Kaatscast: the Catskills' premier podcast!
Aug. 2, 2022

Drive Time: at the Schoharie Turnpike – Kaaterskill Clove Road Rally

Drive Time: at the Schoharie Turnpike – Kaaterskill Clove Road Rally

Earlier this summer, we joined dozens of auto enthusiasts for a 135-mile loop on the Schoharie Turnpike - Kaaterskill Clove Road Rally, one in a series of rallies that pairs Catskills scenery and history with the love of driving. Join us as we drive the northern Catskills in some unique and well-loved automobiles. More drives in September and October! To join in the fun, check out all 4 Catskills rallies at Historic Automobile Endurance Runs

Thanks to our sponsors:

Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway
Hanford Mills Museum
The Mountain Eagle

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Transcript

Robert Selkowitz  0:02  
Hello everybody. Can I have your attention please? Today this is a new rally. It's the first time we're doing this room. You all have a set of maps.

Brett Barry  0:12  
Robert Selkowitz is director of the historic automobile endurance runs. And in June we met up with him and dozens of car enthusiasts at Dutchman's landing Park in Catskill, New York. For the start of the Schoharie turnpike Kaaterskill clove Road Rally, one in a series of rallies that pairs Catskills scenery and history with the love of driving. Join us as we drive through the Northern Catskills in some unique and well loved automobiles. Kaatscast was voted number one regional podcast in the 2022 Readers Choice Chronogrammys and we're supported by the 52 mile Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway following New York State Route 28 through the heart of the central Catskills for maps, itineraries and links to area restaurants, shops and accommodations. Visit sceniccatskills.com

Robert Selkowitz  1:08  
The cover is a map of the entire route.

Brett Barry  1:11  
On a clear June day in Catskill, New York. Robert Selkowitz was distributing maps and instructions for this 135 mile self paced rally across the Northern Catskills.

Robert Selkowitz  1:23  
Now, there's no competition on this, there's no place you have to be at a certain time. Once you leave here, you're on your own to enjoy your day. Drive at your own pace and enjoy yourselves.

Brett Barry  1:34  
Before we took off, some of the drivers offered tours of their beloved vehicles. It was an eclectic convoy ranging from a 1935 Cadillac to a 1976 Triumph TR six to a 2022 all electric rivian r1 t to a 1952 Cunninghams C3 Cabriolet whose owner Chuck Schoendorf, espresso and hand offered me the first tour.

Chuck Schoendorf  2:01  
It's a 1952 Cunningham cabriolet, the model is a C3, Briggs Cunningham was a car builder and racecar driver and team owner in the early 50s. And his passion was to build his own cars and go to LeMans and win with an American car with American drivers, American mechanics and all. But in order to enter a car at LeMans, you must have a brand, you can't just build a car in your backyard in your garage and go to LeMans and enter it and be accepted. So he wanted a building 25 C3s, which is what this is, and these were street cars, and they were for sale retail to the public at a very high price. The prices range from nine to $12,000, which was quite extraordinary in 1952. He'd build the chassis and install a Chrysler Hemi V eight engine. He did this in his shop in West Palm Beach, Florida. And then he sent the cars by boat to Italy. And he had them bodied at a shop called Vignelli. Vignelli was a coach builder in Torino, Italy. And so 25 of these chasis went up there and 20 of them were body does who pays five or cabriolets. So this is one of five cabriolets. So I found this car 10 or 11 years ago in New Jersey in pieces, and I went down to encourage the fella to put the car back together and get it on the road and finish the project. Well, long story short, after a couple of visits, he just sold me the car in pieces. I had it all assembled again and I've been driving it for 10 years on rallies and it's just a marvelous car. I think for the roads that we're going to encounter. Big American V eight with a manual transmission is going to be ideal. I think it's going to be well suited I think the car is going to enjoy the the roads

Brett Barry  3:50  
Chuck explained that starting a car like this is more involved than just pushing a button.

Chuck Schoendorf  3:56  
Anybody can do it in a modern car, you know, with you know, digital, electronic everything but to do it in a 70 year old car with the original wiring for the most part and six volt electrical system. You know, it's it's a challenge and I enjoy a challenge.

Unknown Speaker  4:12  
It must give you a more of a relationship with the car. 

Chuck Schoendorf  4:15  
Oh, yeah. Yeah, by the end of one of these rallies you bonded with the car. Let's put it that way.

Brett Barry  4:26  
On the other end of the spectrum, a brand new Corvette with proud owner Robert Orlando,

Robert Orlando  4:32  
ca Corvette 2022. Naturally aspirated 500 horse bass level, waited 14 months for it. Just a fantastic mid engine car. I mean, it's 20 years in the making this car. Corvette did it right. I mean, it'll go up against McLarens it'll go up against Ferraris, but it's a great car to drive. American made and affordable and madeinwise because it's a Chevy engine. It's just easy to maintain.

Brett Barry  4:57  
And if you're wondering like I was What a naturally aspirated engine is

Robert Orlando  5:02  
naturally aspirated there's no supercharger that's gonna deliver power. It's easy on engine to be natural aspirated and turbocharged 

Brett Barry  5:09  
well that clears it up, right? Heck, let's just hear what it sounds like.

Yeah, I'm guessing metal handles and Catskills terrain without much of a problem. And for most drivers today, getting from one end of the Catskills to the other shouldn't cause undue anxiety. But as Robert Selkowitz explains, the road rallies he's organized take inspiration from a 1903 automobile endurance run, where only a few automobiles could cross the finish line. We drove with Robert in his 2003 Mazda Miata top down wind in our hair, and he told us all about it.

Robert Selkowitz  5:50  
My name is Robert Selkowitz and I am the rally master for the schoharie turnpike Kaaterskill clove Road Rally and we are running our first ever event today. I'm a landscape painter, and I've been painting in the Catskills for more than 40 years. And I was on a committee to create the Catskill mountain Scenic Byway, look at this view. It's incredible. And I remembered the story of the 1903 automobile endurance run and I raised my hand at a meeting and said, What about creating an event? Based on this historic automobile event? Everybody said Great idea. So I resigned from those committees and established historic automobile endurance runs, LLC, and said about creating a new event. Our first year we had 12 cars ranging from a 1913 Maxwell to a 2020 Tesla. And what I've tried to do is to appeal to the widest demographic of automobile enthusiasts, just people who love touring people who love driving. And today we have a range of cars from a 1935 Cadillac to 2022 Rivia and pickup.

Unknown Speaker  7:11  
Tell me a little bit about that original endurance run.

Robert Selkowitz  7:15  
It was really at the birth of automobiling. And it was the most significant contest to test the reliability of automobiles. And it was significant because that summer, the summer of 1903 was the first year that automobiles attempted to drive across the continent, from San Francisco to New York. Three automobiles did it that summer, a Winton and old's and a Packard. And in October of 1903, October 7 of the cars that started out were two of those cars that had just driven cross country the Oldsmobile and the Packard.

Brett Barry  7:59  
That endurance run included 36 cars and 125 passengers on a route up the Hudson Valley to Kingston, continuing into the Catskill Mountains on the Ulster and Delaware road. Now State Route 28.

Robert Selkowitz  8:12  
Also at that time, it was the birth of roadbuilding with state money being used combined with county money to write contracts to pay for crush bluestone macadam paving. Up until then, it had been what had been the colonial system that property owners the farmers would contribute, you know, a few days labor a year to get out with their picks and shovels in their towns, and work on the roads by 1903 20 miles of crush local bluestone macadam paving had been put down up to Pine Hill, which was the first overnight for the endurance Road, who is top of the line road building. And I've documented the New York State engineers report, the town board minutes of the town of shandaken spending money to stone their roads to bid on the state contract. And we also have in the Delaware County Historical Association, a complete set of the New York State engineers road building blueprints from 1907 that document the state of the roads. So for me, the history of the automobile and is tied in with the history of the road building. And the enjoyment of these beautiful roads. I mean, this driving out here, I say to people, if you have a car that you love to drive, these are the roads you love to drive on. And to get people from, you know, the more populated areas to come up here to our Catskill region in upstate New York Region. It's just a hoot.

Brett Barry  9:59  
after The break we'll jump into Bob Lineburg's 1971 MGB GT up from New Jersey to experience our Catskill's roads. Kaatscast is sponsored by the mountain Eagle, covering Delaware green and Schoharie, including brands for local regions like the Windham weekly Schoharie news and Catskills Chronicle. For more information, call 518-763-6854 or email mountaineaglenews@gmail.com. This episode is also supported by Hanford Mills Museum. Explore the power of the past as you watch the waterwheel bring a working sawmill to life. Bring a picnic to enjoy by the millpond. For more information about scheduling a tour or about their new exploration days, visit Hanfordmills.org or call 607-278-5744.

Bob Lineburg  10:55  
All right, Mr. Brett. Welcome to drive in a classic English British sports car known as the 1971 MGB GT. MGB up until the Miata was the most popular and numerous production sports car made in the world. MG is the car manufacturer and Abington, England on the times B is the series MG when in the business around 1917 was the garage and Abington England called Maurice garages. And the gentleman and a friend of his started going around Britain and buying used and excess car parts from Jaguar heli Jensen interceptor and started assembling a car put on the racetrack at LeMans and other race circuits throughout the UK, and started getting recognition. So they decided then to come up with a name for this type of car. So they named it mg after Maurice Garages. Then all of a sudden it started attracting the consumer to drive on the country roads throughout England. MGB series was produced from 1962 through 1980 1980's when they closed the doors in Abington, England, the factory and they produced 500,000 units approximately of MGBs 450,000 were MGB Roadsters, 50,000 were GTs. Two things put MG on the map. First thing to put MG on the map and made them a world class company were the American GIs during World War Two, there are millions of US servicemen and women in England. The American servicemen had a love affair with these little British sports cars. And when the war was over, they came home was very popular. The second British invasion to put MG on the map was the music of the early 60s, the British Invasion of the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and the names that we're very familiar with from the 60s. That music came to America. And with that music came British sports cars.

The car is a dream to drive. You have a bad day, you take out the MG. And it's like a bicycle pump pump shop makes you feel good.

Brett Barry  14:08  
What's the emotional connection? Or what does it give you to drive a car like this so you don't get in a modern car?

Bob Lineburg  14:15  
Very good question Brett. This has a rack and pinion steering. You're part of the car, the experience of driving the car. You feel the road fill the handling the cornering. noticed in this vehicle there's no radio. You want to hear the car the sound of the engine. You want to hear your muffler system where the sound of an MG has a very distinct sound. When you're cruising at 55 miles an hour. It has a purr the other connection to the car has longevity. Had the car and my whole adult life since 21. I'm 70 years old dated my wife, still dating my wife after 46 years of marriage, so there's an emotional connection.

Brett Barry  15:07  
Remember that Corvette with the naturally aspirated engine in lieu of a supercharger. I'm still a little fuzzy on the details, but this 1971 MG does have a supercharger, and Bob was eager to showcase what it sounds like.

The rush of the acceleration and tight cornering on a windy stretch of the Schoharie turnpike and the allure of this British sports car is readily apparent. Stopping at Schoharie's old stone fort Museum, the midpoint on this rally loop, we met a Cobleskill couple with a truly impressive collection.

Cliff Hay  15:54  
I have a collection of cars in Cobleskill 20 As a matter of fact, 4 of over 100 years old will enjoy the car club and enjoy old cars. These cars your personal collection is my personal collection of all Betty and I, my wife. She has all the money I don't have you spent her money on the cars in order to keep him happy.

Unknown Speaker  16:19  
Have you lived up in this area your whole life?

Betty Hay  16:21  
No. We're originally from New Jersey. And we came up here we purchased a dairy farm across from where we live now.

Unknown Speaker  16:30  
How long have you been there?

Betty Hay  16:31  
Over 50 years? Longtime longtime residents

Brett Barry  16:36  
think that earns you the local badge by this point?

Betty Hay  16:39  
I don't know. I don't think so. We weren't born and raised here. So I don't think we have the local badge. But that's alright. They accept newcomers.

Cliff Hay  16:50  
I'm 89 years old now. So I've been collecting cars for lists 70 years of nice collection I think 1911 pen that was probably owned by Andrew Carnegie. We've been 1915 Metz 1913 Buick 1915 Buick 1919 Buick 37 old business coupe a couple of Alfa Romeo so

Unknown Speaker  17:14  
do you drive all the cars 

Cliff Hay  17:15  
Yes, that's the idea. I have an antique cars as they use them and run them. I like to drive them and that's why I'm driving a Bentley today. I enjoy it and I don't know how much longer we're going to have. I'm going to be around enjoy it. But as long as I am still going to keep up with it. That's about it. I guess.

Brett Barry  17:35  
If you're interested in seeing cliff and Betty's collection, they will happily show you around the barn. Just let us know and we can put you in touch. Whether you drive a Bentley, a Tesla, a Subaru or a Kia if this auto rally taught us anything. It's that if you love the Catskills, and if you love to drive me it doesn't much matter what you drive. There are plenty of roads to get lost on to enjoy the journey on and to make new discoveries along the way. And if you want to participate in the Catskills auto rally, check out 1903autorun.com where you can register for the sixth Catskill conquest rally commemorating the 1903 auto endurance run. On Saturday, September 24, or the fourth Catskill covered bridge rally on Saturday, October 15. From the first annual Schoharie turnpike Kaaterskill clove Road Rally. This is Brett Barry hitching a ride in a 2022 rivian Electric pickup truck that I can tell you from firsthand experience can absolutely go zero to 60 in three seconds. Thanks again to our sponsors Hanford Mills Museum, the mountain Eagle, and the Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway. Please subscribe on the podcast app of your choice. Give us a rating and tell your friends about us. Every episode is archived at kaatscast.com. I'm Brett Barry. Thanks for listening. And we'll see you again in two weeks.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai / AA