By on July 22, 2013

swisspeeps

Please welcome the return of former guest columnist and industry insider Bark M. His piece on buying his Boss 302 turned out to be awfully popular, so I’ve asked him to return with a regular column. His first “Bark’s Bites” is a tale of a fairly bizarre trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats in which your humble Editor-In-Chief pro-tem makes an appearance or two — JB.

Salt Lake City is the most unique major metropolis in America. As somebody who travels for a living, who has visited nearly every state in the union, and who has just spent 72 hours in the capital of Utah this week, I feel qualified to make this statement.

It’s home to the spectacular Miller Motorsports Park, which is easily the most versatile motorsports facility in America. Every single person in the city is friendly-even the homeless man who helped me parallel park my 15-mile-on-the-odometer rental Chevy Captiva downtown. It’s virtually impossible to get drunk here-due to the seemingly 100% Mormon population, it’s illegal to sell a double, and the beer can’t be any more than 4% alcohol by volume. Upon my ascent to the highest lookout in the city, Ensign Trail, I was greeted by dozens of happy young college students who were debating the specific intent of biblical passages.

Clearly, I needed to get the f*** out of there.

Solution: head to the Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway, a hundred miles away and very close to the Nevada border.

The Flats are legendary in the racing world. Over 44,000 acres of flat ground, covered in salt. The area’s open to anybody and everybody who wants to find out just how fast his car can go in a straight line (or, based on the marks left there by prior visitors, how many donuts he can do). There’s a ten mile straightaway and an oval track. Best of all, it’s all absolutely free.

Bonneville is the place where official land speed records are traditionally set, but my plan was to set a decidedly unofficial land speed record for Rental Saturn Vues. Er, Chevy Captivas. Who better to take along to witness this record-breaking run than the douchebag man, the myth, the legend, TTAC’s own Jack Baruth? We set out from Miller Motorsports Park at roughly 11:45 AM Mountain Time and cranked across the desert at a nearly-legal eighty-five miles per hour.

After exiting I-80 west, we took the three and a half mile, two-lane road out to its end, where the Speedway officially begins. However, upon arrival at the desolate, Moon-like site, we were disappointed to find that the entire runway was covered in water. This, despite the fact that it hadn’t rained in over a week and the surface temperature was north of 105 degrees. Pulling up directly behind us and sharing a cluck of disappointment was another adventurer with a different, and considerably cooler, rent-a-ride.

Markus was a twenty-seven year old Swiss national, slender and trendy in the way that only the Euros are, traveling solo across the western United States in a 2013 Ford Mustang V6 convertible. Feeling slightly envious of his ride despite the fact that I’d just finished driving a Boss 302 around Miller the previous day, I walked over to him and introduced myself. Markus was, like us, saddened to find the runway covered in water. We chatted briefly before turning around on the asphalt and preparing to head back.

After some discussion that made up in enthusiasm what it lacked in salt-flat-related education, Jack and I decided that perhaps we could drive around the standing water and perhaps find the rest of the speedway in usable condition. The salt that was on both sides of the access road looked fairly drivable. We drove about a hundred yards back toward the highway and looked for a safe place to descend onto the bright-white surface that was mottled with dark wet patches. I piloted the Captiva carefully down the side embankment of the road and found the salt surface to be slippery but negotiable. Feathering the throttle to avoid wheelspin, we took the Captiva several hundred yards across the flats.

To our surprise, we saw the Mustang making its own way down the embankment onto the sand behind us. The driver seemed to be happily doing donuts with the exuberance of a novice and getting dangerously close to the wet salt of the speedway. We hopped out to take a few pictures of the Captiva with a 250mm zoom lens and noticed through said lens that the Mustang appeared to be spinning its wheels hopelessly in the sand-it had clearly gotten stuck.

Jack and I have a few years’ worth of experience recovering stuck drivers from ditches in the Ohio winters, so the decision to go help the guy was pretty easy to make. We parked the Captiva on the access road and walked gingerly out to where Markus was still furiously revving its engine. It looked like he’d had managed to get the car so significantly stuck that the traction control was refusing to let the rear wheels spin at all.

strandedstang

We offered our help, which Markus gladly accepted. I replaced him behind the wheel, feeling confident in my own Mustang driving abilities. Markus and Jack tried to push as hard as they could on the back of the car, but the dark-grey surface of the car had been baked for too long by the nearly nuclear heat of the Utah sun. We searched in vain for tools that might be of assistance in the trunk of the Mustang and came up empty. Clearly, the three of us were not going to be able to get the car out by ourselves-we needed help.

We offered Markus a ride back to the Salt Flats Cafe, which was a combination gas station/Mexican restaurant/memorabilia store right by the highway. The weathered old lady behind the counter handed us a business card for “Mr. Tow,” and informed us that it would probably cost between four and eight hundred bucks for a tow back to the road.

Time for Plan B. We gathered up some wood from some broken-down pallets behind the dumpster of the cafe, hoping to be able to make a ramp for the Ford to use, and headed back out to the marooned vehicle. On the way, we passed an Impreza wagon parked on the service road’s shoulder. A man and a woman were photographing each other against the background of the flats, wearing costumes straight out of Fantasy Fest, rollerblading around and blaring Beastie Boys tunes.

Our attempts at digging the car out with the wood and then making ramps with it were well planned but fruitless-the Mustang was too heavy for the wood and snapped it in half. Never being much of a shrinking violet, Jack decided to walk back to the photo-taking fetishists to see if they had any, er, tools that could be used to dig the Mustang out. He returned with a bronzed, half naked man, clad only in an Afro wig and some sort of rainbow flag tied around his waist, and an equally nearly-nude tanned woman in a Nicki Minaj wig, yellow sunglasses, strapless bikini top, and an orange skirt. They introduced themselves as Patrick and Lisa. Eager to jump in and help us, Lisa positioned herself so that she was seated on the convertible top like the 1993 Homecoming Queen that she was, adding weight over the rears and (possibly) accidentally filling the rearview mirror with her crotch. Patrick added his significant muscle to ours, pushing on the hot surface of the car for as long as he could tolerate.

No dice.

As we were discussing ways to get Markus to Salt Lake, a Toyota FJ cruiser came rolling down the access road. Big tires, shovel and hi-lift strapped to an expedition rack on the roof. These were the people we needed. Jack and I had pulled fifty people out of the snow with less. We waved furiously at the occupants, and they stopped. Jack and Patrick walked up to the truck as Markus and I continued to try to dig out around the ‘Stang. After some considerable coaxing, the FJ’s driver agreed to drive out on the salt, lend us his shovel, and consider the prospect of recovering the ‘Stang. We were confused by the guy’s can’t-do attitude, but a bit of questioning revealed that they’d never done this sort of thing before and were not much interested in learning about it.

An hour’s work with the shovel gave Jack some blisters but didn’t uncover any usable tow points. Jack affixed the tow strap to the only place we could reach that seemed suitable-the left rear rim. The FJ driver, who never did give us his name, made a couple of entirely feeble efforts to pull the Mustang free. He refused to even consider the prospect of a ballistic recovery and he wouldn’t let either of us try to do it. He declared our situation hopeless then took his ball and went home. Our motley crew decided that, despite our most valiant efforts, it was not to be. Patrick and Lisa bid us farewell and good luck, and asked us to meet them at the strip club later.

We returned to the Salt Flats Cafe and sat at the bar while Markus contacted his rental car company. Markus was, fortunately, the only man to purchase full insurance and roadside assistance coverage from a rental car company in the history of mankind. “It was recommended,” he told us in his German-accented English. Naturally, he did the recommended thing, because he was Swiss. Just as naturally, the rental company was doing its damnedest to prevent him from getting his money’s worth.

Markus’ English, while excellent, was beginning to fail him in the negotiation process with the agent on the phone. Time for Jack to step in:

“Yeah, hello? Yeah, I’m going to translate this for you. Here’s what happened-we were following the guy down the road when some crazy drunk bitches in, like, a Kia Spectra or something like that came flying down the road at us. Markus made an amazing driving maneuver to avoid them but he ended up going off the road, as did we. That’s when we tried to help him get out but we couldn’t.”

The agent on the phone agreed to send a tow truck to retrieve the vehicle, and told Markus it would be about forty minutes before the truck arrived. Markus thanked us for helping him and told us that he would probably be okay from that point forward, and that we didn’t need to stick around to help him any further. Poor Markus didn’t understand how things really work in the United States. It took about ninety minutes for the truck to show up. Of course, when said truck did show up, he only had about one hundred fifty feet of cable-not nearly enough to get out to the car. Markus and his car were going to be stranded overnight, it seemed. He called the rental company back and informed them what had happened. The agent on the phone contacted a “specialist” in Salt Lake City to come get the car, but warned it would be several hours until the truck would arrive.

That’s when we decided we’d had enough of the Utah heat. We left the keys in the car and headed to the border town of West Wendover, Nevada. It was a scant four miles away, but in comparison to Salt Lake it may as well have been Amsterdam. We settled on the Nugget Casino, which is just like an upscale Vegas casino only exactly the opposite. Markus and Jack joined me at the five dollar blackjack table, where the only thing worse than the level of play was the attitude of the dealer. Markus was playing by Swiss blackjack rules, which apparently meant that you hit a fifteen when a dealer is showing six. It did not go well for any of us.

We did the only logical thing one could do at this point: Markus and I drank heavily while the man with the highest Goose tolerance in the Western Hemisphere got stuck with the job of designated driver. We went to the closest bar and waited for the tow truck driver to call Markus’ phone with the glorious news that the car had been rescued. And waited. And waited. Six Coronas in, I was tipping the DJ to play all the greatest hip hop hits of the Eighties, including NWA, Too Short, 2 Live Crew, and basically any other vulgarity one could have thought of. We were singing along merrily, toasting each other with each new round, when it happened-the phone rang! The Stang had been saved.

freestang

We paid our stunningly large bar tab and walked out to the parking lot. Sheathed in salt to its fetlocks but still noble and true, the V6 Mustang was ready to continue on. We bid farewell to a considerably relieved Markus, having experienced more together in ten hours than many friends have in a lifetime. “I’m playing some gigs in Europe next month,” I told him. “So now you owe me some bailing out.” He nodded agreement.

As Jack and I traversed Utah’s moonlit moonscape on the way back to our hotel in Salt Lake, cranking Kenny Garrett, Joe Lovano, and James Carter through the Captiva’s worse-than-indifferent sound system, we laughed about the idea that we’d gone all the way to the Salt Flats and never really driven the salt. Would it have been cool to have wrung-out a rental CUV on the fastest Speedway in the world? Of course. Would it have compared to what we did that day? Not even close.

markusisfree

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51 Comments on “Bark’s Bites: Saving the Stuck Salty Swissman...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Cool story, Bro.

    Too bad you never made it to the strip club.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “stuck that the traction control was refusing to let the rear wheels spin at all.”

    My car does this. You get three chances to get going. You hear tikka-tikka-tikka, see a flashing light that says “TRACTION,” and on the third attempt, it cuts the throttle completely. You must remove your foot totally from the pedal before you can try again.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Also, “An hour’s work with the shovel gave Jack some blisters but didn’t uncover any usable tow points.”

    There’s no tow hook on this damn car? All cars need a tow hook. How much line was required to get it out of the mud, if 150ft wasn’t enough?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      We paced it at 92 yards.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Cars that come to this country on boats have tow hooks. Remarkably few that are actually built here have usable hook points unfortunately.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Let’s take as example the Toyota/Honda products built in the USA, have they got tow hooks? Not being a smart ass – I have no idea.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          In my experience, it’s hit or miss. Some do, some don’t. I have no idea which ones exaclty or why. Just like some Detroit cars have them like a Stratus and others don’t like a Focus. Must be to do with the logistics of transporting them.

          But if the VIN starts with a “J”, there’s almost certainly gonna be easily accessible hook points.

          • 0 avatar
            Prado

            Some imports like my Miata do not have tow hooks. Instead they have those little square cutouts in the bumpers, which underneath them have a screw-in point for tie downs. I think I have seen these on BMWs as well. Maybe all imports use this method now… I haven’t paid attention.

          • 0 avatar
            DC Bruce

            @Prado As a BMW owner, let me explain how this works. Underneath the cutout is a socket into which you insert a substantial-looking screw-in eyelet that is part of the tool kit that comes with the car. So, voila! You have a towing loop. (Never used mine; so I can’t say how well it works.)

          • 0 avatar

            Yup, my 2000 Echo has accessible points. There’s two rings under the trunk that are pretty solidly bolted to the frame, and a removable loop stored above the spare tire in the trunk, which screws into a hole behind the drivers-side lower grill.

  • avatar
    dabossinne

    When a buddy and I went to Boss Track Attack in early May, we failed to allow for enough time to make the trek out to Bonneville. This was hugely disappointing to us. So I will be content to live our missed BSF experience (or save it for a future trip) vicariously through you, and be glad we didn’t make it out there with our Budget rental Chrysler minivan and befall the same fate as your Swiss friend!

  • avatar
    noxioux

    The guy in the FJ sounds like a complete sissy. I can’t imagine a scenario where that FJ wasn’t capable of pulling 2 mustangs out of that hole. He needs to go trade that in on a Forester ASAP.

    I once broke my pathfinder on a hill not terribly far from where this Mustang was stuck. Recovery cost me right around $400.

    • 0 avatar
      lojak

      It’s been my experience that FJs are the ultimate mall cruiser. These guys kit their cars out with winches, shovels, hi-lifts and tow straps like they’re going on safari and never get farther off-road than the dirt parking lot at the golf club.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I have never driven on a salt flat, but I would imagine that a water-saturated salt surface would turn to slush at the slightest movement or provocation…..the closest equivalent would be quicksand.

    Anyways, great story. These are the types of anecdotes that one will tell to one’s grand kids. Too bad that the FJ driver did not recognize the the opportunity for both adventure and being a good Samaritan.

  • avatar
    EBradley

    As someone (non-Mormon) that lived in Salt Lake for almost a decade, I’m impressed with your observation of “Clearly, I needed to get the f*** out of there. Unfortunately, I wasn’t that astute until I hit the point of no return and could no longer back out of relocation.

    I’m glad you had a good experience there. Though, I will say it may have been quite different if you had actually stayed in the valley instead of heading to the “Den of Sin” that is Wendover. (We always called it “Bendover” because it’s a very expensive, low rent version of Bizaro Vegas which will suck every last dime out of you – one way or another!)

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    “Would it have been cool to have wrung-out a rental CUV on the fastest Speedway in the world? Of course. Would it have compared to what we did that day? Not even close.” You were truly on “the road less traveled by”. Great story.

  • avatar

    I drove by wendover around 8 times in the first half of the ’70s, on my way btween the coasts, but I never stopped there. The first time was in ’70, in my ’62 falcon with 90-something on the clock, which is probably like 400k on your Honda. On that trip, and the return, in a glorious, but vain effort to fight entropy, I averaged 50mph, and never pushed it over 55, which is probably some sort of a record, especially for a 17 year old male, but obviously, I was not giong to take the thing onto the salt, much less see if I could push the Falcon over 75 or 80, which might have been its top speed.

    I think once on one of those trips, I got out of the car to walk around in the salt flats for a few minutes, but I’m not sure. The last time I went through there was on the train, going from Oakland to Boston, at night. It was beautiful. One of these days I’m going to drive out there again.

  • avatar

    Salt Lake City is actually less than half Mormon, and the mayor is a flaming liberal. It also has a lot of intelligent life, thanks to the University of Utah, which is an excellent school, and Intermountain Health Care is also extremely high class. However, I have no personal experience with the drinking situation there, alas.

    The vast majority in the state ARE Mormon, which is why Utah has the youngest demographics in the country (they are encouraged to have big families, and the only person of my generation I know who has more than four children–he has six–is a Mormon).

    Utah is the most beautiful state, in my opinion.

    • 0 avatar
      EBradley

      You’ve made the classic mistake that most people, including myself in the beginning, make.

      Salt Lake City proper is very liberal, yes. However, most people look at the entire valley (stretching south from the Great Salt Lake to the point of the mountain towards Provo) as being Salt Lake City. Alas, it is not. Salt Lake City stops around 2100 S and is only on the east side.

      The rest of the valley is made up of places like Midvale, Taylorsville, South Jordan, West Jordan, Sandy, Draper, Herriman, etc. THOSE places aren’t so liberal. Those places aren’t so “non-Mormon.” Those places are where life can get very interesting for those not of the predominate faith.

      • 0 avatar

        I wasn’t making that mistake. I was speaking only of Salt Lake City proper, not the general Salt Lake area.

        Incidentally, when I first drove myself across the country in 1970, and I went over the last pass, Salt Lake City was pretty much all there was. The rest of the valley was empty, and SLC was just a tiny corner of the valley. When I went over that pass 31 years later, 9/10ths of the valley had been filled in with sprawl. (During this time the population of the US as a whole had increased by around 80 million.)

    • 0 avatar
      wp8thsub

      The drinking situation is what you make of it. Many don’t realize UT is one of eight states with the 3.2% alcohol limit on beer, or that neighboring Colorado is one of them.

      We have countless miles of great roads with fine views. I’ve been here 45 years and haven’t explored them all – yet. Can’t wait for the next chance to drive another one.

      • 0 avatar

        My only trip to Utah since the early ’70s, in the early ’00s I did some spectacular hiking in Canyonlands and Arches, but I lacked the time to do much non-interstate driving (I had been in AZ on biz, and squeezed the hiking in Utah into the trip)–and in the rental Chevrolet whateveritwas, the driving itself would have been underwhelming.

  • avatar
    Prado

    Markus didn’t need a speedway to top out that Mustang. The V6 has a crazy low top end limiter due to the low spec OEM driveshaft Ford uses in the V6s. There are quite a few stories of this driveshaft grenading.

    • 0 avatar
      Bark M.

      We didn’t need the speedway to top out the Captiva, either. Check back soon for that story :)

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      The Zipcar Focus I drove two months ago cut the throttle jarringly at 80 mph, interrupting a glorious run over slower traffic that I could not for the life of me understand in the preceding 10 minutes. Perhaps they do that since it’s a car on a university campus, but it should be at least 90. Sometimes you need that briefly even when trying to stay reasonably legal.

  • avatar
    wp8thsub

    “It’s virtually impossible to get drunk here-due to the seemingly 100% Mormon population, it’s illegal to sell a double, and the beer can’t be any more than 4% alcohol by volume. Upon my ascent to the highest lookout in the city, Ensign Trail, I was greeted by dozens of happy young college students who were debating the specific intent of biblical passages.

    Clearly, I needed to get the f*** out of there.”

    Sounds like the typical outsider attempt to take a shot at the place without getting to know it first. If you can’t get satisfactorily drunk or find non-LDS types to hang out with you’re not in the right bars. Shoulda called me. Anyway…

    People who don’t know salt flats think all the time they’re going to set some kind of land speed record with their rental jalopy, only to sink in the ooze exactly as this piece describes. There’s a reason the tow operators proliferate around Wendover, and why they get away with charging what they do – there’s a seemingly limitless parade of customers. The Nevada side fleeces Jack Mormons at the gambling tables, while its Utah counterpart rakes in its dough from would-be speed demons who don’t respect the desert. Hard to say who’s the easier mark.

    Take a look at the shoulders of Interstate 80, and of the access roads to the speedway. Note all the ruts that head out one way, ending in yet another mudhole, not to mention the wood scraps, broken ropes, carboard boxes and everything else thrown under the stuck vehicles in frequently vain attempts to recover them before the dreaded call was made to the tow service. Also note how often you can see where heavy tow cables have dragged such victims back to the pavement, several hundred Dollars poorer. Just as at the casinos, the next guy always seems to think he’ll beat the odds.

    Salt pans typically consist of extremely finely grained sediments. They drain very poorly and slowly. A thin crust may form that looks dry, but only serves to hide the nasty goop beneath. If there’s any evidence of water on or near the surface, you can be virtually assured what’s beneath is even worse. The Great Salt Lake Desert may get around five inches of precipitation in a year, most of it in the winter and early spring. It will be July or August before the salt flats dry out, assuming no intervening rain storms hit (as they did within the last few weeks).

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I like your point about missing out on the fun. The FJ driver definitely came up the loser . . . in many ways. The point of roadtripping is to let serendipity happen . . . then the good times roll.

    As a sometime beach driver, let me observe that the optimum strategy for driving in sand is exactly opposite to the optimum strategy for driving in snow. In snow, wheelspin is o.k., because underneath the snow (or ice) is hard pavement which will provide traction. In sand, there’s nothing underneath. So it’s perfectly possible to dig the wheels in to the point where the car is “floating” (i.e. resting) on top of the sand itself. If you are not moving in sand, spinning the wheels just creates a hill that the wheel has to climb before the car gets going.
    For the same reason, big fat tires are the way to go in sand or mud, because they don’t dig down so easily. But narrower tires are better in snow, because they do.

    Therefore, basic rule in sand or mud: if the driving wheels start spinning and you stop moving, get off the gas immediately. From the story, it appears that the intervention of the traction control kept this guy from making a bad situation even worse.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      For soft sand big diameter narrow wheels work surprisingly well. Wide wheels push up a wall in front were as a narrow one carves a path thought the sand.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I disagree, the best situation for sand, me being used to beaches, are wide tires with low PSI, that are either street tires or worn down All terrains.

        I keep old bfg All terrains around for just that purpose on my dd, my s10 has plain old Michelin truck tires, I put my deuce at about 18 psi, and the s10 about 22 or so. (These are the only two I will take onto the beaches)
        Both do fine at normal PSI, however having it lowered before you start definately lowers the chance of getting in a situation to begin with.

        The higher the PSI the more likely you are to get stuck, the mustang being a rental was probably fairly high for fuel mileage purposes

      • 0 avatar
        lojak

        I don’t want to be the guy that comes in and acts like he knows everything and says you’re wrong but narrow tires DO NOT work on NC beach sand. Since that’s the extent of my sand driving, that’s all I’m going to say about that. DC Bruce was eloquent in his description of the exact right way to drive on NC beaches. The object is to get as much footprint down and stay on top of the sand.

        An interesting side note, hinted at by Hummer, is that All Terrains or straight up road tires are better than Mud Terrains because M/Ts are designed to dig in a little to get grip but in sand they never stop. A friend of mine had a Suburban that was a beast until he took off the A/Ts and put on M/T. He wound up keeping 2 sets and swapping them depending on whether he was mudding or going to the beach.

        My burb has A/Ts because I don’t do anythng with it except drive on the beach. And when I get down there I air down to 14psi.

      • 0 avatar
        Beerboy12

        Hummer, Lojak and DC Bruce, when driving on the beach below the high tide line (hopefully) you are correct. low psi is important for any sand driving. I did specifically say soft sand though. By that I mean fine dry, deep sand like on dunes for example. In that specific condition narrow tiers work very well. Firmer, wetter beach driving it’s all about the psi and the diameter, wide is better but narrow will work to.
        There are a few other areas where narrow tiers work better, like loose, sharp rocks, where the wide tier is prone to puncture but I digress.

    • 0 avatar

      While it’s true that sometimes (more often in DC than in New England, for sure) you can spin your wheels in snow all the way down to the asphalt, it’s a good idea not to spin your wheels in snow, either, unless the snow is not deep, and there’s no ice underneath it. When I was a kid, we were taught to stick the car in second gear and even ride the clutch a bit to get out of snow, and definitely not to spin the wheels.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        Keep the wheels spinning – digging and throwing snow – for traction while moving in soft snow, but don’t spin the wheels at all while stationary. Go in straight lines back and forth within your own tracks until you can build good momentum.

        My uncle once got stuck on a beach in Hawaii with a rental van. A local came over and dropped the tire pressure to about 10 psi, and he was able to drive out.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    I don’t know what tricks where used to try to get the Mustang out. These are things I would have tried. Let air out all four tiers till they are visibly bulging, it gives a bigger foot print and helps the car with traction and to “float”. That car, I think would be better off reversing out, so I would plan on that. Biggest problem with mud is that it “sucks” the car down when it bottoms out. The best is to try to jack the car up and put rocks etc under the wheels to keep the bottom off the mud when you let the jack down.
    With one of those elasticized “snatch” straps the Captiva would have pulled the Mustang out, there must be some place to hook a tow rope to, but… I don’t know how easy they are to find. You would think this is not the first time this happened and there was a few enterprising stores selling rescue gear?

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Sounds like a lot of fun, the best adventures are never planned.

  • avatar

    As I understand it, the salt/mud on the flats out there is pure evil. Once you break through the crust, it’s like snot. Once the tires were clogged and coated, you weren’t going anywhere until they were clear.

    The only hope for that Mustang would’ve been to get the tires up and out of the mud, which the boards might’ve had a shot at, but apparently not.
    I’ve heard of people having good results with strips of old carpet or astroturf.

    I stopped in West Wendover when driving out to Moab to let my kids get going and play in a park there. Remarkably bleak: cheap casinos looking out at a scorched earth wasteland.

  • avatar

    I had to do a google image search for the captiva. OK looking car. Really stupid name. it’s worse than Elantra, which sounds like ancient gears grinding. Who wants a car that sounds like it’s a captive?

  • avatar
    CoolCreek

    Living in a snow belt my whole life, a couple of other ideas.
    Use a couple of large towels, better-yet blankets, let the tires suck-in the blanket and have a ladder of wood wrapped in the remainder of blanket, such as pieces of the 2×4 you show.

    Another alternative is to make your own sand chains. Take a good thick rope and wind it through the wheel openings around and around.

    Like the pic of the 90′s high schoolers.

  • avatar
    Mike C.

    Great story! I was out there on a business trip in the summer (I think) in aught 3 and got a free rental upgrade to a Caddy CVS (or something like that). It was nice, powerful ride and I just had to see the Flats. Luckily for me it was dry and I saw one other car out there on the salt. I figured if he could do it… A slow cruise a mile or so down the front straight and I brought it up to 130 before I lost a little nerve.. No cop is going to sneak up on you out there. What a bizarre place! The next time I went out a few months later I noticed the rental car companies were charging extra if salt had to washed off underside of car. I agree on Wendover; what a God forsaken place that was.

  • avatar
    Mike C.

    Acronyms do not memorable names make. It really wasn’t an important detail, I mean it was a V8 powered luxury coupe. Cadillac whatever…

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The following vehicles fall under the CTS nomenclature:

      Sedan
      V-Sedan
      Coupe
      V-Coupe
      Wagon
      V-Wagon

      Most of these options have a RWD/AWD option as well. So I disagree with your “wasn’t an important detail” statement.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    “Markus was, fortunately, the only man to purchase full insurance and roadside assistance coverage from a rental car company in the history of mankind.”

    BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!! Still chuckling about this twelve hours later. Brilliant writing and wonderful story. Life IS stranger than fiction


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  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India