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The 41 1/2 Montana 500

By Tom Carnegie

The forty-first and a half running of the Montana 500 was held April 1st 2002. Many folks from previous races showed up. The first leg was from Havre to Ft. Benton, then to Great Falls. 15 minutes into the first leg, Tom Carnegie's car quit never to enter this race again. Apparently his transmission came down with a bad case of rheumatoid arthritis and would no longer function properly. Tom was quoted as saying, "I've never had that happen before." The most notable thing to happen on this leg was Rob Flesner's rear axle problem. It seems that Rob had procured a 12-tooth pinion to mesh with his 40-tooth ring gear. He knew it was against the rules, but he wasn't shooting for the top three anyway. Anyway - somehow through some mechanical error he had two reverse speeds and only one forward. So, with his left foot planted firmly on the center pedal - away he went. He didn't make bad time either, as the wind was blowing nearly 100 mph. In fact, Ron Miller found that he could make better time by cutting his engine and using the windshield of his 1915 T as a sail. Tony Cerovski discovered that by mixing a combination of mothballs, Marvel Mystery oil, acetone and a special ingredient mined in Atlantis in exactly the right proportions, and adding this to his gas, that his model T could travel at virtually unlimited speed. Tony could only run his motor for a couple of revs, then he had to shut it off, or it would go too fast. Tony is in 5th place right now, but we expect him to move up, as he becomes more adept at manipulating his ignition switch. There was an incident just outside of Loma where the switch stuck in the "on" position for a few too many seconds. The result was a burned out brake band, some flattened corn and a startled cow. Steve Coniff is running well this year as usual. He is running his new multilobe camshaft. It has three lobes per lifter. "It gives me the exact duration I'm looking for, plus the lift is cumulative" explains Steve.

The first night we all pitched tents at Scott Stubbert's place - even Scott. "It didn't feel right sleeping in a bed when no one else was." said Scott. Harold Mann slept in his pick-up box and Art Hedman in his turtle deck. "It's kind of cramped," said Art "but it was really warm in there." The next morning Mark Hutchinson had a bad feeling about his motor and swapped it out for a spare that he was carrying in a small trailer that he had been towing behind his T. "I know I will be disqualified, but I think it would be nice to let Rob beat me this year." Mark was heard to say. The high light of the second day's run was the marvelous performance turned in by Dave Huson. Seems he caught a draft off of a low flying airplane that towed him all the way to Miles City. Too bad the rest of us were headed to Missoula. At the end of the second day Ted Ballard was in the lead by just a little over an hour. That night we all pitched tents in the Wal Mart parking lot. The third and final day there was only one leg. From Missoula to Fairview - just over 500 miles. Sam Nickol pulled a few strings and called in a few favors and got a refueling squadron to fly up from Mt. Home Idaho to refuel the T's en route. It was on this leg that the second T broke down. It was Mike Robison. I overheard him saying "I thought eight spare radiators would be enough!"

Where were the women this year? There was a rumor going around that the directors banned them because they weren't "stock equipment" on a model T. This sounds fishy to me. I prefer to believe the story I heard which had something to do with Bonnie Nickol and a quilt show or something like that.

The top five finishers were Ted Ballard, Steve Coniff, Bud Peters, Rick Carnegie and Tony Cerovski. At the post race tear down Ted Ballard was disqualified, as it was discovered that he was driving an MG and not a model T. "He seemed like he was going awful fast" was the comment made by Doug Langel. "We should have spotted it at the pre race inspection" opined Josh Billmayer - and he's right, we should have - but in our defense the .710" gauge wouldn't go through the carburetor. Next was Steve Coniff. The directors voted to disqualify him because it was discovered that he had two coats of wax on the body of his T. Wax is not stock. "Besides," said one of the directors, "your car is just too darned red. "Body color is optional, but your paint is just too optional." This moved Tony into third place. The tear down inspectors were surprised to find that only two bolts were left to hold on Tony's cylinder head, and they were loose!

The final, official top five places: First place, Bud Peters. Second place, Rick Carnegie. Third place, Tony Cerovski. Fourth place Doug Langel. Fifth place was awarded to Gary Ebbert. He didn't finish there, but we awarded it to him because we love his wife's accent!

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