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Montana 500 2004

The 2004 Montana 500 was held in Eureka, Montana. The weather was perfect if not a little hot. Mike Cuffe laid out an interesting and challenging route. Day one took the 17 T's plus several touring class cars from Eureka towards Whitefish. The town of Eureka gave us a wonderful send off complete with a cannon shot and live coverage sent out to the world via the internet. We bypassed Whitefish and Kalispell on the Twin Bridges, then Farm-to-market road. Despite our best efforts, some folks missed this turn. Next we zoomed over to Happy's Inn. There was road construction ahead, so we toured not under time to Libby. From Libby we drove north back to Eureka. Rob Flesner had a bit of trouble and his T took a ride on the trouble trailer. Dave Thompson had a little trouble and other than wrong turns, nobody else had any significant trouble. At the end of the day Nan Robison was in first followed by Mike Robison, Tom Carnegie, Rick Carnegie, Garrett Green, Tony Cerovski and Gary Ebbert. All of these T's were within 10 minutes of the leader at this point.

The next day we headed south toward Libby. We then headed up to the cute little town of Yaak. Along the way Dave Warhank had some wheel trouble but was able to continue. From Yaak we then went to the Idaho border where we wheeled around and headed back to Troy. For me this was one of the most fun legs of the run. It was great to see the other T's either coming or going as the route doubled back onto itself. It was very hot this day. The temperature sign in Troy said 101F. We headed back to Eureka on the backside of Lake Koocanusa. This was a winding two-lane road. Some of the drivers just loved the road and some of them hated it. I was in the former camp even though I drove it like a little old lady. It was on this leg that we had our only major breakdown. Doug Langel lost his timing gear and was out of the run. At the end of the day the first five were the same cars except now Mike was in first and Nan was in second.

The third day we were going to go to Whitefish and back, but somehow we lost our connection with the chip-seal gods. Some T's got stopped by construction and some didn't. We threw out this leg. When we got to Whitefish we decided to call it a race as everyone was running well and no places would have changed. The day's total miles were scrubbed and the run officially ended with 435 miles. This will go down as one of the shortest Montana 500's on record, yet if you include the miles from Happy's Inn to Libby and the miles to Whitefish and back, it was well over 500 miles.

From Whitefish we toured back to Eureka. The kind folks at the Big Sky Exxon provided us with an ideal place to hold our post-run teardown. The top three cars were declared OK and we headed up to the Lundeen's museum for the picnic and awards. Mike Robison got the big trophy from Doug Langel who won last year. Nan Robison who came in second, won the women's trophy. She also won it last year. Nan's second place overall finish is the best ever for a woman.

The next day we had a great time boating around on Lake Koocanusa.

I would like to thank Mike and Jo An Cuffe for hosting the run this year. Also thanks to all the good people of Eureka. Thanks too to the Lundeen's, the trouble trailer drivers, the timers the flaggers the kind folks who gave us the boat rides and all of the other people who made this one of the best and most fun Montana 500's ever.

submitted by Tom Carnegie

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