September 2001     

Historic Rally Saab wins again in Michigan

Daily Mining Gasette, 14 Aug 2001

News story from the Daily Mining Gazette, Houghton, Michigan, Tuesday, August 14, 2001.

On a very hot August weekend, Eric Johnson and Tim Winker ventured to the far reaches of Michigan's Upper Peninsula with two goals in mind. To get Eric used to some time driving his Saab 96 in a rally, and to meet with members of the Thunder Bay (Ontario) Vintage Sports Car Club.

Taking a short break at U.P. Chuck's in Kenton, MI. 
A popular hangout for co-drivers. The Keweenaw Summer Rally traveled the county and township roads south of Houghton, both paved and unpaved, some of which have been used as stage roads on the Lake Superior ProRally. Temperatures were in the 90s (Farenheit), a rarity that far north. The rally was organized by the Lake Superior Region of the Sports Car Club of America, which covers all of the U.P., over 300 miles from east to west and touching three of the five great lakes.

While Winker has been an active rallyist for over 30 years, Johnson's rally experience was limited to having worked a few events. Their car was the same Saab that Erik Carlsson drove to victory in the 1960 RAC Rally of Great Britain, found and restored by Johnson. Using the Halda Speedpilot, which was original equipment on the Saab GT 750, and a Curta mechanical calculator, the team averaged fewer than 10 points per leg to win overall.

The other reason for the journey was to rendezvous with the Thunder Bay VSCC who were taking the circle tour of Lake Superior, a distance of about 1200 miles. They would be arriving in Copper Harbor at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula on the day following the rally. That left Johnson and Winker a day to explore the area. Winker had been in that region many times before in conjunction with the "Press On Regardless" ProRally, now known as the Lake Superior ProRally. Explore they did, taking in the Finnish-American Heritage Center in Hancock, breakfast at the Suomi Bakery, a tour of the Quincy Copper Mine and hoist, and a lunch of pasties (a delicacy brought to the U.P. by Cornish miners, consisting of meat, potatoes, and vegetables wrapped in a heavy pie crust).

TBVSCC sports cars lined up on Brockway Mountain.The rendezvous finally occured late in the afternoon, and fans of elderly sports cars spent a little time comparing notes in the parking lot prior to a German dinner at the Harbor Haus. That was followed by a drive to Brockway Mountain, a ridge overlooking Lake Superior, where the sports cars lined up for a rare photo as the sun set over Gitchee Gumee.

Tim Winker

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