides were worn to the point that they needed replacing as well. All told, to get it done that day, they charged me $862. You know the old saying: “Good, cheap, fast – pick any two.” I opted for good and fast, and reluctantly handed over my credit card.

Breakfast In America

The truck was ready by about 4:30 PM, and I made my escape from Greenville. The brakes felt better than they ever had the entire time I’ve owned the truck; Josh and his tech Travis do good work. I rolled across southern Illinois in good spirits, munching on Cheddar Cheese Combos (the greatest road snack of all time) and blasting Dave Hause through the truck’s cheap eBay stereo.

At the Indiana state line, the road went to hell and stayed that way. I don’t know what it is about Indiana’s DOT–I have my suspicions, but they don’t belong here–but the road conditions in that state are just appalling. Expansion joints at regular intervals made the truck and trailer “porpoise” uncomfortably. Giant potholes pocked the entrance and exit to each bridge, and invariably I got to these just as another car was overtaking me, so there was no way to avoid them. The whole rig jumped and shuddered and rattled every time I hit one, and I slowed down to 55 just to make it tolerable. And yet, even with these deplorable conditions, half the state seemed to be under construction. I was spent by the time I got to Indianapolis, and stopped for the night at a Super 8. I took up five parking spaces again, but I was proud of the fact that I backed the trailer in successfully in only three tries.

A regular on Opposite Lock who goes by Just Jeepin’ lives in the area, and suggested a breakfast spot for me. I do love good breakfast food, but the way he described the area, I was worried about finding a place to park the trailer, and elected instead to just have the free breakfast at the motel.

You might be surprised to hear this, but the biscuits and gravy at the free breakfast buffet at a Super 8 are more or less awful. Nothing against the motel as I was thrilled to have breakfast without having to re-park, but I longed for my wife’s homemade biscuits and gravy after that. No matter; I was determined to make this my last day of driving. Our new house in Maryland was ten and a half hours away, according to Google Maps, so I figured it would actually be twelve because I was driving slower than the speed limit. That estimate turned out to be almost exactly right.


Take Me To The River

In Ohio, the road smoothed out, and I felt a lot more at ease. I did run into more road construction, however, and it was a tight squeeze, with concrete barriers on both sides and a lane exactly wide enough for a semi, no more. I knew I could fit, but still, I was nervous the whole way. Fortunately, it was only a few miles long.

The hills returned as I entered West Virginia for a short stretch, and once again, I missed the ramp to a bypass, this time around Wheeling. Going through town wasn’t bad, though, and it gave me a few miles’ break from the semi-trucks. Those guys are the top of the food chain on the Interstate, and they know it. You give them room, whether they’re going faster or slower than you, and they’ll reciprocate by giving you room whenever they can. Cross them, and you’ll get a detailed look at a Kenworth logo in your rearview mirror, and an air horn blast.

I headed south on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, state highway 43, to pick up US Highway 40. And that’s where shit got real, if I may use the expression. Interstate highways are held to a certain standard in terms of lane width, curve tightness, grade steepness, and runoff room. The older Federal highways, built decades earlier when speeds were slower and traffic lighter, are not. US 40 is reasonably straight, but it follows the terrain up and down over every hill, with occasional grades of ten percent or more. For reference, the steepest permissible grade on an Interstate is six percent–and if you’ve ever driven through the mountains, even without pulling a trailer, you know how steep that can be. US 40 took every ounce of energy and concentration I had, to keep the truck climbing and descending safely, and every ounce of horsepower and braking ability the truck had. On more than one climb, I was down into first gear, with the gas pedal flat to the floor, creeping up hills at 20 miles an hour.

The Bay Bridge, at the north end of the Chesapeake Bay, joins the Delmarva Peninsula to the mainland of Maryland. It’s four miles long, quite narrow, and nearly always crowded. I had been dreading it since the planning stages of the trip. But after the mountain passes, the steep rolling hills, the construction zones, the failed brakes, and three thousand miles of intense concentration, it felt anticlimactic. Crossing the bridge was a non-event. I rolled onto the vast flatland of the peninsula and headed south for a couple more hours, reaching our new house along the bank of the Wicomico River around 7:00 PM. Coincidentally, the song that came up on Spotify as I rolled into town was the Talking Heads cover of “Take Me To The River.” I was done. I had made it.

New Home Arrival



Well, not quite. I had reached a completely empty house with a truck full of crap and a small classic sports car on a trailer. I had no place to sleep. I hastily unloaded the car, dropped the trailer, emptied the truck bed, and made tracks for my sister-in-law’s house in Delaware, where I was greeted with well-earned pizza and beer.

Oh, and when I returned the trailer, I accidentally pulled into the lot next door to the U-Haul place and had to turn around. I backed the trailer out in one shot, got pointed the right way, and then backed it into a spot in the correct lot. Achievement unlocked.

We Can Be Heroes

Am I glad I did it? Absolutely. It may not sound like much of an ordeal these days, simply driving across the country; people do it all the time. But not many people do it in a thirty-five-year-old ex-government fleet truck with a classic British sports car in tow. It was grueling, and harrowing, and I absolutely hated parts of it, and I questioned my sanity approximately five times a mile. But I made it, and I feel proud and accomplished.

The real hero of this journey, however, is this astounding old Chevy truck. I asked more of it than I ever expected to, and it delivered, time and time again. I used one hundred percent of its capacity for three thousand miles, and it survived – brakes notwithstanding. In fact, I think the drive might have been good for it, like the ultimate “Italian tuneup.” Put your foot in it and hold it there for six days straight, and you’re guaranteed to burn out whatever gunk from sitting is in the engine.


Truck Profile


And despite all the abuse and hard work, the damn thing somehow averaged about 14 MPG over the entire trip. I didn’t check the mileage on every tank, but when I did, I was pleasantly surprised. I was expecting more like 10.

It’s due for lots of service; basically, I’m going to change every single fluid in it, just to be sure. And after that, it probably won’t leave the peninsula much, if at all. The whole area is like the mystical “farm up north” for dogs, only for pickup trucks, with lots of two-lane blacktop roads to bomb down while carrying mulch or lumber or car parts or whatever else we need it to carry. I think it will be happy there.

But I have already promised it that I will never ask it to tow a car over a mountain pass again. I think we’ve both had enough of that.


(Image credits: me)

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30 days ago

Great story! Last year I had to recover a broken car in Vegas and did something similar over 2 days and 2k miles.
Also, I am guessing a typo, but I am guessing your combined weight was closer to 5 tones (10k lbs) not the 9 tons stated. Either way impressive with the 4.3!

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
1 month ago

That was a great read! Reminded me of the time I drove across France with my disassembled Datsun Z parts in a moving truck.

The thing was filled to the brim and I could feel it every time I stepped on a pedal that wasn’t a clutch. Your tale made that look like a walk in the park!

1 month ago

Either your torsion bars are cranked the F up or your rear springs have had it!

Andrew M
Andrew M
1 month ago

“a rig with a combined weight of nine tons”

Nine thousand pounds, surely?

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
1 month ago

Portland will miss you Mark, but enjoy the east coast!!! It’s good to be close to family.

1 month ago

RE: “Well, my friends, I have a story to tell, a tale of triumphs and failures”…

Wait I thought you were towing an MG? 🙂

1 month ago

I have mixed feelings about this. I’m extremely opposed to glorifying stupid towing decisions (which this absolutely was), but on the other hand this was a pretty good example of why you don’t tow way over your limit, especially not in an old truck that is not in the best shape to begin with.

On the other hand, the takeaway from all the commenters seems to be “That was awesome!” not “That was stupidly dangerous and if your brakes had picked a less opportune moment to go out you might have killed someone.”

I guess I’ll put this in the same category as the movie Fight Club, in that most of the people who like it completely missed the cautionary tale aspect of it.

Jason Dekok
Jason Dekok
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben

Agreed, good story but not cool endangering others with a poor tow setup.

1 month ago

Great story!

And I can vouch for bad Indiana roads. I have family there, lived there from the mid-80s to the early 2000s, and can confirm that the Indiana DOT is simply incapable of making a road and a bridge deck meet up at the same level. Also, the state animal is the road barricade sawhorse, and the state flower is the orange traffic cone; they pop up every Spring. 🙂

Michigan roads can be even worse, though, for potholes and general disrepair. There’s a section of M-60 that runs through Cass and Berrien counties that’s the same concrete that was poured in (I think) the 1960s. Maybe the 50’s. It’s freakin old, it’s been patched multiple times, but it’s still there and still carrying heavy truck traffic. The edges of the sections running down the middle of the dual lanes have eroded so much from weather that grass and weeds can survive and grow there despite heavy traffic; they just can’t grow taller than the concrete slabs. But there’s a good inch-and-a-half to two inches of green running down the middle of the dual lanes, and it’s not going away!

Yep, respect the truckers, drive safe, and they’ll respect you. A few years ago my wife and I had to drive most of our household possessions from the New England coast back to our new place in northern Indiana; we did it in two big Class 6 vans rented from Penske. Air brakes and all. My wife was a professional test driver decades ago, so it wasn’t hard to teach her how to drive one and what to look out for with air brakes in just a day, and so we set out with her following behind me with phones and boom-mic bluetooth headsets plus backup walkie-talkies for communication. With me in the lead and her ability to drive with confidence and control of the space around her, we did just fine and quickly got picked up by the truck drivers as knowing what we were doing. We got the same courtesy they extend among themselves with flashing-to-pass and maintaining space on the road to keep cars from cutting in unsafely around us all. At one point some idiot steering-wheel-holder in a semi came along and tried cutting off other semis, or passing with inadequate space or speed to clear the pass without holding up traffic — he got the business from the other truckers as they collectively held him out of their carefully-managed space on the road, and wouldn’t let him try to cut off our little two-truck convoy either. Just another day for the truckers, but blending into their piece of the highway kept us rolling safely too.

1 month ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

North-western Indiana resident here as well, and I can confidently vouch for our roads being a joke. It’s amazing that a state that has nearly constant and incredibly inconvenient road construction 8 months out of the year has such abysmal roads.

It’s brutal driving low cars on our interstates.

Doug Kretzmann
Doug Kretzmann
1 month ago

what a great story, thank you..

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