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It starts like all good races, “GENTLEMEN START YOUR ENGINES.”


The BoomerPDX 500 starts with directions.

“There will be some right turns, there will be some left turns.” That’s more than you can say about the Indy 500.

What more is needed? A map helps.

Instead of time limits, the BoomerPDX 500 is a finishing race. If you finish without going crazy, you’re a winner.

If you don’t finish you’re the worst sort of driver on the road.

And unlike traditional races, this one has passengers. At least two, the more challenging the better.

Passengers must be family members, not hitchhikers. Do not pick up hitchhikers for extra credit.

For top billing, race with your crew. If it’s your wife and mother in law you’re on the right track.

Wife and kids work, too, as well as wife and her friends. The more backseat drivers the better.

Ready to race? Let’s go.

It began in a large room of free breakfast eaters near the Grand Canyon. Table after table of bus tour people sat upright in chairs as if still on the bus.

Very neat and publicly presentable, plates loaded with the sort of food good doctors warn against, half looked bored to tears while the other half bristled with the excitement of seeing the Grand Canyon.

The motel was near the airport housing a fleet of touring helicopters so it sounded like the set of Apocalypse Now with low flying whirly birds landing and taking off.

The group at breakfast weren’t flyers. They looked forward to a tighter schedule, the one described by an expert on Grand Canyon visitors.

“The average stop lasts two hours with seventeen minutes looking at the canyon and the rest shopping and eating. Five million people come here a year. Less than ten percent take the Bright Angel Trail to the first tunnel. Less than ten percent of that ten percent get to the river.”

What’s the math work out to?

The breakfast crowd looked ready for their seventeen minutes.

The successful BoomerPDX 500 racer leaves the Grand Canyon on better terms.

Pack the car and head west on I-40 until Kingman, then turn off on Route 66 before rejoining 40.

The highlight of this side trip is Oatman where burros run free.


Find the I-15 at Barstow and head south to Corona to catch Highway 91.

So far you’ve seen the desert southwest, the hills the Dust Bowl travelers saw when they drove over from Oklahoma on Route 66, but nothing like Highway 91 headed west.

A SoCal road expert said professional drivers never head west on 91 late in the day. Why?

Goes like this:

The highway lanes, about eight of them one way but who’s counting, have low marks in the pavement to separate them. Road seams and skids heading off in angles make better dividers, but they’re wrong.

So it’s ninety miles an hour on poorly designed lane markers into the setting sun. No problem for the rest of the road racers, but it felt like my first NASCAR event.

How did my crew take it? They were the true winners of the BoomerPDX 500. Quiet and focused, they were either petrified or confident in their driver.

Either way, make your destination on time and decompress. You did it. Now on to the next part.

Park your ride and jump on a jet. Portland is waiting.

LAX Old School

LAX Old School




About David Gillaspie
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