Over the past few weeks I have been working on small items and tidying up the Catfish. I was also looking to start going out and meeting up with other car people that enjoyed not only hanging out, but liked building and modifying their rides. I found a great private group, OBXTunerz Car Club on Facebook and decided to join. They have a meet up almost every Saturday and it was only about 15 miles from the house so I decided to drop in. What follows was an interesting evening and the first real heavy rain test of the Catfish.
So on Saturday at around 5:00 I started doing the routine check of the Catfish, lugs, oil, coolant etc. Being a new build with not many road miles I wanted to make sure things were going to go smoothly. I did a quick check of the weather radar, very important down here, and discovered a few storms rolling in. I was not really concerned because it appeared the first would hit in Mann’s Harbor after I left and only last about 20 minutes and the next would not arrive until around 10:00 pm, but I would be home by then. Skies were sunny and clear the North, the way I was headed, so off I went.
The temperature was perfect for the drive up to Kill Devil Hills. Nice warm wind, sunny and the ITB’s burbling away. When I arrived at the meet there was already a really nice black Dodge with an interesting look. As I backed into a space just down from it Two people emerged, Ratty and Sharky. We immediately began engaging in some car related dialog and I was put at ease. Being new down here its difficult sometimes when meeting new people. I had the same feeling in Connecticut the first few times but by the time I left, almost a year ago, I had some life long friends. More people began to show up, all with some very nice cars of all different types. I was really enjoying myself and wanted to stay for a long while when too the south I saw the dark ominous clouds and rain slowly working northward. This was unexpected as I believed the weather would have stayed to the south and missed me. I kept chatting and explaining what the Catfish was and how I built it, but had one eye pointed at the sky. A friend of mine, Chris, who I know through our business, Suburban Electric, showed up just as the first small droplets of rain touched down. It was very light, almost unnoticeable. I started to play the mental odds and decided to hold out, I mean “how bad could it be?”. After a few more minutes it was pointed out to me that the local Circle K just down the street had an awning I could hide the Catfish under if needed. I was also offered many other places to hide by the members of the group, good people. As the drops grew in size the first of the lightning was seen off to the south, time to get out here.
The rain increased dramatically as I pulled out and headed just down the street to the store. I was getting concerned. Did I do a good job weather proofing my wiring? How would the car handle in the wet? What if I suck a down pour into the ITBs? Oh and right, no wipers lol. I made it under the awing next to the store in under a few minutes just in time for the wind and blowing heavy rain. This was a dilemma. I could not go south as the storm covered the entire area I would need to cross to go home and If I stayed here I would be stuck for at least a couple hours. Chris met me near where I was parked and offered me his car port at his house just a couple miles north. We waited for a break and then started tearing through the wet roads to his house. Surprisingly it got dryer the closer we got to our destination. We pulled in and waited, shortly after it arrived. The storm lasted for about an hour before another big break arrived and I had another decision to make. I figured I had an hour before the next storm hit Mann’s Harbor. I can make the drive in 25 minutes if the traffic is light and the weather holds out, but I had a new wrinkle to contend with, headlights. I had headlights, I have just never used them and have never driven the Catfish at night. I was not sure if they would even be pointed in the right direction, lol.
At this point I am already wet, so is the car. “I’m going for it” I fired her up and headed back though the twisty roads of Collington Harbor. The roads are good fun but large lakes had appeared in many spots forcing me to zig and zag all over the road sometimes. The good thing was the headlights did work and I was able to see the huge puddles before playing U-boat commander. The rain had stopped, but the sky was lit up with lightening. Normally I would not give it a second thought when in my F350, but in an open car it was really frightening and fun at the same time! Half way home the rain started again. I could see through the windshield glass thanks to Chris hitting it with a little RainX before I left. However, rain was really hitting me hard and that’s when I remembered something. Back in the early 2000’s I had a Cobra kit I ran at a few open track events at Watkins Glen. It rained there too. My instructor had said to keep my speed up and most of the water would go around the cockpit. I decided to give it a try. I was traveling at about 40 mph in a 50 mph zone. Most of the other cars were keeping this speed as well so I would have to be careful. After a quick down shift I was above 50, where I cannot say, lol. The rain stopped pouring in as a got faster and I was making better time. As luck would have it the rain let up again and within 5 miles of my house the roads started to dry up. The light show continued however and it was amazing to watch from the car. I pulled into the garage and just sat there for a moment. My wife, who was really worried the whole time came down to the garage and we had a good laugh about the whole experience. The Catfish ran great and I might have a lot of clean up to do, but in the end I am happy she can handle a little water.
So, I met some good people and I get to hang with them again, the car passed a real world test and I had a lot of fun even if I was scared most of the time, lol. All’s well that ends well.