The 2014 Puget Sound Chapter Tour season officially ended on a high performance note, with some very spirited parade laps around The Ridge Motorsports Park on September 13. What a great way to end this year’s Tour season and tee up anticipation for spring 2015!
On this final tour for 2014, we started out bright and early with all manner of machines: Z3 to M3 to X3 (that’s right SAVs, we want you!). Finding the secret back route from Federal Way, we meandered through trees and twisties on scenic SR 509 around Commencement Bay, across the Narrows Bridge, and finally along the coastlines of Hood Canal.
Anxiously pulling into The Ridge racetrack paddock around noon, we waited as our fellow Chapter members attending the same-day High Performance Driving School exited the course for lunch. After receiving track instructions from Club instructor Jeff Butler, we followed him directly onto the course for a few spirited parade laps, keeping to the proper line through all corners, at a responsible speed, of course.
Afterward, those who wanted to strap on helmets and take some hot laps in instructor cars, learned why the term Ultimate Driving Machine is more than just marketing hype.
By the numbers, over 250 drivers and navigators enjoyed our six tours this year, roughly one trip per month over spring and summer. We travelled over 2,000 miles of the best roads in Washington and the edge of Oregon.
We began in April with 61 cars ascending up through the Cascade foothills, bringing us back down into historic Snohomish for lunch. A month later another two-dozen member-enthusiasts circumnavigated the Olympic Peninsula, stopping for lunch at Kahlaloch Lodge directly overlooking the ocean below.
In May, we proceeded solemnly past the Oso devastation on newly opened Highway 530. We continued on to Diablo Dam, momentarily stopping all dam traffic for some picture taking. Continuing up over Washington Pass, our BMWs were soon welcomed onto the sunny front lawn of Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop while we dined inside overlooking the magnificent Methow Valley.
Mid-summer found us discovering pre-Interstate era “Blue Highways” through the countryside and small towns on both sides of Snoqualmie Pass. A few lucky convertibles scored free car washes as we proceeded past irrigation sprinklers aimed suspiciously out over the highway. But before long, those historic, twisty roads led us into the heart of the Yakima Valley. Our lunch destination, Silver Lake Winery, afforded us complementary and mercifully shaded hill top views of acres upon acres of vineyards, orchards, and hop fields.
Our two-state, two-day tour in August wove around Mt. Rainier and then Mt. St. Helens’ volcanic-landscaped twisty roads. From our lunch stop at Windy Ridge observatory, we could also spot Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood. Count ‘em, that’s four mountains from one spot! Downshifting and braking slightly, we came around the final bend. Suddenly before us lay the vastness of the Columbia River Gorge and our ultimate destination, Hood River, Oregon. Wow.
So it is with our season-ending trip to The Ridge last month, we can call it a pretty good year!
But wait, there’s more! Planning for 2015 is just starting. For the 250 or so members who attended this year’s tours, let us know where you want to go next season, along with your likes and dislikes about this past year’s tours.
We’d also like to hear from members who weren’t able to attend this year. What destinations or kind of tours would you like to attend? And if you’re interested in planning a future tour, even better!
As always, we’re constantly looking for volunteers and new ideas. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.
Ed Walker. Tours Coordinator
(Remember the Golden Rule of Tours: Thou Shalt Not Pass The Leader)