Randy's Tour De La Cobra! April 24-27, 2014
Life is a Highway
Ricky Tillman Harper
So you built your life’s dream -- big engine, great wheels, God’s own soundtrack. You spent countless hours planning every detail; you tossed in bed at night wondering if the dream would ever come true. Then it did. Perhaps you built it yourself; turning the wrench on every bolt and popping every rivet, or maybe you just wrote a check. Regardless, your pride and joy is sitting in your garage right now. Its skin gleams, the instruments are elegant jewels, the lines are graceful and that gorgeous Moto-Lita steering wheel looks like glass and is liquid-smooth to the touch. Life is grand when our dreams come true.
Unfortunately some, perhaps even many, owners of these wonderful machines leave them right there, sitting in the garage to be admired on occasion and driven even less. Maybe these owners want their masterpiece to remain pristine, untouched, unblemished for eternity, like an heirloom to be passed down through the centuries. Maybe they are simply too busy to enjoy the gift that is driving a well-built Cobra replica. Whatever the reason, these owners are missing out on one of the most satisfying experiences to be enjoyed with these cars, and that is to attend a cruising event with a bunch of like-minded enthusiasts.
One such event is ‘Randy’s Tour De La Cobra’, a spring cruise organized annually by the Deep South Cobra Club (DSCC). This year marked the fourth year of the event which started in 2010. The first two years of the three -day event were based in Tallahassee, Florida. In 2012, just one week before that year’s tour, organizer and past DSCC president Randy Dender was killed in a traffic accident. The tour was cancelled; many of the participants attended Randy’s memorial service instead. The tour returned in 2013 with a new name honoring Randy, who was liked and even loved by almost all that knew him. In 2013, the event moved to Jacksonville and featured some great cruising in South Georgia and the northeast Florida region.
This year’s tour was based in St. Augustine, Florida, and showcased the natural beauty of the area. The event kicked off Thursday night with a meet-and-greet where attendees were each presented a beautiful metal Cobra silhouette by Don Wright, owner of Tangent Technologies.
Friday morning brought sunshine and cool temperatures. The Cobras lined up and departed on a drive along the lovely shaded roads bordering the eastern shore of the mighty St. Johns River. Later the tour turned eastward to Tomoka State Park where nearly 30 attendees enjoyed a charming drive around the park which showcases Florida’s natural coastal estuaries.
Saturday’s weather was even better with warmer temperatures and cloudless skies. The roads were just as interesting, featuring a drive along the winding coastal highways north of Jacksonville and a ferry trip across the St Johns River. The day was capped by a unique dining experience and an awards banquet where some participants were presented with one-of-a-kind handmade metal sculptures based on criteria such as who drove their replica the farthest to attend the event or which owner experienced the most hardship during the tour.
The tour highlight was Saturday’s visit to Brumos Porsche in Jacksonville. Anyone following sport car racing of any kind knows that Brumos campaigns one of the most prolific and successful Porsche racing teams in the country, and has been doing so for more than 40 years. Their iconic red, white and blue paint scheme and ubiquitous number 59 Porsche 911 cars are darlings of the race track. The DSCC folks were treated to a guided tour of the dealership, service facility, the race shop where the cars are built, and the stunning private Brumos collection.
The collection showcased decades of race cars from their magnificent 962 in Copenhagen livery to Miller Indy race cars from the 1920s. Memorabilia of every description was on display, including some beautiful modern Indy cars that were hanging on the walls as if defying gravity. To be sure, the Brumos tour was the highlight of the event, but it was not the best part.
What would that be, you ask? It is the satisfaction you enjoy when you get a little dirt on your car. That dirt is a reminder of wonderful new sights, of being reunited with friends past and making new lifelong friends because of a simple common love for these cars. That dirt is a badge of honor and evidence of an adventure that has to be experienced to fully understand. A pretty car in a garage is a great thing, but a car dirty from a long trip with friends is a magical thing. If you think the attention you get in your Cobra is fun, try multiplying that times 20 or 30. People come out of the woodwork when there are a bunch of these cars parked anywhere, and the conversations are more like gushing teenagers with a crush than actual adult communication. People’s reactions to these cars are amplified when there is a group of them; you have to experience it to believe it.
The DSCC offers several such events each year, and you have no excuse not to get that car out of the garage and get it dirty. The dirt will wipe off, but the smiles will last a lifetime. Life may be grand when our dreams come true, but it is much grander when you share your dream with other people.