Starting out hoping for second place isn’t all that motivating, but that’s what I was thinking Saturday morning when the Road and Runway Rally kicked off with me and Jason Paur in the Smart car and Ian Twombly and Steve Chupnick in the Remos. Let’s face it, the car-any car-didn’t stand a chance against the aircraft (we had beautiful weather, so that wouldn’t hold back the Remos). Our leg for the day was from Frederick, Md., to Williamsburg, Va. Take any combination of car or airplane, and I’d say 99 times out of 100, the airplane is going to win, if for no other reason than it can go in a straight line and doesn’t have any traffic (forget about weather for a minute.
But some unforeseen circumstances delayed Team Wilbur (Ian and Steve), giving me and Jason a glimmer of hope. Sure enough, we made it to Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport first (even with stops at two museums!). So when we arrived at the airport, we had the chance to show off the car. AOPA member Victor Maggio and his two sons, 3 ½ year-old Gavin and 1 ½ year-old Garret, couldn’t wait to check out the car. While Gavin and Victor climbed in the car to play with the steering wheel and seats, Garret sat contently gazing at the aircraft parked on the ramp. Victor, who flies a Citation X for NetJets, compared the size of the inside of the two-seat car to the cockpit of the Citation X.
The first question Victor and other curious onlookers ask is: How does it feel to drive such a small car? Honestly, when you are in it, you don’t feel like you are driving a small car. Jason and I have plenty of elbow- and leg room (I’m 5’6″ and he’s at least 6′ tall). Although it takes a little while to get used to the way the car shifts gears, it can easily go 70 mph. I could definitely feel wind gusts, and it’s a little unnerving when passing (or being passed by) a tractor trailer. The car sits so that the driver is about eye-level with the bottom of the trailer.
Airport owner Larry Waltrip (yes, he said he is distantly related to the racecar driver) took the car for a spin, testing its turning radius and handling characteristics. Soon after the test drive, though, talk quickly returned to the aviation world, and food. Charlie’s Restaurant on the field has been rated the No. 1 and No. 2 $100 hamburger stop on the East Coast, according to Larry. We had to take a rain check on Charlie’s this time because the Wedmore Place, a European country hotel at the Williamsburg Winery where we were staying the night, was hosting us for dinner.
The winery is just a short distance from the airport, where visitor can take tours, enjoy wine tasting, or stay the night in luxury rooms-each inspired by a different location in Europe. The hospitality and friendliness of the staff is unparalleled (thank you for donating the rooms for the night!).
Whether you’re flying or driving along the East Coast and I-95, I highly recommend a stop at Williamsburg–the location is perfect from the highway or airport, and it offers something for the whole family. If you’re up for a little competition on your next trip, why not set up your own rally between two cars, two airplanes, or cars and aircraft? The thrill of the rally is half the fun!
Guest blogger Alyssa J. Miller and Jason Paur are heading out on the second leg of the AOPA Fun to Fly Road and Runway Rally.–Jill W. Tallman