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2008 Montana 500

Nan Robison

(From Tweetybird's eye)

Wow!!!! If the 2007 Montana 500 blew in with gale force winds, the 2008 came in on rays of sunshine. The weather was bright and shiny the whole time. It rained one night, but most of us slept through it.

Mike, Jillian, Mark, Janice and I all traveled from Spokane together. Dave and Joe Swanson took a different track and rode off on motorcycles. It was a leisurely trip for us this year, as Thompson Fall is more in our neck of the woods so we didn't have to leave days in advance. We had almost arrived in Thompson Falls, having reached the top of the pass. We pulled into the lay by at the top of the pass to stretch our legs and take a look at the view. We were enjoying the beauty and quiet of the mountain, when the stillness was shattered by the roar of an un-muffled model T. Up the road came Garrett Green and Sonny Bishop. They were road testing their cars, and as luck would have it, we happened to be in the same place at the same time. Greetings were exchanged and snowballs thrown. We all left together and headed to town.

When we rolled into town we were met by other drivers that had already arrived. As usual, tires were kicked and lies told as we greeted drivers from past races.

We had 16 racers this year and an assortment of tour cars. Coming back after a four-year absence was Brian "Red" Cress, from Bismark, IL. It was great to have him back. He wins the farthest traveled award. A newcomer this year, was John Carlin from Graettinger, IA. He had a story to tell and hopefully I will get a chance to spot light it in another publication. Colorado Springs, CO saw the Coniff family, Steve, Joey, and friends. Garrett Green and Sonny Bishop hailed from sunny California, and the Montana contingency sported Doug Langel, Tony and Janet Cerovski, and Mike Cuffe. Last but not least, Washington offered Mike Robison, Jillian Caples, Mark Hutchinson, Rick and Tom Carnegie, Ed Marshall, and myself. We had a variety of tour cars also this year.

As we awaited inspection to begin, there was a flurry over by Sonny's rig. Apparently on the way down the mountain, he lost a rod. As is the nature of the 500 group, drivers and crews were scrambling to come up with a way to repair his car. Someone came up with a rod, but it was not the same size as Sonny's. So, with bailing wire and butter (family joke-ask me about it some time) they managed to jury-rig a rod that would work in Sonny's car.

Inspection went off with out a hitch, and the evening meeting saw the following places picked. 1-Garrett Green, 2- Red Cress, 3-Joey Coniff, 4-Sonny Bishop, 5-Ed Marshall, 6- Tony Cerovski, 7-John Carlin, 8-Jillian Caples, 9-Tom Carnegie, 10-Mark Hutchinson, 11- Doug Langel, 12-Mike Robison, 13-Rick Carnegie, 14-Janet Cerovski, 15-Nan Robison, 16-Mike Cuffe. Once again, we were given our pre-race instructions, cautioned to use care and common sense and off we went for the night.

Day one of the race dawned bright and sunny. Our first leg was from Thompson Falls to the intersection of Highway 5, 39 miles. Tony never made it off the trailer. His car was just not sounding right, so he opted to not race. This first leg proved to be the nemesis of two other drivers. Red and Doug both threw a rod. Ouch!!! The remainder of the legs were not fatal until the 4th leg. Mike Robison's center main had been sounding pretty rough and it gave up the ghost on that leg. He chose not to destroy his engine, so he loaded his car on the trailer. I was doing well, staying about 8th until the 5th leg. Tweetybird was running smooth when suddenly she started missing. I scrambled to test coils, and sure enough, one was gone. Now my brothers and son are great at changing coils on the fly, but I have not mastered that skill yet. (I am working on it though) I didn't even have a coil on the seat with me, which I now understand is standard procedure! I debated whether to stop and change one out, or just limp along until the end of that leg. I was running at about 35 mph, so I decided to just wait it out, as I was almost at the finish of that leg. Ed and Jillian made some time up on me, as I crawled in. I changed my coil at the stop and was back in the race for the last leg.

The remainder of the day proved fairly uneventful for the rest of the drivers. Joey Coniff's car was running fine, coming in almost fourteen minutes ahead of the #2 car, Tom Carnegie. Tom was followed by Garrett who was three seconds behind. Next was Rick, with Sonny, Mark, Nan, Jillian, Janet, Ed, Mike Cuffe, John and Mike R. John had just got his car going before the race, and was still dialing it in. He improved with every leg.

Day two greeted us with more sunshine. With the cars going out in reverse order, John headed up the line. Joey continued to run well the first leg. Rick and Garrett stayed steady, with Tom losing a few seconds. I gained about 5 seconds on Sonny that leg, and every one else maintained their spots. Leg eight proved to be the nemesis of Ed and Joey. Joey's timer started acting up and he lost almost twenty minutes as he tried to fix it. Ed had an oil issue and froze his engine. Rats!!!! Tom gained some seconds on Garrett, and Sonny some on me. Rick and the rest hung on . Garrett and Sonny picked up the pace on leg nine with the rest following. Tom caught up on leg ten and Sonny lost some ground I picked up few seconds on Garrett, (how odd) with Jillian only a second behind Garrett's time. Janet, Mike Cuffe and John maintained their positions. The day ended with the fastest time for the day going to Tom, with Garrett second (only 5 seconds behind) and Rick third. Sonny, myself, Jillian, Joey, Janet, Mike Cuffe, John and Ed followed.

The start of day three again greeted us with sun. Tom took off with Garrett in pursuit. Garrett only had to make up 5 seconds, and he was on a mission! Rick only needed to maintain his position to be in the top three, so he hunkered in. The rest of us could only keep up, so we sat back to enjoy the sunshine. Garrett came in on leg 12, 39 seconds ahead of Tom. He not only made up the 5 seconds, but gave himself a bit of a cushion! Tom ran well, but just couldn't quite come up with the goods. Rick and the rest of us didn't change much. The last leg saw Joey picking up some time, and Garrett losing some, but not enough to count. Garrett, Tom, and Rick were headed for the tear down, with Joey, Sonny and myself on hold. There were no disqualifications and the 2008 Montana 500 became history with Garrett Green-1st, Tom-2nd Rick-3rd.

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