It's all about the experience - Capturing the essence of a club drive

Invited to ‘shoot’ upcoming drive with Avants, Fred, the route-master, and I met the evening before to explore how I might to be able zig-zag cross country to get into prime positions. Plan was to intercept drivers at pre-determind locations during the 82 (ish) mile drive from Redmond, meandering south through various backroads, ending up at Le May America’s Car Museum Tacoma.

Tour Lead - Fred Russell

Tour Lead - Fred Russell

The pre-meet always offers opportunities well beyond just cars parked on a standard (and boring) Starbucks parking lot - there’s so much going on if you look for it. I felt like a ninja mixing and maneuvering on the lookout for interesting moments. Plenty coffee, pastries and commaradre - Fred and Adam got crew to gather around for instructions - quick group shot from a vantage point ( climbing up a lamp post) then I headed off to the first of the pre-planned spots (A).

15 mins out I arrive at spot (A) — safely parked up — I recce the set sweeping down hill turns using my iPhone to frame were I might best place myself.. Phone vibrates, it’s Adam texting - they are 5 mins out.!

I run back to my car, grab my gear and ensure I’m in my chosen spot ( you’ll note behind a barrier - you never know !). I hear them before I see them, right on cue appears Ford GT with Fred at wheel, Adam riding shotgun.

After the ‘Sweep’ passed ( 35 cars later) I quickly got back into my little Impreza and set off to next spot (B). About 20 mins later I’m closing in on a pair of 90 degree corners near Jubilee Farm Snoqualmie River Valley Road, 5 mins out I get a message from Adam ‘we are 5 mins out’. Not sure who was having most fun - me zig-zagging against the clock, or the drivers cruising with Fred !

I didn't quite have time to make the actual spot, so I parked up just a few hundred yards up the road, as I got out I heard the now familiar sound of the GT. So much pressure !

leading the way, and avoiding the standing water.

leading the way, and avoiding the standing water.

The junction offered some opportunities as cars turned left to continue along the valley,.

Again, after the ‘sweep’ passed, rinse and repeat my routine, this time however was a break-stop at Snoqualmie falls. My little Blue Subaru was now becoming a topic of conversations ‘how on earth do you beat us’ - it’s all in the planning - eh Fred?

Time to converse with Avant’s members on the experience so far and share the experiences of the zig-zagging - some I’m convinced were a little envious. hehe!


Whilst everyone began to head back from a quick walk to see Snoqualmie Falls — which was roaring following recent rain, and warmer temps melting mountain snow — I took my cue to head off to Spot C. A ‘secret’ back-road of Fred’s - this time I arrived in good time. Adam and I exchanged texts, he said ‘20 mins’, was in fact more like ‘30 min’ - Adan and I lay blame squarely with Fred dawdling along .. :-)

With the relative luxury of 20 mins, I was so very tempted to go grab a coffee and some food - I was getting really hungry. Lesson for myself - pack provisions next time. My pack of mints was sadly lacking sufficiently nourishment as I crunched down on several at a time.

See some scouting images of Spot C as the road heads down to waterfront. And, the now in-famous Subaru literally dumped in the ditch on the side of the road. I did get a polite ‘what you doing son?’ from local police ‘taking landscape photographs officer’ which seemed to satisfy his curiosity and off he went. I didn't think replying with ‘I’m about to take a series of panning shots of a steam of 35 enthusiastic drivers in high-performance cars ’, fortunately he’d gone by the time the now familiar GT exhaust note echoed down the valley.

And, now I’m really hungry — Here they come!

With other traffic ascending the hill it added a little extra fun to shoot between the gaps, though I do think the cyclist does add a little something. After an initial tranche of cars had passed there was a pause, I waited, and waited, then a few stragglers came by, but I sensed still not everyone had passed. I got on the horn to Adam, and he relayed a message from Sweep that a few had gone astray and were now heading to Le May via unplanned route. They’ll have to wait a little longer to experiences Fred’s ‘secret’ backroad.

I popped a few more mints, and off I headed to Le May. Upon arrival everyone was smartly parked out front in the VIP section - nice touch by Avant’s. My only priority was now food, so I quickly took a couple of images and in I went literally pushing woman and children out the way as I hurriedly made my way to the café.

BLT went down in a nano second, Adam kindly picked up the tab. Had I’d known then maybe I would have swopped my OJ for and an IPA.

Race and Rally breeding

Race and Rally breeding

The museum has enough space to house up to 350 cars, trucks, and motorcycles all donated from private owners and corporations, but what you will also find here is the expansive Harold LeMay collection, for which the museum was named after, that ranges from a 1906 Cadillac Model M to a 1965 Lotus racecar to a 1983 DeLorean DMC 12. Not only does it display some awe-inspiring vehicles, but the museum also serves as a gathering place for car enthusiasts, with meeting spaces, a membership club, a show field and a planned educational center.

And, epic BLTs!

Was a real blast - literally!

Karl