(42) Parting is such sweet sorrow…

Posted by on April 23, 2011

Just a quick update this evening as I’m preparing for a business trip in the morning.

Today Rachel and I were discussing our plans for the day over a plate of Denny’s value menu breakfast.  We already had a load of goodies in the Subaru to drop off at Goodwill, and about 3 gallons of used oil to dispose of next door at O’Reilly’s Auto Parts.  Then planned to head back home and continue sorting through more things.  If you didn’t already know, Rachel’s mother passed away March 11th.  This has spurred several weeks worth of difficulties for us as we have worked through the inherent processes associated in the midst of our already tasking lives.  At this point we have been moving Rachel into my home to allow her father to take over Rachel’s house in Plainfield.  We’ve got everything moved at this point, and most of it sorted out.  This morning we considered finishing up the 2 rooms in my house that are still yet sorted and organized into a livable manner.

We also mentioned how we needed to get the Neon out of the garage to free up space for our ‘yard sale’ items, so as we were dropping off our bounty at the Franklin Goodwill, I asked the manager what all was involved in donating a vehicle.  I wasn’t sure how complete it had to be, or if it had to run and so on.  They said all it needs is 4 wheels, a title, and a photo ID.  I said ok I’ll see you again in a couple hours.

We came back to the house and I pulled a few more valuable items off the car such as the projector headlights and the aftermarket tail lights.  I muscled the 150lb cast-iron engine block off the engine stand and into the trunk of the car, along with all my spare cylinder heads, oil pans, and a turbocharger for good measure.  It was just beginning to sprinkle when I had the car all buttoned up and ready to load onto the tow dolly.  Rachel took the wheel as I performed powertrain duties and we drove the car onto the trailer and cinched her down with the straps.  A smooth ride across town and we made it safe and sound to Goodwill.  Walked back in to the manager’s office and knocked out the paperwork.  10 minutes later and we came back outside to offload the car.  We snapped some pictures of her, and headed back home.

Sure was a nice time I had with this 1998 Dodge Neon Sport Coupe.  It is basically what taught me everything about cars in the mechanical sense.  Little did I know this sporty little economy car would have me studying things like volumetric efficiency, porting and polishing, camshaft timing, suspension geometries, and fuel management.  After about 9 years of driving the car every day, it turned into a Solo2 Autocross car that I raced on weekends with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA).  My gosh was it fun, and rewarding to think that a regular guy with a little bit of curiosity, time, money, and tools could make such advancements on his own free will.  I never was the fastest car on race day, but I always made improvements.  And I did manage to pull off a single win in my class at an event in 2009, beating a slew of Corvairs!

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But today was the end of this one-man race team’s career, or at least put on hold indefinitely.

The Neon has been picked apart, selling off each valuable part one by one for the several months.  It is being slowly transformed into a piece of jewelry which will be unveiled at a future date to be determined.

I’m sure going the miss all the good times (and bad) I’ve had with this car.  It was a fun chapter in my life.  Rachel asks me if I’m sad about it, but I’m really not.  I’m more excited for the future.  I figure life is going to be a race regardless if I’m in a car or not!

So today I bid farewell to my friend of 11 years.  The Neon.

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